An interview with Glyph Graves

Glyph Graves

purpose of questions..

Bryn Oh: Where are you from?  And who are the most renowned artists from your country in your opinion?
Euen MacLeod
Glyph Graves: Well I live in Australia.  One thing something like SL does is highlight the arbitrariness of national borders, particularly with something like art where ideas wash through borders like a Queensland flood through a Kleenex tissue.
Ok, now the traditional ockerism is out of the way  .. "renown" and best aren’t exactly the same thing though there is often overlap the most renown probably has its own Wikipedia entry.  There are many Australian artists whose work would fit “renown” that I enjoy; Euen MacLeod and Arthur Boyd are two, particularly Boyds later work.
Arthur Boyd
Bryn Oh: Often the average person outside SL  is perplexed with virtual worlds in general.  When people unfamiliar with the  virtual ask you what you do how do you explain it?
Glyph Graves: I find the problem is not so much that they are unfamiliar with SL rather the problem seems to be more that they have a distorted idea of virtual spaces with little idea of the actuality or possibilities of SL.  Certainly Linden Labs marketing strategy <>  is totally puzzling making that issue worse.. they seem to want it to have average person appeal like Face Book but they also seem to forget that face book gained the following it has by presenting itself as the cool alternative to Myspace.   One simple way would be that instead of always presenting SL as an escape they could cheaply fund a few small projects to show how SL can be integrated with peoples  lives in the physical world.  At least it would attract a different niche that is currently alienated by the popular view of SL.  The overwhelming feeling I have is the marketing people have no idea of what you can do in virtual spaces and the idea of niche marketing escapes them. More and more I feel Douglas Adams gem referencing marketers is appropriate. >
Bryn Oh:  Who are a few of your favorite artists and why?
Glyph Graves: There are many who’s work I both really enjoy and admire, some from SL (e.g. that Bryn person and Jo Ellesmere and many others)
Caleb Larsen
One of current favorite pieces is a black cube.   Its called "a tool to deceive and slaughter" by Cabel Larsen "  (again link into pieces  name) .  It is in the same conceptual area as “Merde de Artist” by Piero Manzoni.  My feeling is they were both not fully realized as art until the first commercial transaction was made. 
Bryn Oh:  Whose artwork do you personally dislike the most and why?
Glyph Graves: Dislike is a bit strong ..hmm not interested in is more accurate ... well, except for that person that seems to do all the art  you find in picture, frame and art supplies shops . Those pieces I truly dislike.  What is it with the paintings in those shops anyway and why are they all uniformly so awful?  As for others what I find incomprehensible is formula art, that is, art that is a generic cut and paste with minor modifications of other works.
Bryn Oh:  Which of your own works are you most proud of?  Do you feel any failed and if so do you now know why? 
Older works that I still like 
full sim pieces:- Strangers  also dance (read the sign touch it for the notecard and then walk to the big pink crystal on the water and touch it to get to the installation)
                                 Liquidity , and
Reflections in Diversity < > (A mixed virtual / physical world piece that maps the avatars spoken language (e.g.French) to colour ( LEDs in the physical world and to a “painting” in the virtual world as well as the main virtual piece, you can think of this as a triptych or sorts) and their rotation to sound creating a movement/location soundscape)
Reflections in diversity
Reflections in diversity

Glyph Graves: The middle is the main piece in SL. Either side is the physical representation and to the right the ground level reflection.  As the avatar walks though the main the their language (ie French, Spanish etc) is shown by the colour of the closest prims which changes depending on who is there (and what language they have on their computer) In the middle of the main you can see where I streamed the physical part back into SL  so visitors could see how it changed.
If you going to try different things you going to have many that don’t quite convey what you want them to.  Hopefully I’ve managed to keep most of those in my inventory.  I don’t really consider those as failures, more elements on the path to achieving something I want.
I have a greater sense of something has failed when I have an idea that needs to be realized and for one reason or another it hasn’t happened, usually because of terminal procrastination. 

Bryn Oh:  Do you have a method when creating? If so how does it often progress?  For example do you sketch or write out ideas  first for weeks or do you perhaps just jump directly into the project with little planning and adapt as you go?
Glyph Graves: Sketching out a project is excellent advice ... I do it but not on paper, I try to hold the sketch in my head where its usually composed / added to/rearranged when I go for walks in the local park. As a result the sketches are a bit wobbly but I like that, it makes them organic.  The downside is that when you’re working any interruption is pretty painful.
In answer to your question I start out with the overall idea but I’m not afraid to modify it if enhances what I was trying for in the first place.   Different projects seem to have their own life though, some sit and evolve as ideas and others just come and are done in a relatively short period of time. 

Bryn Oh:  What are you currently reading, listening to or looking at to inspire your work? 
Glyph Graves: I try and avoid being inspired by others work though of course that doesn’t mean I’m not influenced or find inspiration in things I see or come across, just that I don’t go actively look to be inspired by others work.
 Possibly I’m still in mourning at the loss of my favorite author, Ian Banks so I am rereading a few of those. What I’ve actually been looking at is lots of code, (I totally re wrote the Ghosts < > project about 3 time even though it worked the first time ...and its much better for it)., also have been spending time working with/looking at the effects of different materials to get the sort of effects I’m after etc ect.  Inspiration is not so much the problem as the finding the time to sit down and do them.    I have about five good projects that are works in progress.  I’m actually very methodical and efficient in the ways I find to procrastinate but was running out of ideas in that area.  You can imagine that being asked to do this interview was a real godsend.
Bryn Oh:  Does your work have an overall theme and if so what might that be?  If not please describe how you tend to pick your topics.   
Glyph Graves: I think probably best described as have several interwoven threads.  A lot of it you could call transformational, one thing being turned into another, a sort of visual and aural synaesthesia.  There’s obviously a strong element of play around the idea of and boundaries of identity.  The idea of avatars as shadows, of fragments of ourselves we cast into the virtual space and also what limits that we can consider as an avatar. For example there’s the Kinect mediated work :- faceted existence < >
and disembodiment< > both alternate avatars of myself. Then there are non personal extensions such as  where the real time aspects of a continent is extracted and presented as its avatar in virtual space as in Antarctica:- An Individual Existence. 
Ghosts creates avatars of avatars from another grid (Inworldz) and visa versa.  It is a sort of performance artwork where the performers are the visitors to each of the sim.
In Enfolded, each minute it access satellite data on the earths magnetic field and rotates the its prims  and stretches its texture accordingly so you get a sculpture that takes its form from the blanket that encircles us.

In forest of water (a small subset of the original piece) each tree was the avatar of an individual river its real time physical characteristics transformed into notes and colour which then interact with SL avatars distance (changed the tempo depending on the distance to each tree(tree avatar).  Or "I thought I hated him" where each dancer is the avatar of a stock exchange ( New York and Shanghai Exchanges) and more.  The behavior of each exchange depends on the behavior of millions of individuals so in effect each dancer was a composite avatar of those individuals that bought and sold on those exchanges.

Bryn Oh:  Have you ever had to deal with negative publicity or a disappointing rejection of your artwork?  How do you deal with  it?
Glyph Graves:  To be honest I don’t notice it much.. I’m probably a worse critic and where I have noticed criticism it was to note that it seemed based on little time spent trying to understand the piece or even read the note card.  What really annoys me is when people confuse the technical aspects of the work for the art and don’t bother to look deeper.
Puzzlement is a more common response.  Part of that is my issue of being too poetic/vague about the descriptions. I am spending a little more time spelling things out so perhaps that has concerned me more than I like to think.
Would you like to take a stab at explaining what defines virtual art? 
No, I won’t, or rather, I see as all art as being virtual art. If it has a physical world aspect or not is not an issue for me, what is important is what’s happening in the mind of the artist and the viewer, the actual media is immaterial to art   .. here take literature as an  example:- what is important is the visualization when writer creates it and what happens in the imagination of the reader. The actual physical bits, the ink and paper, is only physical representation is neither here nor there. The same applies to which media used  in the visual arts.
 Consider what most writers use to create their art these days.  A simulation of paper and ink on a computer and the works are also commonly read on simulations of a paper and ink e.g. on a Kindle.  This as virtual as anything that happens in SL but you don’t hear people discussing virtual literature.  Categories and their use by people can often obscure as much as they assist understanding.
Bryn Oh:  What would you say makes virtual creations unique over other art forms?
Glyph Graves:  See above, but using the media of computer based simulations does allows a greater amount of flexibility in expression than a lot of other media .. say.... acrylic paint for example, thank god you have the sense to use oils in your quite exquisite paintings.
Bryn Oh:  Centuries ago there was no such thing as an "artist" just craftsmen, as time progressed superior technical ability and creativity created the elite "Master" artist whose work stood recognized above all others.  In 1917 Marcel Duchamp  submitted a work entitled "Fountain" to the Society of Independent artists.    He stated "... He (the artist) CHOSE it.  He took an article of life, placed it so that its useful significance disappeared under the new title and point of view  – created a new thought for that object"  He wanted to shift the focus away from technical craft to more of an  aesthetic intellectual interpretation.  Some say that because of him almost everything is considered art today.  From an elephant painting with its trunk, a Banksy, a child's drawing to someone vomiting paint onto a canvas.  What is your perspective on this? 
Glyph Graves:  Hmm, this question about art vs craft always makes me think of the 5 blind men and the elephant parable for some reason.  What I will say is when Dechamp put the urinal in the gallery it was art, a creative act .. the next time someone did it  was just a urinal.
Marcel Duchamp
For me the beauty was conceptual, the way in the placement of the piece interacted with the social constructs both around art at the time and in society in general. Again, the physical part of the art is the least of it (further the virtual art/physical art thing).   In the end for me the distinction is in creativity and its relative originality within the social milieu of the time.  I’m actually kinda amused by the way “Fountain" has attained a sort of quasi religious significance in the art world icon if you like, when it was meant to be iconoclastic. I strongly suspect that if Dechamps was alive today he would resubmit the original piece and this time use it as a urinal and in so doing would be saying exactly the same thing as he did the first time he submitted it.  I was under the impression art was breaking away from its craft origins a long before, though the dadist movement which Dechamps flirted with, certainly played its role.


Glyph Graves said…
Hi Bryn,
Just wanted to say thanks for doing this series on artists you like. Its fun seeing the views of artists of this calibre. As an aside the location of "I thought I hated him" has changed to
Jo Ellsmere said…
Excellent article. Excellent art.

P.S. It's "Ellsmere", not Ellesmere. ;)

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