Interview 2008 Axis Magazine
by Anne Powell
AP Making your artworks hidden/not easy to see could be seen to suggest a hide-and-seek type game, where a moment of discovery either happens spontaneously by chance or as a result of actively searching for the artwork. Can you say something about how your work might be a component in a hide and seek-type scenario, or how else you might consider its hiddenness to be a playful element of the work?
RH If I looked at it deeply I’d say artists fundamentally make work that is a reflection of themselves. Their psyche and personality, their art is another way they physically manifest in the world in an alternative form. Maybe reflection is too simplistic maybe the work is an expression of the type of person the artist really is (unknown to them) or aspires to be. If it is hide and seek then its me personally playing hide and seek through the work. As a child I used to hide a lot or more often play dead, expecting shock on my discovery and this may have something to do with the idea I am presence in a space. The discovery could indicate the work is alive and dead when hidden. Like the theory the ancient Greeks had on the nature of light and the eye where everything was in darkness until the gaze of the eye fell upon it and it was illuminated. I recall a wonderful diagram where a figure appears like a light house as beams of light flow from their eyes. Pity this has been disproved. This is interesting in terms of how the work is durational but of an unfixed duration as each ‘viewer’ (in the way hide and seek involves looking for a variable time) negotiates the space the object resides. In terms of playful I would say it is maybe more sinister or darker relating to the moment of discovery while there is a period in the dark, the time before.
AP Do you think a game of hide and seek in this context will always require ‘clues’ as to the existence or even whereabouts of the work, and did you purposely incorporate such clues (examples would be great) into the exhibiting of your work?
RH Clues are concessions to the way of looking that already informs the viewer. In work like ‘before’ the projection was as thin/vague as possible on the wall nearly white onto white. Here there was a clue, the projector a device for transmitting ‘an artwork’. In the way a guitar leant against a wall with strings facing outwards may still provoke the viewer to imagine a tune in their head. I like this example even if it’s not accurate as the projector is on and transmitting light as opposed to being ready to be played where creativity is latent or residual rather than the more mute relationship a projector has with showing work. In the print version of a text piece I’m working on at this point in time; “the ultimate art is unseen unheard untasted but understood”, the paper may appear blank but it is also the perimeter and so within its area the gaze is cast. The edge of the paper is a type of clue but it can be equally misleading. For clue you could also say boundary. I’m working on a series of images at night and a recent film that uses sounds and images recorded at night. During these hours when the city sleeps and people are unconscious (or it could be implied non-visual) an inverse clue is used by advising the viewer when the images were recorded, everyone slept. Revealing of this information creates a layer of mystery. It both informs and redirects the viewer towards something open/ambiguous, this being the night. (The notion of the night being a place where ‘things’ are hidden.)
AP If indeed you do consider the work in question to incorporate elements of play; of searching and discovering, what, in your opinion, is the outcome of this/is it a different sort of encounter that is achieved compared with more conventional sorts of artworks?
RH Whether play or not the outcome is the enhanced experience of discovery and ‘victory’ within the viewer. The discovery (or the effort subconsciously) has a pay off, the unexpected impact over the knowing eye of ‘a’ formally conditioned viewer. The encounter is a one to one with the work and my psyche. Taking ideas from Mark Twain, one of the first recorded people to use impersonators of himself to attend book launches, the work is an ambassador for my presence but this is not different to all art maybe its just the way I introduce myself….I don’t know for sure but who really could say they know themselves? This process of a journey of engagement as opposed to being placed in front of you in a frame is an important part of the narrative for the idea. The negotiation but relate to the ideas behind the piece and not hidden or concealed purely for the sake of it, this would be a gimmick while conversely the hiding of works should bring an alternative narrative to the work beyond its original stated intent.
2008 published online @Axis Artists database.