charles sandison : I bought a second hand computer at the age of 13 from a friend; it didn’t have colour and 256000 timesless memory than ..............

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charles sandison on charles sandison !

(text taken from the catalogue of his recent exhibition
in rennes, france)
I bought a second hand computer at the age of 13
from a friend; it didn’t have colour and 256000 times
less memory than the computers I use today.
I went to art school with the dream of becoming a
painter. the decision to leave behind the computer
was not so hard, at the time, 15 years ago, as it
seemed so irrelevant, like a hobby, compared to the
great work of the painter. if someone, even then,
explained that I could make my art with a computer
I would not have believed him or her.
(maybe I still don’t).

beeing an artist
I consider myself to be at the ‘rear-guard’ rather
than up front with the avant-garde in ‘media art’.
I guess I score points by saying this, but this is
not my intention.
every medium that is labelled - ‘something art’
is heading for a 1000 hurts.
at the very worst it can lead to an art ghetto,
where artists, whose only common link is that
they are faced with the same criticism.
their isolation is re-enforced when they are forced
to create a universal defence. the fact that their
defence is based on a misunderstood appreciation
of an emergent medium inevitably leads ‘full-circle’
resulting in greater suspicion and rejection.

generally (as an artist) I find the stuff that interests
me exists through a relationship of physical contrasts,
I use this strongly in my computer programmes.
I consider contrasts to be the basic building materials
in reality.
my first exposure to ‘language art’ was through the
work of the 50’s/60’s concrete poets, it did not then
particularly capture my interest, as it seemed as the
form took too much focus from the content,
but it was kind of intriguing. Latter, in art school,
the work of language-based artists renewed my
interest in visual and textual constructions.
at this point I think I was more fascinated with the
general approach of ‘conceptualism/minimalism’ in
art, (the use of language obviously featured heavily
in this movement.)
however, I disliked the ‘intellectual elitism’ of the credo
– ‘less is more’, I consider that ‘more’ can simply
also be ‘more’ sometimes.

the artist has a responsibility to engage the viewer
before expecting an exchange of mind and spirit.
as an artist you kind of know something and you
want to share it with people/the other, but things
get complicated in the translation sequence:
from heart to mind to heart.
often the act of translation itself becomes the
artwork, (the subject becomes the inability of
art to communicate). I don’t want to propose
form/concepts that will start to make the viewer
question, rather I would create a simple crafted
seductive space that is ‘off itself’, independent
from the viewer, the viewer and the art work
move along side of each other on equal terms.

I guess I was born a writer in an artist’s body!
I used text as a deliberate negation of what is
normally expected from moving computer
generated graphics, (usually associated with
the games industry or multimedia).
my use of text undervalues the raw processing
power of the modern computer.
despite language barriers, words can operate on
a very dynamic level. when two people look at a
photograph of a black dog, the dog image
becomes fixed in their minds, the black dog
photograph can only ever be that particular dog.
whereas, when a dog is described in writing or
in spoken word there is a fantastic array of
variations in the mind of the reader/listener.
I love that space and feel very comfortable
moving around within it.
when I’m uncomfortable it is usually because;
‘I am lost for word’.

there is a theory that we have lost authenticity to
the ‘white noise’ of what has already been written
or spoken, words only refer to other words.
I disagree, by looking for patterns and structures
in the swirling ether of images, symbols, and history,
we have a chance to move beyond ourselves,
find a shared meaning, truth, or ‘authenticity’.
I try to build into the work different layers of reading;
each layer is interwoven across time and space.
from a distance the words are perceived as moving
objects, upon closer inspection they are recognisable
as text. the viewer is immersed within the installation
(the words are allowed to fall upon the viewer.)
the viewer stands both outside and within the
constellation, this is an attempt to deliver a tangible
experience using immaterial matter.
to ‘present’ rather than ‘re-present’.
the ‘picture frame’ still exists but is de-materialised and
animated, to continually relocate the viewer and by
doing so allow them to move more freely within the
flow of the work.

designboom :
please outline your evolution in reference to
your exhibitions, from 'city halls' to 'living rooms',
'good and evil', 'ciel et terre'.
in general I think the works evolve with my own growth
(attempted growth).
the more projects I realise in different places the more I
see of the world and the more reactive I become to it.
so 'living rooms' while being very global is intensely
internal, however, 'good and evil' is hopefully both global,
internal, but also political (as a reaction to
french/european extremist politics, i.e. taking sides,
moral dogma, perpetual struggle, the work was show
in paris for a reason).

I've had a lot of response channeled through the
desigboom web site (art biennial in venice 2001 article)
so I am very happy about this portrait with report on
my work.
the birch trees look wonderful against a pure blue sky
framed by my studio window, and I think I will shutdown
the computer and head for the lake for a while.
tampere, finland, 01.08.2002

'living rooms' / charles sandison on charles sandison
'good and evil'
'city halls'
'entre ciel et terre'
charles sandison / current and upcoming exhibitions / biography

charles sandison
© designboom


'I remember the long interview that I gave for your
digital camera... I was worried that I spoke too much,
but I think that your edited version is fantastic,
and really explains what is essential about my project.'

'living rooms' consists of 8000 lines of computer codes.
it is a result of an advanced programming developed out of the idea of computer games.
installation by charles sandison, 2000
courtesy by the artist

'living rooms', computer generated artwork based on text,
the words indicate a very basic level of existence:
male, female, food, father, mother, child, old and dead.
charles sandison, 2000
courtesy by the artist

'living rooms', the visitor sees projected words moving
around a darkened space.
installation by charles sandison, 2000
courtesy by the artist

short clip
charles sandison's installation 'living rooms'
at 2001 venice biennale, 'plateau of humankind', italy


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