Interview: Mark Cypher

interview: Mark CypherImage courtesy of Mark Cypher

Interview: Mark Cypher

 

Luca Curci talks with Mark Cypher during OXYGEN – FRAGMENTED CITIES+IDENTITIES Festival in Bogotà.

Mark Cypher is an Australian artist and designer, and currently works at Murdoch University in Perth, Western Australia. Mark has exhibited in over 18 international exhibitions, including, ISEA 2011 (Istanbul), 404 InternationalFestival of Electronic Arts (Argentina), Salon International De Art Digital (Cuba), Siggraph 2006 (USA), FILE -Festival Internacional de Linguagem Eletrônica (Brazil), NewForms06 (Canada), BEAP -Biennial of Electronic Art (Australia), Haptic 07 (Canada), Bios4, Centro Andaluz de Arte Contemporáneo (Spain), Transitio_MX (Mexico) and Currents, Santa Fe International New Media Biennale (USA). Mark Cypher’s artwork is also represented in several Australian state and national collections. Mark received his Ph.D. from the University of Western Australia in 2011.

 

interview: Mark CypherImage courtesy of Mark Cypher

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Luca Curci – What is the message linked to the artwork you have shown in this exhibition? How is it connected to the theme of OXYGEN – FRAGMENTED CITIES+IDENTITIES?

Mark Cypher – The net artwork “The river is everywhere at once” deals with the way technology is entangled with place and landscape. Twitter tweets, for example, can be sent out from anyplace and accessed anywhere yet they are implicated and interconnected to multiple spaces, times and ideas. I always thought that getting a landscape inspired tweet from someone in snowy Albania when I was in a sunny urban street in Perth, Western Australia was obviously not a straightforward means of communication. It is more likely that those 140 characters sent from Albania travel through an immense network, sorted through all kinds of servers and twitter API’s, yet manage to entangle and mediate how I see the world. In other words, the tweet is much more than simple packets of data because they are rendered ambiguous or unexpected when delivered into places that are out of context. That things can have multiple shapes, though they are still basically the same form, so to speak, is the basic idea behind topologies. So in this artwork, the actual letters of a tweet are translated into number variables that are then used to drive the animations, the colours, and placement of different compositional elements. The tweet is still only 140 characters long, only how it is translated and performed by the projectors, computers, people and place of the Jorge Jurado Gallery will make something entirely different. Tweets are composites of time, spaces, places, ideas and intentions that change in relation to our position in the network. Given the small amount of actual human readable information in a tweet, it is inevitable that we will only get to see a fragmented, folded over or warped sense of place. This is how I made the connection between the artwork and the exhibition Fragmented Cities+ Identities.

 

interview: Mark CypherImage courtesy of Mark Cypher

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L.C. – What do you think about the concept of this event? In which way did it inspire you?

M.C. – There has been a long tradition of artists engaging with aspects of their relation to city, place, and landscape. I think what is interesting is that the “Fragmented cities and identities” exhibition concept takes fragmentation as it starting point. That is our sense of place and landscape has only ever been partial, not broken necessarily, just distributed across a vast network of mediations and influences.

 

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L.C. – Are your artworks focused on a specific theme?

M.C. – Many of my artworks revolve around how humans relate to technology in space. I am particularly interested in post-human forms of philosophy such as actor-network theory and object orientated ontology because they help to articulate alternative perceptions of our place in the world in relation to objects and technology. So my work often deals with interactions or happenings where objects have agency and provide the impetus for making the artwork. For example, my early work Biophilia from 2005, required users to interact with the artwork to help instigate genetic algorithms that then built plant forms from the user’s shadow. The same kind of human/machine relation is evident in other works like “There’s no place like house” 2011 in which a virtual model of my house was distorted in relation to data from a network of different sources. So I guess I’ve always been interested in how other things, objects and places mediate and influence us.

 

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L.C. – Did your style change over the years? How?

M.C. – I think I’ve always been influenced by minimalism and conceptual art and so I try to make the idea central to how the artwork progresses. The medium and the process from which the artwork is made is always directly linked to the message. So I don’t think about the style of the artwork and then build it, rather the style of the artwork emerges from the process of its construction. As a result, my artworks are stylistically different.

 

interview: Mark CypherImage courtesy of Mark Cypher

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L.C. – Which are your artistic projects for the future? Is there any possibilities for a new participation in some Italian exhibitions?

M.C. – I am working on a number of pieces which engage social media data as the main focus of the artwork. How this kind of data influences and mediates other cultures could be really interesting.

L.C. – Do you think that this experience could be useful for artists and can contribute to increase personal background?

M.C. – I think the concept of Fragmented Cities+ Identities is interesting and the fact that the exhibition engages an international audience is a great opportunity for any artist.

 

interview: Mark CypherImage courtesy of Mark Cypher

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