I think of scientists and artists running concurrently in that we’re both incredibly invested in the development of new technologies. I’m not sure the scientists would agree with me on this, as what they are doing is in many ways a lot more useful. They develop the technologies, test them, and try to make them practical for human use in some form. Artists take them and play with them. But what we do feels useful too, to me at least. We test them out, too – but to see how technological advancements are affecting our everyday lives. How communication, relationships, ideas and our experience of reality changes as the megastructures of capitalism grind out further innovations. Ed Atkins and Kate Cooper are examples of artists working like this – exploring how digital avatars shape our experience of being online and how we deal with a world where are bodily experiences are disembodied and virtual a lot of the time. I’m interested in these ideas in my own work, and very lucky to have staff at the Ruskin who are just as excited in rapid advances in the digital realm as I am, and enthusiastic to help us explore the possibilities.
Why are have so many artists adopted the trashy and rejected the sublime?
We are living in a time of extraordinarily rapid changes and developments. The internet has been available to us for the last 25 years, and smart phones for around the last 10. I can’t think of such a big change in how we relate to information and to each other since the advent of the telegram. Because of this, I see us as becoming obsessed with the materiality of our conditions. Artists often love the trashy because it gives us access to what has trickled through layers and layers of cultural digestion to reveal how we’re affected by what’s going on around us and how threads of the same images and ideas run through many structures we live within. Think of the widespread use of iphone emojis in the real world – in Primark’s s/s 15 range, for example. We don’t want to see or strive for what’s perfect and elite and up there – we want to play with what’s going on down here.
Why is art relevant to those who aren’t studying it?
The ideas being explored in art now are broadly relevant, by definition, because contemporary art is rooted in contemporary culture. This can often be a somewhat elitist and exclusionary view of what contemporary culture is and expressed in esoteric language, but there’s so much of value to be gained from engaging with art that it would be a huge shame to dismiss such a broad endeavour as inaccessible. Art can give us a break from the verbal, allow us to process experiences and provoke questions in an unfamiliar and unsettling way. Artists can function like filtering machines, to pour in the mess of ideas and experiences floating round and squeeze out a disseminated, subverted version. These little artist poops are incredibly worth your time, attention and engagement – honestly!
Angeli is exhibiting in the Dolphin gallery, Oxford. 11th – 13th of March, 6 – 9pm daily.