Studio Series: Jeremy Bailey

‘Famous new media artist’ Jeremy Bailey, in-between Liverpool and Toronto on a residency at FACT, invites us in to see where he works…

Please describe your space. Probably just because I’m not always here, my work space is wherever I can sit down with a laptop. In bed – I actually love working in bed. Wherever I am, because I travel quite a bit for my art and I perform, my studio is really just my laptop. I dont think of it as physical space, more in terms of desktop space/my virtual space. Surrounding that virtual space is usually a pile of wires or junk or flurescent tape and turtlenecks and short-shorts and things that surround my performance practice. So yeah, my space is everywhere – my least favourite is a desk, my most favourite is bed! That’s my priviledge for having a primarily digital practice. The space isn’t as important to me as the people who are here – they’re very engaged with art and technology and technology culture.

What work do you do here? I’m here on a three month residency. I embody a character called Famous New Media Artist Jeremy Bailey – he’s this naive new media artist who puts a  lot of faith in technology to solve the world’s problems. I ask institutions what problems they’re having and try to solve it in character. The problem that FACT had was this push into using augmented reality (a live view of a real-world environment whose elements are augmented by computer-generated input such as sound, video, graphics or GPS) as a didactic – in institutions, there’s all these text panels on the wall and public interface in the gallery. I don’t discourage experimentation, but quite often I feel like with new technology there’s always a reflection of the last wave of technology before it. Like early film is the history of theatre. Whenever a new technology or new medium emerges we don’t have a creative use for it, so we try to replicate what already exists. I kind of feel that’s what augmented reality is right now – people don’t know what to do with it so they’re still doing what we’ve always done. My Augmented Reality Dance Party tonight will be the second artwork I’ve done with the public. I’ve created a DJ interface that you control physically – you run in a circle like a record and it plays the song. If you stop, the record will stop. If you go backward it will scratch backward. So you control the record yourself. It’s at the front of FACT main doors, outside the Mexican restaurant. Working outdoors is important; we do something similar to Light Night in Toronto (where I’m from) and the most successful things tend to be outdoors that people feel they can get involved with. I love computers and technology and quite often make myself look ridiculous. I consider my performance style to be stand up comedy; I’m interested in power relationships and conflict. This project might seem innocent, a dance party, but essentially it is an interface that is a form of control, that requires you to look and act in a very particular way that someone else has designed, which is the way I suppose a lot of things are controlled. You have to run in a circle – I like the idea of a party where you don’t have a choice; the idea of people being slaves to the music.

What helps you work? Being in new situations or being in new contexts. Being in Liverpool and meeting with people, talking to different people about their views on the city. I’m living in Toxteth which is really interesting; I’m in this boarded up community (Welsh Streets) and living with the activists that want  to save these streets from demolition. I think that was shocking to me at first because these are homes that would be very expensive in North America, then I heard how much it costs to displace people is almost nothing … it’s a really unfair situation. Being there is very inspiring.

Describe your three favourite possessions in your studio space. I have these fluorescent rolls of tape I use that for all kinds of things – I’ll write my name with it but also use it for motion tracking. I’ve incorporated this fluorescent tape into a lot of what I do! I sometimes have it on my pants. Another thing is my laptop. Probably also my white turtleneck that I perform in. When I put it on I sort of become my character – my turtlenecks are very precious to me! I would also say my sketchbooks if I could have a fourth thing; that’s where my ideas are on paper. I really treasure having these books on my shelves with all of my work in them.

If your studio space could speak, what would it say? The space is always getting in my way. I joke that I’d be much happier as a floating head; my mom always said I’d be happier like that. My space would probably say: ‘I’m sorry I’m not big enough for you, I hold you down.’ Im not very agile, space has always been this awkward thing that I have a hard time navigating. So hopefully it would just apologise.

If you had any advice for other artists, what would that be? I hate being in a position where I tell other artists how to behave, because there’s no right or wrong way to be an artist – the best art is art that’s not recognised as art yet. But I’d say whatever you’re doing, do ten times more of that! Nothing’s too precious. I had this teacher that always said ‘what’s the point of going beyond the sketch?’ Now I think there’s plenty of points to go beyond the sketch, but I think the sketch often has a lot of potential. Just accumulate tons of sketches and ideas – get them out there, share more.

See Jeremy perform tonight outside FACT for Light Night

Jeremy is working towards a performance to climax his residency that will span both Liverpool and Manchester for the AND Festival. See his work here:

Posted on 18/05/2012 by thedoublenegative