1 BLOG, 2 ARTISTS AND A WORLD OF IDEAS
Kim and I studied together at the Glasgow School of Art, both graduating in 2007. Whilst I was on the Sculpture and Environmental art course with my studio in the slightly shabby-round-the-edges but ever-functional Barnes Building a short walk away from the GSA hub, Kim was studying Painting and had a studio in the purpose-build and beautiful Macintosh Building. We only started getting to know each other when we were busy installing our degree show (both in the Mac Building) towards the end of our study. It was such a shame as I remember thinking I would of had a great friend throughout my university years if only I’d have got to know Kim sooner. Alls well that ends well though; as we were both successful in our application to participate in the World Event Young Artists in September 2012, this gave us a chance to reconnect in person and explore Nottingham together.
Kim is a Glasgow based artist working in video and animation. Her work involves a combination of animation and digital video footage that is manipulated to produce a kind of moving collage. Stewart uses mixed media to create fictional worlds: as images transform, grow, rotate and then change, a degree of absurdity can be created. Her work references a range of subjects, from contemporary social issues and political systems, to notions of escapism. She is interested in the devices that are commercially available to facilitate escapism, particularly online virtual worlds which enable participants to become lost in fictitious environments.
Kim’s video work ‘Sigma 6’ was shown in ‘Dual’ at The Cutting Room at Nottingham Playhouse as part of WEYA. The exhibition ‘Dual’ also included the work of non-WEYA artists and ran for a longer than the 10 days of WEYA. Dual examined how digital technologies can affect the creation of alter egos and the avatar culture.
Kim, it was great to see you in Nottingham. Did participating in the World Event help or inspire you at all? Did you use the opportunity of WEYA in any other way?
I went to Nottingham not knowing what to expect. I saw and experienced so much that it’s difficult to know where to begin. However, a few things really stood out for me…
Theatre: A Four Letter Word by The Classic Stage Company inspired by Allen Ginsberg’s works. As well as fantastic direction and an excellent script, this play left a huge impression on me because of the amazing acting. Each actor had lengthy monologues and delivered them impeccably. I was just in awe.
The Beginning by Michael Pinchbeck with Nicki Hobday and Ollie Smith was a performance about performing. Talking to the audience in a direct and honest way, this performance was quite different to anything I’d seen before. http://worldeventyoungartists.com/events/2012-09-13/michael-pinchbeck-beginning
Dance: Dorian Nuskind-Oder’s No Light Thing was an ingenious piece of dance, theatre and technology. With clever direction and choreography, Montréal dancers Nate and Rose delivered a remarkably emotive performance. http://worldeventyoungartists.com/events/2012-09-11/dance-triple-bill-dorian-nuskind-oder-valentina-dal-mas-maggie-civantos-music-fraz
Music: Ayanna Witter-Johnson has an incredible voice. I had the chance to see her perform on a few occasions and then bought her album. http://worldeventyoungartists.com/events/2012-09-09/weya-sunday-fiesta-and-mandala-market-square
I also kept a photoblog of my time at WEYA and I’m glad I did as it has since helped refresh my memory! You can view it here: http://kimhstewart.wordpress.com/category/weya/
Only 1000 people were chosen from countries all over the world to come to Nottingham for 10 days and be immersed in art and culture, what was it like to partake?
With so many talented individuals in one place, the whole event was a bit overwhelming to be honest! Devoting a whole week solely indulging in cultural activities made WEYA feel much more like a holiday than a “work trip”. The best part of the whole event was meeting the other artists, actors, musicians, dancers and writers. It was so much more than just a ‘networking’ event. I had breakfast with Ayanna, talked to Dorian and her dancers about Montreal, partied with Hank Lin (actor in A Four Letter Word) and spent every enjoyable day discovering new things with artists Alana Tyson and Liz West.
The work ‘Sigma 6’ is a computer animation combining virtual reality sequences and live action images. The work was at some points disturbing. Having exhibited the work as part of the World Event, which primarily consisted of young artists aged 18-30, did you receive any interesting feedback that you otherwise wouldn’t have had?
One reviewer likened the final character in the film to ‘Morph,’ claiming it “lack[ed] the desired graphic definition.” This was quite funny but also a bit confusing as that character is intentionally the most roughly modeled. Apart from that, nothing else really comes to mind… To be honest I find that people don’t seem to have much to say about my work. That’s probably not a good thing, but I mostly put it down to the fact that there’s hardly any experimental animation out there, so it’s difficult to compare it to something.
I believe the animation ‘Sigma 6’ took you a couple years to make, are you working on any new video pieces or have anything in the pipeline?
I have a script for my next film and have started modeling it in the 3D software I use. It’s called Last Bird and is again set in a dystopian future world. I’ll send you a copy of it in a couple years when it’s finished!
Sneak peek first sketch of Last Bird:
Who or what inspires you to create the work you make as an artist?
Most of my inspiration comes from films and books. I love Haruki Murakami, Margaret Atwood and Aldous Huxley. I’m currently reading Murakami’s recent trilogy, 1Q84. He is one of the most imaginative writers I’ve come across and I just love getting lost in his work. My favourite filmmakers are David Lynch and Federico Fellini. I guess all these influences just confirm my whole fascination with reality vs fiction.
It has now been over half a year since we returned from Nottingham, other than art-related work, what have you been up to?
I currently work at digital studio, ISO where I help run Central Station [http://thisiscentralstation.com] which is an online creative community. I also work on projects for Channel 4, Creative Scotland and Tate.
I also sometimes feel the need to create non-art films. Shortly after WEYA, I had my film, Bridge to Nowhere shown at Berwick Film & Media Festival’s Closing Gala. (You can see the film here: http://bit.ly/bridgetonowhere). Then, in October I took part in Glasgow’s 48 Hour Film Festival which was a one time only deal for me! As producer, co-writer, co-director and editor in a 48 hour period, it was probably the most intense and pressurised project I’ve experienced since my Degree Show in 2007.
Have you got anything exciting on the horizon, please share?
I’m doing visuals for Glasgow Improvisers Orchestra in August as part of the Edinburgh festival. I also run ANIMATE EXPERIMENT for which I’m curating an outdoor screening of experimental animation for Brighton Digital Festival this September. I’m actually really excited about this as I feel like animation is an undervalued art form. I’ve been influenced by the work from the artists in the programme for years and feel so privileged to be able to share their work. The programme hasn’t been officially released yet, so I’m afraid I have to keep it under wraps for now.
Interview by Liz West