Greetings Meeson, it is a profound joy to converse here with you. Starting from the beginning your entry into the world of art was as a way for you to express emotions that needed more than just mere language. With this being stated, for you, what is it about the tactile manifestation of feeling into material that transcends other communicative modalities?
I once thought that I shouldn’t share sad personal stories publicly but I am realizing that this is part of my origin story. My origin as an artist began with the death of my 15 year old brother to cancer. I discovered that words, pen to paper, would not suffice to express the intensity and depth of my raw emotions. I could not convey my deep internal struggle and pain with words, so I began physically making things. With no prior knowledge of art or materials I bought paint and clay and simply started creating, this was my first attempt at art making. Through this experience I understood the transformative and healing powers of art.
Creating was pure survival – a visceral moment; I believe moments that test us the most in life when we are at the bottom where we have to pull ourselves up, are key to character development. By nature I’m a tactile learner and have to touch, feel, and physically process things to fully embed memories and process thoughts, so creating with my hands to communicate was a natural progression. In creating art there is a direct and physical manifestation, similar to a thread linking the mind and soul that manifests physically through materials and my body. This point of transition from the fluid mind to concrete material when expressed in the physical world becomes a fascinating moment for me.
Some of us have discovered your work through the brilliant and unique three dimensional moving digital sculptures you create, so I was enchanted and thrilled to find your installations and myriad physical works. Why did you become acquainted with 3D, and was its learning curve steeper than that of tactile processes?
I learned 3D modeling out of pure necessity at first while expanding from installation art to public projects. I was intrigued by how public art could connect viewers and engage them with a very site specific work. I was interested in the expansiveness of the field since public art is in the public sphere for people to encounter daily to engage, touch, and view. This seemed to open up the point of entry for contemporary art and start new dialogues. In 2010, I applied for a RFP from the city of Phoenix for a biomedical university public art piece, I went into the process without any expectations, this was my first public art application and I was chosen as a finalist. But suddenly, I had to figure out quickly how to convey my vision in a 3D form. As a result, I downloaded Sketchup and dove in. At this point I was only familiar with PSD, AI, AE, and Final Cut. I completed my proposal and was chosen as the artist for the project. In the development of this concept I worked with a local high school instructor teaching 3D STUDIO MAX, and we worked together with 4 of his students. It was really beautiful working with these students and instructor, as well as inspiring the students using this real life application of 3D work.
Through the process of making tweaks to this work based on the city, engineers, architect and design teams’ suggestions, I quickly realized that I needed to invest the time and learn a 3D program, so I could iterate on projects and ideas on my own and not have to rely on the time constraints of others to fully realize what I was envisioning. So, I dedicated my time and energy, and I grew to deeply fall in love with 3D modeling. The ability to create intricate worlds and iterate on a parametric, non-destructive form suited my practice perfectly. I love experimenting, and it allowed for limitless iterations and experimentation. 3D modeling has opened up this whole new part of my practice which I didn’t envision happening back 11+ years ago. I also taught Digital Fabrication at CSULB instructing students on 3D printing and laser cutting technologies.
These same three dimensional forms have analogues as larger scale installations. With this in view, when it comes to process, what comes first, the digital or the physical? And with this in mind, which software suite(s) have you gravitated towards and found most useful?
The digital and physical inform each other and they are intertwined in my practice. The digital animations are typically paired with physical works such as 3D printed sculptures or digital prints mounted on wood panels. The animations are made of still frames (30 frames=1 sec). In translating the digital ideas to physical form, I select one frame and process that it into a 3D printed sculpture and painting. Since digital elements have the ability to be infinitely and non-destructively scaled, this ties into my practice of exploring and compressing micro and macro worlds into abstracted liminal biomorphic landscapes and forms.
I then hand ink, paint, or coat the 3D prints and paintings. The final steps bring my hand back into the work as a way to bridge the digital and analogue processes and touch on the physicality of the work. Currently, I’m working on a show that connects all of these components of my practice together: the digital videos, 3D printing, paintings, installations, and sculptures. To connect all of these dots in one solo show has been very exciting. I use a range of software depending on the project and my goals. The main software I use is Fusion 360, Blender, Cinema4D, Houdini, Zbrush, After Effects, and Photoshop. They all have their strengths in specific areas, so I utilize each software for each application necessary depending on the project.
The range of materials you show proficiency in is itself a feat, not every artist uses concrete to acetate to alloys when producing their artifacts. This compels me to ask, what is your relationship to material discovery? And are your substance decisions based on ends or acquired preferences?
I approach each material like it has its own voice, strength, and properties to be highlighted. The inherent properties of physical materials drives the work. For instance, plexiglas has incredible refractive and reflective properties and interplay’s with light to create a cascade of abstract waves of painted light on a surface. My work is very process driven and through material experimentation I push them beyond what one may initially see or expect. For example, “Emit” is a piece that came out of soldering LED lights, through this soldering process a drop of heated solder hit the cold concrete floor and created this beautiful liquid splash. This was a mark in time and physics as the drop of solder was frozen into a beautiful intricate shape as the molten metal and chemicals transformed states from fluid to solid.
There is a combination of experimentation, play, and observation when working with various materials. Ultimately, I’m attempting to imbue an energy into inanimate raw materials and objects. One will see a lot of tubes or filaments in my digital and analog work, these tube-like forms are directly related to my experience in the hospital, and seeing countless IV tubes running throughout my young brother. To experience the hospital for the first time in this searing way left an indelible mark on my subconscious. I strive to transform and transcend material to immaterial. I take raw materials such as medical tubing and transform these into metaphors for containers facilitating transportation, movement, flow, intertwined connection such as root systems, veins, and modern transportation systems.
The natural world has a particular primary matrix of base design and configuration, the antlers of a buck resemble the branches of a tree, which look like a river system from aerial view, which resemble the cascading spurs of distant galaxies. Do you ever contemplate how nature can be so unified? And, through your inquiries into art making, have you come to any philosophical conclusions about said unity?
I am interested in interpreting and examining the natural world and making new meaning and connections. I was inspired by this incredible book, ‘Nature’s Harmonic Unity: A Treatise on Its Relation to Proportional Form’ by Samuel Colman (1912) that analyzed the harmonic structure of forms in nature, and it depicts the fundamental unity of design in nature from the microscopic to the galactic. Also, ‘Biomimicry: Innovation Inspired by Nature’ by Janine M. Benyus studies nature’s most successful structures and strategies over the past 3.5 million years. This text highlights how looking to nature’s design can revolutionize how we create, connect, and problem solve.
I investigate the convergence of science, technology and mythology into a thickly layered stratum of images and objects reflecting systems of nature, death, regeneration, hybridization and transformation. Through the delicate combination of materials such as plastic, fluid, light, metal, and video, I create biomorphic forms and otherworldly environments with the ideas of potential for growth, expansion, and regeneration. The human body has been a source of enduring fascination to artists across time, geography, and cultures. Many of the earliest surviving artifacts and artwork depict the human form, and artists have continued to grapple with the subject through postmodernism to the present. I began by exploring the body and nature in macro and micro views and have compressed these vantage points to create biomorphic abstractions alluding to universal concepts of transformation, cycles, and connections. The body and its fragility, or resilience, has always been fascinating to me, and from this starting point, I draw connections to multiple sources. Unity comes from contemplating inward to outward and drawing those connections from the micro to macro.
As a global artist you’re gifted with a global perspective. What are your views on the state of popular culture today, and does it have a positive, negative or ineffectual consequence on higher art?
The lines between popular culture and fine art are being blurred more and more. This divide is always narrowing and is a beautiful thing to witness. I feel that we can learn from various cultures, whether this be high brow, low brow, or everything in between. I believe one can find moments to glean knowledge and insight from any culture in order to grow and expand their sphere of understanding.
Because you began creating from a place of deeper emotion, what is it that you are saying now through your work? And to use this as a contextualizer, what role do you think an artist should play in the progress and development of wider culture?
I believe artists have an individual and collective voice. Artists conjoin disparate parts culled from diverse sources and arrange them in ways that suggest bold gestures or even moments of quiet reflection on the world. I believe artists are at their greatest strength when they follow what they are personally passionate about and when it conveys a truthful and powerful experience that people connect to and can create a broader dialogue and connection point through.
Please do share with us any projects or undertakings, in plan or process, where we can interact with, appreciate, and enjoy all you do and are.
Currently, I am learning how to 3D sketch on Oculus Quest 2 to build out organic 3D models. It’s a really interesting technology where one can physically sculpt in digital space. These sculpted models can then be exported to use as a digital asset. I’ve created a few of these projects which I’m excited to share this year.
With technological advances, incorporating immersive + interactive mixed reality environments to engage physical work with augmented reality components is a deep dive exploration I am working on. I am working on more augmented reality projects connected to my animation pieces. Having been interested in the interactive component of creating site specific immersive environments for viewers to meditatively engage with, through augmented reality I’m able to create and deploy transitive spaces where people can implement my AR assets on their own to have private experiences with my installations, and this will be implemented through a simple QR code or link.
Finally, I have goals of starting a nonprofit to teach terminally ill children with cancer the healing properties of Art. Currently I’m making art kits with supplies and instructional videos for children and families in hospitals to use. Families will be able to do these kits together, and my hope is to allow others to experience art to brighten and alleviate their difficult times. A piece of my work called, “Woven” was recently acquired by Institut and 50% of its proceeds will go toward the production of these art kits. Also, I haven’t made an announcement, so this will be my first official public statement, but I have been whitelisted on SuperRare! I will be working very hard on creating some hybridized physical+digital works to drop soon, so stay tuned.
All images with courtesy of Studio Meeson