Updated: Jul 14
This week we will be talking to artist and filmmaker Calum English who discusses his use of experimental filming techniques, abstract visuals and layered and immersive sound.
Can you give us a brief overview of your art practice and what you make?
My art practice predominantly involves film and sound. I often want to create something immersive and these tools best suit that criteria. Thematically speaking my work often has a personal/emotional side to it that I portray in a subtle manner. It kind of sits and the back of the work. It’s something I don’t want people to specifically notice but it’s something that helps me.
How do you approach creating a new piece of artwork?
It depends. Some ideas develop over a long time and others are very spontaneous.
Many of your artworks feature projected imagery. Why do you use projectors in your artwork.
Projection I feel is more textural and malleable than a screen. I like the fact that something as simple as the backdrop you project it onto can change the way something looks.
Calum English, Come Inside, video, 2:08 min, 2020
What drew you to pursuing a degree in Fine Art?
I never considered anything else. It sounds rather cliché but I couldn’t really see myself doing anything else and being truly happy with that decision.
Could you name any artists that have inspired your art practice?
Derek Jarman is probably my favourite artist. Blue is definitely my favourite artwork. Nam June paik, Bruce Nauman and Ryoji Ikeda are also big inspirations. Stan Brakhage and Darren Aronofsky are also some of my favourite filmmakers. Tim Hecker and William Basinski are also huge inspiration in terms of sound.
Are there specific themes or concepts you like to portray within your work?
I like using philosophical ideas/ concepts to base my work off. I’ve used ideas from RM Gilbert’s ghost in the machine and Deleuze’s difference and repetition in my work. These kind of stand at the forefront of the conceptual framework of what I usually do. The emotional and personal ideas often sit behind this.
Calum English, Momentum, video, 1 min, 2020
What one thing would you like to change about the art industry today?
Employment. It’s kind of funny to think that the idea of the struggling artist is so romanticised. It’s frustrating that pursuing a career in the arts is seen as such a risk. I don’t think that trying to monetise you’re creativity should come equally with the massive doses of doubt and insecurity that often plague the majority of people who try to do that.
What projects have you recently been working on?
I’ve been working on more simplistic works that involve more installation/sculptural qualities. There’s this work of a man looking down from a tall plinth that I think perfectly coveys this.
What inspired you to make this kind of artwork?
I like the combination of digital and physical realms. A digital video or recording isn’t tangible, you can’t touch it or feel it. The sculptural element almost itches that scratch. The physicality of it makes the recoding feel tangible in a certain way.
Calum English and Elinor Hunter, Crossover, video, 2:34 min, 2020
Some of your recent installations depict the body as well as self portraits. What drives you to portray the body and yourself as subject matter?
It’s what I have. Sometimes I think placing myself as the focus of a video piece adds a certain vanity to it. At the same time I think I know what I want out of what I’m making, so it makes the performative side of things much easier. In terms of the body/portraiture I think both of those things make the work feel more physical and relatable. I like that.
Much of your artwork utilises retro or current forms of technology. What interests you in exploring technology within your work.
I’ve been exploring the relationships between digital and analogue equipment a lot more recently. Analogue equipment feels a lot more real, mainly because using it often involves a more physical and real process in comparison to digital equipment that almost exists in its own separate world.
Can you give us an insight into the experiences you've had during the pandemic and how you've adapted to still create art?
The pandemic has been difficult. The lack of resources sometimes made me feel like what I created wasn’t ‘real’ artwork. I think the best method I found to dealing with things was creating lots of quick work.
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