Setting off by ghosting the trending and firsting evaluative economies of social networking sites like Tumblr and Flickr, ‘Favourite This’ re-blogs clashed maxims and proverbial visual motifs from the World Wide Web, re-ordering and -rendering them on the critical and hierarchical planes of a painting show and a larger, sculptural installation.

Both a celebration and a critique of its screened and interactive iconographies, the works catechize the spatial layouts and normalizing chiaroscuros of both server and offline space, merging and juxtaposing outdoor landscape and architectural features with the structural elements of webpages. In an extraction of their pixilated incarnations, virtual imagery is depicted with fake-digital precision, while remaining open to the errance of the hand-made and accidental. Conversely, elemental forms and otherwise radical iconographies appear as static pixel maps – flatly domesticated, tamed and subsumed in the weird, anti-Euclidean tableaux of both the paintings and the wider installation.


J – Do you want to talk about the installation?

O – I dunno. What do you wanna know?

J – Can you talk about the fire? I wanted to talk about the painting by numbers, pixel map reproduction thing, what does it mean to you – is it just the same as reproducing a logo?

O – Maybe it’s more like doing the watercolours of the fairings. It’s this thing…


J – So, paint by numbers…

O – Yeah, I think it’s engaging with this thing, which is like finding images on Tumblr, or on the internet – I think I got that GIF of the fire in that drawing from a Geocities website. You know Geocities?

J – Yeah, they’ve got this Geocities-izer, where you put any URL in, and it turns it into a Geocities page.

O – Oh, that’s awesome.

J – They’re horrible looking pages; I was making them in primary school when the internet came out.


O – Pixels.

J – Geocities and getting it off geocities.

O – So, Geocities is gone now, but there are Geocities archive sites. So I was going through archive sites and I found that little GIF – really liking it and really liking it as a really naff thing – it would’ve come from a black metal page or something, like fan Geocities. I’m just interested in how naff an upside down burning cross is. It’s a thing I would've just blogged on my Tumblr and it would've just sort of gotten lost – it’s got that ‘life’. But then it’s interesting to pull it out and stop the GIF for one thing, because a GIF is a continually looping thing. To stop it and continually - to blow it up; spend a lot of time on it.

J – Are the drawings kind of like web pages?

O – Yeah. With those drawings I’ve taken most of the source imagery from the internet in one way or another – an image that I found or little ‘bits’ – there are some marble bars, which are aesthetic motifs also from Geocities sites. And with the tiled backgrounds – that’s a web-design thing. The tiling starts at the top left and then goes until the bounds of the page and so it’s not perfect. At the right and the bottom, there’s half a tile or whatever. So, I guess they’re aesthetic compositions…

J – Based on arbitrary sights of web sites….

O – Yeah, it’s a mediation between a drawing composition, a visual image and a website. I haven’t really put that so much into words, ‘cause a lot of my process is really intuitive; I’m interested in proceeding by obsessions. Working between ADHD…

J – Distraction?

O – Yeah, I have this idea that I’ve got this self-diagnosed case of culturally-produced ADHD - Internet, media, information. But it’s not really like ADHD, ‘cause I can really concentrate, like with that drawing. Somebody was saying that people with ADHD go between not being able to concentrate but then being able to concentrate really obsessively for ages.

J – Almost autistically.

O – I’m interested in that. Tumblr, which is fucking ADHD…

J – 'Flickering'.

O – Yeah, I follow sixty people or something and they all post 5 images a day. Some people might only do 2, but some people do like, 25 a day. On my dashboard, if I don’t log in for three days, I might have 300 images I wanna go through. If I do do that, it’s just scrolling through, so fast – the logic of what is interesting, what pops out …

J – There’s not really any hierarchy, right?

O – Yeah, I couldn’t predict what it is that I like, ‘cause it’s not as if I’m going through it looking for a particular thing.

J – ‘Cause it’s all happening now as well.

O – There’s that as a process.

J – Scrolling.

O – Yeah, a cultural process that I’m participating in. And so it’s interesting to take that and do something else with it, think about it in relation to something much more slow, process-based.

J – That’s what I like about it, ’cause it's about that culture but they’re almost fossilized or freeze-framed - you could meditate on them for ages. Not just for you as the producer, but for us. They’re quite meditative. But I guess the internet is quite hypnotic.

O – Yeah, but I think in a less sustainable way, and it’s personally less comforting than it is to draw. It’s a thing that’s really important to me, makes me really happy just to draw pictures.

J –There’s a thing on Tumblr where you can have pages, with a history, but there's a bot that just keeps loading your entire Tumblr on the same page, so it’s just loading and loading, and it doesn’t actually ever load because it’s just such a long scroll. So you’re trying to scroll down and you’ll catch an image but by that time the next image has scrolled half way into the frame, so you try to capture that, and a second later… So you’re trying to scroll down but it’s this bewildering, flickering abstraction. But you see all these amazing quirky images.

O – I love that.

J – That’s symptomatic of this distraction that you’re talking about.

O – I also really love attention and technological capacity. Thinking about how the fuck we managed with 28.8k dial-up back in the day. But even now, it’s really interesting thinking about YouTube video watching - for those of us who use YouTube or watch video streaming online – an inbuilt part of what it is to watch video now is the streaming stutter. It’s just something that we’re…

J – Used to - the rupture of it.

O – Yeah. And it’s totally the same thing with images – waiting for an image to load and the way it creeps down. And I don’t know why but sometimes images load as first - big pixels and then medium pixels and then tiny pixels and then the image.

J – It’s so satisfying when it gets there. Also, the low quality thing. I watch lots of stuff online, that massive visual quality compromise, with that compared to the cinema, people forget about it, eh.

O – But it’s been like that since the days of VHS – that’s a huge visual compromise as well. And now with the i-Phone, people are getting used to watching videos on really small screens.

J – Could you talk a little about – well, nostalgia is a really awfully reductive word – but this Janus-faced confronting of the past and appreciation, not regurgitation, but re-evaluation of the past, the fetishizing of VHS, the reuse of cassette tape technology, and the re-appreciation of primitive sampling technology, and using that as empowering force?

O – That’s more your thing I think. [Laughter] What’s Janus-faced?

J – Just looking both ways. It’s this Greek God. This idea of a threshold, where you’re looking forward to the future and facing the past. So, nostalgia is always about looking back, which is a kind of fallacy, where you think you’re just looking back, when really you’re dealing with the present. So, these Nike things aren’t just nostalgic for you?

O – No.

J – ‘Cause it’s all about reproducing them in the present, but yet you still bring in all this excess genealogy. It’s a real tricky thing, but what does it mean to ….

O – Pull stuff back from the past? I dunno. I’m just doing it for the first time now. I’m pretty young, so I feel like I’ve only just come out of teenage-hood or whatever, and now all of a sudden I realize that I have history. I’ve been on this planet for 20 years – that’s enough time to look back on. When you’re six, there’s no conception of that, so it’s quite novel to have that and to think about that. I’m always in constant wonderment, thinking about different generations, people that were born in the seventies, what they were brought up with - it’s such a difficult thing to try and imagine – A lifetime that’s taken place in time different to your own.

J – But you start to sympathize now, because you can think of these things, even if they're relatively recent.

O – Part of that is part of my thinking vocabulary. Looking at things that formed my identity. It’s certainly not with an agenda of condemning it, or revering it. I’m so happy to be alive right now doing what I’m doing. It’s not about ‘the older days were better’.

J – There’s no wistful recollection. ‘Cause that’s nostalgia, right – 'childhood was always better'. But I was wondering, ‘cause I always have this discussion – we were gonna call our last show 2008, ‘cause it’s about that archeology, but it’s almost too recent.

O – The Alonzo Morning one?

J – No, the current show. What does 2008 mean in that context? Is it too recent? There are some things that I’m kind of embarrassed by. There’s something not embarrassing about a Nike logo, but there’s something embarrassing about being into post-rock and Radiohead. Is there an ethical line between, ‘oh, Nike, we all know it’s ubiquitous and kind of kitsch and it’s universal’ – it’s awful or you love it, but Radiohead, if you appreciated them in 2008 or 2007 it’s a bit more ambiguous. So where do you draw the line between the more ideal memories and the more awkward, ‘yeah I was into that, but do I celebrate that ironically?’ ‘Cause I would celebrate the fact that in 2000 I was really into Metallica, and now Metallica is having this renaissance, which is not even coincidental - it’s totally predictable that everyone’s listening to Metallica again - hipsters with Metallica iconography. But I’m sure Radiohead will come back into that economy of this ironic backward looking.

O – Maybe, but Radiohead’s got so much sincerity, you know?

J – But that sincerity’s just so camp in the same way.

O – It’s great, Radiohead was the most important band for me when I was 15 years old!

J – Same.

O – Touched my heart. Made me feel so OK. It’s so funny.

J – When’s a good time… Will you ever bother going back and revisiting that?

O – I dunno, maybe. Radiohead has fallen a bit to the wayside for me. That’s a really interesting thing, though. At what point does it become OK to ironically or not, revisit a particular thing. I had this great discussion with my friend, who writes Fiasco, about how in graffiti culture at the moment, toy style is really hip.

J – Is that just throw-away...

O – No, toy style basically means amateur, crap. ‘Toy’ is an insult. If you’re ‘toy’, you’re like a fucking kid. One of the cultural tropes of graffiti is older, established writers ‘toying’ other graffiti writers – where you write ‘toy’ over somebody’s piece. It’s really funny ‘cause Fiasco has had his pieces toyed before. Within a particular group of graffiti artists, toy has become this desirable thing now, it’s really cool to do toy pieces.

J – It’s faux-naive.

O – It’s really cool, ‘cause you try and draw letters as gross and kooky and weird as you can, use bad spray-paint, fill in really badly.

J – It’s kind of like painting abstraction.

O – Maybe, but Fiasco is really good at that. But he’s also really good at tight graffiti. So, we had this really interesting conversation about ‘what is toy?’ Is toy this consciously pursued, goofy, ‘bad’ graffiti, or is the truly toy stuff graffiti that’s trying to be super slick but isn’t? Like, all the graffiti here in Dunedin. All the people that try really hard to do graffiti here, do really fresh, dope, sick pieces fall short just that little bit, and it’s fucking embarrassing. Is that the real toy? Is that more toy than any toy that Fiasco would do? I think that’s somewhat similar to that thing of…

J – Conscious irony.

O – Yeah, you’re allowed to be ironic about particular things but there’s still some stuff that’s untouchable – ‘no way, that’s gross, that’s not cool’.

J – Makes me think of both Warhol and AMM. Warhol is supposedly indifferent. But then he still has this very select aesthetic. And AMM were in a live concert, tuning through, browsing with transistors, and they came across a Grandmaster Flash song or something, and in the released recording they edited that bit out. So, it’s all about improv and you accept everything, but Grandmaster Flash or whatever it was is a bit too much of an encroachment.

O – That’s so fucked. It’s probably just really racist. Classist.

J – What are on the margins of acceptability? Dave, who’s part of
the current HSP show, he’s really interested in labour. He did this massive Bruce Springsteen painting. It’s a nicely executed painting but it’s this really muddy copy of Born in the USA, with this Kimberly Clark towel hanging out of the pocket. It’s so bad, and yet took so fucking long to produce, except he did it 'ironically'. The whole laborious process for him is all about this performative gesture – 'I’m executing something really awful but the whole labour intensity is really fulfilling'. I guess toy isn’t so laborious, but what if you consciously make really awful, figurative painting just for the performative fulfillment – this ironic faux naivety.

O – It’s really desirable somehow. There’s a relationship to that in my work and certainly in the work of people I’m really interested in, but I’m also personally really into sincerity. As a person, I’m quite sincere and that’s really important to me. Not so crazy about irony or sarcasm.

J – It’s so grey though. There’s this thing called ‘new sincerity’ - have you heard of that? And these British artists termed this thing called re-modernism which is a reaction to postmodernism and irony. Billy Childish does these really figurative paintings and he makes this amazing kind of folk music. There’s the remodernist cinema as well. But the fact that it’s post-irony is like saying because we’re post-colonial, there’s no colonialism left, like we’ve transcended colonialism. There’s still this back-story of non-sincerity, sarcasm and cynicism.

O – Maybe that’s an unattainable thing. But maybe to acknowledge that irony can be part of the vocabulary, but to sincerely or with care, passion or heart use it?

J – What do you think about ironic t-shirts?

O - I’ve got ironic fashion. I found a Meatloaf t-shirt that I really like. It had a really amazing graphic. I tie-bleached it ‘cause I was really into that at the time. I guess that’s pretty ironic.

J – What would Meatloaf think of you – someone who’s not really interested in his music – wearing it?

O – I dunno. I have no idea who he is really.

J – What does it mean to take yourself seriously and not seriously? An existential thing.

O – I think it’s important to take yourself seriously.

J – Really?

O – Not to the detriment of the people around you. It’s really important to love yourself. It’s so difficult to think about and it’s so interesting that, for instance, in our culture, ‘that person really loves themselves’, it’s such an insult. It’s so awful that that’s negative. I think it’s really important to respect yourself. I don’t think it’s about perfection or thinking that you’re the shit but it’s about respecting yourself and giving yourself credit.

J – I’m never sure if I take myself seriously in music. I always think about it as something that I just do. I identify with it, but it’s not… I don’t love it. If I spent hours doing something and someone came along and deleted it, I’d be pretty fucked off I guess. But I just deleted 70GB of recordings, and an hour later I was like, ‘who cares’. In other two years I would've forgotten that I’d done that shit anyway.

O – And in another 100 years you’ll be gone.[Laughter]

J – I don’t know how that relates to what we were talking about.

O – It’s funny about music. To me, music is just a gesture as well. Music is complementary to the practice that I’m more serious about, or engaged with.

J – Yeah, for me music is integral, ironically. Like, it’s the most important thing.

O – That’s really cool.

J - But at the same time it’s an everyday sacredness. It’s always there. That shrine downstairs in the school gallery. I really like it, but you approach it, whereas if it was just there in your home all the time, it’d be this everyday shrine. I often hate the ‘approach’ in art galleries and that is something about the optic – you have to approach something, whereas if you hear something it already has its everyday, experiential aesthetic.

O – But with live music you have to go to a place to experience it.

J – Which is why I’m always questioning live performances.

O – I think that’s really amazing to recognize that that’s something that recurs with an art gallery or with a gig or whatever. ‘Cause it’s a space where it becomes OK to engage with something. If you’re on the train packed with a hundred other people, that’s a space where it’s not OK to engage with something.

J – But I find the acoustics of that space more interesting.

O – Yeah, but I’m just talking about everyday terms. There are these spaces where it’s for paying attention. In a lot of ways that’s really fucked...

J – ...But it’s respite, a sanctuary.

O – That becomes something you can play with, so you can go, I’m going to put this thing in here.

J – Or out here.

O – This band that me and Edie are doing is IDM, right.

J – That’s a shocking name, eh.

O – Yeah, Intelligent Dance Music. That’s a pretty ironic name.

J – But it’s almost too recent to be acceptable.

O – Maybe, but the music that we’re making is beautiful and lovely and warm and it makes me so happy doing that band and jamming with Edie. It’s like lullaby shit. It’s really cool, but yeah, playing beats and I don’t really know how to make beats and my beats are like naff and so, is that ironic, what is that gesture?

J – Aphex Twin or Squarepusher wouldn’t identify with IDM. But if you have to identify it – IDM - some of that shit’s amazing.

O – Yeah, probably, I don’t really know that much about it. I just knew that it was a genre.

J – It’s also Internet Download Manager. It’s an acronym for 30 or so different things.

O - It’s such a hilarious genre name – ‘it’s OK to like it, it’s intelligent’.

J – Too intelligent to dance to. It’s an oxymoron.

O – Yeah, you can listen to these beats, they’re intelligent.

J – I guess Ruins Alone last night was kind of intelligent dance music, ‘cause you can’t just nod your head to it.

O – I had a really good freak out to it. It’s important to let yourself move some times.

J – I always think that arrhythmia – a five four or a seven eight – is a more democratic rhythm. Four four is preferred, ‘cause it’s this disco four on the floor, easier to dance to, but I always wonder if adding an extra beat makes it this universal rhythm. It’s like a western and a non western thing. It’s Chronos versus Kairos. Chronos is this Greek god of time. Jon Savage wrote about it in 'Time Travel', which is about rhythm and time in pop music in the 20th century. And Kairos is more about African rhythm – it’s kind of this awful distinction between Chronos being this four four western time and Kairos being this syncopated, African and eastern groove. But it kind of makes sense. If you’re doing a five four beat, everyone has their own response. You make it up as you go along, whereas with four four you know when the next beat is coming. It can be kind of depressing sometimes.

O – Fascist? I really like listening to music and especially experiencing music live and then seeing what it is that has affect for me. Like, when the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. It happens sometimes and totally arrests me. And the most different shit does it.

J – Live?

O – Yeah usually live. My friend, Grant in Melbourne - he does this Daniel Johnston-style folk music. Just solo, and with a borrowed guitar ‘cause he doesn’t own one. They’re the most fucking beautiful songs and the way he sings them, I nearly cry every time. And then really trebly intense noise does it for me too...


J – I wanted to talk about the fire. How it relates to the GIF. If it does?

O – Loosely. I initially thought of it ‘cause the show’s gonna be in winter time and it’s fucking cold at the moment and I imagine that HSP’s really cold.

J – It’s surprisingly pretty nice.

O – Really? Whatever. I was just thinking about fire and how it’d be interesting to bring that into the gallery space.

J – Just as an image though, right?

O – Yeah, thinking about the media in which it’s presented as well, and thinking about affect and warmth and engagement and immersion. And I don’t know if it’s gonna end up being quite a cynical gesture. But it’s also quite playful, because it has a really interesting effect on this polythene.

J – Is there contrast of is it flattened out ‘cause of the black?

O – It’s quite flat but it’s kind of metallic. It’s really amazing.

J – And you’re not affecting it, no datamosh?

O – I think it’s gonna be the pure thing, ‘cause the datamosh got really complicated with the soundtrack. In a way maybe it’s a really messy work and a really speculative work, ‘cause a lot of it will be just setting it up but I am interested in materiality and affect and immersion and surface and depth and stuff like that. I wanna have the projector on a plinth or some boxes in the space, as opposed to being invisible. It seems like a bit of an elephant in the room sometimes.

[… Tape ends.]

Eye Contact Review by Creon Upton: Here