Steve Bishop was born in Toronto, Canada in 1983.
He Graduated from the Royal College of Art in 2008.
A conversation between Jonathan O’Dwyer and Steve Bishop, somewhere between 26 March and the 1 April.
Jonathan O’Dwyer: You have wallpapered the back wall of OUTPOST using a breeze block pattern that relates to shooting galleries. What initially interested you about this type of imagery?
Steve Bishop: It probably all stemmed from when I went to stay with some friends in America and we went to go shoot their guns at a shooting gallery nearby. It really struck me, about the peculiarities of the targets you were allowed to pick for what you wanted to shoot at. You could pick anything you liked; Human, animal, circles. The choice fascinated me. It seemed absurd to be able to pick different posters that you would be able to shoot at, and how essentially a piece of paper ended up representing a human life. The breeze block poster that I used in the show, is a wallpaper made by a gun company for the use of wallpapering a shooting gallery. I'm not quite sure why a breeze block pattern is the ideal? Other than perhaps it speaks of a nondescript common situation, perhaps the 'ghetto', perhaps it is reminiscent of to many 80s films where the finale shoot-out occurs in some warehouse in the industrial outskirts of the city? On the other hand, I thought it interesting that this paper, instead of being like the target standing in for a human life, simply represented a wall. And yet where it is designed to go, is already a wall. The absurd facade of this concept interested me. I also really liked the texture-mapping realism from 3D shooter games like Duke Nukem 3D and DOOM and things like that. Perhaps that was really the initial interest in this type of imagery.
JOD: So there’s quite a mixture of influences going on. Do you think there’s a difference between shooting targets in a gallery and doing the same thing in a computer game?
SB: I guess in one sense the implications are similar. If it was a straight ‘duck hunt’ target-based style of game, then the only difference really is that one is practicing using the real equipment. Shooting a real gun was a very shocking experience to me, so it is definitely more extreme an experience than any video game. I don’t really believe in video games being a bad influence though. Although, I did play a lot of video games from an early age and I can’t deny it’s influence on the way I think about things. Perhaps in a more objective kind of way, in terms of seeing an object as a finite thing. I’m thinking about how a character might pick up an item in a game and there is an all-encompassing sense to the object.
JOD: You talk about the finite object. The work at the back of the space is slightly reminiscent of an alter piece, bearing in mind what you said earlier about ‘ghetto’ culture and video games and a comment you made about the OUTPOST space being like a church hall, would you say that these works represent a kind of urban religion or a heightening of the domestic ritual?
JOD: I see. It seems that your work often presents two colliding aspects, in this show it seems that there is a threatening or industrial element undermined by a reference to domestic objects. Would you say that this clashing is something that is important to the way you approach the work?
SB: Yes definitely. I think one of the main ways in which the pieces, and my work in general operates, is through relationships of juxtaposition. I think this occurs visually but also within the concept. One of my favourite pieces of art has to be when Jimmie Durham drew a smiley face on a boulder and dropped it from a crane onto a red sports car. I think it is interesting, because of the placing of one object so close to another, so much so that they have been smashed into each other, they still remain separate and retain totally different languages. Perhaps contradictory is a good word…
JOD: Yes it is. Can you draw your favourite smiley face?