2 - 21 November 2014
Gabriel Stones was born in 1984 in Penrith.
He studied at Royal Academy Schools.
Gabriel currently lives and works in London.
The following transcription was made from a recording taken during a studio visit by members of the OUTPOST Steering Committee to Gabriel Stones’ studio in South East London on 18 October 2014.
GS: Would you like to see some work?
GS : Its funny because my initial impulse was trying to get away from doing the 3D video stuff, I didn’t want this to be something that I did forever, but came to it anyways because I wasn’t doing anything else. And that’s how I started doing it anyways cos it came out of being inactive, like sort of not wanting to make sculpture, not having a sustained interest in something to make it exist. So the immateriality of it makes it more like reading or writing or something like that. So I’ve had loads of false starts with it. So I’ve been writing some things and then it’s really hard to put it back into the work. I’m not going to do a voice over.
TS: So the text won’t exist separately in printed form?
GS: I think it’s going to have to, but I don’t think it will for this show. But it’s how I arrive at things that are in the videos anyways.
TS: Uh yeah.
GS: loads a video, an early rendering of ‘The feeling of life’s coming to a point’
GS: So this is the newest one and the one I’m most excited about... I think it’s going to be good, I think... I think it’s going to be projected on a modest scale, not huge, kind of gross.
GS: So he starts slow and he’ll be struggling to move, and hopefully feel sticky too. So it will have the feeling of an animation rather that an epic video art work. So it will sort of stay within itself. So there will be plenty of space on the screens and it will suit the whiteness of everything else...
GS: loads a video of a revolving animal carcass a version of which can be viewed at www.gabrielstones.com.
GS: This is the meat eater thing. Something I’m interested in is aestheticism and a sort of authorship, re-inventing yourself. Like a simple vegetarianism, like Tolstoy. He dies, he died, it sounds like a fiction, well he died in his 90’s, he’s had a fight with his wife and he’s run off to be a Christian finally. He’s constantly chasing and running from ideology. He becomes vegetarian, and sort of gives up wearing socks, in Russia - hard on yourself sort of things. As a way of existing.
GS: I don’t know if you know the short story writer Lydia Davis, she writes these stories and everyone talks about it like its a modernist or super reductive approach, for me it feels like a sort of existential reduction, like there are only this number of words. Like you cant put anymore words in.
TS: How do you feel this reductive or pious approach features in this video?
GS: Well it’s an inversion of it. With the title it flips it. It doesn’t extend the logic of it.
TS: In all the films there seem to be objects that relate to the body and its often macabre or... disgusting. Like it’s not a...
TS: Yeah, like it’s a troubled body.
GS: Yeah so my interest in all this isn’t because Tolstoy is a real peaceful dude. It’s because he’s a tormented dude. It’s like he finds difficulty in things and it’s this difficultly that I’m interested in rather than purity. Because I don’t believe in purity.
TS: Do the objects in the animations have a direct relation to sculpture - to physical objects?
GS: I like things that have a relationship to the ground, which is what I think sculpture is; something that stands up.
TS: And bodies, when you think of bodies, they’re fighting against gravity. Your entrails! It’s an improbable act that a body stays up, like a perpetual balancing act to fight against this force. Inevitably it all (slaps hands together) is going to be flopped on the ground.
GS: Yeah, the amount of pressure that’s holding all your organs in.. crazy. I like thinking about that. That’s the sort of straight up existentialist sort of thing, like, the way Bas Jan Ader takes that literally. In the way that he thinks about gravity and falling. I’ll show you some other bits – the plaster came from this sort of character. This thing that I was writing, it was a piece of writing. It was an idea. When you’ve got a cut on your hand you go through the box of plasters, and you don’t want to use the plasters that are too big for the cut. You’ve got to save that one, haven’t you? So that’s the sort of character that I’m interested in, that I’m trying to make up, or the space I’m trying to create.
GS: Loads a video, an early rendering of ‘I could tell you about some things I’ve discarded’
GS: So this is a real camera, a real point of view.
GS: whispers ‘It shouldn’t be so jerky’.
GS: The dots are like motion tracking dots. So when you put the footage in, you have to follow them. It’s sort of automated, and sort of a slog to do. And then it transfers that to the 3D camera, in the virtual-space. When you programme the animation of the camera it’s quite hard to make it feel hand held. I’m sure there’re some tricks.I don’t think about these things as films. I’m never going to – I don’t’ feel like splicing them together to generate any effect with them. I suppose it’s minimal. But like, this sort of spelling things out – I don’t think it works; I don’t want to do it.
GS: For a while I felt really good with this, then sort of didn’t loads a series of videos, elements of which become ‘Secret person’
GS: This eyeball was always going to fall into this sort of textual space.
TS: I guess you need to find a vehicle for the text.
GS: I’m trying to yeah.
TS: Have you tried books?
GS: You give it all this rubber quality and then press go. I’ve been modelling all these veins. It was going to interrupt this sort of textual space.
TS: What’s the longer text then, is that a narrative that you’ve written?
GS: Yeah, that was what I was initially excited about. But it’s too…
TS: Because that’s what you initially spoke about. You described an interest in fictional autobiographies and first person narratives. How’s this manifest?
GS: I mean it’s just like; maybe it’s what people call “the confessional”. That’s when I started doing this, the sort of setting up the rules, how this is going to go on from now, this sort of reinvention, like starting again. To put text in a film, it’s totally different to this, which I am interested in, this sort of space, but you know you need some trust here, or something like that. GS reads: “The email is from someone my age, a person who I hate.”
GS: – you can’t put that in a film. It felt too mean to go in a film, particularly in these films that I make which feel really mean. This was sort of a formal thing, these screens are made of paper so they sort of tear. So at the moment I’m thinking if I can get the plaster on, going really good, that that will almost be enough. Behind, sort of hidden somewhere in these screens. There’ll be about five of them, and the videos at the back, not like a cinema space at all, but it’ll have a sort of presence like a sculpture has a presence.
GS: The text, I don’t know, I’m sort of reworking it and stuff.
TS: You wouldn’t use that as, just like a piece of written text?
GS: I mean I’d like to at some point, see how it goes. The best show I ever saw was this show by Ron Terada, it was just these stark text paintings that were a sort of biography of Jack Goldstein. Do you know? An LA artist that died, or whose career fell off and then he died of drug problems. A tragedy. That’s all the show was, just the story of this guy’s life. And I’ve never had an experience of looking at art like it. Art as biography or artist as biographer of another artist. The tone of the show was just great. I’m getting more out of reading, than looking at art. Or out of writing than messing with materials.
TS: Do you think that’s something, it’s not like a negation of the existence of objects, but in a sense it’s a way of having another relationship with objects – it’s just not making them.
GS: I just can’t sustain a relationship with objects; it’s just a personal thing and maybe a temporary thing. This stuff it feels like it’s coming out of nothingness, so it feels like it’s coming out of my intellect, which… I want to use. Or I want to feel like I’m able to feel. Not like I want to use, like some powerful force, but it’s something that I want to nurture and I want to feel myself using. If I could be like Daniel Sinsel, something like that, yeah, that would be lovely but I can’t, this sort of sensual stuff..
TS: Sensation, experience, reflection, do you think that’s like a sort of philosophical approach to objects, or what an object is, like the idea that an object might not exist? There are arguments around materiality and immateriality, Bishop Berkley versus John Lock or whatever or arguments about what a thing is. Is there actually anything there, or is it only the idea of a thing that is a thing?
GS: For me that’s the only thing, that’s what I’m interested in, that sort of experience. Not even of the object just of like.. ..life.. yeah like, how to be.
TS: Because that’s what some of the films made me think of, projection, that like necessary overlay of perception on top of something, a hidden object, and yeah, it’s like an approach, which is why it still feels to me like it’s kind of reverse sculpture, but maybe that’s a fantasy?
GS: Yeah, I’d like it to still be somehow, yeah. And I think about the materiality of this stuff like, and the digital thing. I don’t see it as immaterial really. Just like at school – they called it ‘resistant materials’, didn’t they? I’ve sort of thought about that literally, recently.
TS: I thought about doing a show called Resistant Materials…
GS: Well yeah, they’re the ones that don’t give; I still find that with this (the animations) that they don’t, that this doesn’t give.
TS: Rob Filby and I were talking about this, these subject areas: Complementary Studies, and Resistant Materials. On the one hand there are these studies that overlay, that sort of fall on top of things, complement them, like critical theory. Then there are these resistant objects, and they’re just there, and kind of only operate thought displacement, through language. It’s almost like they’re actually inaccessible - they ‘don’t give’.
GS: They require work, or going against. They resist, it’s cool.
GS: presents a study draw filled with an array of knives
GS: I’ve been doing these, but these wont be for this show. I realised I had a real good collection of knives. I can show you the real ones...
TS: This is when we get our coats…
GS: They’re mostly just like Stanley knives and stuff, I’ve got shit loads of them; I made this one myself –
GS: produces a dummy sprung loaded, theatrical knife.
GS: I made it for a friend’s film, that’s a butter knife that I cut into a more aggressive shape. They didn’t want to use it for the film in the end but I did make it. But yeah this was going to be a sort of archive that I do, I don’t want to be too angst-y or anything.. but…Laughs…
TS: But I quite like that, that reminded me of something as well, this idea of alienation or anxiety in your stuff and the way that relates, that it’s the only point when you confront – back to this idea that everything is overlaid - like a thing is overlaid with all this - you know, how you actually relate to anything is already through so many layers, that it is only maybe in that moment of anxiety and in alienation, that you can actually like, I don’t know – see it or something, then maybe it starts to ‘give’.
GS: yeah, yeah… But like I don’t feel alone in this angst-y thing. Maybe in art people sort of channel it in more of a sort of cynical way than I’m trying to.
TS: Well it looks like it’s going to be exciting, obviously it’s going to come together…
GS: Yeah, it’s going to come together. I’ve been just in here, but it’s been amazing.