Artistic License: Adam Fearon

The Berlin-based Irish artist’s latest exhibition at BUTLER GALLERY, Kilkenny explores our interactions with technology …

Contemporary surveillance techniques, facial mapping, touchscreens and the screen as a barrier between real experiences and the abstraction of the digital realm are explored in “relief” – Adam Fearon’s exhibition at Butler Gallery, Kilkenny. Central to the exhibition, spread across four galleries, is a video installation which combines live footage and a series of sculptures. These elements come together to disrupt the viewer’s sense of space and explore the hold which technology has over us. Adam Fearon tells us more about his inspiration and working processes.

What was the starting point for your exhibition “relief”?

I was thinking about the way we use and interact with our phones and screens. Watching all that touching, swiping, moulding, it struck me that we are shaping reality itself through these actions and that there was something almost sculptural about it.

What insights and angles have interested you in particular about our relationship with technology?

I’ve always worked with photography and the surface of images. I became interested in ancient relief sculpture as a way to think about screens because they are a surface and an image at the same time. I used this motif as well as the idea of grabbing and shaping the surface throughout the exhibition, in the videos and the sculptural work, so that the works across four rooms of the gallery become one installation.

Can you tell us about the video installation?

Videos and screens are used throughout at the exhibition but at the centre of the show is my most recent work, “Definitions”. It combines three-dimensional animation and a text piece, read by the actor Niamh McCann. The works takes a longer look at our relationship with technology, using etymology and myth to explore topics such as facial recognition, three-dimensional scanning and surveillance.

Where and how do you work?

I work mostly in my studio in Wedding, in the north of Berlin. It’s self-contained and very peaceful. There’s no WiFi there and I don’t bring my computer. When I am working there it’s completely analogue, focusing on drawing and sculpture. Animation, video and photography are also a big part of my work but I keep that separate and work from a desktop in my apartment.

You live in Berlin – what do you particularly love about the city?

What makes Berlin really special is the people. Over the years it has attracted a great community of artists, curators, writers and musicians. All cities change and I’m not one for nostalgia but huge rent increases and the difficultly of finding a studio mean that it will probably be impossible for the next wave of young artists to live here the way we have been able to. There are great museums all over the city: for contemporary art I recommend KW Institute of Contemporary Art, Gropius Bau and the Schinkel Pavillon. The collection of old masters at the Gemäldegalerie is also fantastic, as is the Pergamon Museum.

Need to Know: “relief” by Adam Fearon is at Butler Gallery, The Castle, Kilkenny until July 28; www.butlergallery.com.

Penny McCormick

Read previous Artistic License interviews

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