Artist Alex Bunn makes bizarre and enigmatic objects in clay and biological materials, as point of departure for his immensely detailed photographs. We have talked with Alex about how he makes his elaborate photographs, and about his current show Nervous Wrecks at Noplace:
Your solo-show Nervous Wrecks is currently being shown at Noplace. Could you please elaborate on what is on display in the exhibition?
Two large scale panoramic macro-photographs of purpose-built transient sculptures. They are two permutations on a theme.
The works in the exhibition are detailed, photographs that depict what might be pastel-coloured, uncanny and abstracted architectural models, with parts that seem organic and rotten. How would you describe the objects in your photographs?
I think of the objects as a way to generate desired phenomena. These particular artworks feature purpose-built models that share properties with utilitarian design such as the chassis of consumer goods or facilities such as factories, kitchens, garages etc. I’m interested in the function dictating the form, therefore a physical object can embody a broader system. This is one way in which I try to compress information. Further information is projected onto the topology of the objects. Another form of compression is to tinker with their temporal nature or their innate substructures. The fact that biological materials meet all of these criteria is one reason they have recurred in my work. They have an incredibly rich history before I repurpose them.
You build the objects in the photographs yourself. Could you please comment on the process behind how you make the work? What happens to the objects after you are done photographing?
I spend most of my time swearing at clay but I’m not sure that’s a valid method. In the cooler moments before starting production, I usually have a pretty clear picture of what I want to see and what I want it to do. This is often assisted with maquettes, masochism, schematics, notes and sketches but mostly I just mull it over for a while. My poor little brain needs time to get used to what I want to achieve as the ideas are abstract and slippery but they eventually adopt a vivid form. I then almost invariably set about production with non-drying clay. It can get very convoluted from hereon so I’ll save that for another day. I have some models packed in boxes, others are destroyed by a catholic priest in a hazmat suit.
With regards to the photographic aspect; they are panoramas made up of between 5-7 shots. Each shot is a composite of up to a hundred exposures to capture infinite depth of field.
The show consists of two panoramic, close-up photographic works that are so colossal that they are almost difficult to take in in their entirety in the relatively small room. The format and the size seem to be a crucial part of the work. What are your thoughts behind the works size and format?
They need to be of a size that reveals and emphasises the substructures lurking within the work. In one way or another they atomise upon viewing into components, regions, layers etc. They also needed to be of a scale where a level of interaction feels plausible. They are places as much as objects. Hopefully the scale enables them to be something in between places and objects because oscillations such as these may be a way of holding disparate ideas almost simultaneously.
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