The Jogging (Brad Troemel and Lauren Christiansen)

The Jogging (Brad Troemel)

Work from The Jogging.


Melissa Paget interviews Brad Troemel

Melissa Paget:
What are you influenced by? Can you tell me about your work? What materials are you interested in working with?
Brad Troemel:
On Jogging we classify works as being sculptures, installations, etc. but all of the works on it are ultimately digital images.
The works themselves (in their physical form) are never seen by anyone but me and my collaborators, and many things I post never exist physically in the first place (proposals, some installations, images).
Because the objects we use are re-purposed as art, not purchased or originally intended that way (a canvas bought at Blick), their being art is just a brief part of their life that ultimately ends by being recycled (naturally or synthetically).
The point of re-functioning them is to show their fragility, their ability to be manipulated or changed, their ability to have their function removed with the flick of a wrist.
Historically, our sculpture falls in line with the readymade tendency.
I use photoshop to re-function images the same way, to show how easily an image’s existence can be altered.
I don’t like the things I make existing in real life because of all the baggage associated with physical spaces and the problems of perception with the viewer.
I’m never in control of what a gallery looks like.
On the internet, I’m able to present every work in the same context.
I don’t have to worry about scale, or about the viewer’s likeliness to disregard a 1:34 video for an installation the size of their body.
Everything I make is equal on the internet.
If someone wanted to exhibit a piece from Jogging I would send them a .jpeg file to project.
Artists have a hard time accepting that images aren’t objects.
Old American people grew up in a world of objects- making them, trading them, working in stores touching them as they sell them.
It’s not surprising that they think images are essentially real things, they’ve dealt with real objects their whole lives.
To them images are billboards, advertisements in magazines, pictures in newspapers, and photographs are prints- these are tangible things.
To me images are pop ups ads or .gifs on the side of Gawker- my digital news source that uses .jpegs to convey its stories, and whenever someone wants to show me photographs I go to their website.
Images are not objects for my generation.
If we really follow the Pictures Generation’s ideas to their logical conclusion we see that images as objects are just a bastardization of a bastardization.
If we can agree that photographs are constructions not to be trusted, the most preposterous thing of all would be to try to assign a photograph the semi-permanence of physicality.
I see this as a problem in the real world and in the art world, that Cindy Sherman’s criticisms on identity construction are contradicted by their being objects in metal frames screwed in to a wall.
It makes more sense to present something that revolves around the idea of a visual illusion in a transient way.
Just as a photograph starts as light projected on a sensor, that is the way I want my images to be seen- transient and intangible, never given the validity of a physical state an image never truly has in the first place.
I also don’t believe objects will be objects for long.
9-11 taught us about fragility- how the economic system we trusted could be brought to its knees and how the steel structures we thought were permanent could fall like dust.
We’ve seen entire mountains in the American east bull dozed and dynamited down to flat planes.
Our cement bridges collapse and our levees disintegrate when confronted with what they’re designed to combat.
Glaciers miles thick have melted away.
Every bit of new technology around me is made obsolete in months.
The looming threat of global warming is a physical one that threatens the permanence of the ground we stand on.
We’ve learned all of this during the 21 years I’ve been alive.
All of this and people still want to press paint on a canvas that can be ripped, or stitch fibers millimeters wide.
These types of art making art futile.
Objects don’t stand a chance.
But in the mean time, in the brief historical period before objects are permanently annihilated, they serve as our greatest inconvenience and take up all of our space.
One day we’ll run out of space for everything- for our collections of Furbies, for our families of 12, for our 3 ton $2 million dollar reflective egg sculptures and everything else.
These apocalyptic ideas about the fate of objects contribute to my mistrust of them (and the assumed permanence of their existence in places like museums), but the greatest problem I see for objects in the art world are their tendency to be the vessels through which artists are controlled by those more powerful than themselves.
Since industrialization, we’ve understood that art can be reproduced infinitely.
From that point artists’ intentions split in half- one group still believing in originality, objecthood, the hand, craft, etc.
The other group saw the end of originality, viewed the artist themself as the artwork, and believed that thought was the most powerful artistic creation.
I associate myself with the second group.
Industrialization was a freeing movement for artists, it allowed them to make even more of their works and sell them to more people, eliminating the intense dependence on single collectors that many artists faced.
This freedom was false, however, and only served to broaden an even larger problem – private ownership of art through manufactured scarcity.
Before industrialization, the scarcity of art was a real thing- you could truly only make one thing because you were making it with your hands.
After industrialization, scarcity became a charade played by artists as a means to maintain the value of their own work.
This is where we get “edition of 5” below the title in the museum placard and other forms of false scarcity.
Now not only is the collector content to limit those who can enjoy an artwork, but the artist becomes a willing participant as well.
Art that cannot be seen is pointless.
Information that cannot be accessed is not information.
This is a problem, but its solution requires an unlikely shift in the way art is distributed to being open editions for whoever wants to buy it (can you imagine every city that wants a work of art getting it? Especially in the case of art that is very expensive to manufacture like Richard Serra or Jeff Koons?)
Or it requires a shift in our perception of how to see art and learn from it.
The internet might offer us this opportunity, it being a place all can access for no money.
There are still problems with all having access to a computer but they are far less than all having access to the Venice Biennale.
I don’t hold any distinction between seeing art in person and seeing it on the internet because I don’t believe in aura or other types of ghost importance and magic.
Aura is an idea used to validate limited ownership of art in the object form, that we must go to the museum and pay our entrance fee and that the museum must pay millions of dollars to own “the real thing”.
You can see how “aura” makes quite a bit of money for a few.
When your art takes no object form and is available on the internet for all, there is no more false scarcity for you.
If, after this point, someone pays you to create new work or pays you out of admiration for work you’ve already created I see no problem with that because they are paying for merit, not ownership.
This is the place where the artist creates an idea and the collector pays for the idea for its worth to them out of charity and respect, not control.
I think this is a noble way to live your life.
We saw this in what Radiohead did with their last album, to an extent.
I want to create memories for people instead of objects, I think they’re worth more and will be all we’re eventually left with.
Everything art related will soon be classified according to its relationship to the viewer.
For example, we’re seeing people increasingly unwilling to pay for MP3s.
Recorded and mass distributed music is a kind of passive participation in music.
The experience is uniform for every person who downloads the song.
I see no problem in paying money to go see a band live, though.
Live experiences are worth paying a premium for because they are unique and memorable, they require active participation.
Relational aesthetics has something to do with this idea of the value of human interaction and being a potential medium itself.
Besides, most of art is an end point.
The artist buys a canvas and some paint, spends some labor depicting something on the canvas, hangs in in the gallery and sells it.
Beginning, middle and end completed in a gallery by one person.
That control seems a little tyrannical.
I want to set up conditions for the end point to be created on its own in real life by the viewer (or, now, participant).
Recently, I anonymously left a six pack of beer in a skate park as a project.
I’m not sure what happened to it afterwards.
Maybe a cop from the neighboring police department found it and poured them out in a trash can.
Maybe a bunch of kids had their first beer.
Maybe they’re still there because everyone thinks they’re someone elses.
I like all of these possible endings, any one of them satisfy me.
I don’t need to see what happened, because I know whatever happened created a narrative I’m interested in.
This is what I mean- creating beginnings and allowing other people to finish the project on their own, create their own experiences.
This is the direction I want to go in the future.

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