Tuesday, June 25, 2013

This Issue's Cover Artist: Shamus Clisset

Posted By on Tue, Jun 25, 2013 at 2:58 PM


Above: (Beeramid, 2010)

Though currently based in Manhattan, the once Brooklyn-based artist specializes in creating alternate digital dimensions. Sourcing from his surroundings and the distorted mind of his alter ego, Fake Shamus, the renderings defy the conventions of space through repetition and magical (and morbid) juxtapositions.The scenes are familiar, but with a sense of drugginess. His work just showcased in a solo exhibit at Deborah Brown's Storefront Ten Eyck, the biproduct of one of Brooklyn's 10 Most Important Galleries.

Where can we see your work this next year?

Well, I have work up in three different shows right now, the one at Storefront Ten Eyck, and then two group shows at Lesley Heller and On Stellar Rays. All of them opened within three weeks of each other, so lately I've been putting all of my effort into getting ready for those. We'll just have to see what comes next...

What neighborhood do you live in?

I hope this doesn't hurt my street cred - I live in Hell's Kitchen, straight-up midtown, right next to Times Square (I made "Tourist Trap" right after moving to the area. I lived in Williamsburg, East Williamsburg and Greenpoint for many years and Crown Heights for a few more, but Brooklyn was getting too expensive! Actually we moved to be closer to my work. Midtown is pretty weird, but I don't miss the commute. I save myself 40 hours a month!

How do you start a new project?

Usually it's just some image or object in my head that I want to see. A lot of funny stuff just pops in my head. I kind of think of these digital spaces that I'm creating as mental space, and the computer allows me to fix a mental image in a very realistic form that I can print out and show. Sometimes there are little threads that follow from one picture and inspire the next, either directly, by reusing or transforming 3D models I've built, or more like a tangent or hint at some previous thing I made. You can read a kind of abstract narrative between the different pictures that way, which I like. But a lot of times new images just start because of something that's funny or new and interesting to me. I just try to keep surprising myself.

Do you have a studio routine?

It's all computers all the time, sitting in a dark room in front of a screen, but within that my workflow is pretty varied. The 3D modeling part of the process, building the actual computer models, is basically digital sculpture. Then there's digital painting and design when making textures and colors for the objects. And for the rendering part of it (the light simulation that produces the actual image I print from) there is a virtual camera that has all the controls of real life photography. I like that I have to switch between those different ways of working and thinking for every picture, it keeps the process fresh and uses different parts of my brain.

Is there an artist or exhibition that's had an especially significant impact on your development recently?
I don't get out to see a lot of shows lately - the development of my own work is pretty internal, I'm kind of a hermit like that. But I like any artist with a sense of humor. I think I look more to internet imagery these days. Tumblr and all the ridiculous stuff out there is a good reminder for me to push things further. There's such a deluge of images all the time now and I feel competitive to make things that stand out among all of it.

Do you have any advice for other young artists?
Don't do anything half-assed and don't try to make something just because you think its what other people want to see.

Is there another medium or style of work that you’d like to explore or have started to experiment with?

I used to be a painter for a long time, but I'm sticking with digital now. The capabilities of the software are growing all the time. I've been playing around a lot with different visual perspectives. Traditional visual perspective creates a believable illusion of depth and space, but I can now render images using orthographic perspective, like in this recent piece, "Orthographic Bender", which is in the Lesley Heller show). Nothing shrinks as it recedes in the distance and lines don't converge toward the horizon, so it's disorienting. I aim to make my pictures totally convincing and fake at the same time, I call it "hyper-fake", where your mind really wants to believe what you're looking at, but it knows something is off and struggles to put it all together. I'm always trying to find new ways to explore that.

How do you describe your work to your parents?

It's tricky. I think my dad gets the technical side of things, he's relatively computer savvy and can understand the technical aspects pretty well. But I don't think they can hang with much of the subject matter. A bloody Lamborghini just doesn't have the cultural resonance to them that it does to me and I don't think I've ever really tried to explain to them where it comes from.

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