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18 Jul 2018

Interview | Sam Oh In Conversation With David Hannon

Meet Sam Oh, an artist and entrepreneur who founded AXEL.NYC – a collective of multi-media artists who aspire to create unique experiences at the intersection of music, art, and technology. Having been part of the Lightbox fam for quite some time now, we invited her on over to interview David Hannon, an artist on our radar who explores the idea of absurdity in portraiture using video, 3-D animation and sculpture – definitely one to watch in an arts meets technology space. 

Sam Oh: We like what you do. Tell us a little bit about your work and how you create it…

David Hannon: First of all thank you to Lightbox for this great opportunity!  In terms of my art, it revolves around moments that happen to me, or objects that I find.  For example, one of my more recent works, Mantle, was based on this dilapidated dollhouse I bought at a thrift store.  A few months later, my mom had passed away and I began to look at this dollhouse a different way, as a symbol of childhood even though I didn’t grow up with this specific object.  I decided to use it as a basis of a large scale interactive installation where I blew portions of it to human-size and performed in it, interacting with the audience in order to move a giant necklace I created. The idea of moving this giant necklace was based on the undertaking of going through all of my mom’s objects, she had so much jewelry!  You can see the installation here.

SO: What inspires your artistry? 

DH: Growing up, I felt like I didn’t really fit in with my surroundings so I kind of try to recreate that visually though these large-scale installations.  I try to find a gay or queer identity outside of more mainstream movements through performances in these very same spaces.  I am inspired by set design work from theater and film to more experimental work.

I source images and symbols from pop culture that I repurpose such as dollhouses, as I talked about earlier, or castles or even Brooke Shields!  One time I was in a youtube hole watching tribute videos of celebrities and I got sad.  Then I realized that some of the videos were of celebrities that were still alive, and that moment made me question why I was sad but that sort of performed nostalgia made me create a 33 minute Brooke Shields, a gay icon not of my generation, a tribute video.

SO: Did you always know you wanted to be an artist?

It is not that I wanted to be an artist, I had no choice in the matter.  I am kidding, sort of, but as I grew up it provided a source of escape, Wizard of Oz-esque.  I started drawing in high school but I always had a hard time knowing when pieces were “finished.”  When I started working more 3-dimensionally, the very fact of tangibility helped me realize my ideas easier.

DH: What comes first? Art or technology?

Ah, I think it depends in what context.  I know sometimes when I am playing around in programs like Maya or Unity, it helps me realize what I want to create physically, other times the reverse is true!  One time I made this silly sculpture out of spray foam and straws of a castle but before I threw it away I scanned it into a 3-D model and brought it into Maya, so that process between digital to physical is inherent to the work.

SO: So what is next? 

DH: I want to transform the physical performance using motion capturing and use that resulting data to animate something unexpected.  Through the use of technology, and going from digital to physical, I aim to create new meaning.

SO: Name three artists to watch and tell us why you chose them?

DH: A few artists that achieve the process of bringing the digital to physical in an interesting ways are Morehshin Allahyari, especially her project Material Speculation: ISIS where she reconstructs artifacts digitally that have been destroyed by Isis, a very pressing project.  Jacolby Satterwhite is also one of my favorite artists because of how he portrays the queer body in a digital world and also Shana Moulton’s work uses camp and sources from pop culture turning what could be considered low brow into something more revelatory through video and live performance.

Thanks again, Lightbox!


Check out Sam Oh and David Hannon on Instagram!