Friday, 20 July 2012

Interview with Tim Barnes



Tim managed to find time to answer a few questions between various sound distractions

You would I believe describe yourself as a kinetic sculptor. Can you describe your practice to me?
I am a kinetic sculptor, or kinetic sound sculptor to be exact. I have spent the last year searching for a material that is both dynamic so as to be continually surprising and engaging but also critically robust and creatively fruitful. (A plane flies overhead) That material is sound.
A painter usually cannot paint without moving something and the role of movement in my kinetic work is just as necessary, only automated to continually produce a sound. My work is made to invite an attentive listener and is often very quiet and considerate of silence. (Door closes) I feel an artist who uses sound must not forget the silence and should not interrupt it unless they have something better to articulate.

Your work has a powerful emotional effect on the viewer; something is shared between the sculptor, sculpture and spectator. Is the emotional response intentional or a happy bi- product?
Some people might talk about the humour in a work or bring some kind of emotional significance to the situation but this is really just baggage. (Rattling in the wall cavities) I believe in some ways that artworks can be like terminals or depositories where thoughts and ideas can be left or collected, perhaps revisited.
But I think listening is an immensely personal act. Critical listening places the perceiver at the centre of the universe.

I believe that you sometimes pine to be a painter. Do painters have an easier time within the larger art world?
I suspect painters have an easier time in general, but it doesn’t bother me being someone who sculpts. I am however a little envious of the format of painting, (Telephone Rings) but the dynamic surface eventually closes down towards something finished. If it was impossible to finish a painting then I’d paint. It’s partly the idea that a painting can be finished that I find unsatisfactory about painting.

As a sculptor the environment in which your art is seen must be very important. How do you feel about your work being exhibited in a disused garage space? Do you think context is important?
I think as long as the art works aren’t parked in the garage space, we’ll be alright. I consider more than most the auditory environment, what sounds have the potential to interfere with or modify my work in some way. Usually this is not a problem.

Your sculptures are kinetic and by definition contain moving parts and also emit sounds. One might imagine that the computer screen would be a compatible medium. Is this so?
The medium of the computer screen is such that it does not allow my work to be engaged in the way I want it to be. My work is centered around the listening body and there is no opportunity for a bodily, reciprocal exchange through the screen.

Do you think there will come a day when there is no longer a place for ‘real’ art in the ‘flesh’?
(A pen rolls off the desk and falls on the floor) I don’t think so. Ideas involving the occasion, the body or the installation, these all require a live audience to appreciate it fully.

Finally; What does your screen smell like?
It smells like it’s over heating.

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