Lines Fiction: Your drawings ostensibly could be described as sketches of travels. During your journey of 49 days in the winter of of 2004/2005 through the Antarctic you sent one sketch per diem to 3000 email boxes back home. Your special practice is not to use pen and paper but to rely on mobile technical devices as a palm pilot and somewhat draw in pixels, how did you get to this point?
Simon Faithfull: I have always been a pathalogical drawer but at some point i became frustrated with the preciousness of the ‘authentic’ mark on paper. I was more interested in trying to capture the world as a set of lines (or at least my subjective response to it) and the art-world’s fetish for the object just seemed to get in the way of this.
I started using a mouse and computer to make simple diagrams for various project and proposals. Though using a computer as a crude drawing device, i started to get re-infactuated with drawing for drawing’s sake. The problem though was that i was now tied to a desk-top computer. At some point I saw a businessman using a PalmPilot (a small hand held organizer). He was making a small diagram as a note and this seemed to offer a way to have a basic digital sketchbook that would allow me to make simple observational drawings as i moved through the world.
I was making drawings in New York when i was on a residency at the top of the World Trade Centre and it occurred to me that rather than printing these out i could also send them via email. The drawings were dispatched immediately out into the world – almost as if i was a kind of visual pirate radio station for drawings.
This then came a large part of my practice as an artist – either documenting the everyday banal world around me or traveling to the far off corners of the world and reporting back live in sparse, elliptic pixelated drawings.
Lines Fiction: Your animations follow the frugal pixel esthetics of your drawings, but as in the animation ‘13‘ you develop an emotional background through sound and an athmospheric moon for the night scene that with a wink lets us receive the impression of a classic road movie.
Are these your intentions to create special emotions through a spare input?
Simon Faithfull: The drawings are my attempt to capture a subjective response to what i see in front of me. They become a kind of record or my standing and looking somewhere on the surface of this planet and as such, each drawing also carries with the GPS data that pinpoints where exactly it was made. I now use an iPhone to draw with and these drawings are sent out immediately to over a 1000 people receiving the darwings through an iPhone app, facebook or Twitter. The project is called Limbo and the subtitle is ‘an expanding atlas of subjectivity’.
I see the drawings as my subjective and yes, therefore emotional, response to a place or situation. Even though i use a digital device the process is perhaps the opposite of using a digital camera – the point is that i filter the world through my head and try to fix one person’s impression as a set of floating, seismographic lines. Lines that because they are un-attached to any surface, can then be sent out into the world in any number of ways.
The drawings are always direct observations of what i see in front of me – the animations though are a later process. I develop small moving vignettes from some of the drawings and these sometimes get stitched together to form short animated sequences. Even though the drawings are all directly observed documents the introduction of animation shifts the works slightly into a more fictional space. With this shift there also comes the possibility of hightening the mythical or emotional aspects of what or where I am seeing. The furtherest down this narrative path that i have travelled is the short film ’13’ that was actually originally made for Channel 4 TV. This mixes my animated drawings with stolen animated gifs such as the moon from the NASA website and the Ford sign from car manufacturers website. My drawings came from a journey walking out of London along the A13 road but by the time I have woven things together including the ‘music’, the film becomes a journey through a fictional A13 in a strange and parallel universe.