Nicholas Coyne spoke with Mitchell Craft about the sensation of opening oranges, the value of repetition in his work, the properties of foliage, communicating an indescribable feeling and his first experience on the Internet.
I like oranges a lot, and just by seeing a bag of them, I can be taken back to a more nostalgic place of other times opening up oranges as a kid.
Nicholas asked Mitchell about the most notable recent experience he had involving these three senses.
When you say that, it brings to mind the last time I “made” something with my hands and the experience of creating. Yes, they are my ideas and my hands, but they aren’t ideas I contemplated beforehand; they were very natural.
I’m interested in repetition in my work and that comes from the process. New ideas kind of trigger that for me. Like, you put one tile down at a time and eventually it fills out the floor. While it’s going on, you’re thinking about how it will all look when it’s done and the repetition of the steps. There’s a lot to contemplate when completing a task and your body feels a lot of it. As you’re going and you physically work through it, you create new ways to get it done.
The interactive work on my site is done with oscillators. With the square piece, it’s three oscillators at once, so that’s why it registers as a buzzing noise. Each oscillator was set to a different sin wave. They all kind of compete with each other. I use sound to trigger something in my work. A quick sound will transport you to a different place so you can make a lighter or darker visual.
How was your day?
It was pretty good. I went to the river in my city.
Does nature factor in your life and the visual work you do?
Yeah, absolutely. I think, within my work, I am inspired by systems that can be seen in nature. Like how plants grow and reproduce and how that reflects humans and the systems we’ve created, with computers and how we operate.
Did you grow up with foliage always visible? It’s kind of like the wallpaper of nature.
It kind of is. I grew up in multiple homes. All of them were in Virginia and next to spots gave me access to nature, whether it was a park or a small creek between neighborhoods. I’d go around there and contemplate things and everything around me. Growing up here my whole life, I can’t really say what it is that is different here from other places, but I’d say I’ve enjoyed the rolling hills a lot.
Your work with video manipulations and interactive media are, at first, jarring because they are packaged in absurd and intense settings, like over ripe fruits as a musical keyboard or fragmented urban landscapes. Is there any formative experiences in nature that, in some way, could inform your current work?
I think moving a lot in my formative years. In all those places, there was somewhere for me to go in nature. I think the intensity comes from while I’m exploring nature and comfortable in it. It’s also an attempt to connect with myself from the past and think about what is ahead, if that makes sense.
Is there a sonic quality to fruit?
The fruit idea was a joke for a class in school. We were told to make a musical instrument, but coming from a more visual background, I wanted to create something interactive and visual. At that time, I was really aware of the lifetimes of my fruit, like seeing bananas a week after you buy them and they are kind of ripening or overripe.
You have to try and look at yourself in a way where you are not forcing yourself to be anything, taking things for how they are, and however that comes out, it comes out.
I think, as millennials who are pretty close in age, there is this peculiar experience we had, where our most formative years were spent along with the advent of the Internet. I think the early stages of what folks did as kids the second they had access to huge world is so interesting and informative, to some degree, of the people we become. What were your first experiences on the Internet like?
My first experiences on the Internet were these Nabisco-themed online games that my dad would let me play. Well, saying that out loud now, I kind of realize that a lot of the colors I work with come from those cookie-ish games with bright colors where you try to bounce a cookie into a jar. That’s why I love the Internet. Anything can exist and it doesn’t need to make sense. It has to make sense in some ways, but it can be anything.
Growing up, I went to a hippie-ish school and we weren’t allowed to take in much media, but my dad would let us watch some TV and use the internet on the weekends, but it was always a special occasion. It went from no SpongeBob to being able to watch all of it to back to playing with clay and creating with my hands. The Internet taught me how to be really interested by other people’s creations.
I think I had an expectation of media created as a kid, even from a lack of exposure to it. I was surprised by it finding things that were colorful and abstract and just for amusement.
You seem to be a perceptive and thoughtful person. What clusters of thoughts or subject matter come to mind every day that find themselves in your work?
Yeah, it definitely changes, but as someone who likes to tinker with art every day or make something new everyday, I can see a progression in my thought process and where my subconscious is trying to communicate.
A few years ago, I made this video piece called Shift. It was groundbreaking for me, because it was the first piece where I was communicating this indescribable feeling. It was me contemplating this void and now that I am more comfortable with thinking that way, I’m seeing it more nowadays and being more present, and seeing that a lot of the things we worry about do not matter. I try to express in my work an absurdity to life. It’s something I want to communicate that to myself, in case I find myself caring about useless things and then making something meaningless, and maybe have others see that and have ideas come from it.
You used an operative term that is hard to bring up to just anyone, but you brought it up, so we can talk about it, I think. How do you feel about “the void”?
I think you learn it’s not a bad thing. My work could be a document of figuring myself out. I see it as inspiration, it doesn’t have to be this situation where you’re bashing yourself because you can be a thousand different things. You have to try and look at yourself in a way where you are not forcing yourself to be anything, taking things for how they are, and however that comes out, it comes out.
I see Internet trends and memes arise all the time that remind me of its infinitude. Do you notice anything like that in real life?
Curated by: Nicholas Coyne
Conducted by: Email
Edited by: Morgan Enos
Published: May 15, 2018
Total questions: 9
Word count: 1380
Reading time: Five minutes
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