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Eliza Fernbach


YOUR NAME:Eliza Fernbach

1. What was your first experience with digital art/new

-Etch-a-sketch...must have been in kindergarten.

How did that experience shape your view of the world?

-At the time the experience was magnetic...the possibility of erasing something and starting it again and again was a delight. On the other hand when a reaction to toxic paint had me settle for Photoshop, I was mesmerised by the moments in the development of an image that could be saved.

Did it inspire you to change you art/practice?
Yes, any changes I embrace are due to love or obligation and I was obligated to avoid traditional art supplies which I was allergic to. Technology seduced me thereafter and consumed a lot of time the way a new lover does. Now, the bells and whistles that some people chase with an admirable fervor are not that interesting to me. Digital means of expression are an important part of my practice but certainly not the only ones.

2. What books are you reading now? Are they related to
digital art and
new media? Are any of those critical books written about
new media,
digital art, art theory? If so tell us what you like about
these books
and what you have gained from reading them.

I read Newspapers, Poetry and short stories.
Papers crackle with nuggets that ignite creative ideas (One of today's Classified ads in the Pictou County Paper: "For Sale, wedding dress, size 12. In good shape.Only worn once.") Poetry is what I aim for in my work and reading the words that the gatekeepers of our culture string together invigorates me. Billy Collins is a genius. The Canadian, Anne Simpson inspired my latest short film with her poem "!" in the collection "Light Falls though you." Short Stories by people like John Cheever, William Trevor and Janet Frame are some of my favorites, Right now I am reading the brilliant Shusha Guppy; "The Blindfold horse- memories of a Persian Childhood". Her title story about an animal that is blindfolded to avoid being bored by its repetitive work is as good a critique of the human tricks to escape repetition as any theoretical writing on the flight from the present that is perpetuated in the digital realm.

3. Describe your personal practice.

My practice hinges on the velocity at which individuals navigate the coordinates of their lives. Works in the site specific arena precipitate pauses that separate the events and colors of experience otherwise blurred in the double passing lane that has become our real and digital human highway. In other words I work slowly and take a lot of coffee breaks all the while examining and reexamining the last place I was you were and they were.

art/practice relate to other works/ other people working in your field?

The work of others often inspires me to respond. The best work reminds me that I have not invented the wheel... Lately being part of a collective, the exposure to other approaches certainly influences the choices I make in my own work.

4. What do you believe are the most interesting ideas being
investigated in your field. Tell us how your personal
practice integrates, relates or extends those ideas.

The same ideas that have been driving art since the lascaux cave paintings; a representation with the tools at hand of what life is right now. Then the curiosity was with things and objects and a story. Right now digital art is increasingly cerebral and reflective- verging on the silly. A majestic marriage of the old and new- engaging current psychology and new and old technology is Zoe Beloff's exploration of the evolution of cinema its representation of our subconcious. It is thoughtful, makes reference to the past and the development of the medium while advancing its expression. Christina McPhee's breathtaking digital images are Classicaly inspired masterworks too. I would be lost without a regaulr dose of Mark Rothko.

5. What are the most negative aspects of new media? If you
create great change in the field what would you do? How
would you like
to see new media develop in the near future.?

The idea that computer programmers are artists. I encourage all my students to consider a career as an artist or to develop an artistic challenge as a hobby but the internet will never ever be a tool for the kind of art that moves souls. It is a means of information gathering- I challenge net artists to trump the experience of standing in front of a Goya painting, Rodin sculpture or Rothko Abstraction with something that someone can access on a computer screen. It ain't going to happen.
I would give away pencils and pieces of paper and send my colleagues into the streets and out to the woods- as a reminder that art is not expensive and that if an idea is good it can bear very, very simple expression. (See Christina McPhee's astonishing and heartbreaking sketches)

6. In the general discourse of contemporary art as it
exists today,
what interests you the most? What interests you the least?

What interests me the most is opening up the often fascinating conceptual work that underlies contemporary work. Clever artists who have protected their weaknesses with a veil of theoretical nonsense deserve to be scoffed at by farmers whose sillage patterns are more evocative than the "patterns and processes" these types present as art and then refuse to expand on. Art does speak for itself but I feel when I make art I am also responsible to uphold the language of art as it is developed in my experiments and not in the vapid "Artist Talk". It is exciting to say "This is what I intended" and find out if it is communicated well and if not what did my subconscious really want to say that someone else might observe?

What interests me the least is art and artists without a sense of humour. I appreciate a certain amount of solitude and it prepares me for interaction. When the time comes for interaction I enjoy debate and exchange. There are cancer researches with more joie de vivre than some artists I know. I once suggested that it was a shame artists couldn't be more convivial -the way musicians jam. An old, self professed "cowboy" snapped that "he'd have been a musician if he wanted that." He remains isolated and unknown and of little consequence to any art lovers- unlike enduring giants in the field like Louise Bourgeois- still wryly engaging on many levels and hosting her salon at 96. A figure of arguable consequence to a generation of artists and observers.

7. If you could alter the course of ideas and practices in

contemporary art what would you do. For example would you
virtual archives? Would you set up a lottery system to fund
Would you start working with sociologists to expand your
practice etc...

Again, I would open the gates again and let more people in on the joke- or in the rarest of cases, the sublime memorial to our innermost questions. There is really no such thing as contemporary art- just art that was once contemporary.

8. Do you have a question you'd like to ask yourself?
Do you have a
question you'd like to ask other people for a future
I'd like to ask myself how old I am when I am thinking about a work, talking about a work and making a work...There are selves that emerge in these stages of the creative process that can help or hinder the outcome...
For others:
What else do you do besides make art? These things inform great work. . Being out in the world and engaging in the quotidian is really important for me.

What is your idea of beauty in the practice you are engaged in? What experience in the art world would you describe as sublime?