We continue our Art Catlin 2012 interview series with Max Dovey, a Wimbledon graduate who has been making waves across the new art scene with his live interactive performances commenting on the topical and the technological- everything from Web 2.0 to the stock market. He tells us about his new work for Catlin Art Prize, which elevates the importance of the digital switchover into a historical landmark event.
What medium do you work with, and what will you be exhibiting at Art Catlin?
I work in live art and performance with new media and digital content. My work is event-based and I like to create a performance to bring together my ideas, and allow audiences to share experiences through conversation and participation. For Catlin I am exhibiting ‘The Last Day of TV’ - a series of video box sets produced on the eve of the digital switchover. I organised an event to mark the digital switchover in London. I invited the public to share the last day of terrestrial television, discuss the end of analogue broadcasting and eat TV dinners. People joined me throughout the day as I watched and recorded all 5 channels simultaneously and then in the evening we had a party. I have produced them as vhs video box sets. I’ve been fascinated by the switchover event - both its public engagement and historical implication. I wanted to celebrate the end of a medium and create an artefact of analogue broadcasting.
What narratives informed your work for the show?
Making the digital switchover the subject for a series of works has made everything really accessible to audiences. There have been lots of art shows about the implications of the Digital Switchover – Remote Control at the ICA & David Halls ‘1001…'. It’s great to see so many artists responding to everyday topics and making their work relevant to wider audiences and give them a voice.
I wanted to facilitate this discussion in my work – by inviting others to watch the last day of TV with me. People talked about their problems with re-tuning or reflected on the aesthetics of analogue and despaired at seeing ceephax for the last time. The event provided an opportunity to reflect and to share the end of a medium together.
I was determined to elevate the importance of the digital switchover and turn it into a historical landmark event. I wanted to capture the last moment of analogue television and commodify the event into an artefact of popular culture. The box sets present a tendency to fetishize the past and highlight our value in nostalgic items.
Will you be encouraging audience participation?
The main participatory element in this project was around the live event and the switchover however I am still documenting the stories and experiences through conversations that follow on from our event. I have produced the box sets to signify my response to the event and to explore its value as a social artefact.
How do you works usually live on after the performance? What is your preferred mode of documentation?
I explore the potential for networks and Web 2.0 as performance spaces and their ability to offer real time documentation. Audience feedback can now inform a performance in real time and be recorded to document an event or happening. The web documents lives in real time and it’s important to creatively work with this resource. Some really interesting participatory projects have integrated web tools from the beginning of the process to allow for a much more accessible work.
I always make a website for every project and there will always be some video promo to show what the project was about. This is only ever used for marketing purposes and it’s just a sample of what happened. I work with online data, create a live event and then will upload the video documentation afterwards. I really like gathering all the footage and comments about a piece and producing the documentation, it lets you sense the wider impact of the piece.
What are you working on at the moment?
During May I am doing 2 day residencies at Chelsea, Camberwell and Wimbledon art college. I’m working with students on a digital project called yourhomepage
I will also be performing yourhomepage at showtime festival. Then I will be taking the secret post office to a lot of music festivals this summer – Secret Garden Party, Wilderness, Shambala, Nova and No Direction Home.
The Secret post office is a free on site mail service where you can write letters to your friends at the festival and we deliver them. Every year we dress up as postmen and run around the festival looking for random people – its always good fun.
See more of Max Dovey here. Art Catlin exhibition and the overall winner of the Catlin prize will be on show from 4th - 25th May at Londonewcastle Project Space - 28 Redchurch St, London, E2 7DP.