Jeres on the Irony of Heavenly Perfection
In your series Tragedy Static/Heaven you mention that you explore the notion of finding beauty and hope in the in-between state of things when things are not quite perfect. What do you mean by the ‘in-between state'?
The in-between state I’m referring to is basically every moment of our lived experience, but let’s set up some context for that statement and how I got there.
When the topic of imperfections came up for this exhibition, my mind went to two places. The first of which is the song Heaven by Talking Heads which imagines heaven to be a bar that everyone is searching for, a perfect place that is always playing your favorite song and nothing really happens. It describes a kiss that when it ends, it begins again, exactly as it was before, nothing changing… and then sarcastically states that “it’s hard to imagine that nothing at all could be so exciting, so much fun.”
I love this take on heavenly perfection because it reduces it to a dead end that ruins kissing and makes you hate your favorite song. Perfection sounds like a terrible thing to reach because where do you go from there? Any change is a step down and eventually this perfect state will be less than perfect because it offers nothing new.
The other place my mind went was on the opposite end of the spectrum. In her short story called The Doctor, Mavis Gallant described the state of existence during the great depression as a “tragedy static”. First of all, I just love those words together and how they sound, but it came to mind for this because it was such beautiful way to describe a frame of mind where there is such a lack of hope, that you just accept that nothing can change and abandon any pursuit of improving anything because there’s no point.
So, anywhere between those two extremes are what I’m referring to as these ‘in-between states’ and are probably where most of us exist already. A state where things might not be ideal, but they are at least in flux… which creates opportunity.
The beauty I’m referring to comes from this movement, regardless of direction. The ebbs and flows create hope for something new that will at least grow our experience, even if it doesn’t better our position immediately.
What inspired you to explore the tension between hard edges and blur in this recent series?
In Tragedy Static/Heaven, I wanted to distill and reframe some of what I was exploring with Coronado, which was another series inspired by imperfection. While that was using many elements interacting to create a sense of energy being actively spent, I wanted to turn that on end and pursue a feeling that was more comforting and minimal, to reform that activity into something more akin to potential energy.
I wanted the series to sooth and excite at first glance, but create a tension over time… so using the simple elements of sharp edges and blur felt like good building blocks for that.
The sparse hard edges are at odds with the blur and capture a feeling of inevitable change because of how impermanent the elements feel when presented at these slightly imperfect angles. To add to that implied movement, I use color radiating in many directions to make it feel like something internal is pushing it on. Each layer, while cutting through with those hard edges, also blends into the other layers creating a dissonance in knowing where one ends and others begin.
How do you resonate with the notion of ‘imperfections’?
Being able to play with the idea of imperfection is effectively therapy for me. I am far from perfect and my psyche won’t let me forget it. There’s always an inner critic rambling on, picking at some complex of mine. I hope this critic has good intentions but it can absolutely come on in an antagonistic or belittling way. I don’t think I’m unique in having that inner monologue but what I love about trying to embrace (at least allow) imperfection or creating art about it is that it helps rewire a bit and appreciate the things that are imperfect in me, or the world around me… and hopefully quiet that inner critic because hey, being imperfect is ok, and pretty inevitable.
As an highly artistic individual how do you balance the technical aspects of coding with the creative aspects of art making?
Most of my adult life has been working as a software engineer and not as an artist. This is a relatively new path for me, and one that I am extremely grateful to be able to explore. I always felt creative in certain ways, but the idea of being called an artist—or even highly artistic—was a leap my mind wouldn’t allow me to make… It felt like a sacred designation that I didn’t deserve. I’ve always had creative outlets in music and photography but it’s only been a bit over a year that I’ve been exclusively focused on making art.
With that experience as an engineer, I felt quite comfortable with the tools needed to make generative art and my ability to adapt a couple decades worth of coding experience for purely artistic purposes. While there is much more for me to learn in terms of techniques and areas to explore artistically, it feels very natural for me to use code to do so because I’ve worked with it for so long.
That said—and to try to actually answer your question—creating generative art, for me, is about expressing an emotion or trying to represent something conceptual and not solely about showcasing technical prowess. This isn’t to say I don’t think of code as a collaborator, I try to give it freedom to let something unexpected emerge which can change the direction of a piece… but I don’t start a project because I have something technical in mind; I start with general idea of where I want to go aesthetically or thematically and then apply technical solutions or experiments to open that up.
What do you hope viewers take away from your work, both on a visual and conceptual level?
With Tragedy Static/Heaven, I want viewers to take away a feeling of hope and comfort, as well as an escape from anxiety related to trying to make every aspect of life fit together perfectly. That’s impossible anyways, at least for too long. I want them to see the beauty of inevitable change, to be gentle with themselves while going through those changes, and to embrace their flaws as much as their strengths.