February 17, 2022
What My Practice is About
In my practice I always come back to this simple question, my north star:
“How can we live beautifully alongside representational media in every day life?”
It is a question concerning technology, politics, work, philosophy, spirituality, and ultimately human aliveness.
Our daily encounters with representational media go much deeper than simply hopping on Instagram or Tiktok or tuning into the news. We navigate the world through internalized media: things like inner-monologs, identities, daydreaming, and memories… spaces we can easily slip into for days and weeks at a time without realizing it, dissociating and forgetting life’s immediacy.
I think that the heart of my practice as an artist and as a human being is the attempt to find my footing in the back and forth dance between life’s immediacy - of being present and alive to life as it is happening - and representational media’s interpositions. It is all about finding mobility and finding ways back for when we feel a bit lost.
I approach my work from several angles.
My newest body of work in development, the WINDOW/SCREENS, use the motif of dandelion flowers to create a conversation about dreaming and longing through mood and gesture and negation. The paintings implicate the viewer’s embodiment with overlapping screens that create moiré patterns that move along with their body and gaze - an experience that can only be had in person. The warp and weft of the screens interact with photography and video capturing, bringing digital representation into the conversation.
In my sculptural works I approach these topics from a more conceptual angle, exploring our relationship to language and image. By conflating representational materiality with poetic objects and sonic installations, I create situations that invite the viewer to experience the inevitable failure of representational media to be convincing.
My traditional paintings are the most self-indulgent part of my practice. I absolutely love to paint and I don’t typically direct my energy towards any particular goal other than self exploration - which tends to manifest as phenomenological/observational studies, works based on memory and imagination, and quite simply painting for the joy of painting. Directed towards introspection, my traditional paintings are a kind of visual diary that show how I can, as an artist, personally live as both a producer of media and as a human that strives for presence, embodiment, and immediacy in my everyday life.
I think that there is a desperate need to find healthy ways to navigate internal and external media spaces without losing other vital parts of ourselves. For all the incredible advances in technology and communication at our disposal today, there seems to be, hand in hand, a danger for alienation, depression, and anxiety. In this age of globalization, pandemonium, and the ever looming push towards virtual realities, nuanced conversations about immediacy, presence, and negotiating our relationship with media are only going to become more relevant to feeling at home and alive in the world.
My hope is that my work will evoke different pieces of resonance between myself and the viewer and this shared experience we have of being here at this particular time, trying to live the best we can.
- Christian Bowden