There’s an unusual relationship to scale, even looking at these maquettes you have here. This one looks like it might be a toy for your cat.
It is! I always make a maquette to understand scale and how a work would fit inside a space, and then I realised the cat loves it, so I made a toy for her. I also made a work that was a reproduction of a nose clip—those things people put on their noses to swim—but I noticed that people also sell them on eBay to use for thinning the shape of their nose. The work is a reproduction, 1:1000 scale, and once it’s installed on top of a wall inside the exhibition space, it supports or shapes the architecture in the same way as you apply it to your nose. Other sculptures were inspired by prosthetic elements, while others reference ear moulds. I was thinking about how we mould our bodies or how our bodies mould these forms, and I wanted to make them at a scale that we couldn’t relate our bodies to anymore. In essence they are our holes, but they are blown up, so now they mould each other or they mould a space and we can learn new things from them.
I’m interested in the relationship your work has to architecture, namely the space it’s in or how your work might interrupt or bleed out of it.
I think my work is really site-specific; I really consider the space it’s exhibited in. When someone invites me to do a show, the first thing I do is ask for images and plans of the space, and I build a maquette so I can get the feeling of being inside the space even if I can’t be there yet. When I imagine the work, I think about what this sculpture would do inside a space and what the audience would feel having that element inside that particular space. Every show always features a combination of those three elements: you don’t just see a work, you see a work inside a space, and you are a physical entity that can walk into that space.
What about the colours of your work?
The colour is really important. I would say my work is about desire and how our bodies are reconfigured through desire, technology, and architecture, but I’m more interested in the idea of how desire is produced than how it is satisfied. My process really consists of engaging with those materials that produce desire, so I work with a palette that includes colours that we relate to specific places. For example, when I use lilac or mint green, what does this bring to mind? For me it’s clinical feminine products, so when I am using this kind of palette, I am very much aware of how these colours make me feel and what kind of situations they take me to. There are colours that make me think of wellness or certain beauty therapies too. Then others feel more bodily, visceral, and libidinal.
Thinking about desire via colour and desire via material, if you’re trying to incite some kind of reaction in the viewer that’s bodily, actually sound can do that just as much as materials.
Of course, the sound in the space was tactile. Besides making the sculptures vibrate, the viewer would feel it; not as much as in Corsica Studios, but you were still entering into a space where there was energy being transferred to the body.
Which of course a viewer might not normally expect in a gallery.
In another project I made sculptures accompanied by audio where I invited the audience to sit and lie on the works, melt into them in a way. So the audience became part of a performative element of the work. It was interesting to think about these sculptures as animals, as entities or as lovers, so that people would cuddle them, and they would become part of the works. But more recently I realised that if you don’t allow people to touch the work then they want to touch it even more, which initiates a conversation around the production and satisfaction of desire. People fantasise more if these are the viewing conditions, so for me it was much more powerful to see the reactions of people wanting to touch or feel the works than if I were giving them the opportunity to do so. Everything that you cannot touch, or you are not allowed to see, is more important to any erotic relationship than what you are permitted to touch or see. I try to produce and induce bodily effects—body heat and heart rate—and in this way I try and think about my work performatively, even though I don’t do performance.
It’s that same idea that the sculptures become bodies in themselves, so in that way they are also capable of performing. I wanted to ask you about the video work where the little colourful robots move around.
For me that’s the earliest work I’ve made that still relates to my practice now. At that moment I was not interested in the same things as I am now, but retroactively I can see that some of the generative ideas were already there. At that moment I was interested in containerisation and how things move around the world. Each sculpture was made from disposed packaging materials that I was collecting around London, and I wanted to give them another life. If these materials were discarded in the street, after all their travelling I made them travel by themselves, as if they were a colony of swarming objects that now had their own journey without people instigating their mobility. I think all the work I’ve been making since then has some element rooted in that project.
I had to learn robotics and Arduino—learning really motivates me in my practice—and people thought these robots had a lot more patterns of movement than they actually had. They thought they had sensors and that they could really see you and were turning when they saw you; it was amazing.