Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Eric Morgan Interview

I met Eric in college when we both were taking painting classes at SUNY Fredonia under Alberto Rey, whom we both greatly admire.  After I graduated in 2004 and moved to Brooklyn I gradually lost contact with Eric until 2009.  Eric now lives in Kailua, Hawaii and recently graduated in Oakland, Ca with a MFA.  You can visit his website at http://ericcyganikmorganart.blogspot.com/

What school did you get your MFA from?
John F. Kennedy University in Berkeley

How would you describe your videos?  I video the medium of your choice?
Through video, I examine my body, and the way it moves through time, the way it confronts the internal process of imagination. I'm particularly interested in considering absurd tasks and imbuing them with an esoteric purpose. Sometimes the setting will be all that is necessary, other times costume and rhythm of editing will be of more importance. The narrative and its definition is primarily left to the viewer to play with, analogous to looking through microscope or a telescope and watching the scene. What you see under a microscope is this other reality that is witnessed in a visual vacuum. I want to create those kind of alter-realities that connect to our daily reality. The goal is to subvert that daily reality to allow for new meanings to emerge. I like the idea of the videos spinning a soulful trance that gives the viewer just enough to enter but once inside all boundaries are destroyed and recreated with new ideas.

Why is the name of your blog "Level to Level"?
Level to Level is a body of work that culminated, a little over a year ago in 2011, in my MFA show. I wanted the blog to be its complete documentation.  It was an all-encompassing environment of various entrances and exits, which included videos, paintings and sculptural objects. The plan is to create another blog as a documentation for the new work, hopefully in the next few months.

How does your work from the past relate to what you are creating now?
Well, very soon after  you saw that work in 2005 I began to move away from painting entirely and focused on drawing. I bought these tiny sketchbooks and drew compulsively. I would have several books going on simultaneously, one was the very personal and experimental book and the others would be for more finished work stemming from that experimental book. These tiny drawings had mammoth ideas built into them but they were too insulated and not allowed to expand past the cerebral level.
Graduate school popped that bubble and I began to let the outside world inside my imagination. Everything changed then. Once these forms and ideas entered a physical world and an imaginative world, that is when landscape began to develop.  A break-through in this investigation of the inside/outside dichotomy was to place myself in the environment. Level to Level was a completion of the journey from those intimate, early black and white drawings to the expansive natural and urban landscapes.

What do you want, if anything, for the audience to come away with?
I want the audience to come away with a feeling of renchantment of the world around us.

What are you currently working on?
I am currently working on a series of paintings and new video pieces. The paintings are small in size and they have themes of landscape-based visions and bright, fluorescent colors, while incorporating some of the environment I'm living in now. The working title for the new body of work is Pali Visions, after the mountainous, volcanic ridges that are left from the initial explosion that created the island of O'ahu.

Why did you choose to move to Oakland, CA and then Hawaii?
I moved to Oakland to attend graduate school and to fulfill my recreation of the original westward journey. Hawai'i is a continuation of that journey. The island environment is yielding new investigations of isolation, discovery, and movement or its lack of, which is ironically somewhat reflected in my art scene involvement.

Explain to me the significance of all the vibrant colors that are in your paintings, videos, and dress?
I think vibrant is a good way to think about it. In using such intense colors I am trying to harness some kind of a wild animal. It can get way out of control but its successes have a huge impact visually. The vibrations of colors within the relationships, for example of lime green and fluorescent orange,  create fields of high energy. 
To have consistency in the palette that I work in injects a particular emotional language within the formal aspects of painting. This is linked to all the other mediums as well. It's about expanding a vision in every available way, and leaving nothing unconsidered for expression. Also they're sexy!

Does your identity transform when you perform or record yourself in your videos?
Using myself in the videos is definitely deliberate and significant because the performance in the videos is about turning myself inside-out in the environment. Yes, my identity changes when I perform in front of the camera but it is important to say that it is not "acting". It isn't an identity that can be turned on and off to become the character. It is a temporal headspace that gets recorded for raw material. Mostly it isn't until the editing process that I see who I was.

What have been major influences in your art?
Music is a major influence. Sometimes I'll hear a section of a song, whether it be a harmony, a little melody or some time change, and I have the urge to figure it out visually because it tapped me emotionally.  Aboriginal art and the ideas about the land and Dreaming. I'm looking at David Hockney's landscapes, particularly the Grand Canyon paintings as well the northern England paintings. The American Sublime era, mostly the Luminists. Bruce Nauman--setting up problems and performing an investigation of them.  I discovered Brian Bress a few years ago and that changed my idea that video art can be kind of silly and funny but also expressing pressing existential things too. Psychedelic culture, mysticism, Graffiti and memory. Comedy has been a new influence within the past year or so. I relate to the comedians' absurdist perspective on daily life and I am working on translating that into my work. 

1 comment:

  1. great interview eric. you have such as clear understanding of what you're doing. and it shows in the work. it seems like you have gotten good at riding that line between being open to the unknown and being able to make it known simultaneously. you fucking mystic.