Catching up with Matt Lively about the Compound Installation
JLM: Compound seems to incorporate various component and themes that have been part of your practice for some time. Can you comment on some of the common threads running through your work that resulted in the installation?
ML: Compound was thought of as a place where I could do some of the things that I wanted to do or needed to work out in a climate controlled environment. The common threads are ever-present, are typically environmental subject explorations but how the thematic components manifest in actual object form is heavily influenced by my personal environment.
JLM: Comment on the diorama. Were there surprises in the installation of it at the gallery? Did the painting in the background and other aspects of the installation's construction change from your original conception?
ML: There are always surprises once I start implementing a plan - that's the reason I love doing this. I think every creative endeavor requires a plan, intention, then an interruption of that plan. I view the disruptions as an inconvenience or opportunity. Compound was only changed by the collaborative nature of the use of the stage set. By making a circular miniature stage and placing it near the corner, my thought was that gallery visitors could take their own photos with their own angles and depth of field. I can't control the images taken by others once everything is set. I get to benefit from the creativity of others by how they may interpret the particular views that they find.
JLM: Comment on the presentation of the project for which the Compound Installation factors, including the participation by Alex and Josh. Is there anything else you can share about the concept and presentation that would be intriguing to blog readers. Comment further on the story if possible. Comment on the experience of the process of installing and filming here
ML: I make my work with the thought that it can be used for different purposes. I try to extend the use of everything as far as possible. Creating an installation for Compound could also be used as a stage set for a film project. The story of The Windchill Factory had been a fertile source of ideas for many for my shows and installations over the years.. The Windchill Factory is the adventures of a group of kids living in a vaguely future world where it was necessary for the primary economic industry to be manufacturing cold air to combat global warming. I've made miniatures, drawings, and paintings as studies for the potential of expanding the story into a short film. Being approached by accident by a network interested in using the content I called on some movie-making collaborators to gauge their interest in producing a short teaser of a film. Film producer Josh Blum, director Alexander Germanotta, former studio assistants, Amy Smith, and Chelsea Auer all agreed to help with the project. Lee Matney was generous enough to give the crew and me the use of the Linda Matney Gallery as a location to produce the set.
JLM: Comment on the blue light that you used in the installation. The bedroom and kitchen sets. What is the significance of the jellyfish?
ML: The Blue lights were used to make a cool contrast to the warm yellow lights of the outside of the set. I relied on the director Alex and his knowledge of cinematography for most of the lighting decisions for the shooting. The miniature interiors were my interpretation of the insides of the houses. Since I know my limitations as a writer, I only focus on the elements that I would like to make. I am designated as "story writer" while Josh and Alex are "screenwriters." I suggested various elements that I would like for them to include in the writing mostly because I want an excuse to make it. The Jellyfish was suggested to them as a possibility for a "pet" of one of the characters. Once it was in the script, I got to figure out how to make one. I further justified the need for a jellyfish pet by pointing out that the dome shape echoed the dome-shaped protective cover of the houses.
JLM: Comment on the paintings featured in the exhibit. , Orbit, Blatter Very Sleepy River, Thermoballer and Forced Evolution. Please share any additional commentary about how they related to the installation and the associated projects.
ML: The paintings are all explorations of environmental change wether artificially forced or natural. I like to consider natural forces and human activity as an unapologetic collaboration.
JLM: Comment on the skewed houses
The skewed houses are forced perspective images of a familiar object. Something comfortable being changed, stretched or pulled by unseen forces.
JLM: The small gallery with the Barn and tar paintings is an intriguing addition to the exhibition- Comment on the original project with which these works are associated and the use of tar. Comment further on the Barn.
ML: The small gallery has excerpts from "Destructive Distillation" and exhibit at Glave Kocen in Richmond. The show consisted of depictions of 32 artist studios painted with tar on enamel. Manmade tar is made by heating wood, peat, and other materials in the absence of oxygen to distill it down to its essence and changing it at the molecular level. I think of an artist studio practice in a similar way: finding new ideas requires a distillation process in the quiet of the studio. The Barn miniature was a depiction of my studio made from memory during a residency at Glave Kocen.
JLM: This project is undoubtedly an innovative exhibit and something new for the Williamsburg area. Is there anything you would like to share with our audience in Williamsburg about your work or this project?
ML: Compound means putting two or more things together. It can also mean a confined space. As part of a residency, I used the space as a studio where I hash out ideas - good and bad - and allow people come and see the work as it happens and before it's complete.