Richard Garet’s artistic projects can be represented as an interweaving of various media including sound, photography, moving image and multimedia performance. Garet draws attention to perceptual processes which activates conscious and subconscious phenomena, reflecting on the nature and experience of time. Garet’s pieces, conceptual and/or stemming from the investigation of algorithmic translations and complex systemic awareness, are informed by the background noise generated with the collective sounds of the world around us. His reductive process seeks to translate the normal subtlety of this radiation, drawing it up from an unconscious status to active presence.
Garet’s work was featured in the first sound art exhibition by The Museum of Modern Art of New York, MoMA; soundings: in 2013, with Garet selected to join the exhibit as one of the sixteen most innovative artists today, working with sound as a medium. However, representing his work as only sound art would be a disservice to his portfolio of work as a whole.
With his “Screen Memory’ exhibition in Berlin, his interest was with mixing media and materials, dialoging within various media and moving between digital and analogue fields. In doing so he creates a sonic and immersive, perceptual, aesthetic. In many of these works, Garet references his background in painting. Garet holds an MFA from Bard College, New York.
Evidence of this strong interdisciplinary implementations can be found in his perceptual series where Garet uses sound to generate visualisations of sonic constructions. He then removes the audio leaving only the moving image to provide a visceral experience of the sonic composition. A luxurious continuity of colour and mood draws the viewer into the work where his paintings are translated into animation. This elaborate luminesce was shown in New York City’s Times Square as part of its Midnight moment event.
Thank you for your time and willingness to be a part of this exhibition. You have a background in painting with gallery representation here in New York City, as well as Berlin and elsewhere. Is there a difference between your earlier work, i.e., non digital art and what you are producing now?
I think my work is constantly in evolution and striving for progress. Nonetheless, I’m always editing it, reevaluating it, revisiting previous works, etc. I think with painting for example, it has informed much of my aesthetics and presentations. So, in a way I’m always considering that the essence and aura of painting is quite present in my work. Also the fact that contemporary techniques, technologies, and materials permit me to push works further, by arriving at more eloquent results that suit present and contemporary sensibilities better.
Can you mention some things about your approach to making digital art, perhaps what motivates you and captures your attention?
This is such a big question. I always felt a sense of moral and helical responsibility in the regards of digital per se. Perhaps too much of a modern spirit in the sense of having a strong feeling of obligation to test out and explore the newest possibilities and rejecting the falling into traditions. I think that’s the departing point and motivation.
Philosophical ideas also pushed my work onto the digital, but for me it has been also about working and exploring the full range of technologies, from archaic and obsolete to the most current ones too, blurring the obviousness of what’s what and at the same time making a final result that is digital and sustained in presentation in such a manner. In terms of attention I enjoy being embedded in the process to the point where imagination becomes a triggering mechanism of trying things and generating responses and feedback. Perhaps it is a methodology that I also acquired from painting that I still enjoy very much.
How is your artistic direction influenced or channeled by the use of digital technology?
For me it has always been clear that tech, an app, a programming software, etc., are tools and not the work. The work becomes what we make and what gets embedded into it within transformative nature that then, as a conclusion, we have something that can stand on its own. I think also knowing one’s own limitations and trying to keep on expanding knowledge and such limitations are key steps. That being said digital technology is so broad and it can mean so many different things in terms of genesis and applications. So in a way I’m meticulous to use it for my creations and challenge it at the same time as I use it. So I think that level of tension allows for interesting results.
Indeed they do and each piece has that special transformational, standing on its own merit that you mention. In your digital and non digital work is there a discovery process that is somewhat consistent or different?
What changes is the medium or material. I think what’s different is how digital reception and the etherial surface of the screen has modified the sensorial reception of the material and medium. That’s also why NFTs and Crypto art are quite interesting. That was my written statement approach and proposition with platforms like Super Rare. Meaning digital art as digital can be experienced that way right, but also digital reception has modified and proposed how we see as well by translating all forms and mediums to the very same receptive channeling; which is the poreless ethereal screen. And that’s different and interesting and goes beyond just making digital art that often it’s also presented physically as an object. But then art that is digital in origin and remains to be experienced as digital throughout each person’s digital devices transcends a lot. Still not a question of what’s right or not but it is here and now. We have gone from looking in a computer at something as a reference to looking at it as the actual thing.
That is an awesome response, Richard. Thank you so much for bring up these points. Your work seems to be made for the screen. The poreless ethereal screen, a new element in its own right and experience. Do you think or feel that there is something from the information side of technology that leads or informs you?
Humm. No, I think it’s idiosyncratic and generative in accordance to each persons’ immediate environment, interest, personal curiosity, capacity and culture.
OK then, shifting gears a little bit, What has been the audience’s response to your work? Are you often surprised and/or enlightened by what the viewer brings to the table when encountering your art? Please explain.
I enjoy connecting to the spectators and how that may build upon dialogues and establish communities. The life of an artist tends to teach us to accept silence, rejection, competitiveness, obstacles, etc., and make work without expectations while also having grandiose expectations. I think making the work right with the right integrity is what’s most important and then let the work do the rest. But yes, of course I value and treasure every response, but I do not let it interfere.
It’s the art for the art’s sake. One must create. Your work in the New York and Berlin galleries commands substantial compensation. What, for you validates your art? Is it someone buying your work? Is it a favourable critical response or is it something other?
Collaborations with galleries are different each time. The artists have their own expenses and production costs and so do the galleries as well. How much of that goes into what changes each time is depending on the arrangement. And the works are for sale of course. My work has been sold and collected for years now.
There is a general feeling, from the established art world, around the economic hype and viral buz of NFTs, that it is a fad or bubble soon to disappear. Now that you have entered the NFT market space with your digital work, what is your response to an established art world which appears biased towards art done by the artist hand?
I have always taken risks that did not seem the right approach at first. Sometimes they do fail and other times there is significant progress. My approach was to make NFT work that was site specific in a way. Like much work that I do in spaces where such spaces become the shell that concludes the work and holds it all up together. I did not want to tokenize previous works, but I thought that understanding the environment and making pieces that took into consideration the context and its limitations was the right approach. So that’s what I have been doing. I have been making work that suits the context and it’s functional within that landscape at large. I do not know what it will hold in the future. Whether or not will it disappear or evolve. But we cannot ignore that there is a system that is unfiltered, it shows tons of possibilities for creation, and it has been ignited by economics, therefore it integrates forward into markets that have already existed. That’s why the art world is going bananas with the whole thing. But are people really looking at the works and what they are, or they are just impressed by the sensationalism of large sales? In my opinion this is a field of expansion and we are yet to see what transcends and leaves a strong imprint. Then of course we cannot ignore that this boom happened during a global pandemic when the “in person” art world was completely paused. Did that help? But it’s an environment for creativity and possibilities and that’s what’s exciting also. We have to see how it evolves and where it lands. The power dynamics of the art world would not want the NFT one to evolve for sure. That’s a monopoly of its own. But something to mention also is that the NFT world operates differently in lots of ways and it does not have the same filters and there is something subversive about that too that allows for distinct voices to emerge. When I first started publishing these works I observed indifference, cynicism and negative skepticism from peers and other colleagues and now a year or so later many of them are also involved. So who knows?