Joe Hardy: Curtain Call Artist

Joe Hardy: Curtain Call Artist

By Tom Seymour 19/08/11

IdeasTap member Joe Hardy won our Curtain Call brief with his experimental, high-tech artwork – which caught artist and judge Ron Arad’s attention and is now exhibited at the Roundhouse in Chalk Farm, London. He tells IdeasMag about the experience…

You used to be in the band Amusement Parks on Fire. Did you work on the band’s artwork? 

I made a video for Amusement Parks On Fire a while before I actually joined the band and I've always done the artwork. I went to school with the singer Mike Feerick and we've always collaborated on visual ideas. I was in Iceland working on the front cover for the album Out of the Angeles when they realised they would need another person to be able to perform the tracks live, so asked me to join. 

What’s it been like to exhibit at a big venue like the Roundhouse

You see everything on paper, so I obviously knew that it was going to be eight metres high and 20 metres across, but when you see it in real life it’s pretty intimidating. I kept seeing it while it was built, and it was impressive seeing the progress we were making. I went into the Roundhouse and it was totally empty, and then there were all these wires everywhere, and then suddenly there were all these screens everywhere. 

Have you ever exhibited on that kind of scale before? 

Nothing of that scale. When I was at university I sometimes used big pretty big rooms but nothing that grand and exciting. All the projectors were of incredible quality. 

How did it change your approach to the piece? 

It was an interesting process, I came up with the initial idea and then fleshed it out with Ron [Arad, the curator], but then when it actually came to making it you have to work within the constraints of technology, so the actual outcome changed quite a lot I think. It was a learning curve. 

What I did was quite minimal. It’s amazing to see how you can manipulate a space. You can stand in the middle of the room and the artwork is all around you; it’s overwhelming to see your own stuff like that, really. 

In what main ways did the outcome differ from the initial idea? 

We were working a lot with video technology and initially I imagined a computer creating a live image based on the room, but actually we ended up using data live. We adapted the idea to make it look elegant, rather than a bunch of videos just stopping and starting. 

The other major difference with this piece of work was having someone on hand to help me out. Prior to this I’ve always been very protective of my work, but having the technicians around – who knew exactly what I was trying to do - really helped me. Initially I was able to vaguely explain something over a coffee and they’d come back the next day with a computer program that could track people across the room – it was amazing. 

How do you go about making something so high-tech distinctive and artful? 

One of the things I’m interested in is using technology to represent itself. Instead of using the screen to project a visual image, it was highlighting itself. It’s self-reflexive in a way. I just did a piece of work over the weekend where I used a projector to project itself, so you could see the bulb the projector was using on the screen. It’s trying to find something aesthetic within that process to allow it to be considered as art – and that’s a kind of editing process.

Visit the Roundhouse website for more information on Joe’s exhibition at Ron Arad’s Curtain Call.

To find out more about Joe's work, visit his website.

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