There is something decidedly déjà vu about the haunting panoramic images in Wayne Mitchelson's recent award-winning IN:LANDS series; they look like stills from a beautiful and mysterious film whose title is on the tip of your tongue. A shiny cadillac is parked in the desert at sunset; the lonely shape of a man hunches half-shrouded in fog under the eerie glow of a neon sign. Your mind fills in the rest of the story, as if you've seen it somewhere before...Read on as MINI Space fills you in via an exclusive interview with the artist.
MINI Space: Could you start by giving us a little intro to your main materials and techniques?
Wayne Mitchelson: I always start with a sketch: just a simple drawing of an idea that comes into my mind. This idea can come from anywhere -- an experience, book, music or film. From this I then start laying down the idea using photographs in Photoshop, a sky from one or more photographs, then slowly laying in elements and objects from other photographs, building up the piece over time, like a painter would work. At this point in time, the end result is printed on large format inkjet printers, but I'm still experimenting with printing materials and mounting materials.
MS: So what are some specific projects you've worked on, or projects you are planning for the future?
WM: The work shown here [IN:LANDS] was my final year assessment work. It wasn't as much a project as an exploration into ideas and my practice. From here I intend to keep with these ideas and expand on them, pushing my practice and experimenting with new printing and finishing techniques.
I also would like to start making films at the same time-in fact, that is a project that I'm already laying ideas down for.
MS: Speaking of film, the images in your IN:LANDS project actually look a little like movie stills: a frozen moment in a longer, more complex story. Do you mean to tell a specific story with these pictures, or do you hope to encourage the viewer to make his or her own inferences?
WM: There is no complex story to them, but I do imagine a small scenario to start the pieces. For example, the piece "Two Men Running" was inspired by Kafka's short observational writing "Men Passing By". In this story, Kafka imagines two men running by on a road in the night. He then goes over possible scenarios involving the men: is there a third man running after them? Are they running after another man? I think this is what I'm trying to do with my work-to allow the viewer to lose themselves in their own private story.
MS: Besides Franz Kafka, what other artists or themes do you pull inspiration from, and how do you think this is reflected in the style of your work?
WM: I've always loved the works of Edward Hopper and one of my biggest influences, Gregory Crewdson; their beautiful depictions of loneliness, isolation, strangeness and atmosphere.
But the artist who primarily got me into my practice was the 19th century German Romantic painter Caspar David Friedrich. His use of light to create the atmosphere and his compositional devices I studied at length.
MS: When did you decide to pursue a degree and career as an artist? Were you motivated by a particular person or experience?
WM: I wanted to be an artist from the age of five, but coming from a very working class family, I wasn't encouraged to go to university. After years of unhappy jobs I decided I needed to do something, so I quit a very well paid (but boring) job and went to Uni. It has to be the best thing I have ever done. I have learned so much and it has given me the structure to continue learning.
I now teach the IT side of Fine Art to new degree students and I hope to start my Master's next February.
MS: What are you most likely doing when not making art? What do you most like to be doing?
WM: When I'm not making art, I follow my other passions: film and music.
Music takes up a lot of my time when not making work. I have a life-long passion for dance music. That is, deep, dark techno from Berlin: DJs like Ben Klock, Marcel Dettmann, Mike Dehnert -- the very dark, sub-heavy techno sound from the infamous Berlin club Berghain. Also the deep hypnotic sound from Donato Dozzy and Giorgio Gigli from Italy. I do DJ myself, but just for pleasure at home, now and then, playing just to friends. I don't think I have the energy nowadays to party and play all weekend.
Film seems to be my major influence at the moment, so I try to watch as many as I can, new and old. I watch about 5-10 films a week.