Artist interview: David Haines - Art Collector

25 June 2012

The best thing about being part of a collaboration, says David Haines, is that the works can be extra ambitious. He talks to Australian Art Collector about his latest body of work, produced with Joyce Hinterding, which is currently on show at Breenspace in Sydney.

David Haines and Joyce Hinterding. Installation view of Orgasm at Breenspace, 2012. Photo: Jamie North. Courtesy: the artists and Breenspace, Sydney

Could you perhaps start by introducing us to your latest exhibition and what’s in it?

Orgasm is an exploration of both ways of thinking about energy and the devices for working with energy and evidencing it.

There are two accurate recreations of cloudbusters, devices invented by psychoanalyst Willhelm Reich in the 1950s. They got him into a lot of trouble with the authorities (perhaps he became really visible because of them) when he travelled throughout USA with his son creating rain. They work with the attributes of orgone energy that Reich thought was a cosmic level force essential to life.

There is a series of hybrid prints of energy flows. These started out as etching plates and they were then scanned and printed as digital pure pigment prints …

There are two free-standing objects. They show patterns made by pigment sandwiched between polycarbonate that has been blasted with electricity … I plan to do more of these. We find them fascinating. One can see patterns formed, dendritic patterns that show the wavefront of the electromagnetic charge as it interacts with the carbon pigment.

They are beautiful and I think they show something quite profound about energy and structure, so they fitted in nicely with our idea of the title Orgasm as a creative life force.

There is also a sound work titled
escaping gas which is a composition of white noise which is simply the sound of crashing electrons. If we make rhythmic shapes out of this broad field of energy then we are also creating new structures.

Above: David Haines and Joyce Hinterding, Electrostatic composition for Carbon Black and Alizarine Yellow, 2012. Carbon Black and Alizarine Yellow pigment, polycarbonate, cedar,
95 x 62 x 33cm. Photo: Jamie North. Courtesy: the artists and Breenspace, Sydney

This particular exhibition seems to have the very grand aim of talking about energy in all its forms. What is it about energy that interests you?

We have been working with energy for a long time – for Joyce, since the beginning of her practice; for me it’s developed as I have taken on the materiality of the world and the imaginary combined more consciously (though my early interest in abstract painting was always tied to the energetics found in fields of colour or mixtures of paint on a surface) …

Artists are always thinking through energetics anyway, between material relationships and mental and imaginative structures.

It’s rare to see artists who are as comfortable with science and engineering as you are. And the machines you make aren’t exactly the sorts of weekend projects you get from Make magazine. Where have you developed your know how?

Over a long period of time. We like to make things so we tend to do as much as we can ourselves in the studio and we have a workshop, an aroma laboratory and a digital studio.

We are very hands on. Like many artists every time one makes a new work one seems to almost start to learn a new trade.

I think artists these days are into the adventure of stepping out of their comfort zones and diving into all kinds of things.

Joyce is a very skilled maker and over the years this has had an effect on me as well. She was originally trained as a silversmith and they can make incredible things. We both love the manual as much as we love working on computers.

Above: David Haines and Joyce Hinterding, The Black Ray: Cloudbuster Number Three: Orgone Energy Cloud Engineering Device, 2011-2. Anodized aluminium, irrigation piping, water pump, approx 220 x 220 x 160cm. Photo: Jamie North. Courtesy: the artists and Breenspace, Sydney

Can you also talk a little about your processes. What happens in the studio day to day?

We are running around between a workshop environment and a digital studio. Parts of the production process happen on computer as much as they might on paper. There is lots of admin in a practice so computers are never far away.

We live in the Blue Mountains and our house is our studio so we are really living amongst it as well. It’s all open plan which means we can be folding computer-cut paper geodesic domes and making dinner. We have a sound studio as well so some of that might be happening.

David Haines and Joyce Hinterding. Installation view of Orgasm at Breenspace, 2012. Photo: Jamie North. Courtesy: the artists and Breenspace, Sydney

How does your collaboration work? What are the challenges and positives? Do you think you’ll always work collaboratively, or is there a natural end to creative partnerships?

I don’t think there is a natural end to it – we both have our own practice but over time lots of things about our practices are found in the collaborations. We like both spaces and sometimes new discoveries might reach collaboration before they reach our individual work and vice versa.

Collaborations have been fraught with critical arguments and have also been smooth as silk (we don’t live in a consensus relationship but we live in a relationship of intense conversation, so when its less smooth going in a particular work, we accept that as part of the challenge) and the work is always better for it.

We are very passionate about the whole thing so you wouldn’t want to be thin-skinned around our studio when we are really nutting out a problem. At the same time we are partners in crime, we know the score about what it takes. The great thing about being a team is the works can be extra ambitious and we support each other through the hardships and the pressure of doing these works.

Jane O'Sullivan

Orgasm by David Haines and Joyce Hinterding continues until 7 July 2012 at Breenspace, Sydney.

Related stories:

Share this page: