Artist interview: Simon Finn - Art Collector

19 March 2013

Simon Finn's current exhibition at Hill Smith Gallery showcases his intricate charcoal drawings based around a simulated scenario of the MARS Rover camera being submerged in an ocean. He chats to Art Collector about his method and inspiration.

Simon Finn, Downward Spiral 2. Courtesy: the artist and Hill Smith Gallery, Adelaide

Your exhibition at Hill Smith is described as a simulated scenario where the NASA Mars Rover camera is dismantled and submerged under an ocean surface. What about this particular camera captured your imagination?

It was the functional form of the device and the nature of its image generation that held my attention. I am fascinated by the disposable aesthetic nature of the images that it produces and the format within which we receive them. This first became evident when I was generating my own images whilst diving in the depths of the Bass Straight.

This is quite a complex body of work in terms of process and form. What feelings or impressions are you hoping to inspire in viewers?

I was hoping to engage the viewers in questions surrounding pictorial technological innovation and their relationships to our biological surroundings.

Simon Finn, Simulant. Courtesy: the artist and Hill Smith Gallery, Adelaide

You’ve said that you are interested in the relationship between the tangible and the simulated world. How do you conceive this relationship?

It is a fluctuating relationship in my studio practice; at times the tangible and simulated do not appear to be separate or do they deserve to be. Other times, my screen-based imagery develops a disposable description that requires a bodily interaction to achieve the anticipated outcome.

You work in 3D modelling software, sculpture, film and animation, and charcoal. How do the different mediums inform each other, if at all?

The production process is a subversion of the role of the computer as an image-generating device, and I consider the software and filmic works to be essentially initial sketches for my drawings. Drawing with charcoal on paper is at the front of my mind when virtually constructing the imagery, as it allows a friction that I find alluring and conducive to engaging production.

Your intricate charcoal drawings must be very time consuming. Why pursue this medium when you’re so competent with digital technology?

They are time consuming and I often question why I pursue this medium in the fashion I do. I generally conclude that it is a reaction to spending large portions of time over the last ten years immersed in visualisation technology and motion graphics. The primal and simple activity of charcoal drawing on paper feels more adventurous than drawing via a wacom or cintiq device. I am assuming this is due to the safety mechanisms in digital technology (i.e., undo) that allow for an overwhelming amount of creative freedoms. For me, traditional drawing allows a more poetic relationship with the subject, especially when the mortality of the image is unmistakable.

Simon Finn, Stages of Descent. Courtesy: the artist and Hill Smith Gallery, Adelaide

I’ve read that you have a life-long fascination with the moving image. Why moving images?

I would not say that I am alone with this fascination, and I also think it is a very human trait to be seduced by illusions produced by moving pictures. However, I continually surrounded myself professionally (film and television, visualisation, research and lecturing) with motion graphics, which I blame on a healthy diet of comics and sequential art as a young'un.

You will be exhibiting as part of a group exhibition in London later this year. What will you be showcasing there?

I am really excited about this curated exhibition because it began soon after delivering my first academic paper at the 2012 Electronic Visualisation and the Arts conference in London. The touring exhibition Suspense is with three London based artists that also explore matter in motion and responses to changing material states. I am planning to show a series of drawn works that investigate sequential narratives.

Any other plans for the year ahead?

2013 started with a curated drawing show Down to the Line at Bett Gallery in Tasmania, as well as an invitation into the NETS [National Exhibition Touring Support] touring exhibition around Australia. I will also be constructing another two solo exhibitions, the first at Perth’s MOANA project space, and then in August, I am really excited to have my first solo exhibition with Fehily Contemporary in Melbourne.

Alexandra Djurichkovic

Simon Finns' exhibition
Stages of Descent continues until Saturday 23 March at Hill Smith Gallery in Adelaide.

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