Saturday, June 18th, 2011 | No Comments
Andrew R. Bailey
There’s a sinister logic to the games found within the many-layered, multifaceted prints by Toronto-based artist Andrew Remington Bailey. Drawing on the visual language of comics, video games, and science-fiction, Andrew creates a maze where he confronts his shadow self.
Q.What strikes us most immediately about your work is the strange assemblage of recognize-able pop culture references, especially from comics, fantasy and sci-fi. Can you describe why you bring these elements into your images and how you manage to morph them into something completely your own?
Last summer in preparation for my thesis year at OCAD, I was doing a lot of reading that focused on the more academic aspects of pop-culture. Within this early research, I stumbled across a few articles that addressed the concept of pastiche, a literary technique where a text is cobbled together from snippets of other pre-existing texts.
My current work is an attempt to employ that technique visually, using text and images mined from my own adolescent experiences with fantasy, science-fiction, and horror media. I have become very interested in how early cultural imagery and obsessions can inform personal identity, and have been trying to use the fractured framework of the comic-page to map out all the nooks and crannies of my own sense of self.
Q.Your prints employ hyper-detailed patterning, hatching, geometric motifs, and then the generally grid-like panel structure of comics pages – to the point of feeling almost dizzying and fractal-like. Is this mostly an aesthetic decision (relating to screen printing), or does it hold a deeper meaning for you?
My tendency to make things patterned and overtly detailed is definitely an aesthetic decision related to the process of screen-printing. The more complexly patterned and layered an image is, the harder the piece becomes to accurately print, so it was partially just a way to push myself and ideally become a better printmaker. However, I also love how a dense composition can allow for a large variety of potential meanings to be discovered when someone is trying to interpret one of the prints.
Q.Can you tell us a bit about your piece “You Have To Kill Your Shadow Self ”? We love the dark and cryptic story that seems to dig into the psychology of fantasy versus one’s more grounded rational self.
This piece was inspired the idea of the Shadow Self, however it wasn’t originally inspired by the concept as it appears in psychology texts. The shadow self is actually also a really popular archetype for a boss enemy in a lot of role-playing and adventure video games.
Usually towards the end of a game, the protagonist has to face off against a dark shadow version of themselves who would have all of their same skills and abilities. “You Have To Kill Your Shadow Self” is basically is an attempt to mash-up this idea as it pops up in video games with how it functions within psychology.
Q.We noticed that symbols and cryptography are a recurring part of your series “Mind Games” – are there hidden messages to be discovered within the images?
I like the idea of symbols and icons because they can be visually pleasing, but also allow for another layer of meaning to be encrypted into an image. Someone may be interested in my work because of the colours, the patterning, or the fantastical imagery; but then there are also the people that may recognize some of the references I am making, and that is what draws them into the work. There are no outright hidden messages in any of my prints, just different levels of interaction depending on what the viewer recognizes and how they are make connections to other portions of the image.
Q.What are you currently working on that we might look forward to?
Currently I am working on a weird non-linear comic-book that will include a lot of rhyming verse in addition to some minor use of appropriated text. The general narrative of the book is inspired by Jim Jarmusch’s most recent movie, The Limits of Control. The film is about this mysterious silent assassin who must meet up with a variety of contacts in order to get him closer to his target. Each contact gives the assassin an item that will help him progress further in his travels, and also offers him a short piece of cryptic advice.
I have written the comic to follow loosely this plot structure, except that it will be stylized using trope from cyberpunk and science-fiction literature. I have been reading a lot of William Gibson, Philip K. Dick, and Neal Stephenson lately to get inspiration and source material, and hopefully I will be able to have it all inked up by the end of the summer. Also I just started renting out my first studio space so I am going to be trying to outfit that for screen-printing this summer as well.
S&TM: We want to extend our depest thanks and appreciation to Andrew for taking the time to do this interview.
All images © 2011 Andrew Remington Bailey.