充满童趣的首饰，埋藏内心的柔软 | John Sullivan 「艺术访谈」
欢迎来到木牙Make Unique Young Arts，和我们一起来探索我们的触觉特性，发现我们所隐藏的秘密～
Games were born because for all primates learning to survive is the first step we take in social interaction, and we do it through games. Games exist in every stage of our life (childhood, development, maturity). It is a social behavior far beyond the material needs and closer to the satisfaction of the spiritual world. In such an era of high tension, high pressure we through this way to get a certain amount of pressure reduction.
We immerse ourselves in the virtual world in a way that temporarily disconnects us from reality. In this virtual space, we begin to freely release our inner thoughts and deep desires that are different from our daily life.
We invite John Sullivan to MUYA to take us into such a virtual space, to explore the hidden curiosity and desire in our hearts. Then reconnect with the peace of mind and the joy of wonder.
John Sullivan is an artist, metalsmith, jeweler, and educator, whose work focuses on psychology, neuropsychology, interpersonal relationships, and theories of play. Working as a contemporary artist and metalsmith, John explores the themes and issues surrounding dysfunctional relationships, psychological disorders, and treatment methods.
John recently graduated with his Master of Fine Art in Metal from the State University of New York, New Paltz. Prior to graduate school, John was the Sponsor Coordinator and a board member of the Colorado Metalsmithing Association and an apprentice to artist Ira Sherman. John has exhibited work at a number of national and international venues in as well as having been published in numerous domestic and foreign publications.
The dynamic process of play has always been a fascinating and appealing behavior to me, and one that I have continually found myself engaging in as means of expression and creation.
The studio practice I have developed adapts and utilizes theories of play as a means of coping with dysthymic depression and past traumas through self-realization. The immersive escapism of deep-play allows my studio space exist in a realm outside of reality and free of the burdens of everyday life. Here I am able to express my inner thoughts and desires in a safe space through the act of creation and experimentation.
My desire to create emerges from an innate curiosity in the possibilities hidden in lived experiences, material use, and in regenerative and healing processes. From these inspirations, I make mindful objects and contemporary jewelry that capture and convey sensations of nostalgia, youthful wonder, and escapism. The stimulating attributes of novelty, complexity, and mystery create provocative objects that invites my audience to explore their tactile qualities and discover their hidden secrets. It is through these objects that I have rediscovered inner peace and an inquisitive joy.
➤ 木牙MUYA: John 的作品和生活结合的特别紧密，用作品来回应生活。说明John的作品都是由自我为出发点。那John希望观众从作品中解读出的是John自己还是其他的思想？
John's works are particularly closely integrated with life, and you use your works to respond to life. It shows that John's works are based on the self. John hopes that the audience can interpret from the work John yourself or other thoughts?
My work on play is inspired by childhood nostalgia and the toys and objects of play that I still find enjoyment in today. With a newly found appreciation acquired through maturity and experience, I reexamine these sentimental objects from my past and deconstruct the visual elements that capture the aesthetic emotions I connect with. These emotional triggers are a powerful source of comfort and hope to me as I struggle with depression. Though at times I long for the carefree nature of my childhood, I believe that the youthful spirit of our younger selves is still within us all and can be a present source of joy and wonder in our lives.
➤ 木牙MUYA: (承接上一问题)观众理解作品本身这一点对John来说重要吗？
(Continue the last question) Is it important for the audience to understand the work itself?
Though the design of my work is constructed from my personal memories of childhood and the objects that I associate with my youth, I do not believe it is necessary for my audience to know of my background, process, or inspirations to understand or appreciate my work. I consciously chose visual keys such as bold primary colors and simple geometric forms to allude to many common design themes found in playground equipment and early childhood toys.
I want to give my audience enough visual stimulation and information for them to interpret the work on their own with minimal direction. I love to hear about the many interpretations that my audience comes to when viewing my work with no prior knowledge to my intention and background. This innocent eye of my audience and their first impressions are very important to take note of, as it is a crucial way to see if the work I am making is conveying the right meaning. I also believe in leaving room for interpretation and inquiry in my work as a key part of keeping my audience engaged and curious. I do not wish for my work to be the conclusion or answer to a line of inquiry or thought, but rather, a means through which thought is continually created and sustained. To put it simply, where is the fun in a puzzle if you are given the solution in the beginning?
➤ 木牙MUYA: 在Controller 作品，控制“Control” 和游戏“Game”，是一对很有趣的名词，John怎么认为在游戏中，支配与被支配的关系？
In the project, Controller, “Control” and “Game” are both exciting nouns. Does game system is the controller? Or, does the player is?
The inspiration for the Controller series came from my investigation into toys and methods of play that transcend age demographics. One such example I found were videogames and the ever-growing demographics this medium of entertainment appeals to. I, myself, am an avid videogame player and have been ever since my early childhood. I grew up alongside the advancement of this electronic medium and have found that I still enjoy playing the same games now, that I had when I was six. As such, my appreciation for this medium is associated with the console hardware that I played on.
It is through my Controller series that I both pay homage to and elevate the concept of the videogame controller. Though the controllers I’ve made do not function as a traditional controller, their function is present within us and our associations with it.
(Continue the last question) How John think about this relationship between control and being controlled?
A unique quality about having a controller that does not function, is the desire for that function. In the technically advance world we live in, we have been conditioned to expect some kind of result to occur whenever we press a button on a device. Though there is no mechanical result from the pressing of the buttons on my controllers, there is a very real psychological response we feel from that action. It is as though pressing these buttons triggers something within ourselves.
Though I am not being controlled in the traditional sense, when I press down on the buttons and experience the tactile sensation of the buttons compressing and springing back, I experience an emotional sense of satisfaction. This sensation is triggered by my conditioned associations with the immersive escapism and joy I experience when playing games. Due to years of muscle memory, my hand instinctually holds and positions my thumb in the ideal location to press each button at a moments notice. It is the comforting familiarity that I am able to find a new significance in this form beyond its original function.
➤ 木牙MUYA:Controller 作品造型非常漂亮美观，偏弧线的边缘和造型设计，握在手中不如方形更容易掌控，这样的造型和控制器的概念形成的对比，觉得相当的有趣，John能和我们分享下，在这个作品的造型设计上的一些灵感概念吗？
The shape of the Controller is very beautiful and elegant. The edge and shape design of the curve is more challenging to control than the square in hand. I think the contrast between such a shape and the concept of the Controller is quite interesting. John, can you share some of the inspiration concepts in the shape design of this work?
The design of the controller series came from my love of collecting videogame hardware and my fascination with the evolution in design of the consoles and controllers over the past 40 years. The videogame controller in particular, is a unique object that functions as medium through which we are able to engage with a digitally fabricated realm in a wholly unique form of play. The ergonomic design of the controller has gone through many different iterations over the years. Each new design tries to improve and innovate on what came before it, to give the player a wide range of function and control while maintaining an unintrusive and comfortable form. This unique approach to design inspired me to fabricate my own controllers that follow these rules of form and function.
I began the design stage of this work by constructing a series of ergonomic handheld pods out of clay, and then choosing from among those ones that are both comfortable to hold and allow for the thumb to freely interact with a series of buttons. The next step for this work was to incorporate the attributes of novelty, complexity, and mystery to their final forms. To further elevate and expand upon the contemporary significance of the controller, I constructed this work out of sterling silver due to its inherent beauty and material value. I then incorporated a modest amount of embellishments to the design in the form of intricate wire details. Finishing off this work, I patinaed the silver matte black and high polished the wire details to create strong contrasting elements that all together make for a visually stimulating object with an air of mystery to it.
➤ 木牙MUYA: 在Playground的作品中，你介绍到，“在孩子看来操场是个安全玩耍和别的孩子社交的场所”，所以将操场作为主要设计元素出现在了作品中，John如何看待设计的符号感这个观点的呢？
In the project, Playground, there is one sentence “As children we would see the playground as a safe place to play and interact with other kids” . The playground as a primary design element in this work series. How John considered the signal or symbol of design in the work?
In my series of wearable work, Playground, I was inspired by the aspect of play theory that emphasize the importance of having a free and nonrestrictive space for children to play in. The playground is one such location where a space has been specifically designated and constructed around facilitating this purpose. The experience I have as a child playing and exploring these spaces have influenced my approach to working in a studio space today. Though I do not run and scream as I had when I was a child, the sentiment of exploration, experimentation, and creation are still present in my current studio practice. Just like a playground, my studio is a designated space outside of the constraints of reality where I feel free to express myself. It is from this sentiment that I began to create a series of work based off the playground and the feeling of free expression.
Deconstructing the common design elements of playground equipment, I picked out key features that I would commonly associate with a playground setting. With these elements in mind, I began designing a series of work that captured the aesthetic of a playground and reinterpreting it into a wearable form. To push this connection further, I constructed this work out of the same materials used for the playground equipment, mainly steel and rubber, and painted the work with the commonly used bright primary colors.
➤ 木牙MUYA: Play系列的作品，与童年和儿童的概念都有着背景关系，John在童年时代有什么有趣印象深刻的经历或者实践，影响到后来的作品和兴趣方向的吗？
The group projects of the topic PLAY are related to the background of childhood and the concept of children. Did John have any exciting and impressive experiences or practices in your childhood, which influenced your later works and interest direction?
You could say my desire to become an artist started when I was a child. Growing up I spent a lot of time alone and with very little means of entertainment, so I would spend hours creating entire worlds and narratives out of LEGO. The bright and bold colors and the calculated geometry of these early LEGO bricks are another source of inspiration in my work and on many of my aesthetic choices I’ve made. When I wasn’t creating new worlds, I was exploring them through the few videogames I had at the time. This time I spent playing alone and learning to create and escape into new worlds was the early beginnings of my artistic career.
➤ 木牙MUYA: 现在艺术电商和各种自媒体平台非常多，您是如何推广您的作品的呢？有些艺术家疲于在各种平台上注册和宣传推广自己的作品，那您有哪些自己独有的宣传方式呢？
There are many art e-commerce and various self-media platforms. How do you promote your work? Some artists are tired of registering and promoting their works on various platforms, so what are your unique ways of promotion?
For the visual artist I have found that Instagram is a very reliable and well-suited platform for self-promotion. There are many other free social media platforms out there and I believe it is necessary for an artist to have a presence on all of them, even if it’s simply to make a profile with the same username as all your other account. It is important that you can cross promote your own work between these platforms so that you can reach the widest audience possible. There are also many apps that can help facilitate this. It is also important that you have your own website to use as both an accessible portfolio of your work and as a location to sell your work online.
Aside from social media platforms, I submit my work to any call for entry and publication that fits the themes of my work. Online exhibitions are a great way to show your work to a large audience from around the world. It is also a great way to find opportunities within your field and to start getting you name out there.
➤ 木牙MUYA: 为什么会选择金属作为自己的媒介？有什么机缘巧合吗？本科是什么专业的？为什么研究生要选择这个专业？
Why did you choose metal as your medium? Is there any coincidence? What is your undergraduate major? Why did John choose this major to graduate?
My decision to attend graduate school came from two desires, one was to be able to teach at a University level, and the second was to further push and develop my artistic career. Though my undergraduate studies were excellent, I knew that there was so much more I wanted to learn and expand on once I had graduated.
Prior to attending graduate school, I had spent four years building an independent studio practice and honing my craftmanship and skills through self-directed experimentation and research. Though I had no trouble making whatever came to mind, the question of what do I want to make, and why I am making, perplexed me. So, I set my sights on graduate school to have the time, resources, support, and community to facilitate my desire to learn and grow as an artist. Now that I am graduating, I believe going to grad school was one of the best decisions of my life. I have truly grown as an artist and have relished the time and challenges it presented.
➤ 木牙MUYA: （承接上一问题）读完研究生John的未来计划是什么？会找哪些工作？
(Continue the last question) What is John's future plan after finishing graduate school? What kind of jobs will you look for?
Having graduated, I am now perusing jobs in academia. It was during my undergraduate studies that I had the good fortune to take two semesters of supervised college teaching. After that experience, I had a newfound sense of fulfilment from sharing my knowledge and helping other on their own artistic paths. It was then that I decided that I would love to become an educator and that has led me to where I am today.
“A smooth sea never made a skilled sailor.” Franklin D. Roosevelt