Interview: Shane Watt
Daß ich Landkarten total cool finde und Stunden damit verbringen könnte, sie anzustarren, habe ich ja schon mehrfach erwähnt. Kein Wunder also, daß mich die Arbeiten von Shane Watt gleich interessiert haben — er zeichnet Landkarten fiktiver Orte und zählt damit sicherlich zu den originellsten Künstlern, die ich hier im Interview hatte.
Shane Watt is alive. He walks on two legs. He is currently investigating corners, angles, and spatial orientation in Montreal.
Diskursdisko: Hi Shane. To start things off, what’s your background? When did you start drawing?
Shane Watt: I started drawing maps around the age of seven. My brother was making choose your own adventure books and I would draw maps of the places he created.
In 1999 I was co-producing an album with folk musician Cooper Thomson. I was basically trapped inside the loft where we were recording as I had no money and started creating a map based on my travels throughout the US, Canada and Europe -purely out of boredom.
The first map was done in pencil on sheets of photocopy paper that I would affix together with scotch tape. By the time we completed the album the map had grown to about 5 feet by eight feet. As various friends would see the map they would ask me if I would create one for them, though I was uncomfortable with the idea of others seeing them I agreed and began creating commissions that reflected the lives of each person.
Since 2007, I have started to create entire series of maps and exhibit them.
Diskursdisko: How do you mainly produce your art? Do you have a system or method that you adhere to?
Shane Watt: I have, over the past few years, developed habits which help me create. Before I begin drawing I research the given topic of each map extensively and based upon my research come up with an over all idea in my mind of what the geography and plan of the city will be. I give myself certain parameters that I must adhere to as well. for example I devise which combinations of numbers and letters will be used, symbolic/real geography that will be included and how I will draw and write secrets into the map. I will then draw the map freehand in ink, Usually upon making a mistake I’ll start over though it thankfully doesn’t happen too often.
Diskursdisko: What inspires you?
Shane Watt: I’m less inspired by actual maps than I am by exploring the actual places and the people who live in them, I feel most inspired by visiting a new place and taking note it’s unique qualities. In many of my works I’m mapping the places I’ve been and my relationship to them.
Diskursdisko: Your artwork is based around maps of imaginary places – how did you come up with this idea? Do you have background histories of the places in mind?
Shane Watt: I’m unsure how I came up with the idea of mapping stories and memories. It’s always seemed a logical way for me to communicate my ideas.
I like the fact that it’s a bit obscure …that the person viewing the map is making their own conclusions as to what I’m trying to say. I think I basically enjoy the idea that people love a mystery and want to discover things for themselves.
The maps interconnect into the larger context of an imaginary country called Loyala, I’ve written down an expansive background of the country, it’s politics and it’s people that reflect my personal ideals to a great degree, I am hoping by the fall of 2009 to create a faux tourism website for Loyala with all the details regarding travel there.
Diskursdisko: You’re also a musician. Do you feel your music and artwork inform one another?
Shane Watt: I feel that normally the music I create and the maps I make are pretty much the same idea with a different delivery method. Each one hopefully creates a mood, tempo and conveys a story.
It’s difficult to choose favorite maps, I find myself missing all of them a little after they’re gone…. I’ve grown partial to many of my newer maps though mostly because I’m enjoying using new inks and paper.
Diskursdisko: Do you have any specific plans for the future direction of your artwork?
I’m working on creating a large room sized map based specifically on montreal which can be remotely viewed online as it’s being created and a series of maps based on Albums such Captain Beefheart’s Trout Mask Replica for this fall. I’m working on a number of other TBA concepts for 2010 as well that I’ll announce on my website once finalized.
Diskursdisko: Shane, many thanks for the interview!
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