Interview with John Gerrard
by Maja Markovic
How did you initially start to think about building your ‘virtual sculptures’? What is it that attracted you to new technologies as mediums of production?
I tend to call the works simulations. In terms of what drew me to this particular working space of simulation it dates back to the mid 90’s while I was an undergraduate in Ruskin School of Oxford University. Two things became clear at that time. One was that the computer, with its ability to model reality, was something to absorb and put to work artistically. Secondly, the 3D scan allowed me to think of photography as a three dimensional form. It took at least ten years, till the mid 2000’s to actually get somewhere with those ideas formally however that was where it began.
How has your working practice changed over the years?
It has changed primarily by expanding to include a larger band of producers. It became clear early on that I needed modellers, programmers and the like to make the work itself and this has only become more entrenched. Apart from that the original working process is the same, ideas develop over time and through research both on the landscape and through reading and looking at archives. In time I can raise money and support to make a very few of the ideas and that process almost always begins by recording the sites and participants in three dimensions. I live and work in Dublin and the pieces are then produced out of Vienna, Austria.
How much are your virtual worlds bound by indexical reality and how much are they your own independent and imagined constructions?
Pretty much all the pieces are portraits of places, which document something which exists. I then allow myself some liberties in terms of what actually occurs in these worlds, but I try not to get too bound up in invention and stereotype – which is so very common in the wider medium of realtime 3D / gaming engines. An early example would be the Grow Finish Units, in which a portrait of a pork production facility in the mid west of the US is augmented by a 6-8 month orbit of exchange in the work – a fleet of trucks arrive at some designed but unscripted point to silently remove and replace the occupants. This is as in life, but there is also lots missing within the construct which is fine…