WeTransfer x POSTMatter: Jonathan Monaghan
As digital technology continues to impact nearly every area of our lives, more and more artists are trying to make sense of its influence and its opportunities. As part of an ongoing partnership with POSTmatter, we are highlighting some of the most interesting practitioners working at the place where digital meets analogue.
Next up is Jonathan Monaghan, an American digital artist and animator. Like many artists across the centuries Jonathan is interested in the relationship between wealth and power, but his work is unlike anything you have seen before. He borrows from the visual language of luxury – from stylised fashion ads and high-end property brochures – and but uses it to create videos, paintings or sculptures that are quietly unsettling. He likes to walk “this delicate line” between things that seem very elegant and refined, but are actually quite sinister.
You can read the full POSTmatter interview with Jonathan here, or read on to find out more about his work, his influences and his ambitions.
What is the first creative thing you can remember making?
I started with Lego at a very young age. I remember making an airplane of my own design; it was probably one of the first Lego I created that didn’t follow any instructions. It was multicolored and sturdy enough where it could serve as functional toy as well.
Many people don’t realize Lego also teaches you about structure and economy of resources. When you’re an artist, ideas are only half the equation, you need to be able to deliver and execute, usually with limited resources.
What is the first technological device that meant something to you?
I had a MS-DOS PC and a bunch of console video games, but it wasn’t until I got a Gateway 2000 with Windows 95 and the internet that the creative significance of digital technology was revealed. I started creating things right away, and have never stopped.
If you could make work for any space in the world, where would it be and why?
I think producing pieces to be exhibited alongside historical works of art, in a museum for instance, would be very exciting. Often the relationship between contemporary art and historical works is ignored, but I really enjoy a dialogue between the two.
If you are having a problem with a piece, what do you do to clear your mind?
Just work through it. I find that hunkering down and working is the best way to achieve good results. Even if it means making bad work for a time, just blow past the creative block.
How would you cope if you were cut off from the internet for a month?
I would be totally cool with that, in fact I would welcome this experience very much!
If you could only work with one material for the rest of your career, what would it be and why?
I’d be happy with 3D animation which is what I mostly work with now, but if it couldn’t be that, I’d pick marble. Marble is such a pure and simple material, yet still very versatile.
What piece of software would you be lost without?
I’m definitely committed to certain software packages, but I’m sure I’d figure out how to make art without them. Computer software is a tool and in the end, art isn’t about the tools used to make it; it’s about investigating certain lines of inquiry by creating something meaningful and impactful.