I have been following the mixed-media works and wild worlds from NYC by the Bay Area's John Felix Arnold III, like a post-apocalyptic nomad reconnecting with my former cultures. From Unstoppable Tomorrow Vol.1, Past from the Blast, The Love of All Above, Should I Stay or Should I Go?, Found in Darkness, Bright on Time, In Memory Of, and more. Now, observe his abstract-action clusters of oppressive “Astroknots” that continue on their trails of destruction in the upcoming Shooting Gallery show in SF; Pilgrimage. Beginning with an opening reception party Saturday, May 10, beginning at 7pm, featuring collaborative sound work with Joel St. Julien from Ellul. Pilgrimage will run through June 7, featuring JF AIII's created remnants of left behind relics of future tribes, that include a skull and bones motorbike.
The artist himself joined us with the following discussion and preview:
In your art-installation worlds that further the narrative of this world of Unstoppable Tomorrow, what first inspired the directions for Pilgrimage?
My own struggles and issues, breakthroughs in recovery, understanding the idea of “the path” or “the way” accepting change and the importance of understanding my effect on my surroundings. Concepts about control, ego, and self will. My trip to Japan last year was a huge inspiration. The world and its majorly deep rooted problems and a lot of the horrible ways in which the “powers that be” attempt to control, lead, and force it to evolve and work.
“Buldings to Bridges”
How did the partnership between you and Paxton's gate come about?
I love that place. I had some ideas for some pieces that I thought they would dig. I thought it would be rad to join forces, so I got in touch with a solid idea, plan, and proposal.
I'm sure it seemed like a natural kinship, as much of the mixed media portion of your work deals with found objects from both the urban and natural spaces.
For sure. I look forward to doing a lot of different things with them.
“Exploring Innocence study”
With the audience viewing the remnants of your work that acts like artifacts left behind, is your intention to make the viewer the pilgrim returning to the aftermath of a former familiar place in a post-future setting?
Not necessarily, but I do like that idea. It is in fact about the journey this tribe takes to leave the place they have been living for so long that has been destroyed and go out seeking a new way of life. It's actually on one level to have them get into character and sort of experience the moments of these survivors. On another level its to have them see a possible future and consider if they actually want to exist like this or not. On yet another, view it as a natural history museum exhibition many hundreds of years in the future about an event that hasn't actually happened in our reality yet.
“Invite the Glow”
Altars have factored in big in your work, like the Japanther stage you made for Blast from the Past. With the flatbed trailer and reclaimed, decorated motorcycle frame, were you going for a type of memorial to the rural fallen warrior?
Yeah totally. Altars have actually become 'popular' in the past couple years which is funny. When I did the Japanther show, and even before that Astroknots 3 and Unstoppable Tomorrow Vol. 1, I had altar like elements in them. Since like late 2011, 2012 they have become like a staple in the art world and are starting to pop up at Urban Outfitters and shit which I find hilarious. But you know that's the way things go. I will continue to use them in my work because they have very deep meaning and pose an actual interactive possibility within my exhibitions that take people out of their “reality” and kind of change their night or day by bringing them inside of themselves in an explorative[sic] way. My grandfather was a preacher, a Baptist minister and I have been really interested in Buddhism and eastern religions and spiritual practices since my childhood so this sort of structure and interaction is something that is a part of my upbringing. This piece is actually a point of prayer for the tribe to say “Thank You” to a character who gave her own life knowingly so as to save the lives of many others.
How do the ambient works from Joel St. Julien from Ellul impact and enhance the experience of observing these neo-cave paintings and post-apocalyptic monuments?
They help to wrap the audience even further into the blanket of this worlds vision. They help to really transport the audience further out of this reality we exist in, say on a Saturday night at an opening in SF, into an idea, into a world of imagination and strange possibility. Of energy that emanates from things and psychedelic landscapes that come from deep within, that feel like some sort of cosmic moss wrapping around us while an ancient being tells us stories about our own connectivity.
“Jungle Sky study”
Directions that the stories and displays from the World of Unstoppable tomorrow are headed toward?
I am currently working on a body of work that is meant to investigate a collective dream that the tribe of the Pilgrimage is having along the way. An incredible, sometimes abstract, bizarre dream that they awake from and realize they have all shared the same visions intertwined, leading them to the possibility that they may exist in different planes of being and thought.
Opening Reception – Saturday, May 10, 7-11 pm
Showing through: June 7, 2014 at Shooting Gallery
886 Geary Street, San Francisco, CA 94109