Black Cube: How would you describe your art practice?
Chad Person: I think of myself as a maker. I love to learn, discover, and relate to the world using visual language. It's a labor job, guided by curiosity and intellectual pursuit, but labor nonetheless. My 'practice' takes many forms, and has evolved with my ideas. The current work is from a body of work that has been growing over the past ten or so years. To date, this is the largest and most ambitious inflatable sculpture I've produced.
BC: Can you describe your first inflatable sculpture and how you came to the concept?
CP: That would be Ozymandias Weeps. It came to me like a vision. I had been spending time making 16mm footage of a dying shopping mall, and I pictured this gigantic sobbing big boy, defeated and mourning his lot in life at the food court. He's pretty true to the original picture in my mind. The use of the advertising inflatable as an art form perfectly echoed the message I was trying to convey.
BC: What is the process for making an inflatable sculpture?
CP: Since most of my practice revolved around 2D work, figuring out how to produce a sculpture of that scale on a tiny budget was a fun problem. I began with my camera. I’d photograph toys or models and manipulate the images digitally to get the concept down. But, with no experience building advertising inflatables, I knew I could execute without a fabricator. Fortunately, I was able to locate and contract some amazing fabricators in India, I've worked with the same group on every piece to date. I send them photos of each angle of my models. From those, they build a clay model and send back their own photos. We usually go back and forth with a series of alterations to accommodate my designs or the engineering challenges of the material. Ultimately that clay model is scanned and used to cut the vinyl. With this piece I started by building a 3D for the composition, and sent a 3D print for them to work with. It's a great process, and remarkably attainable considering the scale of these works. The Internet destroys those barriers and makes work like this possible for an emerging artist.
BC: What is the concept behind the Black Cube project the Prospector?
CP: The Prospector is a monument to hope, a beacon of progress, and a harbinger of the fragility of economic upturns. Motivated by the dream of excessive gains, prospectors stake a claim and get to work. The process isn’t always pretty, and more lose than succeed. In the end, the rush ends and many picks are retired. Modern prospectors wield keyboards, 3D printers and engineering skills. As an artist and technologist, I'm staking my own prosperity on the dream of prosperity. Only time will tell who wins and loses.