Digital artist Tchmo calls the Internet his home. A virtual destination the reveals the cyclical nature of his work as it is the primary site of his source material and the vehicle that connects him to an international marketplace.
Installation Magazine: In our email correspondence you mentioned that you don’t often discuss your work. Why is that? Do you feel like the artistic process should be kept private? Or do you want to retain a sense of anonymity?
Tchmo: Personally, I need to be alone with my computer to make the work; in that sense it is a private process for me. Words don’t come easily to me, and that is why I make pictures. I am a bit cautious about sharing too much because I think it can become a distraction from my work.
Is “Tchmo” your given name or did you create it? What inspired it?
Although it didn’t come from my parents, Tchmo is a given name. Friends have always called me by lots of different nicknames and this one stuck. When I was ready to share my work on the Internet, Tchmo just seemed to fit.
In the “about” section of your website, you describe yourself quite simply by stating that you “ mash things up.” Your work of digital collages are “mashups” combining found imagery and experiment with color and texture on a two dimensional surface. Does your work reference found imagery or do you manipulate images that you have created?
I suppose I use both found and made imagery in my work. My process is cyclical as I find pictures and photograph them, and then I mash them up with other pictures to create an entirely new image. The image is always evolving from one iteration to the next.
I am always interested to learn what role the environment has on an artist. Born in Australia and living in Canada, what has influenced you most of the two cultural and political climates? What is the art scene like in Canada? Does it embrace emerging talent?
Australia and Canada are the same place in many ways as they are both liberal democracies and the people have funny accents. Although I spent most of my life in Australia, I don’t really feel influenced by any particular place. I work and live on the Internet. I follow different kinds of galleries as well as emerging and established artists everywhere. When I get offline, Montreal is a good place for me to be. It’s an affordable place so it attracts a lot of creative people. Artists can try things out, they can take risks, and there is always something going on.
Your compositions appear to have many layers and are constructed in a painterly manner. What is your artistic background?
I used to paint, but that was too slow for me. I studied Analog Photography but never really followed the rules, I just experimented a lot. I cross-processed films, played with lighting, misused filters and manipulated prints in the darkroom. But I fell in love the first time I used Photoshop. I love the speed and the versatility of the platform.
In your series Lost Children the portraits of young men and women appear pixelated and distorted. Is the series meant to reflect a generation that has been veiled in technology and hyper-connectivity?
I like your reading of the work. They are actually portraits of former child stars that are now sadly dead. In a much less hyper connected time, they seemed to struggle with bridging the gap between their real identities and their public personas. I worry about how the current crop of young stars will work it out.
In the landscape pieces, idyllic scenes become interrupted by explosive colors and cause a schism in the environment. Is this a comment on your view of the natural world?
I just want to make compelling pictures. I am not deliberately trying to make any commentary, but if the work provokes thoughts about such complex issues, then I think that is great.
You have created work for Society 6 and Little Paper Planes. How have these avenues helped you to grow as an artist? Has the exposure helped in developing your practice?
The increased visibility has brought me valuable opportunities to collaborate. It has been beneficial to my practice because I can focus on making work that I am passionate about rather than just making an income. I’m really lucky to have collaborated with those that understand my process.
What’s next? What are you currently working on?
For the moment, what I’m currently working on is just between me and my hard drive. I have a new scarf collaboration coming out at the end of 2013. Apart from that, I just want to keep working every day and find more opportunities to take my work offline and into real life installations and events.
All images courtesy of the artist