The human body has long been an object of fascination. Just think Leonardo Da Vinci, the traveling Body Worlds exhibition and erm, pornography. And in homegrown artists Jeremy Sharma and Toh Hun Ping’s latest work Athlete, stop animation footages of the human body come together to form a gripping montage that’s inspired by artist Francis Bacon and thinker Gilles Deleuze. We suss Sharma out to learn more about Athlete.
So what’s the concept behind Athlete?
I conceptualized Athlete years ago. I actually came out with the sound work first and featured a part of it in a production. I always imagined a video of the human figure to go with it because the sound has a constant pulse and rhythm to it, but it was only till I met Toh Hun Ping that this vision was finally realized.
Cool. Tell us more about your sound work.
It is a series of delays behaving like sound loops. The repetitive quality creates a rhythm, which includes noise breaks to percussive to melodic sounds. It is very primal and it was created in one take and layer without editing. It is presented in the same way I first recorded it.
And what’s the human figure portrayed as doing in the video?
Basically nothing. We wanted to show not so much the cause of the action but the action of the figure itself. Deleuze wrote in his essay on Bacon’s works that Bacon did not paint the “horror” but the “scream” itself. The figure in the video is more or less seen as convulsing and in fits of spasms.
This is the first time you’re working with Hun Ping. How did this collaboration come about?
When I first saw Hun Ping’s works, I was blown away by what he could do with video. They have an intensity and urgency I have not seen before. His techniques are incredibly rudimentary yet painfully time-consuming. I have nothing but the utmost respect and admiration for his craft. I suggested the idea of working with him for this project as I think he was the perfect man for the job. It was a gradual thing. We do not meet up often but when we do, we’ll always talk about art or ways we could work together.
Well, we noticed you’re involved in a myriad of art forms, from music to painting. Are you focusing more on the video medium nowadays or…?
No. I’m just very restless and a bit of a schizophrenic! (Laughs) I think artists have always dabbled in many art forms. It is just that in this century, it is faster and easier to do so, and we work with all kinds of media.