Interview with Stephen Bell - 16.02.10
SB - I like to feel that I'm engaging with the material of the medium in a way that feels tangible. But that tangibility is imagined.
ST - Why?
SB - Because what is actually happening is that miniscule electronic charges are being altered as the physical architecture of the computer discharges and charges patterns. Eventually establishing a relatively stable pattern of charges which can be used to control a device like a screen or printer to present the pattern in a form we can perceive (visually).
What I manipulate are symbolic representations of imagined forms, spaces, interactions, laws, in a way that will lead to a visual output that corresponds to what I have imagined.
ST - Is this based on what you've generated already?
SB - Sometimes. It's usually a part of a continuing exploration, which started in traditional media, sometimes I'm lucky. I get new ideas. But they are usually already influenced by my inclination, or desire, to use the medium of programming which I find has the sensuousness for me now that traditional media has also retained. That is I find producing a satisfactory image using programming as sensuously satisfying in a visceral way as using other media. In fact I find it more satisfying now but of a similar nature.
I would posit the suggestion that the reason for this is that I am more thoroughly engaged in the intermediate stage of producing a two-dimensional projection that consists of comprehending the multi-dimensional imagined form of which the 2-D image will be a selected view.
I feel this selection to be akin to choosing a particular composition or view of an actual scene being represented.
If I use an input device like a mouse or graphics tablet to input shapes, I do not enjoy as direct an engagement with the medium as it places a further device between myself and the medium. Unless I am interacting with programs that I have written, and consequently understand completely.
The attraction to me is in creating my own medium and tools, even if it's a delusion, I enjoy this conceit, which leads me to explore areas that otherwise I would not. I use it to create and explore imaginary spaces. The process to me is similar to exploring and depicting natural landscapes.