We’re a design studio, so we like going to the degree shows that pop up around London this time of year — London has a number of extremely strong design courses, and seeing what the students are up to is always an inspiration. A couple of weeks ago it was the Goldsmiths Design 2011 Show, and my personal favourite there was Ditto by Matt House. This is what he says:
Copying is fundamental to development and social interaction, yet it is viewed negatively in education and creative fields. With new media, reproduction is engrained in culture allowing us to embrace this phenomenon. How do individuals respond when you reiterate, reprocess and reclaim their property? We are the generation that remix, parody and re-enact. Go henceforth and copy.
(He says it twice, naturally.)
So what did he do? At the core of his show piece was a performance: he sat opposite you wearing a bowler hat (like a Magritte), and copied exactly everything you did, while you were doing it. What you spoke, how you moved, what you drew, your expressions.
I have never felt anything so uncanny. You lose yourself in the mirror-feeling, and it gets confused in your head where free will comes from.
His work speaks directly to the nature of novelty and invention, culture and the individual, and to the creative act — particularly now, in the 21st century, where everything is copy-and-pastable, the whole world is a palette to be dabbed and painted using our new brushes. It’s a wonderful feeling, to be forced to encounter this insight so abruptly!
Anyway, Matt House recently put a new video online, where he literally puts my words and the words of Matt Jones in his own mouth.
He’s taken bits of our public talks and patched them into his own movements. It makes me think: where does character come from? Ideas? He is deliberately being a blank slate, and this accentuates the individuality of Jones, me, and him.
This is weirder for me than for you, I’m sure, but I love it, and here it is: