Johnson-Perkins' artwork reflects a retrospective and nostalgic gaze at pop culture, exploring iconic imagery and play. Recently he has used materials and subject matter which have a resonance with adolescent experiences such as Lego, 80's computer graphics, 80's TV programmes and pop music.

 

FULL EXHIBITION TEXT

James Johnson-Perkins interviwed by Andrew Quinn Director of Red Gallery Hull UK

AQ : Thematically in the broadest sense, what's your work about...

JJ-P : There's definite themes and influences in my work… My recent work is influenced by my relationship to childhood nostalgia, particularly the 80s. Choosing materials that are poignant - like Lego, 80s television programmes, 80s films and the themes within those... I recently had a film made for me, of Knightrider - but it’s made from ASCII characters, which look like Teletext... It's also saturated so it looks like it's just made out of eight colours...

AQ : ...It's also the same palette physically as a ZX Spectrum computer display

JJ-P : It's very close to this. I also made a film before that, which was... the A-Team using ZX Spectrum graphics. So I'm trying to use a subject matter that relates time-wise to the theme of the television programme that I'm using... there's also whole lot of references to computer games and the names of computer games in my work. I make these floor pieces and call them things like Jet Set Willy...

And the word pieces make references to other 80’s things... like Tron... or.... songs like... Blue Monday, a New Order song. The next thing I want to use is Action Men... I can see the Action Men in the same space as the robots...Up until now I have been making robots out of Lego... I suppose we grew up in a generation where ... there was a lot of science fiction...

AQ : And science fiction cartoons as well...Like Transformers... and other kids TV programmes with a character which would have a pet robot assistant...

JJ-P : Yes...there was. Twiki... from Buck Rogers and a robot in The Black Hole and Battlestar Galactica. ... I also do a performance work called John Peel where I wear a mask and become a robot myself - I DJ as this robot, play 80s music and I do robotics... So in my exhibitions there's lots of different things happening simultaneously… there’s music, things to look at...and things that move… like my geometric and robot animations... One of the things I've really enjoyed in my practice and in other people's work is when it is playful and skews boundaries of how we would normally see or present something… you know, for example, Wolfgang Tillmans, when he puts his photographs onto the wall they are in very different places... like posters... and sometimes the edges a poster are ripped or slightly skewed, so you view them in a very different way to the standard idea of framed works which are hung at the same level…for me now, when I have an exhibition, there’s no definitive way of how things will to be shown, it's like an experiment...

AQ : ... as long as there's enough... space to interact with it...

JJ-P : Because of the way that I work, I'm not precious about that. I guess what I'm trying to say is - if someone wants to come in and break a piece off, I'd be quite happy to patch it in a different way...

AQ : So is there particular model of the robots which is yourself.

JJ-P : ... They're all me. They're all just aspects of my psyche... well, one of them might be me, but I wouldn't tell you which one...

 

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