GREGORY EDDI JONES. IN THE IN-BETWEEN
by Steve Bisson


Firstly, could please introduce yourself as a visual artist? A brief summary of your background and your current research?

Gregory Eddi Jones (GJ): I’m a pictorialist with fairly broad aesthetic interests. Most of my current work takes the form of re-authorship of common image products as a means of creating visual criticism, and I’ve been called an artist-critic in the past. I think that Robert Heinecken’s self-identifying “para-photographer” association would seem close to describing my practice. I don’t use cameras anymore, and I’m not so much interested in making pictures as I am re-coding the ways they communicate. I can’t help but feel that there is an imbalance between the rivers of images produced and the scrutiny placed on existing images, ones that are common to our daily cultures, to actually determine how they function and what politics are inherent in their making.


© Gregory Eddi Jones from the series 'Black Mirror', 2015-2016. These images are sourced from Tumblr erotica blogs and re-authored according to Tenebrist aesthetics pioneered by Caravaggio in his painting, Narcissus (1597-1599).

Let's talk about 'In the In-Between: Journal of Digital Imaging Artists'. What was your general intent when you decided to start this editorial publishing project?

GJ: I’ve been running In the In-Between for about 5 years now, and I began it because there didn’t seem to be any publishing platforms focused on how digital tools were changing the photography field. And digital aesthetics formed the kinds of images and ideas that I was interested in spending time with. Mostly I enjoy engaging in dialogues with other artists, and it’s very nourishing in a way. Being able to offer a platform where intelligent and creative voices can be seen and heard, I’ve found, is just as fulfilling as in making my own work. It’s actually nice to not focus on trying to promote my own work all the time, and to direct readers to artists who I think are doing incredible things. I’m consider myself more of an operator than a publisher, connecting visual messengers to receivers.


© Mark Dorf, Untitled #9, from the series '//_PATH'

You have featured several interesting authors so far, could you please mention 3 as examples of different attitudes and approaches to the medium?

GJ: I’ve published many artists on the site, and each of them has used the digital toolbox in really innovative ways. It’s so interesting to me to follow developments of photography in the digital era and to witness how a still relatively new set of tools informs new dialogues and engagement with our world. I would feel amiss to list just a few names, as everyone I’ve published, I think, has found a unique voice through the media.

I think that given the nature of digital pictures, which essentially function as mosaic, there is a tabula rasa component to what photography is capable of in our time. The pictorial strategies I've seen by artists are immense in range, and really reflect a degree of personal authorship that generally is more vibrant than more conventional and historical models of photographic practice. At this point in the maturity of the tools, and artists’ mastery over them, it would be harder to distinguish approaches that have not been represented.


© Anastasia Samoylova, 'Rainbows, from the series Landscape Sublime, 2014

'Flowers for donald' is your ongoing project. From the title there is a clear political reference. Generally speaking what do you think about the relationship between art and politics?

GJ: I think that there can and have been volumes written on the relationships between art and politics. For me, the project wasn’t a determination to specifically make work that is political in nature. But the virtue of my practice is based on response to the media culture I’m (we’re) submersed in. The election and now the presidency is just too big for me to ignore, the shifts of social concerns are so drastic that I feel like to focus on other projects would be to deny something significant that is occurring in American culture. Ultimately I consider myself an American artist, at the very least because I want something more to identify with beyond being a straight white man who is not dirt-poor, and at most because American narratives tend to underpin all the work I make in a neutral sort of way. I really embrace the identity though, because America is like a supermarket of ideas, the isles are numerous and the shelves are very well stocked.


© Gregory Eddi Jones, Flowers for donald #18 (a nice day [with some fruit]), 2016-2017


© Gregory Eddi Jones, 'Flowers for donald #19 (how to saddle your pony), 2016-2017

On the statement of the same series we read "these pictures propose a platform of Dada revivalism as a means to question the function of art in our new era"... What is your personal definition of art today?

GJ: I don’t have a definition of art, and I feel like the act of defining is largely constrictive. To define something is also to deny alternatives of how something can be understood, and isn’t so much of artistic practice about defying conventions?

'Another Twenty-Six Gas Stations' is the title of a project and also of your first book. You said that it "clicks the refresh button” to reflect American cultural values of commercialism, new media consumption, and the fetishism of violence in the 21st century. Do you think art today has adopted the same values?

GJ: Well, just about all art is made to be consumed, most of it is made to be sold as well. In speaking in the most general sense, I think art has long had the same fundamental values as acts of entertainment, novelty, literature, decoration, and/or investment for its audiences. For me, good art is made to reflect the times and acts as living edifice of the culture in which it is made, so I think that the values of good art typically do reflect broader social and cultural mores. So my short answer to your question is yes, but there is a far more pluralistic range of values reflected in contemporary art. The gas station work speaks more specifically to issues of violence, commodity, surveillance, and new media consumption.


© Gregory Eddi Jones, 'Another Twenty-Six Gas Stations', 2014


© Gregory Eddi Jones, 'Another Twenty-Six Gas Stations', 2014


© Gregory Eddi Jones, 'Another Twenty-Six Gas Stations', 2014

Can you recommend us any good book or reading (not only about photography)?

GJ: I would highly recommend Joan Fontcuberta's writings. In the late 80s and early 90s he was among the pioneers of digital experimentation within a photographic framework, and has remained a prolific artist, writer, and curator to this day. 'Pandora's Camera' is a very thought-provoking collection of essays. He also made contributions as a writer to 'From Here On', which is a very rich survey of post-photographic practice from a few years ago.

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LINKS
Gregory Eddi Jones 
In The In-Between Journal
urbanautica United States