Indoor Pool #1 by Derek Coulombe

If you thought we all died from exhaustion just from producing that first issue of ISSUE, you would be wrong! We are already busy working on our summer issue, which launches in July.

To start with, we interviewed Derek Coulombe, a Vancouver visual artist who graduated from Emily Carr University a few years back and has been producing work prolifically from his second bedroom in New Westminster. He recently had a show at Yactac gallery in February entitled SLOW ROOMS, the work from which we talked about at length.

Here is an excerpt from our conversation:

Brynn McNab_I’m interested in the way that you were talking about perspective, I mean the way that all these things are in some kind of perspective, but the tones don’t change at all, so at the same time, it resists perspective.

Derek Coulombe_It definitely resists atmospheric perspective. They play at realism while completely defying it. It’s not a rational realism. It’s almost like it’s a logical realism, but without any practice.
I was interested in flattening perspective itself. Sort of bringing perspective to an endpoint. Because I was thinking of perspective as a construct of scene. And the more I worked with it the flatter it became. Lately I’ve been working on much flatter images. And I feel like that’s where I will start exploring abstraction more directly: still within my idea of architecture. Or interior, but when the perspective is completely flattened through, that’s when something can become completely abstracted.
But it comes through in some areas, for instance in this one, the centrepiece, if you look at it out of context of the other two panels, it reads a lot differently on its own.

B_Did you make those separately, or all together?

D_I made the actual pieces separately, I obviously had a plan for them all to be together. And then I stitched them together in photoshop before I printed it.  I’m interested in working digitally more often.

B_Well with the collaging, you haven’t done any of it digitally, it has all been done by hand?

D_No, that’s all by hand, but I’m interested, with new work, in doing it. I’d like to maintain a handmade or analog process as well – you can see bits and pieces of it, the sort of glue marks – but then with certain details I’d like to bring them in digitally from start to finish. It’s really disorienting to do both.  I think aesthetically it’s disorienting, because it’s another sort of simulacra, another falsehood built into this already sort of pseudo-realist space, and it further dislocates you. I think digital technology is finally reaching a point where it can be aware of itself.  It’s not about pure technological advance anymore, it’s about how that’s been used.

B_It almost has a period quality to it.

D_It’s technology, it’s the one portion of humankind that is advancing at lightspeed, and I think that part of what’s going on, is that digital work can become serious for the first time.
I don’t know, not that I’ll be making purely digital work, but I think as an element or as a part of a process it is interesting. Because I like how these are drawings, they’re collages, they’re photographs in a sense, and they’re prints as well. It’s not “Interdisciplinary”, but it’s certainly this thing, where you’re making a picture, and you’re using a process as a means to an end, rather than as a dialogue.

B_You’re kind of making your own medium out of whatever works, instead of engaging in this long history of purism.

D_Yeah. If I want something, I’ll do something. And there’s a sort of pragmatic quality to working like that. It fills in its own blanks. You don’t have to think too much about the history of the medium. There are histories to all these media, but that’s not what the work is about. It can wander past that pretty easily.

B_So this middle piece, when you visually separate it, it turns into this almost Japanese woodblock print aesthetic.

D_It has this geological, almost tertiary layering to it. Or it becomes more of a cross section than it does a perspective-based image.

B_So are all these interior water scenes what you’ve been working on right now?

D_I’ve been working on an artist book right now, working with virtual materials, virtual materiality. Sampling things like stone, and wood grain and isolating them, and respecting them as pure materials. While they’re not that at all. They are just collections of pixels.

To read more of the interview, keep posted for subscription options, or come out to our launch in July to pick up a copy yourself.  Documentation of Derek Coulombe’s exhibition at Yactac Gallery can be found here.