Hilary Pecis' show “Half Truths and Outright Lies” opened last month at Guerrero Gallery, debuting her new direction of lush, digital landscapes. The show is a perfect balance of kittens, clouds & apocalyptic fight scenes marrying Hilary's penchant for collage. I was really excited to see her new group of work. I knew she had moved into a new direction & had seen small glimpses, but I wasn't sure what to expect. The scale & the incredible detail within each piece blew me away, not to mention the seamless layering. There was so much of the show that really got me thinking so I sat down via email with Hilary and posed questions about the show, the new work, teh interwebz and the onslaught of information (via the web) we weave & bob through everyday. Enjoy!
“Half Truths and Outright Lies” runs through March 5th, 2011.
Your show's title, “Half Truths and Outright Lies” comes from this quote by David Carr of the NY Times, around the ongoing debate of journalism vs. blogs: "They become an echo chamber of half-truths, sometimes outright lies, without any real data points coming in. And so you end up with a sort of mass of people talking to each other, no one has read anything. No one knows anything. They’re talking about something that someone else read that read that read that read. And we end up in a meta-world.” Tell us what your thoughts are around this quote.
I remember having to do a research project as a child and spending forever finding material for my report that didn't include an encyclopedia. While writing the thesis for my Masters degree 20 years later, I did use plenty of books, but there was a surplus of web links as source material as well. It amazes me that whatever I need, there is a site, link or image out there, although it's source might not be clear or credentialed. I love that whenever I have a question, I trust that collectively sites will give me enough information that I can form a less than educated guess for my answer. There are YouTube videos that can instruct just about everything, and forums where I can have random lay people diagnose my symptoms. My web searches vary in topic, but usually end with a question mark, and after reading over a few links, I will have formulated a blurry idea of an answer.
Better Than a Double Rainbow.
The description of the show “Half Truths and Outright Lies”, says you are "interested in the dishonesty, self-regulation, and speed in which information can be delivered over the Internet." Tell us about what that means to you.
The Internet is a tool that delivers information with fluidity and speed. Whenever I put a search into Google Image, at least a quarter (probably much more though) of the material is not even close to what I am looking for. This other material often leads me into a different search where I find more images that I wasn't intending to find, like sitting in a library, with one book leading to another, and it's all free. I also am totally intrigued by how easy it is to publish ideas or images on the internet. Anyone can say or post virtually anything on the Internet with few exceptions. On a few occasions I have lost material I had taken from the Internet and went back to re-search, within a few days the information I had previously been working could no be found, while other entries had taken their spaces. I love how fast it all moves and changes.
Up to No Good, above & detail below.
We are friends in real life, and have had a few conversations about 'disconnecting' from the Internet, ie: not being online via IM, reading blogs every single day, avoiding information overload. What are your thoughts around the constant barrage of information and sensory overload in today's culture?
It is really easy to become over saturated with information, whether it’s from the Internet, other news sources, or the constant bombardment of advertisements strategically placed in our paths. Also, it has been made very easy to multi-task through new technologies, increasing the amount of info we can take in. When working I spend a majority of my time on a computer, and therefore have to be selective in my leisure time with the material I allow myself to read and the sites/blogs I want to spend on. I am a fan of junk news, advertisements and viral videos, but try to limit them. At one point I was attempting to have one day a week free from the Internet, but I have never been successful with that.
Snowtrain 1, above & detail, below.
As an artist that utilizes the Internet and the data we are hit with everyday, how do you find a balance in your daily life?
Well, I moonlight as a server in a restaurant here in SF, which gives me somewhat of a social life. And although I spend much of my working time in front of the computer, I am not a hermit by any means. I spend a lot of time riding my bike, walking around the city and working out at the gym, which is a nice way to decompress and visualize what I want and what I need. I also like Scrabble... a lot.
Not Yet Titled.
You have previously worked in analog collage, where you cut found images and juxtaposed them with your drawings. This new direction seems like such a natural progression, when did you start working in digital?
Yes, I really enjoyed making the older work, but I was feeling really restricted by the images available and the fragility of the material. It seemed natural to move into making collages digitally, because of the lack of limitations in terms of imagery, and the varieties of archival inks and papers on the market. Last summer I curated a group show in Philadelphia, and although it is generally frowned upon to include your own work in a show you put together, I thought that it would be a good platform for me to see how people responded to the new medium. In retrospect, it wasn't a very good piece, and I don't think people really liked it, but no one said anything negative, so I decided to make more.
100 Perfect Sunsets.
All of the pieces in “Half Truths and Outright Lies” are stunning and really inviting. I'd love if you would choose one piece and tell us a little bit about it.
The piece titled 100 Perfect Sunsets is pretty self explanatory. Most everyone has had the experience of being in front of an ideal sunset or ideal whatever and felt a sort of ersatz nostalgia, prompting them to take a picture. There are zillions of such images on the Internet, under the search "perfect sunset", so I took the top 100 (larger images) and layered them together to create the most perfect of perfect sunsets. They are layered so that the image on the bottom has the 100 percent opacity, and the top image is at 1 percent opacity creating a general idea of a sun and horizon in warm colors. In the show, which was mostly dense and busy collages, 100 Perfect Sunsets was the last piece (if the viewer followed the wall around from left to right). The other collages were clustered together to mimic windows on a computer, while ...Sunsets was set aside by itself, as if to be a nice quiet ending to the show.
Comparing both mediums (analog vs. digital)...what are the advantages and drawbacks that you have discovered using both?
I have noticed that people were much more impressed with the cutting and pasting of actual material and the implied time that they took to make. That was definitely not what I wanted the viewer to think about when they saw the landscapes. Now, with the new digital collages, that has not been so much of an issue, and ironically they can often take much longer to make than the previous pieces.
The analog version also had some issues with its archivability. The magazines themselves are printed with crummy ink on cheap paper. I would use PH neutral adhesive to fix the paper to the panel and then use a UV protectant over the top of the entire piece to block it from the sun's damaging rays, but I can't say that I felt 100% confident about their lifespan. The digital collages are printed on photo paper with archival inks, so they should have much more longevity.
Boom, above & detail below.
If you had one piece of advice to offer your twenty year old self about surviving in the art world, what would it be?
I am not sure I would be able to tell the 20 year old me a thing, because she was a bit hard headed.... and that could be said about the 25 year old me as well. I wish that I had been more humble and took the advise of my teachers and peers that were looking out for me, but it is hard to tell that to someone who thinks they know everything. I think that is something I am constantly trying to remind myself - to enjoy the experience, because it might not amount to anything else.
What is coming up for you over the coming months of 2011?
I have a solo show scheduled at the end of march in Turin, Italy, which I am pretty excited about. And then in June in Sacramento, Ca. I have a solo show scheduled in June at Bows and Arrows.