The compositions of San Francisco based artist Hilary Pecis go beyond above and beyond what one typically expects with contemporary collage. The internal components of the works collide and smash together, it’s an odd mix, somewhere between seeing a gruesome car accident and witnessing the birth of a galaxy. Hi-Fructose sits down with Pecis for a brief interview on her latest body of work, which opened recently at Guerrero Gallery.
First off Hilary, thanks so much for taking the time to do this interview, how was the opening this past weekend?
It went really well. At Guerrero Gallery the openings are a little longer than those of other galleries, so a lot of people had a chance to come see it. The space has got to be one of the most beautiful and large galleries in SF. Also, Chris Duncan’s band Crosses played, which was really amazing.
You’re showing alongside Ryan Wallace, who’s works certainly have a subtle amount of chaos to them, but for the most part seem a bit more serene. Why do you think the two of you were chosen to show together? How do your respective styles relate to each other? Is it a yin and yang sort of relationship?
Ryan and I are friends, and although that was not the reasoning for pairing the two shows together, I was thrilled when the opportunity opened for me to show in the project space at Guerrero Gallery. Ryan’s work deals with technological advances and doomsday theories as well as maximum organized complexity, and much of my work deals with those issues in a more jovial manner. Also, although it wasn’t initially planned, the cool pallet between the two shows is complementary to one another. I hadn’t really thought of it as a yin and yang, but I don’t mind if others think so. I really like Ryan’s art and it was really an honor to have work at the same gallery.
Your latest body of work is entitled “Half Truths and Outright Lies”, can you tell us a little bit on the origin of this title?
The title of the show is based on an Intelligence Squared debate, “Good Riddance to Mainstream Media”, which discussed the relevance and fate of traditional journalism and the blog. David Carr, a writer for the NY Times said “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.” I liked this statement, because often times when I do a search on the Internet, I end up with a million other things than I intended on finding….. true or less than, with no primary source of credible data.
How does this relate to your latest work?
The latest work is all derived from Internet searches. I start with a word in the search bar and see what I can find. Often times the images that pop up are only partially related to the word I searched or not related at all. I am fascinated by the abundance of information on the Internet and the pace that new information travels via the web. It’s pretty wild how fast the Internet has been implemented into almost everyone’s daily lives. I am eager to think of new ways to use this amazing tool in my art practice.
If you were creating in a more conventional cut and paste style, I would ask where you find your magazines and source images, but as a digital artist I suppose I should ask you which websites you frequent? How and where do you find your images?
I used to make collages from cutting and pasting images, mostly from fashion and decorating magazines. However, the material started to feel extremely limiting in the images I could find, and the magazines themselves were dwindleing in size. I decided to fool around with Photoshop and the Internet, and began making the digital collages that were featured in the Guerrero Gallery exhibition. All of the images come from Google searches. There are sites that I like such as WikiCommons, but I never start there…It is more fun to see what pops up. The most important part of my searching is in finding large files, and Google has mastered that by separating and delivering images that fit with my specifications. I feel like a spokesperson for Google, but really, if a better search engine presented itself I would use it.
Your works can border on sensory overload, with so many individual components making up a piece, do you find yourself on a hunt for specific images to tie a piece together? Do you say to yourself, “I need a cute white kitten looking skyward here in this corner” and then search for it, or is your process more spontaneous?
Haha. It is definitely spontaneous. I usually start with a landscape as a background and that is about as far ahead as I think. It is tough because in the past I found it really important to avoid intuitive descisions, but using a search engine such as Google to lead me around often times points me in directions I didn’t initially intend to go. It feels really organic to me and I like not having to base all my deciscions on heavy concepts, because I think more people can relate to the work when intuition is allowed. That being said, sometimes I just think to myself, “what would Heaven look like to me?”, and the response is: whipped cream, the Disney castle, a water slide, and kittens (of course). I like the flexibility that non-existant places and situations provide, and I enjoy not being limited by trying to present a ‘real’ place.
Your relationship with fellow artist Andrew Schoultz is relatively well publicized. I don’t want to focus on it too much, but am curious as to if and how him or his work is an influence on your own?
Yes, we are currently engaged and will be getting married in the upcoming year. He is really supportive of not only me, but all of his friends. He is one of the hardest working people I have ever met, and is never satisfied for long with what he is doing. He is constantly challenging himself and trying to go steps beyond what is asked of him. Also, aesthetically I really enjoy his paintings. In both of our art we are working with layers and dense imagery, and I find much comfort in that denseness.
What’s coming up for you in 2011? Any cool projects or shows on the horizon?
I have a solo show coming up at Galleria Glance in Turin, Italy in the spring, which I am really excited about.