JACOB LOVE‘s body of work,Â â€˜Interior Profileâ€™Â is based upon images heÂ collected over the past decadeÂ of guys exhibiting themselves on hook-up sites. He has meditated long and hard over them,Â andÂ his interpretation of our nude selfies reveals more about ourselves than just our bodies.
Homoculture’s Martin Perry speaks to JacobÂ as he becomes the first ever Homoculture “Artist In Residence”. As a Homoculture Artist in resident, Jacob has created 8 series of prints, each signed, exclusively for us. There is a limited edition run of 20 per series, making them exclusive to HomocultureMag.com. They are available to buy in our gallery.
MP: Lets go right back to the beginning, where do the images you use to create your work come from?
JL: Like most gay men I have spent a huge amount of time online looking at pictures of guys, but along the way I found all these really interesting pictures. What struck me was that there was a lot of repetition. Basically the same set-up but with different guys, for example guys holding a camera in front of a mirror so that the flash bleaches out their face (I have thousands of those) or images where the majority of the picture was actually their bathroom sink with all of their different products, and a little glimpse of a body. Essentially they were showing you their toothbrush and toothpaste (I have thousands of those too) which I thought was really funny. So it started with me collecting all of these pictures, but at the time I had no idea what I was going to do with them.
MP: So what was it about these pics that fascinated you, beyond the obvious?
JL: I noticed that I had become desensitised to these naked figures, the images felt so generic â€“ the bodies, the poses â€“ the naked bodyÂ no longer seemed intimate, what did feel intimate was seeing the inside of someoneâ€™s home. I loved the idea that in any normal situation you would share a picture of your bathroom sink with anyone or the plant pot next to your sofa, but because these guys were there showing off their bodies it made it alright to show these things too.
I ended up with pictures of piles of old books, wires and dirty coffee cups.Â I was fascinated by the fact that you are so focused on looking at a guyâ€™s body or dick you filter out all this stuff. And that the guy in the picture didnâ€™t even register that they have just sent a picture of their dirty washing-up to someone they have never met. And I liked the oddness of that.
MP: So what did you eventually decide to do with them?
JL: The first piece I created with these images was a video about 7 years ago. I cut the guys out from their pictures to leave just their rooms and then digitally morphed the empty space left by the missing figure from one image to the next to the next.Â I liked the notion of this white blob morphing into different environments, connecting the spaces. I exhibited the final piece on an iPhone as part of the ‘Inside the Sarcophagus: A Moving Image Occupation’ at the MKII gallery in Clapton, East London.
MP: Where else have you shown work relating to this theme?
JL:Â About 3 years ago I asked to contribute to theÂ ‘Solo a group effortâ€™ exhibitionÂ curated by Jay Barry MatthewsÂ at theÂ UberflugÂ gallery in Berlin where I used the same source images to create a roll of wallpaper and a wallpaper sample book with a further 50 or so designs. I developed further for the ‘Enter 12’Â exhibition in Lithuania and now â€˜Interior Profileâ€™.
MP: How did you come up with the inspired idea to create wallpaper from these images?
JL: It just seemed like the logical next step. The rooms of the subjects were the focus for me and to create a wallpaper from those images â€“ something you might use to decorate your home â€“ seemed like the obvious thing to do.
MP: How do you go about making wallpaper?Â
JL: I use computer technology and digital printing to create the work but the templates for the wallpaper come from Victorian wallpaper patterns. I discovered that there are very few tessellating templates that you can create a continuous pattern with. Something like eight or nine but I am only using four of them, because they are the ones that actually repeat and mirror each other on every side. An important part of the work for me is that pieces are images are all about mirroring. Doubling-up the same image.
MP: Whats the significance of mirroring the images?Â
JL:Â I wanted to play with this duplication of the same thing. On a base level I think a cause for homophobia is that a big part of the heterosexual psyche is about two different things coming together to be one whole. Therefore the idea of two of the same things (homosexuals) coming together to form a whole â€˜goes against natureâ€™ in their eyes. It challenges them and makes them feel uncomfortable. The replication â€“ like the images of all those guys taking selfies in their bathroom mirror, making themselves a duplicate of one another. And these images are endless, when you start to look for them online you just find more and more. You can plug into this constant stream of never-ending images and I am interested in the meditative nature of that.
MP: So by repeating, mirroring and replicating these images of naked guys inÂ their rooms are you consciously creating objects to meditate with?
JL: I see how the act of searching for cock is a form of meditation. I have tried a lot of different meditations and I have found it hard to maintain a â€˜good’ mediative practice, however it is very easy to zone out when you are plugged into something like Grindr. It allows you to shut out the rest of the world and engage in something wholly. It cuts through all the noise and gives you a centre of focus. It takes all of your attention and becomes a complete meditation. But ultimately that centre of focus is external and not particularly healthy. â€¨I find the idea of â€˜Toxic meditationâ€™ really interesting. Its the same thing with smoking. Having a cigarette is basically a breathing exercise. Part of what I love about smoking is that it allows me to concentrate on my breath for 10 minutes. I breathe in a different way. Smoking becomes a way into another head space and when you are there you can go on and on and on.
MP: But smoking causes cancer, it encourages cells in your body to multiply and start attacking healthy cells.â€¨
JL: Yes, it becomes a kind of cancerous meditation where it just repeats itself again and again. Life can feel very hard to live at the moment, with so many things coming at you all the time. So when you can sit on the bus and open Grindr and your entire attention can be taken by this one thing. It cuts through all the noise and gives you a centre of focus. But ultimately that centre of focus is external and not particularly healthy. These pictures are like cancerous growths â€“Â they just keep replicating and increasing, picture after picture of the same kind of naked torso and cock pics blotting out all diversity.
MP: There is seductive nature of your source images â€“ they are literally taken to seduce other guys â€“ yet the way you have used them is seductive in other ways too, they are beautiful and draw you in with their complexity.â€¨
JL: Our brains are hardwired to be drawn to repetition, symmetry and abstraction. The Gestalt Principles of visual perception: emergence, reification,Â multistabilityÂ andÂ invariance, make it hard to see the individual instance of the source image. Therefore the patterns that emerge when they are mirrored and repeated have a seductive quality of their own.
I want to play with that, to seduce the viewer by creating beautiful images that draw you in and you might not even realise what the original image was of. â€¨Iâ€™m working on a range of silk scarves with these designs that the wearer could be complimented on because of their seductive pattern and colours, but they would know that they were really wearing something extremely sexual and challenging to polite society. Guys posing with their hard cocks out or presenting their open arses.â€¨ I also enjoy the idea of â€˜Sacred Geometryâ€™ present in the work. Something that has been the preserve of religions also being present in images created from sexualised images of gay men, images that were designed to seduce the viewer, but in a very different way.
MP: Besides applying these images to a template what else have you done to them?
JL: Very little, I havenâ€™t even tweaked the colours, I have literally grabbed the pictures, repeated them and printed them. The results are as surprising to me as anyone else. I look at them and think â€˜how could that be just a picture of someone sat on a stool having a wank? Or a guy sat on his desk with a can of Strongbow showing off his tattoos?â€™ because the way the colours combine is so beautiful it looks like it must have been designed. But its accidental, just a natural result of the process.
MP: So when you are placing the images in the template do you position them or is that part left to chance?
JL: I do position them, but I can spend hours playing around. You can move the image by just one degree and it completely changes the pattern. And then suddenly a circle will just appear and I decide to use that. But I can get a hundreds or thousands of different patterns from just one source image. But the question is when do I stop?
In this show I have chosen six source images and produced seven designs from each one. Each set contains four smaller prints of the simplest variation of the template, two larger (50cm x 50cm) prints that are more complex and one large (2.5m x 1m) proytotype wallpaper roll print. All individual prints are for sale in small editions but Iâ€™m also offering to make one-off installations of actual wallpaper from any one design if someone would potentially like to have their room decorated with it. The idea of someone using the wallpaper to decorate their own personal space is very exciting and would be a very neat way of closing the circle.
As a Homoculture Artist in resident, Jacob has created 8 series of prints, each signed, exclusively for us. There is a limited edition run of 20 per series, making them exclusive to HomocultureMag.com.