Six questions for
Alex Turner

Tique asks six questions to an artist about their work and inspiration.
This week: Alex Turner.

Artist Alex Turner
Lives in Los Angeles, CA

How do you describe your own art practice?

My work is often influenced by scientific fields of study and technologies not intended for artistic use or thought. When making art, I take a hybrid approach that merges multiple practices. Like scientists, I research thoroughly and often set specific parameters for myself. When partnering with them, I am sometimes bound to their strict rules and methodologies. Ultimately, however, I rely on emotion and instinct to guide me. It’s a delicate exercise to balance the planned and intuitive.

Which question or theme is central in your work?

How do the limits of human vision shape the world around us? What tools of enhancement do we use, and what are their implications? Our visual constraints are not just biological, though: we are a narrow-minded and short-sighted species. What do we see when we push beyond those limitations? I don’t expect to solve these concerns in my work, but I do hope to instil a curiosity in the viewer that encourages them to consider these questions.

What was your first experience with art?

As a child I was obsessed with taxonomy. I drew and labeled everything I saw in nature: trees and their leaves, birds, butterflies, flowers, etc. I was enamored with John James Audubon’s massive Birds of America catalogue, and its influence is apparent in my work to this day. There is a poetry and tragedy to Audubon’s bizarrely contorted figures, boxed and indexed (at life size, no less) for our viewing pleasure. A through line in all of my work is the study of our attempts, regardless of motive, to understand and control the natural world.

What is your greatest source of inspiration?

Working with people outside the arts. I’ve grown accustomed to thinking about the world through my privileged creative lens. I think it’s critically important to hear other perspectives, especially when considering social and environmental issues. Many times these new perspectives challenge my thinking, and that energizes and inspires me to reconsider my work. I try to combine as many different viewpoints in my artwork as possible to show you how layered and complicated any subject can be.

What do you need in order to create your work?

Silence, space, and a lot of time. I used to work in the architecture and design industry, which is dependent on speed and efficiency. I’ve had to un-learn that strategy to some extent. It is by wandering and failing that I begin to set the boundaries of an idea or project. That requires a lot of quiet alone time, often outdoors.

What work or artist has most recently surprised you?

Recently, I’ve been obsessing over Lucretia Martel’s 2001 film La ciénaga. Watching it is an intimate and immersive experience, and you cannot help but consider your proximity to the characters in the film and their proximity to each other. I think about closeness/distance a lot in my practice, and I’m always interested in seeing how other artists approach it in their work.

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