interview with Paul Watson, LAZARUSCORPORATION
You've just arrived at an outpost of
artists & writers whose work is characterised by an intriguing combination
of visceral aesthetics, intelligence, and a determination not to be
assimilated by monoculture. Here are some written words we can find at «The LazarusCorporation»
site. I'm glad to feature an interview with the creator and artist Paul
Watson who expresses the actual and cultural revolution through the
internet. I discovered his site in 2002 when I lived in Paris. I admire the
determination of this community, and their way of thinking.
Read the interview and enjoy the art of this community located in Brighton,
England. At the same time, I recommend you the self-published book of Paul Watson: "The book of Erinyes".
Check out the site http://www.bookoftheerinyes.com/
FD - When the site LAZARUSCORPORATION was born, what were its goals ?
(why this title: "LazarusCorporation"?)
The Lazarus Corporation website was launched in 1996 when I first started designing websites. I'd finished my Art Degree four years earlier and I was still trying to find new ways to break into the traditional art market (12 years later and the traditional art market is in decay – galleries, agents and all the other middle-men who get between the artists and their audience are now becoming increasingly obsolete as the internet allows artists and art-lovers to communicate directly and without interference).
The Lazarus Corporation back in the late 1990s was just a simple gallery site for my artwork. Its purpose was fairly simple - to display my artwork on a global stage.
I chose the name « The Lazarus Corporation » for several reasons – I wanted to describe my artwork in terms of urban production. Andy Warhol had The Factory, so I decided I'd have The Corporation. I added the « Lazarus » part as a multi-layered reference to Dennis Potter's « Cold Lazarus » (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0115140/), Warren Ellis' « Lazarus Churchyard » comic strip (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/
Lazarus_Churchyard), and the two Biblical characters (primarily Lazarus the leper, but also Lazarus the man who was raised from the dead). It's gathered additional references recursively since then.
FD - Could we say that your site is the result of events' mutation,
The evolution of the Lazarus Corporation website has certainly constantly reflected the changes and events that have been going on since the mid-late 1990s – both in my own artwork and also in the wider world.
FD - Do you feel close to the cyberpunk movement ?
I've always had an interest in selected cyberpunk stuff – mainly the early writing of William Gibson, Bruce Sterling, Rudy Rucker and Neal Stephenson.
Unfortunately these innovative groundbreakers spawned a multitude of immitators – writers who took the superficial aspects of the sub-genre and made them the core of their work. So suddenly there was this explosion of badly-written books about near-future hackers and name-branded technology.
Gibson's more recent work is quite interesting – I rate Pattern Recognition and Spook Country quite highly. Unfortunately he still seems to retain two affectations which I think he needs to lose: his personal obssession with brand-names (which has become hackneyed due to the flood of poor quality cyberpunk-by-numbers) and the sci-fi quirk of giving characters stupid names – like Hubertus Bigend – which undermines the strength of his writing.
So, I certainly felt close to the cyberpunk genre back in the 80s and 90s, but cyberpunk had run its course by the end of the twentieth century. It was a fin de siècle zeitgeist in writing – and a very interesting one – but now, ironically, it can only be viewed historically.
-Tell us the evolution of the site and its various activities
The Lazarus Corporation has evolved considerably. The first obvious change was the inclusion of several different artists' work. The next major stage was the building of a community – the discussion forum played a large part in that. I now see the community as equally important to the artwork on the site – they work together.
More recent additions are the blog and the notebook sections of the site. We're always looking at new directions to expand.
FD - How many artists there are in the site « LazarusCorporation » ?
There are 13 artists/writers with individual galleries of work, plus a few other guest writers. There's no fixed number, especially when you consider the number of artists, writers and musicians who contribute to the discussion forum and the blog.
FD - How much time it takes to do the site ?
I tend to add new content at least once a day, whether that be posting in the discussion forum, writing a blog post, or uploading new artwork. I probably spend half and hour a day on the website, unless I'm adding a significant new section.
FD - You have recently added a blog to the site, what is this blog about ?
The blog is a collection of practical articles about how musicians, writers and artists can use the new business models evolving from the various theories of freeconomics, digital distribution, and the Long Tail.
FD - In life you are also an artist, we can see your art on the site and on other
aren't you interested in doing a solo-site for yourself only ?
what do you think of the status of artists today?
No, for me it's far more interesting to work on a multi-artist website, combining my own artwork with a curatorial rôle in displaying other artists' work, and also the rôle of a facilitator for the small community that has built up.
FD - Do you consider your art and your site (both) as an extension of the
W.Burroughs writing or mind style ?
Freud, Bacon, Burroughs, Gysin, D.Lynch, Ballard ... etc seem to be the obssessive ghosts of the site. What do you think of them?
There's definitely a strong Burroughs influence. The cut-up engine was obviously directly conceived from Burroughs experiments with the cut-up process, as well as others from Gysin to David Bowie and Jeff Noon. As a collage artist I'm also aware of the cut-up process in visual form in my artwork.
I like your description of the « obssessive ghosts » of the site! Yes, all six of them are clearly ghosts in the machinery of the website – and I think they're are others as well – it's an entire underworld.
I think that J.G. Ballard is particularly important in terms of influence. Ballard's « The Atrocity Exhibition » was a significant influence on me – it's now twenty years since I first read it. I'm fascinated by the breakdown of the barrier between the external and internal that Ballard explores.
FD - Which artists inspire you ?
Apart from those mentioned above, Robert Rauschenberg and Joseph Beuys continue to inspire me. However I think I draw more inspiration from things outside the traditional art world.
FD - You write that you are a "provocative artist" - what do you mean by a provocative artist ?
I'm provocative in that I operate outside of the traditional art scene. There are so many (very dull) artists who are finding that they have to produce increasingly shocking work – well, shocking to conservatives, anyway – in order to connect or get any reaction. Actually their problem is that they're too cosily positioned within the traditional self-absorbed art world to be able to connect with people.
So, traditional well-known gallery artists desperately try to dream up new ways to shock the media (which is always an easy thing to do), because their work has to be mediated – it can't connect directly to people because it's not aimed at people – its intended audience is the media.
I can be provocative in a far less garish – and therefore more meaningful – manner because I've removed the media from the equation. It's not just me – it's happening with a lot of bands, writers and artists now, and it's entirely due to the internet.
FD - You live in Brighton, is it an interesting place for artists?
How is art in England ?
Brighton's quite a fun place so long as you don't take it (or anyone else) too seriously. It feels like home.
How is art in England? I don't know. I don't think in geographic terms anymore. The Lazarus Corporation is, to use a phrase by William Gibson, « globally distributed, more post-geographic than multinational » and when you take that on-board as a way to work then it completely alters your perspectives, so that abstract national boundaries become far less meaningful.
FD - Do you consider digital expression as a cultural revolution?
What do you think of the contemporary culture ?
Yes, I certainly think the internet is starting to cause a cultural revolution. It's still in its early days, but I think we're looking at a seismic change in what we currently call « the media » (despite the counter-revolutionary efforts of the media, the music industry etc).
A few years ago I had a low opinion of contemporary culture, but the internet is starting to change that.
FD - Do you think that only the internet communication is enough, do you do exhibitions in your area ?
I do take part in exhibitions occasionally, but they're no longer an important element in getting my artwork seen and sold. I am very suspicious of galleries – they have a tendency to charge artists exhorbitant amounts of money to exhibit their work, provide very little in the way of promotion for an exhibition, and then take an overly large percentage of any sales. When it comes down to it, a gallery is just an empty white room, and I'm not going to pay out a large amount of money for a few weeks use of an empty white room.
The internet has enabled artists to cut out the middle men and reach art lovers directly, and I think that's far more effective and interesting.
FD - How many lives do you have per day. I know that your day job is managing a web team for a company, are you influenced by your job thru your art and your site ?
There's a two-way flow – my day job influences my artwork and the Lazarus Corporation website, and they in turn influence how I work in my day job.
FD - The LAZARUSCORPORATION site features a lot of artists including writers, do they have common points, what is your selection ?
I think that all the artists on the Lazarus Corporation have common points, although I've never managed to work out what they are. I select the artists by instinct rather than by a pre-ordained plan. I think what they share is a sensibility and outlook rather than any thematic or material similarities.
FD - Let us know about your new project :"the book of Erinyes"
I'm creating a limited edition of 30-50 artists books: hand-printed and hand-bound by me, with photos collaged into the pages.
The book's subject will be the Erinyes of Ancient Greek legend (also known as The Furies), but portrayed in the style of a late 19th century apocalyptic text written by an opium addict. Fragments of text will provide a disjointed partial narrative to the artwork rather than an illustrated story.
I'll also be releasing a (non-handmade) version of the book through Lulu.com.
I'm still only in the first part of the porject, but it's progressing well so far!
FD - Will they be self-published editions or do you have a Publisher ?
They'll be entirely self-published – I don't think any publishing company would take on such a project (a full colour art book) from an artist who isn't a regular exhibitor at the Tate Gallery.