The irony of technology, particularly social media, is that opposed to making us feel more connected socially; research demonstrates that excessive use could crumble our emotional wellbeing. In the crusade for influence, we prove our worthiness while struggling to value the opinion of others. Side effects may include self-absorption, information overload, plus feelings of inadequacy.
All achieved within our tiny digital windows, the views we savour are the ones of comparison. With immediate gratification, only a few likes away, it is evident to see why. You could say the allure of social media has uncovered a new way to build self-esteem or reveal narcissists depending on what makes you feel satisfied.
The days of ‘rose coloured glasses’ are gone. We now live in the era of picture-perfect compositions drown in overused rose-coloured ‘filters’ signed with modern-day poetry in the form of captions signifying we are living our best life.
For London based artist Tim Fishlock, our troubled relationship with modern technology and social media are significant subjects playing a central theme throughout his work.
I like to work to a theme, producing series of works around an idea that interests me at the time.
Fishlock casts a profoundly critical eye embodying a social stance to examine the impact of opinion, narcissism and what the abundance of images are doing to our society and asks us to face it head-on. With witty social critique translated in a harmonised aesthetic that commands the viewers’ attention.
I managed to catch up with Tim fresh from his new installation at the Hang-Up Gallery titled “THE POEM WILL RESEMBLE YOU” to speak with him about his creative process and more.
Q: What is your inspiration and why do you do what you do?
A: I guess it’s my attempt to process the interminable tsunami of bullshit that’s bound my way, to purify it, distil it, until it resembles something vaguely pleasant to look at. Think of me as a sewage treatment plant.
Q: Can you tell us about your creative process?
A: Almost everything I do begins with words and bad drawings in notebooks as well as an ever-growing assemblage of words and phrases in Notes on my phone.
I like to work to a theme, producing series of works around an idea that interests me at the time. I’ve always loved experimenting with materials, so I often try to bend an idea to suit a material or technique that I’d like to employ.
Q: What is the reason behind your fusion of typography, social media culture and the essence of narcissism in your works?
A: I did a degree in English Literature so words have always inspired me. I’m interested in both the semantics and visible representation of language. Amongst many other things, I spent some years as a graphic designer, so have some training in typography – I’m no expert though!
Social media is the defining form of communication amongst humans of the last twenty years. When all things are considered, it would be hard to conclude that social media has been anything but ruinous for our species. Ronald Wright writes in A Short History of Progress that ‘we are running twenty-first-century software on hardware last upgraded 50,000 years ago or more’. That idea of a species in thrall to but ultimately subjugated by the technology it creates is central to a lot of my work.
I’m a painfully introspective person and I’ve always been keen to incriminate myself in the inherent criticism present in much of my output. Coming to terms with our own imperfections seems to me to be wholly essential at this moment in our history. I’ve no interest in using social media myself (my daughter runs my Instagram account) as that idea of projecting a perfect version of your self is anathema to me.
Q: What was the first piece of art you made that cemented your path as an artist?
A: I’ve made a lot of pieces of art for myself and whilst assisting others that have all been bricks on that road. I suppose The Future Leaks Out is the single piece of artwork I’m most happy with and that gave me the confidence to continue (I think about stopping a lot).
Q: What was your most memorable exhibition and why?
A: INTROVERSION IMMERSION at Hang Up Gallery in 2019. Having never been slow to judge extroverts on what I perceive to be their alpha over-confidence and selfishness, I began to wonder whether it’s people like me, the introverted, who are truly the most self-absorbed and self-centred; potentially capable of a greater deal of empathy, but prone to neurotic navel-gazing, forever scarpering to the solipsistic sanctuary of their own company.
INTROVERSION IMMERSION could be described as a self-portrait. It’s a warts and all representation where I focus on the warts, examining the worst of my impulses. It’s recognition of where I’m at and what I need to get better at. It also stands as an indictment of where we’re all at when we actively endorse a society that puts the individual at its centre.
Q: What do you think about the current state of the art world?
A: I don’t think about it a lot. I do think that someone like me, with such a low profile, would never have been able to make a living from my art even 15-20 years ago. But I do and I’m enormously grateful for that.
Q: What role does the artist have in society?
A: Pretty difficult to answer that question without sounding trite and talking about mirrors to society and all that old bollocks.
The role of the artist is to entertain.
Q: What artists have caught your attention in the last 5 years?
A: Little Simz, The Safdie brothers, Fluxus, Richard Mosse, Pa Salieu, Kendrick Lamar, Tirzah.
Q: What’s next for you as an artist?
A: I’m moving into the medium of expressionist dance.