Bay Area Now 8 Interviews

David Bayus

Q:  What is your relationship to biennials/triennials etc.? Have you seen many of them? Do you like 'em? Have you been to many of the Bay Area Nows?

A: I’ve been to them sporadically, usually because of good timing and proximity. I’ve been able to see BAN6 & 7 since moving to SF. It’s difficult to say whether I like or dislike a biennial, are we talking about the curation, content, or venue?... I can say that I’ve seen things that I really like that are in biennials/triennials.

Q:  Several of the artists in this year's edition have relatively short CVs - what does this opportunity mean to you at this particular point in your career?

A: Any chance I get to show my work, (especially a film project) to a broader audience is a great opportunity. As far as what that means to me at this point in my career is harder to discern, but I’m enthusiastic regardless.

Q:  Many of your projects demand a significant amount of time - I'm thinking of your films and drawings. How does this kind of hard deadline to produce something significant (in whatever sense) and likely at a large scale fit your practice?

A: It always begins in a virtual space, I make environments that objects, images, and characters emerge from. This process takes months but once it gets going it becomes a kind of engine in itself. It’s accretive; all these different virtual assets they build up over time. Once the environment is fleshed out, a narrative emerges and filming/animating begins. At this point things move much faster and that’s where the deadline becomes important because it pushes me to reach an ending. It gives me a place for these things to exist in the physical world.

Q:  Other than art-art, what media inspire your practice most?

A: I feel like lately I’m watching more YouTube videos than anything else… a lot of trans-humanist eschatology lectures, really dystopian stuff. The culture surrounding conspiracy theories is getting denser and more bizarre. Homemade cooling systems for gaming computers, old judaeo-christian religious artifacts/spiritual technologies (ciboriums, tefillin, etc.), cyclical universe theories and lectures (emergent universal intelligence/omega point stuff)… I’m fortunate that my studio space is also home to a respectable VHS collection, so when I’m not attached to my laptop I try to watch as many movies as I can. Specifically, Night of the Hunter by Charles Laughton and Days of Heaven by Terrence Malick had a big visual influence on my newest film Psyman's Acres.

Q:  Working in a virtual space, how much of what ends up in the work is completely conjured from your imagination versus improvised a bit with the tools you use?

A: Every once in a while something will go wrong with a simulation or I’ll forget that a lamp is turned on, and it will end up looking better than I intended and I'll put that in the project and that’s great when it happens, but it’s pretty rare. I usually have to put a lot of effort into making sure what comes out on the other end is approximate to what I had imagined. 
Q:  People are constantly leaving the Bay Area (and, confusingly, moving here). You’ve been here quite a while – what keeps you here? What do you like about this scene?

A: Well, it's a loaded question right? SF can be a caustic environment to the 'big studio, big art' model or increasingly any kind of studio practice for that matter. What keeps me here?... I’m fortunate enough to have stable housing, employment and a studio; those are three huge factors obviously. But I’ve also wanted to live here since I was a kid. I know that its sentimental but I'm the son of an avid science fiction fan so SF always had a mythic aura to me. It’s the headquarters of Starfleet for Christ’s sake! But its undeniably far more P. K. Dickish here than anything Roddenberry imagined I’m sure, especially these days. You’re right that people are constantly coming and going and I think that’s only going to increase. It’s becoming harder to even talk about art scenes in a geographical context...but I know that what I love about the groups of artists that I live and work with is that they've all found unique ways of surviving here, and it’s not that they've developed healthy studio practices despite living in SF, but that they've developed unique practices because they live in SF. 

Images from Psyman's Acres except last two from the artist's website.

aaron harbour