We may not know much about computer art at Vice but we know what we like, and right now we really like the computer art of computer artist Paul B. Davis. The good news for people like us is that Paul's first solo show, Intentional Computing opens tomorrow and features the kind of work that makes you think, "I wish I'd done that." Stuff like hacking into Nintendo games and messing around with the chips so that instead of running around all the time, Super Mario gets stoned and lonely and ponders the existential nature of being. Clever stuff in the shape of fun.
A founding member of the Beige collective, Paul is a nerd and a gentleman trapped inside the body of a 29-year-old from St. Louis who's lived in London for three years. Like most creative types, he has a range of projects on the go, including some Vice-related music bits. He also teaches Fine Art at Goldsmiths College, London. Did you know he once released a record called "Enter The Mystical Faggot"?
Vice: When you get up in the morning, how do you decide whether to do art or music?
Paul: Usually I get worried about which one I'm sucking at. I worry that I do too many things not that well, rather than doing one thing really well, which is easier for a career. So I guess it depends if I need to finish a music project or if I have an idea for an art piece, then I'll do that. It's best when the two come together.
Like with your acclaimed album, The 8-Bit Construction Set?
Exactly. With The 8-Bit Construction Set I was able to merge conceptual stuff with a usable tool because there were weird art bits on the record. So I'd get emails back from DJs saying it's great – Mixmaster Mike was playing it – and then I'd get an email from a museum saying they wanted to exhibit it. In terms of the art/music thing, that did both.
Sounds smart. Where did you go study?
I went to Oberlin in Ohio. Basically all the people that I still collaborate with now went there. Two of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs were in my class, Brian and Karen. I saw Brian last time I was in Chicago and he showed me his tour bus and he was excited because the previous group that had used that bus was Journey.
Video art and computer art – what's the difference?
The market for video art is 20 years ahead in terms of artist recognition and sales. When we were exhibiting our first shows, if we said it was new media art or computer art, no one cared. But if we called it video art, using the computer game as a readymade, then they'd love it.
What's with the B?
The B stands for Benjamin. There are so many Paul Davises and the B is for Google searches.
* Paul's exhibition runs from tomorrow at the Seventeen Gallery.
THANDIE B. NEUTRON