James Moore is an interdisciplinary artist working in Long Island City, New York. We visited him at his studio residency at The Artha Project where we learned more about his participation in “Spring/Break 2016,” in addition to his interests in high performance motorcycles, entomology, and extraterrestrial conspiracy theories. He will be showing in an installation we curated at Satellite Fair 2016 in Miami.
What are you working on in your studio?
I’m casting body parts in resin that are intertwined with LED lights.
Where are the molds from?
Different places. This one is from a human skull I bought off the internet.
Why are you combining LED lights with body parts?
The concept was inspired through motorcycle riding. While riding my bike on the freeway, I recognized how the nervous system in the body is comparable to the roads inside a city. The concept of cyber casting was conceived through wanting to create an electric light stream inside the body.
The electricity represented in that idea is why I do black and white art. I want to simulate that electric current. The expression of the matrix is another form of that idea. It illustrates the patterns of the grid and its circuitry.
Can you tell us about your “Spring/Break” show that your were a part of?
For “Spring/Break” I created an alien autopsy room that was inspired by underground military bases. These bases are apparently all over the country. Since the people who worked in these facilities are getting older, they no longer want to hold on to this information and have been relinquishing the secrets of these facilities. As a result, more and more information about these stations is being disposed. The installation uses aesthetics from these military bases. The graphics along the floor were inspired by air force landing strips. The tiles on the wall were bursting with alien energy. I wanted to create the sensation that the walls were caving in.
How did the waiver play into the installation?
The waiver simulated a psychological state of the otherness of the space in relation to everything else happening, socially and architecturally at “Spring/Break,” a totally different zone of experience. By signing off your rights, it allowed the sculpture to psychically infiltrate. You then expected something to happen as you passed behind the curtains. The same feeling is generated when you walk into a haunted house.
Have you ever had an extraterrestrial run in?
I had this insane UFO sighting in Long Island last summer. It was really crazy. It was right in my field of vision.
How did you know it was alien?
It looked like it could be some crazy high tech government drone, but it was so futuristic looking. I have never seen anything like it before. It had these LED lights on the parameter of the craft. It was probably 20-30 feet long. It was flying down the beach silently and was moving along a vector line. It seemed like it wasn’t flying but being strung along a digital track.
Did this inspire your work?
This body of work comes out of that kind of uncertainty - not knowing if the unidentified flying object is a government product or an actual alien UFO, or maybe a complicated in between like a drone that utilizes extraterrestrial technology. I’m fascinated by that mysticism. I use that uncertainty to create these narratives. The stories live somewhere between the fiction of the imagination and our technological realities.
Where do your icons come from? What Kind of Moth is that?
That is a death’s-head hawk moth, which is the one from the “Silence of the Lambs.” It's a really interesting moth. The hawk moth sneaks into the beehive and releases a fragrance inside the hive, which masks its identity, so the hive doesn’t recognize the intruder. Then the moth steals all their honey. This body of work is about illuminating and exposing secrets. I include iconography without trying to overload the viewer, and I leave it up to the audience to look deeper into the symbols. There are Lockheed Martin symbols, graphics from fighter pilot planes, etc.
Who is the woman in your drawings? Is she the same woman? Why a girl?
I illustrate this character with the "God” symbol on her forehead as a metaphor of government-alien technology transfer - the trade between testing on humans for an exchange in technology. It's been speculated that LEDs and certain spacecraft materials manifested from this kind of alien information transfer. This character is the genome byproduct of this transfer. She’s simultaneously primordial and digital. She’s simultaneously a cyborg entity and an ancient being. I think the Lilith story is really fascinating because she was erased by mankind and cast out of the Bible. Her story was a secret, but now thousands of years later, it is slowly being revealed. Also the character is a personification of feminine power. The figure just naturally seems appropriate for the material.
What are the continuous themes throughout your work?
Aggression, spirituality, finding a deity inside the computer, and transcending fear. Much of my work comes from my experience of riding motorcycles and transcending different phases of fear. As you pass through barriers you gain different perceptions of reality that lead you to a higher state of being.
I also think about the prominence of the military and fear people experience from advancements in technology. I think about what information is shared with the population and what is withheld; the power of propaganda, and how corporations play a major role in how society is shaped. I think about how these icons are monstrous and apart of our daily backdrop. They are very real to the time we are living in. If you look, all this iconography is around us.
Are you afraid of the future? Are you pro or against singularity?
I'm excited about the future, and in helping create it. My goal is to give people psychological tools to best deal with the future, and the singularity (if that happens,) as it comes.
Are these pieces a projection of now or the future?
Both. The manner in which I approach making art is through digging deep into the past then reaching really far into the future to arrive back into the present.
How did you start making art?
I’ve always been this way. I drew. I was into comics. I remember being five and seeing all this insane comic book art, and I had all these idealizations about superhuman powers. I haven’t thought about it like this but maybe my fascination with freakishly powerful beings translates from my interest in comics as kid.
I’ve also always have been fascinated with ornate Japanese art from the Edo era, as well as more recent cyberpunk and anime stuff from the last 20 years. I love super complex and highly detailed drawings, as well as the works of Suehiro Maruo, Toshio Saeki, Takato Yamamoto, etc.
Do you have favorite Sci- fi movies?
“The Thing,” “Rubber’s Lover,” “Akira,” “Ghost in the Shell”…
Do you have any other artists that you would be excited to work or collaborate with?
Not really other artists but it would be interesting to work directly with a scientist or biologist, or to work with artists who are not in a traditional fine art field. I would love to have access to real drone parts, so anyone that works with drones. Maybe someone that works with Lockheed Martin who could give me some parts. Or scientists that work with robots.
What do you look forward to making and learning about in the future?
I want to look further into astrophysics theories and multiverse theories. I want to make more performance art pieces with my motorcycle. I've done video performance with my bike before, but I would love to do a performance in real time so the audience can experience the first hand power of the machine.
In that way it's a real physical manifestation. A lot of people can experience art on Instagram now, which is valid, but creating something visual where you have to be there, first hand, to experience it is more of what I’ve been working towards. That’s why I'm interested in installation art and motorcycle performance. First hand, in the flesh - there’s a deficit of that right now.
Last question, have you ever been to Roswell?
I am Roswell.