Thursday, March 24, 2011

A Conversation With Jimmy Baker

Q/A with Jimmy Baker 
"Remote Viewing" Exhibit at the CAC - Photo by Tony Walsh
Jimmy Baker, local artist and adjunct faculty member of the Art Academy of Cincinnati, took time out of his busy schedule to talk about his art, his process of art creation, and his newest exhibit, "Remote Viewing" on display at the Contemporary Art Center through April 10.

Can you tell us a little about your artwork in general and your artistic methods? 
I'm a painter at heart, but I have made a lot of other objects and sound pieces.  My work has always been research driven, whether it's conspiracy theories, clandestine wars, architectural history, technological advancement, or anything in between.  It always has an element of entropy to it. I do a lot of mining for digital images as of lately, and they get processed in various ways to eventually make up the paintings.

What ideas, themes or concepts went into the creation of Remote Viewing?
Kunar Eclipse - Photo by Tony Walsh
It started with (the) title being a metaphor for how we access information.  The show is a contrast of biology and technology. Initially, the exhibition idea came from the US military using a psychic spying process to gain Intel at the same time we had invested billions into spy satellites and various technological aspects of intelligence.  The duality of the show is that it is also (mainly) about the history of painting and its anachronistic gesture in a world of digital media.  Thus, the paintings blend varying stages and applications of oil painting and digital printing to make a seamless image/object.

Can you describe your emotions when you were told you would be exhibiting with the CAC?
I mean, it was more of a long process of talks and studio visits. It was initially going to be a show at the CAM about three years ago, and that hit some logistical snags, and then it transitioned into being new work for the CAC.  This type of show doesn't come out of the blue, it's not like winning the lottery. 
Double Tillman - Photo by Tony Walsh

Why do you think places, such as the CAC, are an important part of Cincinnati's culture?
It's the largest institution dedicated solely to contemporary art and culture in the region. It gives Cincinnatians a reason to get out and have an engaging social experience with challenging art.

Are there any artists that inspire you in your work? If so who would they be and why?
I'm into these (very different) artists at the moment, because of how they: think about painting/use materials, distort or re-contextualize information, use photographic sources, and use digital media.  Tom LaDuke, Oliver Laric, R.H. Quaytman, Martijn Hendriks, Barnaby Hosking.

What made you decide to become an artist? Why do you create art?
A mixture of raw skills, and experiencing the ethos of punk/DIY culture at a young age. The drive to make work comes from a blend of the urge to make objects and to give viewers a dense and challenging experience.  I try to make work that can be experienced as a purely visceral reaction to the object or it can be decoded and contextualized for a more dynamic reading.

And finally, what advice would you give to young artists starting out?
You have to work non-stop, but most importantly know why you are making what you are making, and how it fits into the larger landscape of cultural production.

For more information about "Remote Viewing" and The Contemporary Art Center you can visit their website at . For more information about Baker's artwork visit his website at

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