Artist of the Week: Radar Communication (AKA Mark Chapman)

Words by Sinead Nunes, Editor

For this week’s feature, we caught up with Radar Communication, AKA artist Mark Chapman, one of the first visual artists of Threshold V to be revealed, whose interests lie in photography, exploring digital art and graphic design.

What is the significance of ‘recycling and reusing’ in your work?

In my symmetry works, I like the idea of transforming the mundane and neglected parts of the city into something new. This is inspired by how buildings are renovated in architectural projects, such as former warehouses or factories being redeveloped into a creative space for new businesses.

How does this relate to new technology (thinking specifically about your book Transmission)?

I enjoy reading about technology in magazines such as Wired, and also the idea that there was a time before the Internet arrived that people thought it would not be popular! I exhibited pieces from my Transmission series at last year’s Threshold Festival, and these mixed media works were created by scanning and cutting text and images (from print and online news) to create new digital collages.

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You take a lot of photographs around Liverpool – who or what are your biggest inspirations?

I really like architectural photography, in particular a photographer called Dan Holdsworth who makes futuristic looking images from mundane things like car parks. In all cities (not just Liverpool), I like to take photos of the less familiar parts of the city. I’m the type of photographer that can be found standing with his back to the Three Graces in Liverpool, and taking a photo of some rusted metal surface instead! In terms of art, I like the abstract colours and textures within much of Gerhard Richter’s work (amongst others).

Talk us through your creative process – how do you combine traditional hands-on techniques with the digital side of your work?

Whilst doing my degree in Digital Graphic Design, I also made a conscious effort to learn from the photography, art and printmaking courses. By combining different media, I can create work that doesn’t look too digital, and has a more organic feel to it.

You also work as a designer – how do you find a balance in your practice, and do these elements often overlap?

Over the last few years I have made the transition from graphic design into more art and photography based work. However, I think the influence of graphic design is still there with the strong use of shape and composition in what I do.

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We’re really interested in your book Collide – is that another example of your two worlds (or practices) colliding?

I really enjoy creating books for each new art / photography project; I have quite a few now! In my Collide book, I investigated the idea of ‘accidental art’, where corroded advertising boards and rusted materials appeared like abstract art pieces. Artists are often influenced by accident and experimentation.

As well as exhibiting in Threshold last year, you also created work for the 2014 Independents Biennial – what does it feel like being part of another festival?

I enjoy being involved in these events, meeting new people, and discovering work or artists that I haven’t previously been aware of. There is a great creative scene in Liverpool, where people have a real enthusiasm to make things happen. Festivals like Threshold and the Independents Biennial are also an opportunity to get work displayed in different venues, and to a different audience.

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Do you think this year’s theme of Contrasting Geometries will be a challenge to work with?

It seems like an interesting concept rather than a challenge. I knew quite quickly which of my work I would submit. I think the unusual patterns that form in my symmetrical work fits this theme. I’m really looking forward to seeing the other artists’ work too. In last year’s Retro Futurism themed exhibition there were so many different types of responses from visual artists. I really enjoyed Robyn Woolston’s recycled music tapes work in particular.

Yes we loved her work last year too! Lastly, what are you looking forward to most about Threshold V?

Last year was the first time that I had exhibited work at the festival, and was also my first year attending the festival. It had a real energy and enthusiasm about it, lots of things going on! As well as the visual art side of things, I’m also looking forward to seeing lots of new bands and interesting performances.

You can keep up to date with the latest announcements for the visual art, theatre and music strands of the festival at thresholdfestival.co.uk

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