Virtual Residency Chronicles: Jack Madden
The beginning of March has marked the start of wendy.network’s first online residency. The virtual residency will culminate in the presentation of six creative projects, each different and exciting in their own way!
In this installment of the Virtual Residency Chronicles we take a moment to appreciate our six resident artists. We discuss their inspirations, their life, their practice and of course their project idea for the wendy.network residency.
Jack Madden starts his artistic journey in the U.S with a scientific background. His interest lies in the exploration of the merging of art and science and what that pairing creates. With a PhD in astrophysics, Jack investigates all the big questions through an artistic lens in an attempt to make sense of it all.
His project for the Virtual Residency will present computer-generated images of familiar and newly familiar planets from an entirely new perspective in order to illuminate the idea of the ‘overview effect’ and the necessity of ecological action.
Your educational background is rooted in astrophysics, recently though you decided to take the leap into arts. What inspired you to start work as an artist?
Art and science have the same goal to explain and understand. Science is a tool I’ve used to create a stable foundation for my life and work. I’m now working on adding art as another tool to tackle the same problems from a more human perspective.
Where do you stand on the discussion about the rigid separation of art, technology and science? Is there a connection between the arts and science for you?
I think it comes down to the type of question you’re trying to answer. “How does it work” is a science question, “how do we build it” is an engineering question, and “what does it mean for us now” is an art question. In this sense they are all connected and each part helps us grow as a whole. Open source science has been critical in accelerating that growth and it’s an ideal I’d like to incorporate into my art practice by making my tools, methods, and results widely available.
You have mentioned that one of your main inspiration points for your residency project is the ‘overview effect’ (looking at earth from a distance). Can you elaborate a bit more on why this is a driving force for you?
The overview effect is a sensation felt by astronauts when they first see the Earth from space. Their view invokes feelings of human unity, natural stewardship, and cosmic perspective. This effect has only been experienced by a small group but the themes of the sensation are important to my work and the world today. For this residency I’m trying to tap into the overview effect through imagery of the Earth to see if some of what the astronauts experience can be shared with the rest of us.
Your project is also heavily concerned with awakening feelings of compassion in order to invoke ecological change. Is compassion then ‘the great motivator’ for you?
I think on a more fundamental level I want to give my audience a glimpse of a new perspective. I don’t think I can change people’s minds but I can get them to see something in a way they haven’t before. That’s enough to ask for.
As an emerging artist in 2021 you have entered the art world in an extremely precarious moment. What have you discovered about the art world in your experience as a ‘new’ artist at a difficult time?
For better or worse I don’t know what I’m missing. I finished my Ph.D. in astrophysics and began my MFA in digital+media all during the pandemic.
Has your creative practise changed at all due to the pandemic?
The pandemic has definitely changed how I think about presenting my work. Instead of focusing on a physical result I spend more time wondering how to share my work digitally.
Your work generally inhabits a digital space, do you find that working with technology as a mode of artistic production is limiting or freeing?
I try what I can to push technologies where I want them to be but the use of technology and its influence on my art is a result of the time. I know that the techniques I use today would be magic to someone 200 years ago and would be equivalently rudimentary 200 years from now.
The wendy.network residency is meant to work as a collaborative effort between six resident artists. How do you feel about the prospect of collaboration?
With this being my first residency I’m really interested in getting feedback on my work while I’m in research and making phases. Since I don’t have a typical art background I’m also eager to share my scientific experience with others.
What inspired you to collaborate with the wendy.network?
With the rapid rise of cryptoart the past few months, the wendy.network really stuck out as a group focused on supporting artists as the art landscape goes through this radical change. The wendy.network is mindful of our new future and I think they are approaching it in the right way.
What are your expectations for this residency?
I’m excited for everything new. New connections, advice, ideas, tools, collaborations, and opportunities. A residency is a great place to get feedback on the entire artistic process not just the final product. This experience will help me hone many aspects of my practice.
For more details about Jack’s work, the virtual residency, our guest faculty and the other five artists in residence, stay tuned on the wendy.network!