By Miles Baker
MONDO: Hi Carolyn. I’ve known you for a few years now, and I know you’re an artist – I bought stuff from you at Canzine one year – but I don’t actually know what your primary focus is. So, what is it?
Carolyn Tripp: I specifically chose a long time ago not to choose one thing or another, or that is to say, one focus or another. I guess that’s to my detriment, but I can’t imagine functioning otherwise. Or something like that.
MONDO: Now, correct me if I’m wrong, but you have formal artistic training through the Sheridan/U of T art and art history programs, yes? How was that? Are you happy you went to school?
CT: Yes, I did go there, and I’ll never be sure whether or not it was the right thing to do. So many things depend on geography more than anything, you know? It’s an excellent program, but it’s sadly devoid of “hardcores,” save a few that I still know and love.
What I mean is it wasn’t a portfolio-based program. A lot of people went there because they wanted to move onto teacher’s college or some such. That’s fine and all, but it made for a lot of artwork with no intention to continue upon graduation. That was always a continual point of frustration for me, as I could never see myself stopping.
And, while I’ve always contended that it doesn’t matter where the art “comes from,” it sure as hell made for a tense environment. The 22-year-old me liked to take things very, very seriously, you know?
So I guess the short answer is: yes, it was important for me to go, but as an art school, I think it was lacking in camaraderie. On a social level, it just bred a lot of resentment.
MONDO: When you look back at your art, do you seem themes develop? Various angsts, or what-have-you, playing themselves out in your creativity?
CT: Yeah, particularly in earlier stuff. A lot of young resentment, but that’s pretty much out of the equation now. You can’t make angsty artwork if you don’t feel that way anymore, you know? There’s only so much art where you can get your hate-on before you suffer the consequences of employing obvious clichés.
Now, having said that, people still call me on being a bit “off” or “twisted.” I guess I’m trying to employ a better sense of humour about it!
MONDO: Slightly off topic, but I imagine you’ll have something interesting to say about it. What do you think the internet will be for artists in the present and future? Or has it already played itself out?
CT: I’ve mostly used it for research and promotion, like anyone else, but some people have done some fucking interesting online projects, haven’t they? Even bands get wacky with their websites these days, which to me is encouraging.
I think it’s played itself out in the basic forms, but with the onslaught of high speed, it can only get more interesting. Art and music just make it into more homes, with the obvious downfall being the exponential increase of total unmitigated crap. All you can do is hope to inject what you consider quality and hope that it works.
Additionally, I think the level of interactive art pieces has yet to see the end of its rope. I’d really like to get into online projects that rely almost exclusively on user input. I think that’s a lot more exciting than, you know, just the drawing.
MONDO: Can you talk about some of the pictures on your myspace that you showed me, in particular the red blot ones? Are those watercolours? They remind me of cultures that you’d look at under a microscope. How crazy or wrong am I?
CT: A bit crazy, but no, not wrong. I guess I never thought of it that way. They’re part of the “Gaming and Tourism” initiative, a zine with which you became familiar a while back. Just exploring guns and gun culture as it relates to hunting. Then there’s always the poor bastard that turns the gun on himself, you know? The hunter with no deer present. Eek. I sometimes call him the “tourist.” And yes, they are watercolours.
MONDO: Time to inflate your ego. If an art student wrote a paper on Carolyn Tripp, what would you hope the thesis would be?
CT: Oh they wouldn’t, darling, they wouldn’t.
Did you ever hear of Freud doing some funky shit with his work before he died? Apparently he totally screwed around with his research to the point where he knew it would be difficult to unravel once he was dead. Just a bunch of papers that people knew came from a really smart dude who devoted a lifetime to one specific thing. What a jack-assy thing to do, eh?
Anyway, I have yet to even reach the point where my work can be synthesized into a thesis. It’s definitely starting to, but it’s nothing to write home (or teacher) about. Not yet.