VICE Italy's still life shoot was rendered by 26-year-old Portland-based psychedelic, performance, digital, and installation artist, fractal employer, virtual world builder, and portals into other dimensions-seeker, Brenna Murphy.
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VICE: So, is your work a 90s cyber retro graphics thing?
Brenna Murphy: I'm mostly inspired by ancient spiritual art, Indian tantric traditions, temples, tapestries, mandalas, etc. It's so stimulating to look at how people throughout time tried to map reality and the way they invoke the divine by arranging matter according to intuitive aesthetic codes. You can see those codes splayed out when you look at a Hindu temple or a Peruvian tapestry. I also get a lot of inspiration from music, especially any sounds associated with north Indian classical raga—Pandit Pran Nath, Terry Riley, La Monte Young, and Jon Hassell—that style of music has been hugely influential on my work.
Why Photoshop collages and fractals?
I started making Photoshop collages a lot when I was a teenager—making digital collages was an immediate and very primal form of meditation—and I guess I've just extended that basic approach as I've learned new programs. I try and find a sense of harmony with my tool, this fractal form machine that is the computer. I sort of ride the wave of the interface, generating, and organizing images through a series of nested programs. Working like this turns into a sort of devotional trance dance.
You were recently part of 319 Scholes' Big Reality show in Brooklyn, a show themed around gaming and MMORPG culture, do you play any yourself?
We were included more because my art collective, the Oregon Painting Society, use our installations for the sort of real-life role-playing normally only doable online. We build surreal, immersive installations in which we take on characters, invent rituals, and shred interdimensional portals. On the virtual side, I've recently been learning how to build video games using my CGI sculptures. You can play one here.
Tell us about the Oregon Painting Society.
OPS is usually five people. We build installations that are trippy worlds with interactive electronics embedded inside sculptures. We put on performances that are specific to the world we've built. All of our work is completely collaborative and we are mainly interested in the transcendent experience of opening up portals to other dimensions through ecstatic group conjuring methods: sound, movement, costumes, and chanting.
How’s your personal work different?
I make collages and videos and arrange them on web pages. I like to take footage from parks in my neighborhood and build CGI entities with trippy textures. I take walks around my neighborhood and film whatever catches my eye—it’s a way of focusing my mind. I often gravitate toward trees and natural stuff, so a lot of the footage ends up being from parks. Also, I love filming people who are just lounging on the grass.
That sounds really different to this shoot, was this the first time your work featured fashion?
For sure, I'm usually not interested in using fashion in my own artwork at all. I was happy to do that project because I was visiting Milan for my show at the Gloria Maria gallery. I made an installation that included some of my prints and also some digital collages from CGI objects built in Blender. Then the guys at Gloria had them printed on thick pieces of wood so that they would have a sculptural presence, that way I could arrange them in the installation like slabs of stone. Since I was fresh from working on so many collages, it was a natural extension to do the same thing for a fashion project.
Would you ever want to print on fabric and wear your art?
Yes. Actually, I've been thinking about that a lot. Right before I went to Milan, I was in Berlin doing a show at Future Gallery and I got to drape the prints like fabric. It just makes sense to play around with that aspect if it’s available. I love being able to interact with a print in a really physical way. Getting to wear my art would feel like protective magic.
Yeah, it’s like a real-life warp tool. So would it be like a jumpsuit or a huge bag or something?
Yeah. I think my first thought would be to make a jumpsuit or a long dress—something that would act as a cloaking device. It’s not so much about hiding but blending. I like when everything meshes together under a common texture or pattern. I pretty much can't resist wrapping myself up in tons of patterned textile stuff. When I went to Peru last year to visit Machu Piccu, I picked up some things so now I just always look like a walking carpet. It was mind blowing there. There are endless textiles, it's dreamy, and Machu Piccu feels like walking around in a skeleton carved into the top of a jungle mountain.
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