MONTERREY.- First, if you could please describe to me what you responded to?
I love the game, and I really wanted to play. I didn't know what to expect at first. I got this poster from a magazine, that showed that the bees had been abducted by aliens, and I loved the idea. It was very elaborate, and the idea was already traced. I just added a couple of buildings, and a couple of little heads below with amused faces. I didn't want to add any colors, because I wanted to see what future artists would do.
It's really interesting- nobody has actually done this the way you did it. Have you looked at the rest of the site?
To be honest with you, no I haven't. I just saw this on Instagram and loved the idea.
So the way this works generally- but there's a first time for everything, and things can morph and change- is artists will receive the prompt and then they will make something completely different, that is based on how they felt about the work. This is the first time that someone has done what you have done, which is to add on the piece itself.
I thought for some reason, that this sketch would be passed on to several more artists and everyone would add a little bit. And maybe it will get done after 5 or 6 artists. For some reason, that's how I thought this worked.
The piece you received was actually inspired by a piece of music, so the artist listened to a piece of music and came up with this.
So you would like me to grab the format, and make something totally different from the feeling or transmission the piece brought to me. Would you like that?
We could do that, or I am totally open to taking a piece of what you've made and passing it forward on it's own. Like what if I just passed on these little heads?
That would be cool. But on my end I can totally go and do something based on the format you've described.
Okay- which would you rather do?
[Fast forward two weeks: Dan created a painting based on our conversation.] This is so cool! Tell me about your process.
Well, first of all it was very bizarre, because I didn't understand 100% the way that Bait/Switch wanted to work. I totally misinterpreted it. I was a little bit embarrassed.
I really hope that you didn't get that from me- it happens!
No- I felt like I really wanted to reinterpret this idea, and take it to a level that was at the same status as the art that I received in my hands prior to making this. When you told me that the piece that I received was inspired by a piece of music, it was baffling to me. I've never had this experience before. First of all, parting from this piece of art and creating something new, but also knowing that that piece of art was created by the influence of a piece of music. It was very interesting for me, and I wanted to make something totally different with the authenticity of the piece and where it comes from. So my approach was to try to imagine myself as an artist telling the story in third person in this painting. I'm not performing any role in the painting, the person who is sitting in the chair is the person who created the piece of music. He's the original creator of the idea, and therefore, the pieces are done because of his idea. He's thinking of this music that's he's composing, but the music is transforming into a print form. Eventually, it's taken away, and it's in the form of a thought.
I tried to represent a big city, or a world that was once populated, but has now perished because of the absence of bees, which eventually will happen. This person is thinking about the idea, and going through it all the way.
So you ended up responding, it seems like, to everything that came before your work, or at least the two steps before. I love the title of the piece. It's so beautiful and so scary.
It gives us the chance to rethink a lot of things and reevaluate. We have to take care of the bees, otherwise we're in trouble. That was the big announcement in the piece of art that you sent me. It takes the person who reads the front page of this tabloid, and it makes you think what if? What will happen with the honey and all the other things that will be missing? The way I interpreted it, it's like trying to match these two precedents. The person who composed this piece of music and the other person who made this piece of art, to let me know exactly where I should hit the ball.
Looking at this piece, I see the person who made the music, and is thinking about music. I see the person who is hearing the music and thinking about bees. And I'm seeing you thinking about that tabloid page and considering the horrifying reality of what will happen if they disappear.
In it's own right, it's kind of true to the full idea. You and me, we know the previous artwork that was produced. If someone else doesn't know this story, I don't know what they will think.
It will be so interesting to see what comes through for another person.
Well, having done this now, and you've done it twice in different styles, what advice do you have for someone else?
First of all, read through everything on the webpage of Bait/Switch so you don't misunderstand the rules of the game. Once you understand that, this is like playing a whole different game. It's very interesting for me- when you get some sort of a project that makes you think and rethink, and validating in your own mind the art form, those are the ones that are very interesting. Knowing that it came from a piece of music- I don't know. It would be very interesting if I sent a piece of architecture, and see what comes out of that. This is like trying to make different breeds of dogs- like pairing a dachshund with a Chihuahua, and just saying wow, what happened here?
Is there anything else you'd like to say about this?
Yes. It was very satisfying to do this. Kind of like going into therapy, but a very nice way of doing it. The way I enjoyed it, it was very unique, and very generous, because it was a totally different type of art from what I produce on my own. It was very fun to do. I was so happy to get your email that you liked the painting, and I knew you were going to understand, because we had that talk a couple weeks ago, and laughed our heads off because I totally misunderstood the original concept. I wanted to nail it so bad, that I went to a lot of the previous part of the painting. Most of my time was spent sketching and writing, and the actual painting was done in maybe one day. But it was already made up in my mind. I enjoyed it a lot. It felt like hitting a good home run.
This interview first appeared in a recent edition of Bait/Switch.
is a call and response interdisciplinary art publication that takes inspiration from the Exquisite Corpse game made famous by the Surrealists, and childhood games like Telephone. The publication offers artists an opportunity to create original work in response to a prompt (which was made by a different artist in response to another prompt), thus creating an ever-expanding chain of artworks that transcends time, space, and sensory experience.
Prompt artwork by Joe Kitsch.