Rethinking man and machine
Master of Fine Arts student Jason Christopher is using sculpture to explore some fascinating concepts. In his latest project, Sound Machine, he investigates the cultural integration of technology in modern lifestyles.
Jason Christopher with 'Sound Machine'.
Jason Christopher’s sculpture questions people’s synergy with the ‘machine world’ and a machine’s ability to integrate with humans on a cultural level. Visually, it is a striking blend of impressions. In shape and texture it mimics the age-old sound tube, well-balanced like an object of nature but sleeky modern in form, almost industrial, fashioned with a silver facade.
The project will be used for Jason’s master’s thesis, which explores the interplay that occurs between humans and the machine world when cultural practices are displaced by technology.
A project like this one is a prime example of Sydney College of the Arts’ (SCA) 35-year tradition of academic excellence in research and the practice of contemporary art.
Jason’s career has already taken some unusual twists and turns. He first graduated from the University of Sydney in 1991 with a Bachelor of Arts, majoring in sculpting. From there he entered the world of design, working as a set and props designer for more than 20 films and television shows, including The Matrix trilogy, Mission Impossible, Star Wars Episode 2: Attack of the Clones, Red Planet, Farscape, Mixy, and Bananas in Pyjamas.
Jason has also designed accessories such as bike rings, microcells and hanging baskets for ‘Smartpoles’ placed around Sydney. Smartpoles are a consolidation of street infrastructure: combining functions such as traffic lights and pedestrian signals into a single system.
Despite his stable position in the lucrative design industry, Jason found himself inexorably drawn back to sculpting. He returned to SCA to complete a Master of Studio Art and is now enrolled in a Master of Fine Arts program (majoring in sculpture).
At 42, Jason feels as if he is beginning anew in sculpting. At the same time, he acknowledges that his experience as a set/prop designer has enhanced his skills and imagination as an artist, an observation backed up by his recent success as the winner of the David Harold Tribe Sculpture Award, for his sculpture Free Range. A thought-provoking and humorous vision of the future of farming, the artwork uses an eclectic blend of photography, video, sound and electronics to depict a milk machine and egg-laying device – making a satirical commentary on the automation of the poultry and dairy farming industry.
Above: 'Battery Hens'
Jason used the $12,000 award to create Sound Machine and another work, Battery Hens, which won the Woollahra Small Sculpture Special Commendation Award, and has been named as a finalist for the 2012 Wynne Prize at the Art Gallery of NSW.
The prize was also endowed by Sydney philanthropist and humanist David Harold Tribe. Jason credits Tribe’s generosity and love of the arts for having pushed him to elevate his own creativity and craftsmanship. “I want to honour this generosity and produce excellent art,” he explains.