Name: Stephen Hal Fishman XXVII
Primary Medium: Video
Tell us about your upcoming exhibition:
For Artbash, I am compiling, compositing and remixing a collection of videos (including music videos for Christeene, Total Unicorn and Os Ovni) that were created over the past 6 years or so. It’s nice to revisit and, at times, rejuvenate old work. There is one short film that I mess with every few years, but rarely show. It will forever be a work-in-progress.
What are you working on now?
In addition to this video compilation, I am preparing our house for EAST, #531. We will be converting our home into a Shelley Duvall-themed deli. We’ll make you a sandwich, if you ask nicely. I’m also going to be working on documentation for Loop Mass 2: Advanced Plants, which was a large-scale immersive group show that I created with Ryan Padgett and Zac Traeger (for those of you who missed it).
What draws you to your medium?
I experiment with a variety of different media, but I always have an animated video in the works. My background and career are rooted in commercial animation, film and motion graphics. There is a lot of structure and (too many) rules imposed on my commercial work. It has to be functional in order to serve my clients, so I strive to break rules and subvert function with my personal work. These two aspects of my practice are correlated in my personality: strict order and ordered chaos.
How long have you been an artist and how your practice changed over time?
I’ve been an artist since I was child, but I was derailed by my money career. When I moved to Austin in 2005, I intended to reconnect with my subconscious, and I did. In the interim, my work evolved. As soon as I came around to the idea that I shouldn’t be a narrative film director, it was liberating. I became a performer, an experimenter, a collaborator, a student, an adjunct professor, writer, and a very mediocre composer. My desire is to combine all of this into immersive experiences, like I/we did with Advanced Plants.
In your opinion, what does the Austin arts community need as the city continues to grow?
The sense of community in Austin’s art world is very strong. It is inversely proportional to Austin’s commercial viability (that of the art market). Life is becoming competitive here, so artists will likely have to do the same. It sucks, and I’m not looking forward to it, but I realize that its coming. If we can’t create a way for artists to make a living here, then all the talk of affordable work space, support, and such won’t suffice, and artists will leave. Artists are intrepid and will seek out lifestyles and living arrangements that are conducive to making art. If that means moving to a cheaper part of town, or another town, then I think that you will see a lot of that. The ‘growth’ of the art scene would really be about curators, gallerists and non-profits creating opportunities for artists living around Austin (like the greater Central Texas area), if they get pushed out. Austin might end up becoming a hub for a decentralized art world, like New York, or Berlin.
Stephen Hal Fishman is an Austin-based video artist, designer and performer creating experimental animated films, music videos, print media, interactive installations and live visual accompaniment for music and dance. His work focuses on the intersection of art and technology. It is a synthesis of humor, cultural subversion, and fantasy.
His short animated films and music videos have been shown in festivals all over the U.S. and Europe. His interactive pieces have been shown at the New Media Art and Sound Summit, Fusebox Festival, Art of the Brew and the Museum of Human Achievement in Austin. In 2016, he was a resident at UT Dallas’s Central Trak gallery. He held the Co-Lab Projects online Bit Residency in 2017, and is currently a Moha4 online resident for the Museum of Human Achievement. He has performed with Total Unicorn in South-By-Southwest’s music festivals from 2012 to 2017, the CIMM festival in Chicago in 2016, the CODAME festival in San Francisco in 2015, and Austin’s Outsider Festival in 2016 and 2017.
Since 2008, Stephen has helped to program and direct the Austin Museum of Digital Art, a nomadic non-profit digital arts organization.