Artist to Watch: Sterling Crispin

One of the most interesting young talents in the Denver art scene is Sterling Crispin. Originally from Maui, Crispin attended RMCAD and is now resident artist at RedLine. He works across multiple disciplines, most prominently video and environmental installation. I recently sat down with Crispin to learn more about his work, philosophy and life in Denver, what I got was one of the most insightful artist interviews I have done. Check it out for yourself:

Tell me a little bit about yourself, what is your background?

Well I grew up in Maui and I love downhill skateboarding, I made a lot of art growing up and I have continued to do so. I thought I might get an education in computer science at one point but it didn’t come as naturally to me as art has, although I’m still engaging in computer programming. I was addicted to virtual reality in high school, which at the time was a fringe thing but its becoming common place.

I received my BFA from The Rocky Mountain College of Art & Design in 2008 and since then I’ve been in a dozen or so art exhibits, mostly around Denver. The last year or so has been really good to me. I’m starting to get more national and international opportunities and a few sales. In 2009 a television station in Europe called Souvenirs from Earth started featuring three of my video art pieces twice a week. I really wish we had something like that here, imagine a TV station that played 24/7 video art, who wouldn’t want that?

Briefly describe your philosophy of your work:

I am heavily influenced by the Buddhist concept of emptiness, futurist theories, the technological singularity and magic. The common tie between those particular subjects is the flexible nature of reality. This world is incredibly dynamic, yet everything is interconnected, one fluid.

I think people get their consciousness caught up in human-centric vantage points and forget that this is all just turbulent matter emerging as particular forms at this particular point in time. Most things on Earth are made up of the same handful of ingredients rearranged, but we spend our whole lives naming things, becoming attached to the way things are and needlessly suffering because of it.

That aside, I’m a big proponent of the technological singularity. Its a hypothetical event that will likely take place by the year 2050 in which the accelerating rate of technological progress will cause an AI and technology explosion and dramatically change the world. The rate of change has been growing at an exponential rate since life first crawled on earth and the trend is continuing through human development and growth of our technology. Most people think I’m crazy when I tell them that because the natural way to view the world is locally and linearly, but we now live in a global network that’s growing at an increasingly exponential rate.  If you take 30 linear steps and you end up at 30, if you take 30 exponential steps you end up at one billion and that’s the curve we are climbing now. I can’t wait to get there. Some people think it will increase the gap between the rich and the poor but I think its going to usher in a new era, a utopian future.

What are your thoughts about the denver art scene?

I think its great, there are a lot of local venues for art, a supportive community and a lot of good artists here. Of course being an artist in a smaller city has its pros and cons. It’s a smaller art market and so there’s not much support for artists who are making challenging work. That can be good though, all of my favorite artists in Denver are passionate and idealistic  and make art because they really care about it regardless of the practicality of it. Being an artist is impractical and sort of ridiculous, and it can be really expensive.

I know you had a studio at redline, how was your experience there?

Actually I’m still a resident artist at RedLine, my residency ends this time next year. I’m studio swapping into a huge studio at the end of September that I’m really excited about. RedLine is great, the first year was a lot of hard work laying the foundation of the institution but now the gears are really in motion. I think Denver can expect to see a lot of great things happen at RedLine in the next few years.

What are some of your influences outside of art?

I listen to a lot of house music, really almost any electronic dance music, and a lot of lil wayne. I’m addicted to information. I read 4-5 online news sources five or six times a day, and most of them are aggregates of other sources. I think that I am more influenced by the trends in super computers, parallel neural processing, biomedical and genetic research than I am influenced by artforum or the recent “every major city on the planet has a biennial” trend. I think most contemporary art is really boring, it takes a lot to really ‘wow’ me. My friends that know me well know that I’m very critical, which I think is a good thing.

What’s Next for Sterling Crispin?

If everything I’m working on comes to fruition I’ll be in five exhibits in the next three months, Denver, Denver, Brooklyn, Chicago, LA. I’m hoping to start getting work industrially fabricated, I’ve been doing a lot of research into mass produced objects, 3d printers and rapid prototyping methods. I’m looking into graduate school and hoping to enter into an MFA program in the fall of 2011. I’ve done a few music videos and I’d like to do more collaborations with musicians in the future.

Any words of wisdom young artist right out of school?

We are all one, love your fellow humans and laugh every day! The world is saturated with grief and suffering, so be nice to each other!

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