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Transgression : Interrogation


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<< Robert Morris >>

I was surfing on the net one night as I do sometimes and I came upon what sounded like a cool site called Mechanical Whispers. So I clicked on it and went to the site, what caught me at first was the great site atmospherics and the cool subway sounding loop playing. But when I went further on into the site I discovered a very visceral breed of art done by a man by the name of Robert Morris. His designs have a Giger-esque quality to them in that they explore the cyberorganic aesthetic, but the comparability of the two end there. His designs and photographs have a dark urbane feel that runs with the subway motif of the site itself. I decided to get in touch with Robert and ask him a few questions.

Transgression : I've noticed that there is a profound element of torment (both psychological and physical), darkness, and relative themes. How much of this is drawn from a place inside yourself and how much of it is taken from observing the world around you and its pain?

Robert Morris : Most interviews I can usually answer while drunk, but already I can see that this one will require some concentration. My artwork is very personal and comes from a place within, but what lies within is a product of my environment. My surroundings have affected me since my conception. I am constantly aware and observant of what is going on around me... both as the hunter and as the hunted. There is pain everywhere, and there is pleasure everywhere. I see very little difference between the world within and the world without.

T: If you knew with complete certainty that the world was going to end in 24 hours, what would you do with your last day alive?

RM: I'd be incarcerated for even writing about such things. But it would be a fun day. And at the end of it all, I'd want to find a nice spot to sit and watch.

T: It is obvious that industrial music plays some theme, however small, in you art. What is it that draws you to industrial and gothic music and how does it influence your output as an artist?

RM: I am attracted to music that exudes energy or a strong sense of statement. This is not limited to industrial or gothic music, but I am drawn towards it's dark themes. Gothic music hasn't impressed me lately, and so I've leaned toward industrial and synthpop. I look for musicians who are doing something different with their medium. I think it shows when artists try to go beyond their predecessors. But music in general is a great source of inspiration for me. It allows me to get lost and travel through my subconscious. I think a lot of what attracts me to industrial music is the use of electronic instruments as a sort of dark metallic percussion. There is a mood in the music that cannot be found in any other genre. It just seems to fit with my mindset.

T: It's also my observation that your art plays with themes of man and machine, the organic and the mechanical. Why do you think cybernetic/organic concepts keep coming up in not only your own work but in the industrial subculture, its music, and cyberpunk movies and literature?

RM: I think the combination of man and machine is something that is inevitable. And I think humanity is scared by it. Where does the human element stop and the machine element begin? And what will be left of the spirit? I think that my desire to create something that people haven't seen before has caused me to look toward the future. I don't necessarily believe that biomechanics or cybernetics are the answer to bettering humanity. In fact, I sort of suspect the opposite. And I think I am drawn to this conflict. I hesitate because the biomechanical theme has been done to death, but I look at this as a challenge to take it a step (or two) further.

T: Hypothetically, some would go to your site, look at the pic of you on your site and say 'Oh great, another Marilyn Manson/Trent Reznor/Condescending/Goth sycophant!' (Which is not my opinion.) Do you feel that because of the popularity and exposure achieved by the more commercial sides of Goth and Industrial culture that the underground scene suffers because people begin to associate the words 'Gothic' and 'Industrial' with black-eyeliner-wearing, Brandon Lee praising, NIN t-shirt-clad, overly morose 14 year olds?

RM: You forgot to mention "gun-carrying". Well, if all they go to my website for is to see my picture, then perhaps that's all they deserve to think. Personally, I don't believe in "scenes" and I try not to stereotype people. I always hope to give them the chance to be an individual. But then there are those who live their stereotype. On the rare occasion when I go out to a "goth" club, I find the patrons suffering more because of their own lack of style. Pop culture is just that... popular. Every industrial band sounds like Nine Inch Nails. Every dark art style looks like H. R. Giger. Every vampire novel was written by Anne Rice. Associations and labels will always be used to categorize... to make everything nice and neat so it makes sense. But to the educated, categories are irrelevant.

T: Is it your opinion that the commercial artworld and music industry are or aren't very accommodating to new, imaginative talent? Do you think they are really seeking groundbreaking, profound, art and music or do you think pop culture only wants what is readily accessible to the majority, the products that sell?

RM: Very few people have money to throw away. Those with money are looking to make more... to invest. I think the majority of the public wants everything in a nice little package, spoon-fed to them so they don't have to think too much. And the commercial world caters to that. But I think we are on brink of something new. More and more people are promoting themselves. Industries are breaking down. The world is getting smaller and we have easier access to find talent. What's left to be seen is if there are enough free-thinking people out there who care enough to look. But as it stands today, I believe anyone can be popular with enough advertising, no matter how talented. It's sad, but true. I think that some industries search out for talented people to promote, but only as long as they adhere to society's rules of etiquette.

T: What do you have to say to fledgling artists who are just beginning and facing a lot of adversity? Those who are trying to break down the barriers of the acceptable and redefine art and music?

RM: Listen to what the world has to say, and form your own opinion.

T: How interrelated do you think music and art are, in grand scheme of things and to yourself personally?

RM: I think they are quite related in both aspects. Anything can be a form of art, or respectively, a means of income. The differences lie in the presentation. Personally, music is very inspiring for me. I have utilized it for brainstorming new ideas or to even put me in a certain frame of mind. I think that in recent years technology has blurred the separation between music and art. I would love to experiment with music (should I find the time).

T: I ripped this question off of 'Inside the Actors Studio', the incredibly pompous narrator always closes with this question and I want to as well because of its sheer stupidity : If heaven exists, what do you want to hear God say?

RM: Go to hell.


Do yourself a favor, go and check out some very cool art at Robert Morris' page : www. mechanicalwhispers.com