Interview: Joe Hamilton Talks Tumblr, Hypergeography, and Digital Art

This feature is a part of Complex's "Tumblr Generation" Week.

CLICK HERE TO SEE THE TUMBLR GENERATION DIGITAL COVER.
Joe Hamilton mixes familiar, found imaging with the aesthetic of technology both on and offline, and the result is spectacular. His Hypergeography project has gotten a lot of attention for being at the intersection of the natural, the digital, and collage, where mountains and oceans mix with machines, drones, and other tech devices to bridge and examine their increasing gap. In the world Joe has created using Tumblr, there is equal room for both fantasy and fear of what's to come. He, like many others using the platform, has used it to present his art, which works particularly well in its direct reflection of the Internet—a cascading series of images that we seek to collect, curate, and form an identity from.
 
We interviewed Joe about how he used Tumblr to launch his career, in addition to what he thinks about digital art and image copyright laws. He, in addition to 14 other artists and designers, contributed to our How to Make It: 15 Rules for Success From Artists on Tumblr feature.

 

When I came across an #artselfie of Diddy standing in front of the Mona Lisa, I thought it would be funny to switch it up and put him in the frame and the Mona Lisa/Afghan girl in the foreground.

 
How did you discover and define your digital film medium?
It's an ongoing development of process working with composition, various materials, and software.

Are you hoping to achieve the same result in both still and moving images? What's the difference for you?
I think of my video works as moving images rather than stories. It's more about conveying a vibe than telling a story. In that way, my images and videos are similar.  

What is your workday like? What's your process for creating an individual work?
It's lots of surfing, image collecting, image processing, composing, researching, Facebooking, scraping, coding, prioritising, emailing, arranging, Photoshopping, shopping, and coffeeing. 

Was Tumblr the first platform that you posted your work on? If not, what about Tumblr appealed to you, and how has it marketed your work in both ways you've expected and not expected?
Yes, it was the first. The idea that content could and should move easily from blog to blog is the most appealing part of the platform for me. 

Who else do you admire making work similar to yours? Who do you follow on Tumblr?
Jon Rafman, Ry David Bradley, Katja Novitskova, Harm Van Den Dorpel, Dora Budor, Sean Raspet, Kate Steciw, Ben Schumacher, Clemens Behr, Katja Novitskova, Dis Magazine, Brad Troemel, and AES+F

What are your opinions of copyright laws and how they exist in the digital space? Have you ever run into problems with appropriating images from Google or elsewhere?
They have a strong influence in directing the formation and flow of cultural material, so for me it's a highly interesting and important area. I think that the laws need to be amended to reflect the new methods of production and distribution.
    
There was one problem with an image that I used in one of my online projects. I don't want to go in to the details, but it focused my attention on the complexities of the issue.

Do you feel like art institutions embrace or understand the importance of art that's either digital or making a comment on what's digital?
I've felt quite a shift in the past three years or so. It seems a lot more respected and accepted now. I think it's due to the fact that people can't ignore the Internet now. It's everywhere, including between every character in this feature.   
What do you think of Yahoo buying Tumblr? Do you think the platform will change or be used differently? Did this inspire your This is a sponsored post piece?
I think it's exciting. I like it when things change on the Internet. Facebook has reigned supreme for so long now, so I'm ready for something new.
 
That Tumblr post isn't really a "piece." It's more of a bad joke. I don't think Yahoo will start putting a lot more ads on Tumblr, but there are a lot of scared Tumblr users out there that think "the end is Nigh'."

Can you explain the idea behind this work?
I created an image of the Mona Lisa combined with the famous National Geographic Afghan girl photograph, which has been my profile picture for quite a while. When I came across an #artselfie of Diddy standing in front of the Mona Lisa, I thought it would be funny to switch it up and put him in the frame and the Mona Lisa/Afghan girl in the foreground. 

Do you have a fascination with interfaces? How do you see the design of commonly used services impacting our sense of art, design, and online experience?
I think interfaces are really important. They go unnoticed for the most part, but they are pivotal in shaping communities online. I have some upcoming work that explores this.

Where do you hope to take your work next? More museums and galleries, more places online, working with brands or agencies?
I'm learning to write more code, researching alternative printing techniques, and working with more physical materials. I want to travel and exhibit as much as possible online and off. 
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