I am from Kerala, India and grew up in Coimbatore. In 2005 I moved to Baltimore for graduate school and have been living in Forest hills, NY since 2007.
What’s your favorite part of Forest Hills?
Forest hills gardens.
You have a particularly unique process for creating your artwork - how did you know it was the right one to pursue?
The process of my current series of tape drawings started with an accidental discovery, a roll of tape left for years in a pencil case. At around the same time I was exploring drawing and collage for a series inspired by video game maps of retro games. The tape drawing process evolved from this need for a material that has transparency for layering, subtle texture, and is usable as a linear compositional element. I was never sure if this was the right process to pursue as it took months of experimentation with different material, tape, and paper to arrive at an optimal combination that worked both aesthetically and practically.
How do you incorporate chance in your creative process?
Chance and randomness plays a vital role in my artworks. The aesthetics of glitch is driven by chance, randomness, and dysfunction. I start most works as digital images and sketch via the process of glitching and exploiting data errors using custom programs and brute force methods of destroying and manipulating image data. This iterative process is driven by chance as I have very little control on the output as the various methods and programs yield surprising results. The mark-making process with the tape drawings also involves chance as each strip of tape is hand colored or rubbed with pastels or chalk before being collaged on paper. Although I sketch a lot, the final works are never one-to-one translations of the sketch to a larger scale–an element of chance come into play here too.
Describe a typical day in the studio for you.
I’m at the studio 11 am - 8 pm most days. I always have a few different artworks in progress that I can switch between. I rarely ever work on one artwork for over an hour at a time before I switch to another and then back. Over the years I have found this is the best way I can keep my focus and rhythm at the studio. Depending on my work schedule I spend between three to six hours a day drawing and making, sometimes longer if I have a lighter work schedule.
What necessities do you require when making your art?
Wall space, loads of tape, blades, and good drawing paper. Also music and coffee.
What is the most difficult part of the artistic process for you?
Shuffling time between my day job and art making (in the same studio space!)
The aesthetics of glitch is driven by chance, randomness, and dysfunction.
— Visakh Menon
What themes or motifs are you consistently drawn to?
Human machine interaction. Glitches, networks, errors, geometric repetition, minimalism, fragmentation, and patterns.
Did you go to art school?
I have some formal art training. Both my BFA and MFA are in visual communication and graphic design. This background in design helps me with skills like creating effective compositions and color palette choices. Also, this training created an open curiosity for me in experimentation with digital technology and moving image, which in turn helps inform the form and content of my recent artworks.
How has your work developed in the past few years, and how do you see it evolving in the future?
My work has transitioned from video and sculptural installation and new media-based work to drawing over the last few years. I am now looking back at video and installations for a few future projects, but I think drawing and works on paper would be an ongoing component of my studio practice in the future.
Are you influenced by any author or non-visual artist? Are you influenced by any artist that does something completely different than you?
Haruki Murakami, Sun Ra, Louise Bourgeois, and Yasujiro Ozu.
Do you admire or draw inspiration from any of your peers who are also working now? Have you ever collaborated, or would you?
My studio has been located in Long Island city since 2010 and there is an inspiring community of artists here that I have been fortunate to meet and exchange ideas with. I have collaborated in the past, but my current studio practice is solitary.
Is there any artwork on display in your home or studio? Whose is it?
At home, artwork traded with artist friends and my wife Iris’s art; at the studio, a scale replica of a Strandbeest by Dutch artist Theo Jansen.
Do you remember the first work of art that captured your attention?
Hieronymus Bosch’s “Four Visions of the Hereafter”. I saw it first in a book when I was about 12 years old and finally got to see these paintings earlier this year in Venice. The city I grew up in did not have an art museum, so much of my early impressions came from books and TV.