What is the Disappointed Virginity project?
Disappointed Virginity is primarily the name of my website, though has recently become the name of my production company. I didn’t know that I had a production company until someone made an IMDB page for myself and my films and added this information, but it seems precise enough to cover it all and isn’t as unwieldy as “Umbrella term to shield my photography, film and animation work from a cruel and uncaring world.”
You started taking photo without a specific artistic purpose, what happened then? I mean, how did your stories take the current shape after the first shootings?
I spent a few years taking fairly straight forward portraits and being self taught this allowed me some time to get accustomed to the medium of photography. Once I had armed myself with a suitable medium it was then that I began to look inwards to bring more of myself into the work. I think a lot of artists forget notions of freedom. For me, you must create your own world, discover your own playground and then bang together all of the toys you have been storing in your subconscious mind. It can be very interesting to see what falls from the debris.
Where does your dark side come from?.. does it come from your past?
We’re all the sum of our experiences and things that have inspired us. I’m not alone in experiencing a despondent adolescence, but some of that dullness does seem to have taken root and has had an overarching touch upon everything I do. I learnt that the “pleasures” of eroticism seemed to be the most effective shield against melancholic cliché for me and it is this foundation, sprinkled liberally with an awareness of my own ridiculousness and a cynical sense of humour that is very much the soul of my work. I also believe that sexuality isn’t a pleasant thing, though terms such as “making love” and the lyrics of a thousand banal love songs may try to convince us otherwise. The fear of loneliness, the need to possess or be possessed and an awareness of the inevitability of our own deaths are for me more central to the sexual experience than the bravado exclaimed at the moment of orgasm.
Photography or film: which one fits you mostly?
Film is more entertaining for me now. As a sustained project with the scripting, several shoots, editing and then scoring, a film is hugely satisfying for me to create. The photography is, of course, still a concern of mine, but with the complete saturation over the last five years of new photographers and the resulting daily avalanche of content I sometimes find it hard to take photography as seriously as I once did. Thus the animations, thus the films and thus the other experiments. Just to keep me out of mischief, to explore new means of expression.
You describe one of your short films as “another answer of mine to the thorny topic of the pornographic imagination”. How many answers does pornographic imagination have?
Our pornographic imagination is collectively fucked. Which seems appropriate. It seems that via the ease of access of adult material, people are no longer given time to develop their own tastes and preferences and instead are taking on board the trappings and tropes of pornography, almost without any consideration. I’d say that’s a tragedy.
How do people react to the strong contents of your works (e.g. the use of pregnancy in the movies)?
The feedback I get is generally positive, though of course I will get the occasional anonymous hate mail flung at me about my imagined misogyny. This is generally from folk who have missed the point, but I appreciate them taking the time to experience my work. I don’t intend to shock or confront, there is no agenda to make people uncomfortable, the work is just a manifestation of what’s going on inside my head and as I start to dig deeper and deeper to find new ideas to explore my output will most likely continue to evoke strong reactions. Which is great. People who like my art tend to *really* like my art whereas those who don’t are left a bit disturbed, confused and sometimes, apparently, angry. Rather that than a vaguely positive indifference, which strikes me as pointless.
You explore the darkest sides of the human psyche -as obsessions and fear- this results in a scary/attractive movies which touches people in the subconsciousness. What led you to this research?
Some of the films will come from a desire to present (and often ridicule) a sexual act that I am personally attracted to and then corrupt it, confront it and turn it on it’s head. Other times the films will take a more serious starting point (suicide for example) or something seemingly trivial (a cup of tea - how British of me!) and I will sacrifice this notion to my subconscious mind and see where it takes me. This will often be into the darker areas of human experience as that is just what seems to keep on happening with my work. I appear to be something of a habitual reprobate.
What is your idea of beauty?
I would love to have a considered, thoughtful answer for you here, but sadly I am just another crushingly predictable man and so the question just imediately brings to mind the eroticised female form. And sealife. I swam with jellyfish off of the coast of Formantera last year and if those guys weren’t beautiful, then I don’t know what is.
Would you define yourself as an anti-artist?
That’s not something I had previously considered, though connections can be made. I certainly work without the restrictions of pleasantry and am not afraid to cross over into pornographic imagery to achieve my goals. I’m not concerned with being a photographer or a film maker or artist or whatever - I’m just building the Disappointed Virginity house of cards higher and higher, primarily amusing myself more than anything else, though if anyone else out there enjoys what I do then that’s fine with me.
In The Wet Nurse And Her Diabolical Concern the pain is narrated as an exit, a relief from concern or from lack of love. Actually, this mood is present in all the works, and can origin both a romantic/melancholic but disturbing feeling in the spectator. Is this a metaphor to read the whole life-reality?
It is my first film with dialogue and this has presented a new challenge for me as I put words into someone else’s mouth but has also allowed me to express myself further. A little daunting for me and quite the leap, but an interesting experience and I’m all for new challenges. I don’t know if there is a romantic intention in my work, I’m far too cold and cynical for that these days, sadly. If we replace the word with lust, then have that with melancholia and an unsettled feeling then we are probably beginning to paint a good blueprint for my work.
What is the opposite of eroticism?
Absence, maybe. I find eroticism to be wrapped like weeds around every facet of life and to quote the title of one of my earlier films, a special form of denial. The sexual imagination can temporarily relieve us from the wound of life, these distractions and pleasures this burying of heads in sand… I’m sometimes amazed at the sheer amount of time that we all spend in the pursuit, expectation and fulfilment of our desires, but like an abused animal I am always returning to my abusive master, often with a shit eating grin daubed across my face.