Visual Arts — March 11, 2014 14:55 — 0 Comments

An Interview With Cable Griffith

Cable Griffith makes stunning visual art inspired by video game scenes. He was a contributor to Monarch #3 and ever since I’ve felt the need to continue to take in his bright, fun, brilliant pieces. Below is an interview with Cable, along with some of his work. Enjoy!


Jake Uitti: Much of your recent work focuses on the idea of “art in the age of video games” – did you/do you play a lot of video games? And what about this idea of these video game-like pastoral scenes inspires you?

Cable Griffith: As a kid, I did play a fair amount of video games. I think I was about 7 years old when an Atari system came into my family’s house. My dad was writing ads for Atari at the time, and that was one of the perks. I still play some video games, but it’s become more of a guilty pleasure.

I became interested in borrowing imagery and spatial ideas from video games a few years ago. What started out as just a series of studio experiments turned into a larger body of work. And I am still playing around with imagery and pictorial systems from games. But I’ve found that the video game references have become more of a symbol of “the virtual” than anything else. To me, all paintings have a “here” and “there” duality. It may be an object hanging on the wall, but it’s also a window. Or a record of experience from another location.

So, what began as kind of a formal experiment, eventually started pointing to deeper questions about presence, location, and perception. I’ve become really interested in how we define reality for ourselves. Because of our ever-increasing connection with technology, we are becoming both “here and there” more and more. And having spent a lot of time in various virtual environments, I feel a very real pull between those spaces and reality. I love getting outdoors in the PNW and enjoy hiking, camping, and exploring the wilderness. And similarly, I love video games that allow you to freely explore vast worlds. So, I feel that it’s accurate for my paintings to reflect the combined influence of these experiences.


JU: Does any part of the here/there balance bug you? Or do you see it as a natural evolution or progression to immerse yourself in the technological world more and more?

CG: Like many things, the key is balance. I enjoy the instant connectivity that technology allows, but it often comes at the expense of being present. I have to admit that I’m “plugged in” more than I’d like to be. That makes it all the more vital for me to head out into the wilderness. But it is interesting to consider our technological immersion as some extension of our evolution. To me, it’s both exciting and disturbing to think about.

JU: Do you use technology when you’re working? Or do you find a secluded room and remove yourself from internet etc.?

CG: I use technology more and more it seems. I mean, I’m almost always listening to music or an audiobook while in my studio. But I’ve been using Photoshop more recently as well. It has become a very useful tool when I’m stuck on a painting and don’t know what to do next. Or if I just want to try out a few ideas before actually painting them. I’ll simply take a photo of the painting I’m working on and open it up in Photoshop. Then I can use a tablet pen and draw on a new layer, over the photo, working through ideas until I know exactly what I want to do. I used this method regularly while working on my recent show at G. Gibson. Currently, I’m messing around with projecting virtual environments in my studio.

So as a tool, technology is great. But social media and email should be banned from my studio. It can be huge distraction for me.


JU: Switching gears a bit, what do you find yourself doing the moment a flicker of inspiration hits. Do you tuck it away or do you have to act that moment? What’s the process?

CG: Well if I had a sketchbook with me, I’d write the idea down or sketch it out. The Brushes app on my phone is also good for that. But if the idea is really exciting, it will lodge itself into my brain. It could be a process or system I want to explore. Or a general structure that I want to play with. Sometimes, I get an image for a new painting in my head that just needs to be made. Generally, I don’t forget the good ideas. My feeling is that if I forget it, then it’s forgettable. But the ideas come at the most random times. When I do have a sketchbook in front of me, I will jot down the ones that I can recall. And once in the studio, some ideas get picked up right away. And others sit on sketchbook pages for years sometimes before I bring them out. I’ve rarely had a problem generating ideas. Of course, not all of them are good. But if I feel really excited to see something, I can’t ignore that energy.

JU: What do you do when those heavy moments of doubt creep in and it feels like nothing you make is working out?

CG: I just keep working. I try not to worry about finishing things and instead keep experimenting. I usually have several different things going on in the studio, and try to maintain a sense of play. Different projects tend to accommodate different moods, and there’s almost always something that I can mess around with. And sometimes, I’ll just look at other people’s work or read until something sparks me. I’ve found that I can usually turn the doubt into questions, and those questions can lead to new work.

JU: What about Seattle helps you be creative? What do you like best and what do you find most challenging about the city?

CG: I think Seattle is great place to live as an artist. It’s relatively affordable and surrounded by the most incredible landscape. It’s big enough for a lot of variety and small enough to feel connected to it. And there’s a great supportive energy in the arts community here. I think that one of the biggest challenges for artists in Seattle is to break outside of it. But it’s a great place to live and make work. The rain is also conducive to studio time.



Jake Uitti is a founding editor of The Monarch Review.

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The answer isn't poetry, but rather language

- Richard Kenney