• 3

    Still from Nokia E71 art film “6 Billion People, 6 Billion Colours” with Simon Pyke and Maxim Zhestkov

  • 2

    42 Second Film Festival with Simon Pyke and Maxim Zhestkov

  • 4

    Forever, an ever-changing audioreactive installation with Simon Pyke and Karsten Schmidt

  • 5

    Forever axis still

Art

Matt Pyke

Posted by Alex Moshakis,

The works of Matt Pyke (b.1975) seem to deal in the future, although it’s one very much informed by the past. Despite pushing technological boundaries – he uses words like “open-source” in the same way we would say “pencil” – Pyke turns to traditional methods for inspiration, which allows him to create work that sits somewhere between art and design. He is not alone, of course. Pyke is connected, and collaborates successfully with programmers, developers and other highly-talented hyphenates from all over the world.

We spoke to Matt at his studio on the outskirts of Sheffield. Half way through our conversation, the door opened to reveal birdsong…

It’s Nice That: You’ve recently split your practice in two. You maintain commercial studio Universal Everything, but now there’s Matt Pyke, the artist. What’s the reason for this?

Matt Pyke: There’s more people now involved with Universal Everything. Other people are working on things, leading projects, but ultimately it’s still my baby. A lot of the work still stems from initial seed ideas I have, and I then tend to oversee the creative direction, help to push people further. But I think, more and more, that Universal Everything is about getting really good teams of people together to work on things. And they have more and more responsibility. They’re not just executing whatever squiggle I’ve got in my brain.

INT: Where does that collaboration start?

MP: Generally it starts with a brief, and then we think: “Right, what can we do in-house and what do we need experts to help us with?” It’s then a matter of firing off some emails,
or calling people we know already. Often people respond and we meet them and if it all clicks then we go ahead. It’s as simple as that really.

INT: So how often do you sell an idea without being 100 per cent sure the technology exists, or, even if the technology exists, if there is a person who can actually use it?

MP: Often! We’ve managed to pull off some pretty odd projects, so I guess there’s a kind of trust. People know we can get stuff done. But often in meetings, you’re there talking to people who want to do something that’s never been done before. It’s usually very ambitious. My reaction is: “Yeah, let’s try and solve this, let’s try and do it.” But we have to be honest, and explain that what we’re trying to tackle is something very new. At the back of my mind I’m thinking that as soon as I get out of the meeting I’m going to be calling around and asking people if they know any iPad developers, or some sort of niche programmer, or whatever.

INT: So how much of the work you produce started out as a test, or as some sort of in-house experiment, before going on to become an actual project?

MP: Originally, we did work that wasn’t particularly exciting. The bread-and-butter stuff, the sort that helps pay the bills. But now we tend to get work that is all exciting, and we’re able to turn stuff down that isn’t as interesting. So, in a way, we don’t have so many internal laboratory-type projects because we get to do the laboratory stuff with clients – we’re tending to use them as guinea pigs. It’s an ultimate situation because we get to learn and experiment on the job.

Also, our projects are always informed by the brief. We don’t ignore it, or just go and do our own thing. It’s always a response to something. Rather than the traditional artist, who is faced with a blank canvas or a blank gallery wall and has some kind of big political issue or something that they want to express, I’m far more comfortable responding to a set of problems.

To read the rest of this piece, please purchase the issue here.

Portrait8

Posted by Alex Moshakis

Alex originally joined It’s Nice That as a designer but moved into editorial and oversaw the It’s Nice That magazine from Issue Six (July 2011) to Issue Eight (March 2012) before moving on that summer.

Most Recent: Art View Archive

  1. List

    Have you ever wondered what the world might have looked like after the great Old Testament flood? What bizarre events might have followed such a freak occurrence in weather? Me neither. It’s honestly never crossed my mind. But illustrator Samuel Branton has been fixating on the idea, imagining the strange fusion of land and sea that a tumultuous rise in water levels might effect. He’s gone one step further and illustrated these fictional scenarios in miniature, taking this Regency medium and making it weird. Witness crabs beating up a wild boar, monkeys tossing an elephant in the air and a sad old sperm whale incapacitated in a tree. And Deluge is available in book form too!

  2. Aakash-itsnicethat-list

    When we last wrote about Aakash Nihalani we described his practice as a series of interventions, and now that he has graduated from playful street art compositions to full blown technological mind-blowers, that vaguery seems even more apt. His newest piece sees him create a series of interactive installations which respond to the movements of the subject stood in front of them. The video demonstrates it better than I could ever hope to, so wrap your eyes around it and try to keep your jaw off the floor. Aakash is entering a new age, people; just imagine the possibilities!

  3. Ines-longevial-itsnicethat-list

    Inès Longevial is an art director and illustrator based in Paris, whose beautiful paintings of intertwined bodies are likely to have you looking twice. She breaks up the human figure into segments in a fashion Picasso himself would admire, rendering different parts in contrasting but muted colour palettes to disguise the physicality of her subjects. The effect is quite beguiling; hands play across hips and colour distinctions hint at the seams of clothes, but nothing is clear cut. It’s a geometric play on anatomy, and it has clients including fashion brand Amélie Pichard and sportswear giants Nike coming back for more.

  4. Hannahwaldron-itsnicethat-list

    “I wish I knew how to weave,” I found myself sighing longingly while clicking through Hannah Waldron’s portfolio. The UK-based multi-disciplinary artist and designer has transitioned seamlessly from grid-based image-making to create works in textile form since completing an MFA in Textiles at Konstfack, Sweden, and it looks like she’s well at home in the medium. Map Tapestries is a series of woven works inspired by various city scenes – Kreuzberg, NYC and Venice, for example – in bright colours, evocative shapes and simple geometric forms, and it’s wonderful.

  5. Jen-stark-whirl-side-int-10

    If it isn’t broke then there’s absolutely no need to even think about fixing it, as artist Jen Stark is fully aware, and there’s nothing broken about her geometric papercut sculptures. The LA-based artist has been making such work for literally as long as It’s Nice That has been running – here’s the first time we ever posted about her, back in 2007 – and although her work continues to grow in intricacy, she’s stayed true to her roots. These days her sculptures are made more and more often inside huge, unassuming black and white boxes, recreating the feeling that you’re a child about to unbundle a giant parcel of joy on Christmas morning, and they’re still as impressive as they were eight years ago.

  6. Everybody-razzle-dazzle-1-photo-mark-mcnulty-int-list

    Sir Peter Blake has designed this fabulous dazzle ship, a Mersey Ferry that will carry commuter passengers for the next two years. Named Everybody Razzle Dazzle, Sir Peter says it’s his “largest artwork to date,” and that he was “honoured and excited to have been asked to design a dazzle image for the iconic Mersey Ferry.”

  7. Boyocollage-int-list

    Some budding young design talents fresh out of university might harbour resentment about being thrust into a new job at a design studio as a “photocopier boy” (his words), but Patrick Waugh is not one of them. Instead he took full advantage of the rich archive at his disposal in his earliest and most junior jobs to make copies. Lots of them. And then took a scalpel and some masking tape to them, and transformed them into something altogether more exciting.

  8. Stephenabela-int-main

    At first, Stephen Abela’s images are all glorious bronzed bodies, sun-drenched beaches and hazy holiday reveries. But beneath the heat, there’s something else at play too, which feels a little more disquieting. In that oft-cited Edward Hopper thing: even in the densely populated scenes there feels like there’s a loneliness. Even the speech bubbles are lonely – in fact, they’re vacant – suggesting that for all the beautiful scenery, the folk that populate it aren’t quite sure what to say or what to do. There’s a joy there, for sure, but the great thing about Stephen’s work is this complexity, and the sense that all isn’t necessarily as it seems.

  9. Int-list-carsten-holler-pic

    Merging the fun of the playground with the beauty and cerebral qualities of art, a slide will transport visitors to the Hayward Gallery entrance this summer thanks to the forthcoming Carsten Höller show, Decision.

  10. Traceyemin-mybed-int-

    Sometimes I don’t really “get” modern art, but I get Tracey Emin’s My Bed. She displayed it as a piece of art in 1998 after practically living in it for about a month following a bad breakup. Back then she was rake-thin and impish with an appetite for booze and fags, in that odd age where you’re left to fend for yourself but are not perhaps quite ready.

  11. Serenmorganjones-int-list

    With the centenary of British women receiving the partial vote coming up shortly, artist Seren Morgan Jones decided it was time to focus on the Welsh suffragists who helped to make it happen. “I think it is important to show that there is more to Wales and its history than coal mining, rugby and men,” she explains, “and to draw people’s attention to the fact Welsh women were so involved in the fight for women’s rights.”

  12. List-welcome_to_neu_friedenwald_by-laura-jung

    To say that the announcement from David Lynch that Twin Peaks was returning was met with excitement is something of an understatement. It was, as is to be expected, met with rabid levels of hysteria – or at least as rabid as those cool enough to adore the show would willingly articulate – and we’re still a good year away from seeing it on screen. This year is the show’s 25-year anniversary, and to mark the occasion, something very special is afoot in Berlin.

  13. Samchirnside-int-list

    I don’t know what it is about seeing colours up close that’s so mesmerising, but Sam Chirnside is all over it. The Melbourne and New York-based artist works predominantly with oil paints to create strangely beautiful distortions, which work best when overlaid with a band logo to create album artwork, or cut out in geometric shapes. His works resemble planetary compositions straight out of a senior school physics textbook or a happy spillage in an art classroom, and we can’t get enough of them.