You may have seen Paul Theriault this past week working on the major show change at Artspace, helping troubleshoot media and sound players, and installing our new exhibition. His behind the scenes work that makes Artspace tick is just a small part of a larger story.
How did you gravitate to the arts/what were your early forays like?
When I think about how I first became interested in the arts, I usually go back to my early teenage years, when my family purchased a reconditioned video cassette recorder. The unit that we owned had a unique feature which allowed the user to record an audio track, over the existing footage. I would record films and television programs and then either memorize the dialogue, and then record my own voice in place of the actors, or simply recreate the audio experience of the media. In high school, I was involved in the audio visual club, and my tasks involved setting up equipment for classroom viewing. There was all sorts of older video and audio gear from the early seventies, it was a playground for me. I also became friends with a fellow classmate named Siebren Versteeg. His father Peter, was and still is an art fabricator by profession, and at a young age, I would find myself in New York visiting artists studios, viewing contemporary sculpture and the practices of modern artmaking. It was an interesting introduction to art, not from the history books, but from the active participants.
You are known to be interested in the notion of “Ghost in the Machine” in your films and computer paintings. Do you think of a metaphysical presence or is this a sense that technology has inhereent faults and makes mistakes and fails in its original purpose?
My interest in the ” Ghost in the Machine ” goes back and forth on that. The relationship between myself and the technology I engage with in my artistic practice is often problematic. The struggle to correct errors in failing operating systems, monitors and media players, is something I openly invite and embrace. The way in which I handle the technology, requires very little computing power for todays current media, and this has led me on a new path in my practice, which is to go backwards, find older machines that will have more flaws and prove more of a challenge when preparing for exhibition. I do not let the flaws become the actual piece, but rather, I try to work within them, as in any practice. At times I do think of these flaws as providing specific personalities given to the objects, while I am aware they have no real sense of autonomy, I can not help but to anthropomorphize the media I work with, usually considering the finished pieces as a collaboration.
What led you to first get involved in Artspace? Most interesting/rewarding experience behind the scenes?
I was first introduced to Artspace, during my second year in New Haven as a participant in City Wide Open Studios, from my live/work space in a Victorian mansion on Sherman Avenue. I was then given the opportunity to exhibit in a group exhibition, later to have Artspace sponsor my first commissioned work, ” Particular Heights” and will be exhibiting in the Project Room in the spring. I have had the pleasure to work with three fabulous curators over the years, helping to pull of some amazing exhibitions. During my term on the visual arts committee, I was very grateful to have a part in shaping the future of this amazing non for profit. I am always blown away by the dedication and abilities of all the staff, and watching ArtSpace grow over the years has been something that has kept me in the area.
Proudest rehab/construction job completed locally?
On my work as a builder, thats a tricky one. My current flagship home belongs to a close friend and fellow visual artists, Leslie Carmin. We are slowly chipping away at her lovely home, and part of what is so great about the work being gratifying, is working with Leslie through all the design elements. She has an amazing eye for style and detail. I also work with Kent Bloomer studios from time to time and have slowly been getting a very hands-on education in the language and sculptural fabrication of ornamental architecture. Someday, I would like to answer this question simply by saying , ” my own home “, but that renovation is some ways away, not entirely out of sight, but….