It takes talent to make an articulate and humorous spectacle of the absurd. Aiden Morse, experimental artist from Tasmania, has deliberately juxtaposed the characters of his photographic dramas as objects of accident and compositions of intent. Morse confronts us with the paraphernalia of brand addictions, emulating the focus on material objects of desire, but stirring discomfort with, as he calls it, “an innate sense of wrongness”.
It might be a kind of plastic grotesque that best describes the experiments of Aiden Morse. Bizarre and hypnotizing, his disembodied limbs, suspended gestures and perpetually glistening skin leave the barely sensed note of revulsion. His projects are child’s play feigning sobriety. Though his work exists primarily in the digital realm, Aiden Morse is beginning to find expression in Melbourne’s art community, using his insatiable taste for saturated color and garish consumer artifacts as his medium.
WBM: So you’re from Tasmania and currently based in Melbourne. How did you come to be in this city? Does it play a significant role in your artwork or influences?
AIDEN: I came to Melbourne this year after finishing high school. It has certainly influenced the way I make work, if only because it’s impossible to make the same sort of pictures I used to over here.
WBM: What were some of your first significant artistic experiences, and how did those eventually develop into your current projects?
AIDEN: I find it hard to remember any specific experiences. My main aesthetic when I was younger inspirations would have been films and advertisements.
WBM: What are you currently working on?
AIDEN: I’m currently putting together a short magazine for school. I’m not sure how large of an edition I’ll be able to make, but hopefully there will be a few in circulation. I would like to sell them online.
WBM: Objects and disembodied limbs seem to hold great fascination for you. Why are they the main protagonists of your artwork?
AIDEN: Thank you for noticing that. The disembodied limbs create an uneasiness that I like. While the limbs are never legitimately (i.e. gorily) severed, I think the threat is implicit in the pictures which can make the viewer uncomfortable. As for the objects, they’re always domestic and most people would have had first hand experience using them (e.g. scissors, beauty products etc.) From this experience stems an innate sense of “wrongness” when you see those objects being misused.
WBM: In what ways does spontaneous encounter with objects and their found environments direct your vision for corresponding projects? For example, with your “Cranbourne Line” series, you create a distinct set from objects that were found between the CBD and Monash University, but obviously there was no way for you to know what you would find… so how might you create a unified sort of set from such collections?
AIDEN: All the objects have been discarded which is the only shared quality that ties them together, everything else is just luck. Out of all the objects I collected at each stop I probably only used a quarter of them in the actual assemblage.
WBM: Bubble gum pink… Now this is a color that brazenly appears across quite a few of your images and gifs. In what ways does colour serve as a medium for humor, or message-enhancement of any kind, in your work?
AIDEN: My use of the colour is primarily aesthetic; I like the way it looks. I fluctuate between preferring warm or cool pinks and saturated or desaturated pinks. Right now, I like a pink that errs towards cool and is reasonably saturated. I think there are probably more “good” pinks than there are any other colour–blue might come close but it becomes ugly as it nears cyan.
WBM: A few of your works explore spaces and places in ways that take them out of ordinary context. It might be through surreal imagery of enlarged faces peering through windows, or simply through effects of light and mist. What draws you to experiment with space in particular?
AIDEN: I think it is actually having that space to play. Since moving to the city I haven’t felt any desire to make those sort of pictures.
WBM: More specifically, some of these spaces/places are very ordinary, like the empty stove in your 2012 collection “Stills”. What inspires you to transform ordinary places through your photography?
AIDEN: When I was making those pictures, it was out of necessity–making do with the environment that I had. Looking back, it was a luxury to have large rooms like that to explore photographically. I enjoyed making those pictures.
WBM: Let’s talk about Chatroullette Portraits! There have got to be some great moments behind this. First of all, what made you think of doing this series? Did these people know what you were doing? How did this project impact you, or did it give you any kind of peculiar insights?
AIDEN: I was inspired by street photography–maybe I saw myself as the internet equivalent of Bruce Gilden? The people on the other side of the webcam could see me with my camera set up on a tripod. It would have been a strange sight because the pictures were shot with a 6×7 Mamiya. I think that explains the bewildered looks on some of the faces. I find it interesting how sites like Chatroulette can make a previously private room into a public space, accessible by anybody.
WBM: Tell us about your most recent project: “Puberty Pinks/Puberty Blues“.
AIDEN: With that project I wanted to explore a more commercial aesthetic without sacrificing my interest in the uncanny. The title is a pun on a the title of a popular Australian novel and serves mainly as a guide for the objects I would choose to photograph.
WBM: What qualities attract you to photograph certain moments? What textures, colours and ambiances stir your emotions, and cause you to consider something “artistically”?
AIDEN: Gloss, saturation, perhaps a narrative. I am also drawn to certain brands and the associations they hold, particularly those that are hypermasculine and hyperfeminine.
WBM: What are some specific influences for you?
AIDEN: Shawn Bradford is a photographer I admire and who has influenced me a lot. He works online and is very prolific. You can see his work on shawnbradford.tumblr.com. I also enjoy the work of Petrina Hicks, who is an Australian photographer. She used to work commercially and her knowledge of the language of advertising is apparent in her pictures.
WBM: Do you view your work as political in any way? Are there ways you intentionally express your ideologies or perspectives?
AIDEN: No, I don’t want my work to be seen as enforcing a certain ideal, unless it is an aesthetic ideal. would like people to find the things I find appealing.
WBM: What are some ideas you hope to bring to life in upcoming projects?
AIDEN: More video, more complex still lifes. I am hoping to collaborate with my girlfriend, a few local artists, as well as some from the internet.
WBM: Picturing this year so far, what have you accomplished and where are you taking your projects next?
AIDEN: I’m happy with how I’ve settled into my new home and excited by the amount of art-related things that are happening here.
FOR MORE ON AIDEN MORSE: