In conversation with CentralTrak’s director, Heyd Fontenot, Blay explains his practice and his influences in his own words:
Q: You spoke of watching Sci-Fi films and being having your aesthetic influenced by this genre'.
Yes. There’s a certain optimism in science fiction that I connect with. Even in tales of dystopia. At some level the world is a better place, for some. My particular interest is the post war/cold war era. (Alphaville, Dr. Strangelove, and of course Star Trek, The Man Who Fell to Earth, and the list goes on). I like the problem solving that set designers attempted back then. Knobs and flashing lights!
Q: If you can speak to your cultural background - can you draw a similarity to African artists and their studio practices of using recycled materials rather than traditional art materials? Are there elements in this work that identifies the artwork as African ...or American?
African Americans are a diverse people, so our art shouldn’t look the same, nor strive to. I tend not to bang my audience over the head with my African heritage, particularly because I refuse to fetishize my biography. It is who I am, regardless, and not for entertainment. It does come out in more meaningful ways in my work, though. There’s a certain degree of inventiveness that becomes a part of who you are when you grow up in a do-it- yourself society. And I think the thing I’m drawn to the most is an artist’s ability to manipulate discarded or non-traditional materials to re-program art making. I’m at Home Depot a lot.
Q: You've described the idea of doing audio field recordings. What are your subjects and what content are you anticipating? How will these recordings be available?
Yes, an important part of the residency for me is to erode the virtual borders between nearby cities, institutions and communities. I’m still working out those details and they are evolving, but my sense is that I’ll be asking artists how their work communicates with their non-art audience, or whether they make that distinction, and conversely, asking a non-art audience how they relate to art. My plan is to complete a portable satellite to take out with me when I make these recordings between now and the end of July.
Q: Can you describe what the exhibition space will look like during your show?
The exhibition space will have sculptures made of mostly umbrellas, with reflective surfaces which function as virtual satellites. There will be at least one video station and at least one audio/listening station, and a two way, real time communication area. These satellites will vary in scale and be visible in the round, with some elements attached to wall and ceiling surfaces.