I still remember vividly the day in first year when artist Jeremy Shaw gave a lecture to the student body at Emily Carr University and answering the question of what advice he would give to young artists with “Do drugs.” instantly made of us 400 new fans.
It took a few listens to the deliciously slow sounds of Seven Minutes (above) by Shaw and his group CircleSquare before I realized the song was about Vancouver. The lyrics describe a city of glass (plate glass and electric busses) that all comes crashing down in our ever impending West Coast megathrust earthquake, colloquially, ‘the Big One.’
I adore Jeremy Shaw’s work. He works with a sublimely minimal pallet, and I find his concepts expertly trim, concise, muscular, intelligent, and beautiful. Much of it deals with his belief in the incomparable wealth to be discovered through recreational drug use, and mourning the death of psychodelia. He showed us a work where he produced a solemn black and white tie dye cloth, and folding it thirteen times recreated the ritual of the folding of the American flag death right of a fallen soldier. Another piece consisted of a 10,00 acid blotter sheet dipped in black ink. Another was a single blacklight, smashed.
One absolutely fabulous series was his 2004 DMT, wherein he conducted a series of pseudo clinical trials of the ultra potent psychoactive drug DMT. He then films the subjects faces throughout their trip, and overlays the footage with the transcript of their impressions of the experience taken immediately afterwards. I highly, highly, highly recommended watching these clips, but I would take the time to whip up a bowl of popcorn first because they are some seriously good watchin’.
He is also fascinated by youth culture. One ethnographic project, Arena, involved him simply showing up in the parking lot of concerts, Eminem, Britney Spears, Slayer, Limp Bizkit, etc., and photographing the types of people there. Another series featured the youths in a Christian rap mosh pit, where Shaw documents what he calls “just different kind of high” and the curious fact that one “could not tell they were not on drugs if they didn’t out and tell you.”
Shaw actually graduated from my school, Emily Carr University of Art + Design, but the city has sadly lost this genius as he now resides in Berlin. I hope very much one day to meet him.
Jeremy Shaw. Definitely filed under the ‘future husband’ category. Go check him out.
10 000 Hits of Black Acid, 2005
Anti-Psyche (Total Black Light), 2005
Single Hit of White Acid, 2006
Arena (Up In Smoke Tour), 1999-2004
DMT (Stills), 2004
Transcendental Capacities, 2011
Photo of Jeremy Shaw by Zoe Bridgeman