Entropies - A Conversation with Jon Faragher

Jon is a London based artist with an engineering background. The lockdown interrupted some projects closely related to the building site where his studio is placed. However, he found a way to amazingly reinvent his work.

Jon can you tell me a little bit about the project you are working on?

So I’ve turned my attention to looking out the window and carrying on with the projects that I’ve been kind of doing for the past seven or eight years: the view from my window is East London.

It’s a scene, which used to be very industrial and now it’s changing to lots of residential buildings. There was a building across that caught my eye because the windows used to flap in the wind, and they used to move by themselves, and catch a glimpse of the sun. So I started taking photographs of the building. Lots of people used to graffiti. I kind of knew it would be knocked down at some point.

For the past seven years I’ve been photographing it fairly regularly. I produced a piece which was about the demolition of it, so it’s like the building had some kind of existence with the windows indicating its distress of its coming destruction. Then I created this video, which was kind of a mixture of some photographs taken over a long time period. And it kind of mixed in with the demolition photograph. Now they’re building on the site, so I’ve joined a kind of demise and resurrection story.

So you started this project seven years ago! Why did you decide to come back to the project at this moment?

I kind of considered it not finished. So this period when it is not possible going anywhere other than looking out the window seemed like a natural good time to restart it. 

Can you tell me a little bit about the connection with the Phoenix?

The bird dies in a fire and then resurrects itself from the ashes. That it’s always been a metaphor for renewal and change.

I suppose the other thing that made me think of that association was also that we’re going into spring and we’re not generally allowed out. So normally I like going outside and walking and seeing the ducklings and the canals or the lakes and stuff and we are kind of missing that now because we’re stuck inside. So I suppose that’s kind of a naturalistic kind of symptom of circumstance type of thing to it.

It could be also seen as a parallelism to the current situation, where the world is stopped and slowly will have to restart again.

Yes, so you got that thing as well. I’ve always been interested in urban based art, and I was reading about an artist called Robert Smithson, who had a lot of interest in something called entropy. Strictly speaking is an engineering term for when you want to relate to the creation of the universe and thermodynamics of systems. You ended up with a lot of energy in one space, and then it was kind of spreading out as the Big Bang went off.

And the energy spreads and spreads, but over time, the energy equalizes so everything becomes the same. His thinking was that the art and society had a kind of entropy to it. It was becoming all a bit too much the same. I think he was using it it’s a criticism to his fellow artists that they’re all doing the same stuff.

Interesting. Can you elaborate on this?

So, where I live there used to be loads of industry. Also loads of people used to live around here; people were living and making stuff.  It was kind of a derelict site, an industrial building where they used to do recycling and then that was taken over by some travelling group, I think. And then they kind of did their practice of going to collect people’s rubbish and then leaving it all fly tipped in the yard.  

Now it’s becoming very residential and all the buildings are very much the same. They have no character. Whereas the building was nice to look at, although it was kind of old, it had a charming 1950s 60s kind of characteristic to it. It was all graffitied, some of it was very good and really intricate stuff. You could also see the walls inside the building and when the sun was in the right place you could see these light plays inside the building. It was quite an interesting thing to see.

Do you think that you will continue with this project for a long time?

There’ll be a point where the constructions are in such a phase that I can’t be seeing the difference, and probably for several years… So I might change the methodology a bit, but continue. It might evolve a bit as well.

Find more about Jon’s work at:  https://www.jonfaragher.com/


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