* NSFW * MM3 Artist Interview: Blaise Larmee
In line with this edition's exploration of the ways in which technology mediates our experiences of one another Blaise used a skype chat with a tumblr follower (with permission) as the basis of his contribution to Mould Map 3. Here he shares some development material and related imagery - some of which is NSFW ; )
MM3: Do you think it’s important for comic artists to create work for print reproduction?
BL: I don't think of artists as making moral or spiritual decisions. Artists are like everyone else in that they do whatever they have to do. For example, I wouldn't say Kanye West is an artist because he has more freedom than other rappers. He's an artist because he intuits a niche that he is well positioned to develop. He intuits that this niche encompasses moral and political territory which requires specific means of navigation, for example, through polemics, cultural and historical reappropriation, and performance of hyperautonomy. Agency is projected onto artists who in turn must accept and perpetuate it. This dynamic is paralleled in masculinity, wherein vulnerability is displaced and projected. Is it important for rappers to reappropriate civil rights rhetoric? The question locates agency in the individual whereas I consider agency to be totally dispersed.
MM3: You started gaze books and create zines in editions of 1. Self publishing comics seems important to you, can you tell us something about artists publishing their own work vs. someone else doing it?
BL: I would like to have stronger relationships with publishers. I self publish because I work in a process-driven way, the outcome of which is impossible to predict except as trees of contingencies: if this aspect of production goes this way, then this design element may be useful, and if the design element creates this effect, then this promotional strategy might work, and so on. Usually things never go as planned, but often these contingent solutions can, in sudden flashes of memory, be remembered and reapplied to new crises. It's been a few days since I emailed the files of a newly finished book to my publisher and I'm slightly worried I will never hear from him again, as has been the case with two previous would-be-publishers.
MM3: Your comics sometimes respond to software and the internet in narrative and form. Do you feel that it’s important for comic artists to consider these things?
BL: I'm reading an Austin English interview where he refers to bookmaking as creating a 'web of images'. That's great but it also applies to most internet activity. How do we think about making an object that exists outside of the internet, a sort of privately public thing, a walled garden, which will then be reintroduced online in specific yet unpredictable ways? It was a huge problem for me in working on this book. How do I allow the book to develop as an emergent system yet also prepare each image for an independent existence? To what extent is the book meant to be a private, integrated thing, and to what extent are its parts meant to thrive in a public stream of images?
MM3: Does it make you feel weird to present these sexy comics you’ve made to people you do or don’t know?
BL: These comics embody past narratives but they also generate exterior narratives. The representation and circulation of previous sexual narratives have generated new sexual narratives, and friends and strangers alike become implicated. I release Nudes, uppercase, in the form of drawings, zines, paintings, and books, and I release nudes, lowercase, in the form of tinychats, selfies, and dick pics. The coexistence of these formal and informal materials on the internet will hopefully produce an interesting tension, which might be best illustrated in what i anticipate will be google's suggested search term: blaise larmee nudes.
MM3: You've noted on tumblr that you find being associated with Kickstarter more embarrassing than posting dick pics. What is it about working with this platform that separates it from other modes of distribution for you? What differentiates it from other elements of the contemporary digital landscape?
BL: It's really difficult for me to articulate. There's this affective labor that's involved that seems to undermine any ambivalence on the part of the creator. Like you have to present yourself as genuine, loving your work, loving your fans, etc. There's a gendered aspect to these demands and my reaction to them.
(Interviewed by Leon Sadler and Hugh Frost, conducted by email in Autumn 2013)