Interview with Phil Coy

We spoke to Phil Coy about his Animate OPEN: Digitalis film and why he used an internet search engine to create it.


How did you come to make eleven seconds of paradise?

I described the first version of eleven seconds of paradise and other works I made around that time as 'hyperstructuralist'. They were born from the experience of working with this new digital spectacle whilst at the same time meeting and being exposed to the work of structuralist filmmakers like Lis Rhodes.

Ten years on and mid-way through the edit of a more recent film Façade I was thinking a lot about duration, and structure. The film generated a lot of material in its production process and demanded that I made some concession to narrative structure. This approach contrasted with earlier pieces where the duration and structure had been implied by the process and it made me curious to see how paradise had changed. I was not nostalgic to remake the work; it was more like the media of 'the internet search engine' demanded it.

How has the internet’s parameters of paradise changed since you made the first version in 2000?

Less than I imagined, obviously it changes on a daily basis but the search results are generally a mixture of heavily idealised imagery of Caribbean islands, Italian renaissance paintings, hotels, and computer game graphics.

Does it depend on which search engine you use?

Google had not quite achieved world domination when I made the first version so I think I used AltaVista the first time I searched. Different search engines give different results but the dominant cultural spectacle remains fairly consistent.

How does animation/digital work fit with the rest of your art practice?

I think of both terms as technical/technological. As a general principal I look at what technologies are affecting and then work to interfere with them.

For example when in 2000 the press announced that the entire surface of the planet had been mapped by satellite photography I took this as an indication that our entire natural landscape had been digitised. I have made a series of 'landscape prototypes' and 'pixel replacements' that mapped the digital world onto the real world at a 1:1 scale. Sometimes these were a series of monochrome paintings placed in the landscape to represent the pixel they represented as in: a walk in the park (2001), and Provincial Landscape (2007), or video installations of pixel replacements like from green to blue and back again (2003) or large scale pixel replacements like Black spot (2005).

It’s only 11 seconds long - why such a short duration?

In 2000 eleven seconds was a short duration but today it seems like an age.

Who are your influences or heroes/heroines – films, art, people?

I really admire Robert Bresson, particularly A Man Escaped (1956). I think some of the best films are the ones I never want to see again like, Michael Haneke’s The Seventh Continent (1989), Rémy Belvaux’s C'est arrivé près de chez vous (Man Bites Dog) (1992) and Claude Lanzmann’s Shoah (1985).