Morgan Buck is a visual artist living and working in Portland, OR. He holds two degrees; an MFA in Craft from OCAC in 2015, and a BFA in Painting from PNCA in 2010.
Artist Statement: 2018
Through the alchemy of picture building, my current work deals with technology and it’s displacement of the human imagination. Smartphone and internet dependence is rewiring the human brain. With this body of work, I’m insisting on it. I’m trying to take my imagination to absolute zero and rely on unorthodox use of the internet and smartphones almost entirely to generate the content for my work.
This is my method:
I surf the web from my laptop looking for images with strong formal qualities and memorable features. Images that would be difficult for me to just imagine. Than I use a special photography process for a screen shot. Many of us have taken bad cellphone panoramas to distort images of our friends into mutants. I shoot the screenshots of the found images like one of these a glitchy bad panoramas. I weave the iphone camera around the found image distorting it into a completely different compositions. I also hold a 10x magnification lens in front of the camera (like a macro lens), so I can weave the shot in focus and then pull it out of focus creating dizzying spacial effects and differing levels of recognisability. There’s much more to it than that and it’s not as easy as it sounds, but for sake of keeping it short and sweet, that’s pretty much how I create my source images.
I reference printouts of these macro-bad-panoramic-screenshots as accurately as possible as I paint them large scale with the airbrush. While painting, I’m editing out pixelation, glitches, and other obvious digital process giveaways while translating the image into the painting leaving only the image content. At this point in the process, I see myself as being more of a digital printer than a painter: I become one with the machine, disinterested self expression. The atomized paint on the matte surface created by the airbrush resembles a printed surface enough to fool people into thinking they’re digital prints until they examine at a closer distance.
The result is an body of work eclectic as the internet with high levels of creative ambivalence, yet with a very consistent execution. While the images may look like they took a lot of imagination, in fact, I’m very happy to say, that they took very little. To the viewer the images are obscured so the viewer can’t exactly tell what's going on, but has enough information to activate their own imagination; thus turning the imagination to the viewer not the artist. Really, I’m just a viewer who responded to the images my process created for me.
Artist Statement 2017
The Macro-Panoramas are photos taken with a 10X magnification jeweler’s loupe that is held up to the lens of an iPhone, giving the phone the close focus of macro photography. The photos are shot with the camera app set on panorama mode. Then images are found mostly using Google on a laptop computer searching for key words like, bad photography of high-end interior design, for example. The Macro-Panoramas are images that are photographs of these found images on the laptop’s screen. During each shot the phone is weaved in and out of the screen while taking the panorama, making it go in and out of focus in the same image. This process breaks down the images composition while warping its perception spatially.
Since many of them resemble landscapes, I like to joke about how I'm the Ansel Adams of the Internet: exploring the vast wilderness of Google, capturing these sublime moments that are unrepeatable and special to the moment of the panorama’s photographic scan and what the search engine coughs up on any given day. Adams, who believed in a truth that a well composed photo print can communicate, is likely rolling in his grave over the fact that I'm not going out and experiencing the real world. I'm sitting on his ass taking photographs of other peoples experiences and turning it into an artificial experience of reality. This artificial experience of reality seems so relevant to the ways the internet has changed peoples experience of everything due to the impact of social media experiences, fake news, alternative facts, and so on. Everything is so over mediated, warped, and spun in the cyber-scapes that we find ourselves in that one can never be quite sure of exactly what they're looking at.
Artist Statement 2016
The Crumple Paintings are sculptural paintings that fold the support into the process of creating a painted image. I began this body of work in his first semester of my MFA in Craft in 2013 trying to find an alien way of painting relating to some rearranged art historical timeline. Although I later learned of others who explore a similar form of painting, this work stands out in its dynamic integration of applications of paint, surfaces, compositions and attention to the frame. Through the repeated process of crumpling the wire mesh support that the linen is sewn onto, the picture plane fragments in unexpected ways. What would be considered conventional abstract painting devices become activated in an unusual way on the crumple canvas. The surface dynamically undulates with a variety of different folds and paint applications structured based it's crumpled existence, released folds from earlier in the process, or imposed painted compositional elements. This can give the paintings a feeling like they're exploding out of another dimension. For me it's about the wonder of creating a painting experience where the surface, shape, support and image can evolve radically as work reacts to itself
Child PM is a Kaufmanesque performance comedy rock group that's a creative collaboration between Morgan Buck and Justin Stimson. They play two distinct self-absorbed characters whose outrageous dichotomy of personality and backstory drive their music and impromptu comedic antics. According to their backstory, these two characters that they play, Carl Crisp (Morgan Buck) and Crispin McCarls Jr. (Justin Stimson), start a band with the intent to be more famous and influential than the Beatles find that they were married and divorced from the same woman. After bonding over their newfound divorcee comradely, they find that they both miss their role as a step dad. Thus, they commit to gain full custody of their ex-wives children from a previous marriage: aka their ex- step kids.
The divorce also had psychological and financial impacts on the characters as well. Carl Crisp became a narcissistic, sellout, poseur Rockstar hell-bent on money, power, and being worshiped as a musical genius who answers to no one (think Donald Trump meets Liam Gallagher meets Motivational speaker). While on the other hand Crispin McCarls Jr. became an unhinged homeless drunk who has to balance his love for his step kids and living in the woods with his love for liquor and disorderly conduct. The two of them both have a delusion that they are immortal and created god as a robot before the beginning of time, on the Perfection Plane of Existence (a dimension where things like truly straight lines and true right angles are not just mathematical abstractions, but are possible in nature), within the institution of the Perfection Brotherhood. After creating the universe, with the soul intent to give Child PM a place to record, the god robot wanted to participate in all the fun and therefore became a sadistic clown who makes appearances in Child PM recordings.
Child PM has been active on and off since 2009, and is currently recording on their second album, Step Dads in Harmony.