And on the seventh day He did not rest

Conversation with The Glue Society by Giovanni Cervi

 

In a rapidly changing world it is not possible to stop and think too much, as your thought is likely to be already obsolete, even though it has just been expressed. Our approach to images is changing: art experts, who were once purists, are now becoming omnivorous, the ordinary man is, on the contrary, getting used to the ecstasy of Stendhal. Time shall not be counted, it shall be shaken. It all goes fast, every boundary blurs. They arrive slowly and then explode. They are creative talents. They dirty their hands and use the mouse. The future belongs to those who have no barriers.

 

Can you briefly tell us the story of Glue Society and who’s behind it?
We are a creative collective based in Sydney and New York. There are eight people in the group – with skills and interests which unite art, film, direction, writing and design. The collective was begun 15 years ago (in 1998) and at the outset we aimed to bring idea and execution – and art and commerce – into the same creative space. In the commercial world, there is a strong emphasis on the idea – but turning those ideas into reality is something that is considered to be secondary. We wanted to stronger link the conceiving of ideas with the realizing of ideas – as this is, we believe, what it means to actually be creative. If you aren’t involved in the actual construction or enactment of an idea, then you are not really involved in how that idea will affect the audience. We use commercial work to help fund our art and film projects – but what we find is that we apply the same headspace and approach on both. We like to do work which engages and involves the audience. Work which requires the audience to complete the loop in their own way. But never at the expense of being aloof or not communicating. Communication is always at the core of what we do. But we deliberately like to ensure the audience is engaged by giving it a degree of disorientation.

I think nowadays art and communication and industries are always more connected to each other, you are a good example of this, how did you find the right balance? And how does the posh art world usually receive you?
It is fair to say that every single community has its own values, cliques and structures. Television is a different world from advertising. And art is a different world from dance. But what is also true is that there are some very powerful results which can come from creating ideas which cross-pollinate. We have deliberately avoided defining ourselves as one specific thing. We are not an advertising agency. Or an artist. We are a creative collective of writers, artists and directors. But the discipline we work in  is very ill-defined. We use our skills across all the landscapes. And that means we have found people in each of those communities who find our work interesting. The Guardian picked up on our art work when it was shown in Miami. And mentioned that we also work in the commercial world. But in some respects that added to our uniqueness, rather than detracted. The only problems really arise if you claimed to be a commercial artist. That would not really make sense. You can’t be both at the same time. But that does not mean that your art work cannot have commercial appeal.

What are the differences between doing art and a TV commercial?
As before, we are a group called The Glue Society. We have our own creative approach. Regardless of discipline. We aim to create commercials which have a similar degree of craft and audience engagement as something we might create for an exhibition. The key difference is not our process, headspace or the endeavour, the key difference is the problem that the work is trying to solve. For a commercial situation, we are solving someone else’s problem. For an artistic work, we are tending to solve our own.

Who are your clients and what do they expect from you?
In 15 years we have found that the work we do attracts our next project. For example, we have worked with 42 Below Vodka. And created something which had a very strong artistic concept at its heart.  That project not only brought us more advertising commissions, but also prompted two art commissions. Both worlds saw something of interest. In terms of other commercial projects, what we are well known for is producing world-class work which sets out to break new ground, rather than maintain the status quo. We are at our most alive when innovating. Or pioneering. Or doing something which no-one has done before. One magazine kindly summed it up for us as saying we are “experts in things which haven’t been done before”.

Surprise and fun are two of your keywords? Can you tell us more keywords?
Unconventional. Unprecedented. We like work which engages people. Disorients them to one degree. And which has no precedent. We like to be break new ground to prove that convention exists.

Some of your installations seem quite complex and expansive, how do you realize them?
We use our various project income to support our own personal projects. This helps give us some backing for our bigger ideas. What we have discovered is that our work attracts large audiences – and creates a huge amount of social media response. This is not why we create the work – but it is something that makes Art Curators or Festival Curators sit up and notice our work. Because we can offer them something which will involve people in their various events. In terms of producing projects, we assemble a team very much aligned to the project at hand. As well as getting our own hands dirty.  Metalwork, woodwork, construction are all now part of the broader and ever growing set of skills that we are developing. But next time it is just as likely to be traditional marble sculpture as tile tessellation or something involving hot air balloons. The interest for us comes from the challenge and opportunity presented by each new media.

What are your future plans?
We are also finding that our work is becoming shared to an extraordinary degree online. This is exciting for us. As it means it is possible to exhibit work to a global audience without people having to walk into a gallery space. We are intact working on an entirely virtual exhibition which will be downloadable as a Glue Society App where the audience can interact with the work, engage with it, share it with friends and actually also buy it. This is something we are aiming to launch in late 2014.

How do you imagine the media world future?
In terms of how the various worlds of art and commerce continue to cross-pollinate – and how the digital space becomes more and more open to artistic work and expression – these are questions which we find both stimulating and overwhelming. While the rush to the new is always the story which gathers the most noise, what is also true is that it opens up possibilities in the ‘old’ too. Our next work is just as likely to involve a set of oil paintings as it is a 3-d creation. We have always avoided definitions. But applied the same headspace. And that is perhaps what excites us most about the new media world. In a way it is like going somewhere in the world for the first time. And finding that all the things that are familiar and unique to you suddenly become redefined.

Your voice is the same – but it sounds different in new places.

 

IMAGES AND PHOTO CREDITS

1. CHAIR ARCH – Art film commission by 42 Below Vodka, Directed by The Glue Society (Matt Devine)

2. DORITOS “DIP DESPERADO” – Written by AMV BBDO, Directed by The Glue Society (Gary Freedman)

3/4. GOD’S EYE VIEW by The Glue Society (James Dive)

5. HOT WITH A CHANCE OF A LATE STORM by The Glue Society (James Dive)

6. IT WASN’T MEANT TO END LIKE THIS by The Glue Society (James Dive)

7. V RAW “MISFIT” – Written & Directed by The Glue Society (Pete Baker & Jonathan Kneebone)

8. ONCE by The Glue Society (James Dive)

9. TMB PANYEE FC – Written by Arc Worldwide Directed by The Glue Society (Matt Devine)

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