Punk+Sheep – So can you tell me about the project? How would you describe it to someone who has not seen it?
Patrick Furness – The work is basically just as many various squeaky dog toys as I could afford to buy, together in a pile on the floor… but I guess there is more to it than that. There is a sculptural element, arising from the fact there are so many brightly coloured plastic objects and what will happen when you introduce an audience to the piece… there is an unexpected/unknowable element. Then there’s the overly theatrical noise/din that happens when you walk on it. And my over all hopes that it will bring some joy to people
P+S – Quite a lot to unpack there. Let’s start with the dog chews themselves… what attracts you to them?
PF – They are absolutely strange objects. designed for dogs by people with I’m not sure whose aesthetic in mind. A lot of them have faces on them, there is no way of knowing what the dog actually thinks of this design decision.
P+S – Yes, very funny. Would be interesting to see which is most popular with the dogs…
PF – I guess they could be at the very bottom of the product design scale of what is thought of as a beautiful object. But this is truly arbitrary. Would they really be any less appealing for a puppy if they were monochrome and just random shapes? So they are essentially designed for humans, aesthetically.
P+S – I know you had originally wanted to fill the gallery with real live dogs… but we could not do it for health and safety reason… are dogs a constant interest in your work… or was it just our space, location that inspired you?
PF – What really drew me toward the toys was the squeakiness. Being in a house with dogs and all these weird objects strewn all over the place that are so “badly” designed, often in a house where there is such considered mindfulness of the decor and you end up stepping on them, and every time I would find myself pissing myself laughing. In terms of dogs themselves… I do really like them and have been around them all my life, I guess they do crop up in my work often. I guess as an artist you just respond to the things in your life and that might not just be dogs but animals in general.
P+S – Yes. For example, we are having this conversation on instant messenger… and there is a dog in your profile picture…
PF – Dogs are like our evolutionary buddies, we have this symbiotic relationship with them in most cultures.
P+S – Ok, one more dog question – do you have a dog?
PF – My housemate has a dog and he is away a lot so I look after him all the time, I take him to art galleries, the studio, as well as the park. Also my parents have always had dogs. Is great taking Macintosh out, he starts conversations with people that you might not normally have. Its funny taking him to art galleries, many a time people stop looking at the art to look at him. I am not sure what this means…?
P+S – that maybe a question for minds greater than ours… But I want to ask you about the sound element of the work, the “squeaks”. They are fun… but also a bit annoying — to me at least… and that seems to go with the design of the plastic dog chews.
PF – I have a background in music/sound design. I studied Sonic Arts at university and spent my youth listening to and seeking out the most obscure and weird sounds I could. I am also hugely influenced by comedy and musical silliness.
P+S – That makes sense.
PF – The conglomeration of all those vinyl dog toys collectively squeaking under foot is highly annoying. It as if they are collectively screaming to death. Its like some sort of tragedy/comedy. What I also find fascinating about putting this piece of work together is sourcing the toys from the manufacturer.
P+S – How did that work?
PF – This piece of work essentially already exists in a factory in China somewhere. All I did was reframe it…. Without actually visiting, one can imagine the factory. A squeaky toy factory — it is a brilliantly ridiculous apogee in the history of human development. Also trying to bargain with the importers on price, explaining what I was planning to do with them, and receiving bemused and uninterested replies. It’s comedy gold.
P+S – I can imagine. So, you are happy if the audience laugh at the work? Humour is often looked down in art as something less serious than… seriousness.
PF – That is one of my main goals in art, to make people laugh. I didn’t study art at school and if I am honest don’t really take much interest in a lot of art. Although I see my work as art because in a strange way the art world is simultaneously the most accepting and closed environment there is. I do have a problem with a lot of humour in art that is centred around the art world itself. A sort of pop-will-eat-itself culture. Art in-jokes! For me this is not amazingly creative and excludes people. Is far more exciting to invent your own funny world. But art still need to laugh at itself more.
P+S – Can you tell me about the show title — “Isle Love Dogs”…
PF – I really wanted to not use this title, but I felt obligated because it was such a bad/good pun. Simultaneously is one of my favourite sounding places in London. Isle Of Dogs/I Love Dogs. The show essentially titled itself…