An interview with Adrian Cain

Adrian Cain is an American artist influenced by the relationship between digital and nature. Using Photography and technological programs to create visions of a utopian digital future, Cain bring emotion and feeling to  data. 

"Can you start by telling us a bit about your start as an artist."

I was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma and grew up in a small town. Graduated high school, I went to Tulsa Community College to study Geographic Information Systems. Youth and the desire to travel had me more occupied with other activities than school and I eventually landed a job with a well known car rental company, and proceeded to move up the corporate ranks. These jobs sat me down in front of a computer longer than I ever had in my life previously, and ultimately gave me the computer literacy I needed to start exploring digital art. In 2019 I moved to Seattle, WA to live with my boyfriend and explore the city. 

"What is so fascinating about the digital era of art making is the ability to begin making art from something so unrelated such as working a corporate job. What was your first experience creating with glitch?"

 I first saw the style after stumbling on the Facebook group Glitch//Request. I stalked it for a while, admiring the creativity I saw there. Finally I decided to experiment with a web based tool, I don’t recall the name now, that did some channel shifting. The image below was the first one I ever posted on any social media in 2014. From there I kept experimenting with apps and other web based manipulation tools. I then started researching other ways to break images. The “Wordpad” effect was a great, easy and in my opinion, beautiful glitch and it certainly made my hunt for other methods a feverish sprint towards what would ultimately be my data-bending soul mate, sonification. 

Through the help of some truly inspired Glitchers I met through FB, I learned how to manipulate images using the free audio recording software Audacity. This process of turning data into sound, which then has various audio effects applied, is termed sonification. I instantly fell in love with this method, and it still continues to surprise me after 5+ years of experimentation. 

"I am inspired by a desire to contrast the human figure and elements of nature with digital corruption."

"Glitch has such a strong online community for learning new skills. Where do you draw inspiration from and what is the starting point for creating?"

I am inspired by a desire to contrast the human figure and elements of nature with digital corruption. Walking through the neighborhood I will snap pics of flowers, water, streets, anything that I feel I can add to with my methods. If it is not a picture I took, I will glitch 3D renders I created in Blender. Using Blender is like having access to a photo studio where I can pose and place people/objects in any way I desire. Inspiration will always find me, as each source image will react differently, with Audacity in particular. A piece will sometimes take a completely different direction than I had in mind, based on the glitches. 

"When faces become so distorted, we start looking for some semblance of the original face. A kind of mental reconstruction of the source."

"I am fascinated by your representation of humans in your work, why is this kind of portraiture so key in your work?" 

I have always been drawn to portraiture work, and I believe that since the  face is such a naturally recognisable shape, any distortions or alterations are picked up on quickly. When faces become so distorted, we start looking for some semblance of the original face. A kind of mental reconstruction of the source. In that way different viewers are able to see different expressions, features and emotions from the same image. 

"Your use of people also feels very beautiful, do you feel like the increasingly digital world we are living in is a positive thing? 

It of course has many positive aspects to it. I find the more minimal and intuitive technology becomes, it will allow us to enhance our views and appreciation of the natural world. We can already see this now with how remote viewing has shown us sights no human eye has seen before, like with drones. Great tools allow the audience to not think about the tools themselves, and just be wowed by the result. 

"The world is becoming increasingly digital, what do you see for the future of the art world?"

Works of art that can be updated and evolve. It would be an interesting project for an artist to have a public piece evolve over time. The digital space has so many quirks I would like to see it applied to physical works. A sculpture with projections over it, digital paintings, walls that are screens, could all be canvases for evolving, public works of art. Personalized spaces, using AR or projections that can be updated daily could act as hubs for seeing local artists. You could meet them while being literally surrounded in their creations. The medium is limitless and leaping over itself and its absolutely fucking awesome. 

"Thank you, Adrian."

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