Interview #2 by John Hutchinson
Q: Robert, I was recently looking at your latest work you call 'Great Transnational Nude', it is created from downloading source images from the Internet, which you then combine into a new image you call 'Cruft'?
Q: Some people have claimed that 'Cruft' is not really art, but that you are only reusing the work of others?
SPAHR: Yes that is true. In the case of the Great Transnational Nude, I found this website called KindGirls.com, where there are these great images of nude girls. It is so much easier to download the images, than to go to the trouble of taking my own photos. I combine the nudes with national flags as well as the corporate name and images used by so many different transnational corporations.
Q: Using technology the way you do seems to put a distance between the image making process and the actual produced images. Do you feel alienated from the product of your labor?
SPAHR: Oh yes, I do not feel like I have made the images. The machines make the art. This gives me much more free time, compared to when I used to make traditional art.
Q: The machines are computers?
SPAHR: Yes. I automate the work. I write the computer programs once, and they just keep running, producing art work over and over again following my simple recipes. Technology makes art making so easy anyone can do it. I get impatient now, so when I need an image, I use a search engine like Google. Who has time to make images, when search engines are so fast.
Q: Writing these computer programs must be difficult and a time consuming process? How long does it usually take?
SPAHR: It's quite easy. People make Cruft all the time. All you have to do is put images together. I don't know what it will look like, but I am always happy with the results when I put two images together. Sometimes I can't make up my mind which two images, so I just let the computer decide.
Q: How did you come up with the title 'Great Transnational Nude'?
SPAHR: There was a pop artist by the name of Tom Wesselman who produced a series of paintings called 'Great American Nude' which incorporated representational images with a patriotic theme, including those of nude women and 1960's consumerism. I was inspired by this series of images as well as his choice of colors which were limited to red, white and blue along with gold and khaki. I think his paintings are just great.
Q: Do you think your Cruft image 'Great Transnational Nude' contains a similar social commentary or political message?
SPAHR: No. I do not put anything into the Crufts except the original source images.
Q: What about your choice to use the names and images of transnational corporations? In some of your past work you even use images pulled right from the main stream media, such as CNN. Aren't the downloaded images from these sources charged with political content?
SPAHR: They are the images of our time, and anyone who uses a web browser or watches T.V. is familiar with these types of images. They are the digital leftovers of our contemporary media consumption. You don't have to think about it. They are all very familiar.
Q: So why do you make this type of art you call Cruft?
SPAHR: Making art keeps me very busy. I never have enough time to think about what I am doing, so I just keep working.
*This interview is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.