Shape Open 2014 finalist Ben Jack Nash talks to us about public order, financial crashes and 'digimania'

Ben Jack Nash '[]~'. Image by Andy Barker

How would you describe your work?

The artwork is installation and sculpture based. It gnaws into the soul of major catastrophes or social issues of our time. This includes public order, financial crashes and 'digimania'.

The work looks into the composition of our social systems and views them as sculptures, made up of materials in different states as is the case for physical objects. Social material is equally adaptable, mobile, and can be defined by its spatial limitations. Some of its material has more flowing, abstract qualities, whilst some is more physical and three dimensional. Capitalism depends on tangible and intangible currency; religions demand a ritual and a spiritual; and the digital world requires both hardware and software to function. The variations of social material states are reflected in the permanent and ephemeral nature of the physical materials used to create the works.

More recent work explores the moments when states of materials overlap, for example when oil becomes plastic. They are framed in objects symbolic of various thresholds - doors, cashpoints and clothes. These moments are invisible. Their existence can only be determined by the impressions and fossils they leave behind, or the inferences drawn from their by-products. The viewer is left to imagine the original subject from only it’s off-cut or paraphernalia - the light on the floor of a door left ajar, the accoutrements of a cashpoint or the shimmer cast onto a face from a computer screen.

What would you say are your main influences and inspirations?

The trouble and beauty with art is that its influence is sublime. It’s not going to sprinkle its magic over you in a vacuum. It can be the vehicle for lifting the cover of past memories like the rattling lid of an over-boiling pot. Or art will wait patiently on the passive memory shelf like a forgotten book that may one day be brought back to life. Other people are usually very good at telling me what I have been inspired by, and I can’t help discovering new ideas and people who unlock associations with what I have seen somewhere before in form of déjà-vu.

How would you like people to respond to your work?

I suppose you wish for people to respond to your work in the same ways you look for in other artists. I tend to be drawn to art that leaves a lasting impression and comes back to haunt you, sometimes years after seeing it. It might also cast a new light on an everyday object or experience so that you can never see it again in the same way. The idea that there are gaps left to fill is equally appealing.

What are you working on next?

I have a couple of shows in progress, one at the Wilson Gallery in Cheltenham and another in London curated by Richard Deacon. I am also working on trying to put together a larger scale installation that will use the ideas contained in the artwork exhibited for [In}visble.

Image: Ben Jack Nash. Photo by Andy Barker

Banner image: Ben Jack Nash stands in front of his work at the Shape Open 2014 exhibition. Photo by Andy Barker