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Open Thread - Blog


November 9th, 2008
Adam Atkinson

About Jon Brodsky

In a stunning continuation of what’s emerging as a trend with OT Blog’s Artists of the Week, it’s hard to tack Jon Brodsky down to one particular form. While his degree in design (Carnegie Mellon, 2005) has given Jon a solid basis for his work, he seems intent on pushing his expertise in every possible direction, for the sake of some fun and experimentation. There’s music; his band, Shambolish and his solo act, JonBro, are similarly driven by Jon’s distinct, innovative gameboy sound devices. As JonBro, he performed at Variety, Variety, Variety! in 2007.

Then, of course, there are his design skills, which are hardly limited to the page. As the second Flying Destructicate of Encyclopedia Destructica (We’ll be featuring the first one soon!), Jon is pushing the role into new territory, including animations and experimental PowerPoint (!) - both of which he’ll explain below.

For all of his output (He even blogs like us - and twitters, too!), sitting down to chat with Jon is more relaxing than you might expect. Unlike many busy, prolific artists, Jon’s nature is as calm and cool as a cucumber, rarely flustered, hurried or agitated. If you didn’t know him better, you might think he wasn’t up to much. And you’d be wrong, dear reader. You’d be wrong.

Straight from the Artist’s Mouth!

OT Blog: You moved to Pittsburgh from the Bethesda area in 2001, so that you could attend Carnegie Mellon. What made you decide to stay? What sort of environment has this been for your work?

Jon Brodsky: To a great extent, I am still here because this place is not done with me yet. I am still learning new things, and I still have many of the same problems and questions that I showed up with. On a more hopeful note, Pittsburgh is the right kind of challenge for me. I can make things happen here easier than I can get out of bed. In fact, I could probably operate everything I wanted to from bed. I don’t think that is the case with many cities. Also, the spectrum of work is not yet filled here, so I can operate on a wide chunk of it and feel like I am not really stepping on anyone else’s toes. This is obviously not the most perfect solution, i.e. finding other people in the city that are interested in identical forms and tools can be impossible, but it does give a wide berth for mistakes.

OT: You graduated from CMU with a degree in Design. How do you think that influences your work as an artist, if at all?

JB: What I came away from the CMU design program with was a great love for excellent tools. I get really excited when I find a tool that is fun to work with, or formats that I like. Specifically, I am really into building instruments that make the actual artmaking process less difficult to screw up. The difficult part is allowing failure into the instruments as well.

Also, the design program drove me to find ways to do more loose projects, so I got really into comic jams, and doing nonsense art and drawing. I am way more enamored with crap art now then I was when I went into the design program mostly because it is something that can’t really be taught, the ability to be happy with something that you know other people will find nearly universally horrible.

OT: You’re Encylcopedia Destructica’s Flying Destructicate this year. Our understanding is that they’re expanding that role - that in addition to the publication, you’re a resident artist of sorts in their studio. How were you selected as the Destructicate? What have you done so far in that capacity?

JB: I am always baffled and honored when someone enjoys what I do, but I think that [the directors] Chris [Kardambikis] and Jasdeep [Khaira] wanted to get someone that wasn’t a standard print/drawing artist to take a stab at the project. Coming into it, most of my ideas were of performance or real-time pieces, and they are slowly making their way to the paper. The first big event that we hosted was called BYOPPT, a super fast lecture night. It got me increasingly more excited about the lecture format for actual art, and what you can do to create a space with just slides and a voice. I am also working on a series of animations in which I am grabbing somewhat arbitrary directions from the internet, and using them to move elements around.

OT: What can OT Blog readers expect to hear from you in the coming months?

JB: The Destructicate book in January, which will have quite the release party on approximately the 24th. On november 21, there will be a second go round with the BYOPPT. The only other big thing that I have going is turning http://fuckthatbullshit.org into a house show / mp3 / cd label on which the following releases are slated: a collection of pieces for voice and cello by my sister, Lara Brodsky, a four year retrospective of epic abstract videogame influenced machine music by Simon Cohen, and a collection of nonsense songs that I have written for various nerd music battles that happen around the internet.



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