Jack West creates sculptures that exist in two distinct spaces – the physical space of the studio and a parallel virtual world that is displayed as a rendered image outputted by a computer generated program. The process of creating objects within a virtual space is entirely removed from the hand and would intuitively appear as to be a process that is polarised to the more traditional ways of making that make up part of my practice – be it the turning of a bit in order to create a hole in metal, or the shaving and refining of wood with a plane to flatten and remove signs of it’s natural form.
But in the pristine world of the virtual, absolute perfection is counter-productive. Total smoothness, with no reflective noise creates an uncanny image that bears little resemblance to reality. Although the aim goes beyond making a carbon copy of real world objects, it’s the inherent flaws in a material that allow us to understand that an object is made of metal, wood or stone.
West spends time exploring objects and materials within the studio and finding ways to translate these into the virtual environment. But this process is not a one-way system. Sitting at the boundary between these spaces is the laser cutter- a crucial tool in the making of my work. Like the computer program itself, it’s a machine that removes the need for any physical action via the human hand as it translates virtual drawings, into physical tangible objects cut from hardened steel. In the process of laser cutting, I once again step back from this place of virtual perfection. A virtual drawing exists as a series of instructions pointing from A toB to C – there is no physicality in the line, and although the outcome is exact in terms of its form, the virtual line turns into a hardened edge with a definite texture, a sign of the physical process of heat burning through steel.
Beyond the process of my work, The idea of ‘the machine’ continues as a central theme in my practice. A machine is ultimately an object created to remove man from the need to labour. And so through its repetitive, unthinking actions this mechanical functioning acquires an apparent purposefulness – it transforms these blind movements into acts of ritual. Parts are created that appear to have purpose but are then repeatedly stacked in way that beguile any useful function. Questioning ideas of purpose and function, and exploring the roles of work and labour in our society.
Born in the UK in 1988 Jack West graduated with a BA in Fine Art from Chelsea College of art in 2010. On completion he was selected by Kaye Saatchi as ‘One of the best emerging artist in London’ with his work being shown in Selfridges department store London – then in 2012 was awarded the Beers Contemporary award from emerging art.
From 2014 he attended the Slade School of fine Art and completed an MFA in Sculpture in June 2016 and was awarded the Kenneth Armitage young Sculptor prize. In the summer of 2016 he was included in Bloomberg New contemporaries 2016. He currently lives and work in London.