Oliver Dillon

Who are you and what do you do?

I am Oliver Dillon and I very loosely study human perception through art. 

The human capacity to witness is limited. I try to work with those limitations, bringing to light the boundaries they create. The end result is most like a playful but serious study of quantum mechanics. 

I try and work with anything I can use to study these ideas. Lately my work has been largely documentarian. Photography and video, especially through social media applications, is arguably more important in our perception of the world than the space and time we call “reality”. I’ve been trying to push the limits of these mediums more recently. 

So much of what we input is informed by light, photography almost seems to be the most pure.

I’ve been examining the accidental a lot recently. Photography is good at that. Painting for me becomes a play between the accidental and the intentional. 

I try and work back and forth between mediums to gain a well rounded understanding of the limitations set in place by cognition. There are many factors to be examined. 

I feel that if I understand my limits as a human, I may be able to push passed them. Art helps.

Who/what inspires you?

The true inspiration can’t be put into words, and the art work only comes close. 

Cognition is just a series of tricks. Behind the tricks are simple electrical signals. This creates our world. I enjoy rewiring the tricks to make the reality my own; something more exciting. I’ve found I can examine this most successfully through art.

I think that is something that inspires me in general through day to day living; it’s the umbrella over all of my other inspiration.

What themes do you pursue?

I enjoy silence. I enjoy time and space to think and breathe and I enjoy portraying this in my work. I also appreciate confusion. Ambiguity is very quiet. I feel it helps the viewer give time to the piece instead of overwhelming them. Making the viewer want to get out is a good tool, but it has it’s place.

Sometimes the viewer walks away because my work is boring.

I try not to pursue any particular themes though. My work looks a certain way because it’s the aesthetic I apply, but my main focus is exploring the questions that the work provokes. Theme and aesthetic come secondary but are certainly not ignored. 

Why art?

Art allows uninhibited experimentation. So much of our world today shuts the viewer off in terms of truly creative thinking. Art is still a place where it is assumed that one might have to see past the work to understand it. Exploring all the possibilities of something is the only way to really understand it. Art lets you do that. 

It doesn’t have to act didactic even if it is didactic. 

Art allows for ambiguity.

I probably would write philosophical essays if I could be more precise and scholarly with my ideas. I always had a hard time organizing these big questions into concise thesis statements.

Name some artists you would like to be compared to.

This is an important question because I feel, as art moves forward, we solidify a lot of ideas about that previous generation’s work, rarely re-examining it with a fresh, modern perspective. 

It’s a faux-pas to recreate these days. 

I think we shouldn’t be so arrogant.

I almost always find myself discussing ideas that have already been brought to the table, although my work takes new form and asks new questions because of it’s changed, modern environment. Working this way is less out of ease and more in pursuit of intense investigation. 

Art is an ongoing conversation. We are all talking about similar things in different ways and conversing with each other. Re-examining old ideas is just as valid as presenting new ones in any conversation. 

These are some ideas that I am in conversation with and am or am not necessarily compared to:

I feel Diebenkorn had more to say about pain than popular opinion gives him credit for and Guston had more to say about Joy than he receives credit for.

I have been posing similar questions to Bruce Nauman, Robert Morris, and a young Frank Stella. I often disagree with Donald Judd.

I wish I could achieve the production quality of Mathew Barney.

There is a ton of great work always being made. Off the top of my head, some newer work that I find fascinating is coming from people like Letha Wilson, Alyse Ronayne, Noah Krell, Gregory Ito, Eva O’Leary, Jesse Houlding, Christine M. Peterson, and more and more and more.