Interview with the Cummings Twins

Mark and Paul Cumming’s intention is to create phenomenological experiences, with an interest for the occult, mysticism, technology and zeitgeist. The subject of transcendence is critical to their work and its relationship to contemporary culture. They produce artworks namely sculptures and audio-visual performances too – being multidisciplinary they utilize any medium that suits the project best.
 
1. How would you define phenomenological experiences? 
 
A phenomenological experience can be explained as the experience derived by the viewer from observing art that becomes enlightened by the meaning given to it. The sensory and emotive impressions the viewer may contemplate that are not intrinsically within the object itself. The art becomes visible from the decoded invisible, the spirit is revealed in the work, evoking universal archetypal memory. 
 
2. The use of technology seems to be integral to your process. How do you think your use of technology has mutated or changed over time? 
 
Technology has greatly speeded up our working process it would otherwise be impossible to produce some of our work without it. Software and technology allow for more complex novelty as it develops. Technology is not the means to end but a tool that can be mastered.
 
We have certainly dipped in and out of all sorts of technological experiences. Currently, we find it in our performances as projected graphic imagery. There is the impetus in the future to return to interactive mediums as we have done with our VJ sets.
 
3. Your play with scale seems to be evident in your recent paintings. What feeling do you hope to evoke with these large scenes? 
 
The paintings were made large to fully immerse the viewer and to let them take the stage in the scene.  Also, the specific size of the paintings is a pun on statistics. For example, two point four is also the national statistical average for the number of children that a typical family would raise in the UK. It is also the pursuit of the picturesque or at least people’s idea of beauty in the landscape that has been inverted, the familiar becomes banal the serene contrasts with the threatening.
 
4. How do you work collaboratively on projects? Do you always agree when a piece is finished? 
 
We work on most projects together contributing to it at each stage both giving critique and enhancing the piece as it develops. A piece normally speaks for itself, we would unequivocally agree it is complete.
 
5. Where do you get your imagery from?
 
In relation to the paintings, the reference came from various sources, from our own references to any media online. With the roadside painting, all of it was referenced online intentionally. This gave it the power to exist and not to exist simultaneously. The landscapes with their artefacts and composition are completely constructed realities. These were made in 3D software and meticulously adjusted over many revisions. 
 
6. What artists most inspire your practice? What was your favourite recent exhibition?
 
David Hockney, Julian Opie, Edward Hopper, Jeff Koons and Bill Viola are to name a few. I certainly like artists from this and the last century. The most recent exhibition I really enjoyed was the minimalist retrospective of artists represented by the Lisson Gallery it was called ‘Everything At Once’ at the Vinyl Factory on the Strand.
 
7. What new materials or mediums have you have been experimenting with?
 
We have been using resins, plastics such as PLA for 3D printing, acrylic airbrushing and glazing and also using the procedural 3D software.
 
8. What advice do you have for young artists? 
 
Stick with it, stay motivated, stay current, be concept driven, get good advice, be in a community and do a lot of networking.
 
9. Having been long immersed in London's art scene through periods of great change in the city what do think are the biggest shifts in the art being produced and how do you think it has affected your own practice? 
 
The web may have changed perspectives of art the most. Digital technology as a platform
for art has made work accessible, ubiquitous and infinitely reproducible, the downside is that information is more disposable, art is reduced down memes. With our work, we are sidestepping pop art and current subjects such as political identity to focus more on the esoteric. At the time when street art was becoming popular, we were using digital mediums and riding the crest of emergent interactive art. Historically our work derived from the physical going into digital mediums, now we start from the digital and produce work in physical mediums. The process of digital to physical needs to be explored and current technology is now allowing us to do that.
 
10. What upcoming projects do you have planned? 
 
We are working on our second improvised sound recording in a church. We will both be playing the gongs accompanied by vocals cello and piano this will be followed by a public performance in the same location. The recording will provide soundtracks for the video panel work that we have been developing, that is based on esoteric rituals. 
 
11. Do you think your experience in performance translates back into your painting and sculptural work?
 
The practices have been very divergent but somehow viewed holistically relate. As one period or attitude matures or gives way to new ideas an overall language develops. Our performances tie in much stronger with our sculptural and video work, there is a link to spirituality. In both avenues of exploration, the metaphysical is the main motivator. 
 
As for the paintings not so much, its inquiry is rather different. In the future, we cannot rule out that the current work will imbue a good dose of urbanism.