high mash-up

Scot Cotterell is many things.   My attempts at descriptive analogy feel rather predictable and inadequate; I want to describe him as an octopus with tentacles reaching out attempting every way to ‘make’, but an octopus has too few arms to describe him accurately.

I can however, (over)simplify Scot for easy consumption by breaking down his practice into three main headings; a musician, an artist and a curator; and by describing the approach to all he does as being borne of a do-it-yourself aesthetic and fed by a broad cultural acceptance of the ‘readymade’ object.

A natural hacker and skilled circuit-bender,  Cotterell’s method is one of assemblage, adaptation and adoption of existing technologies and aesthetics. A champion of the ‘open-source’, even his paintings exist as doodled,  modular units, capable of being endlessly rearranged.

Everything he produces is haunted, both by this desire to ‘tinker’ and a tremendous sense of the mortality of things; technologies, ideas and pop cultural objects in particular.  Most things it seems, inevitably become obsolete but Cotterells live sound performances using recovered and rewired electronics are a Valhalla for obsolescence.

What Cotterell consistently does is repackage the already familiar for us to re-consume. For an audience he will publicly and ornamentally amass his own collection of defunct electronica (HOARD:chronology 2006), purchase and destroy a pristine Fender copy on camera (Guitar Burn 2007) or conduct a unique social experiment, copying and repeating the graffiti tag of a local vandal throughout a popular Hobart recreation area (Repeater 2008).

GUITAR BURN, Scot Cotterell 2007. Electric Guitar, Ventii Premium Lighter Fluid, Fire, mini-dv/dvd. video still
Guitar Burn Scot Cotterell 2007. Electric Guitar, Ventii Premium Lighter Fluid, Fire, mini-dv/dvd. video still

His recent installation The Fall, I like to call ‘high mash-up’.   It was the embodiment of his modus operandi and the perfect culmination of the previous 5 years practice.  A white gravel courtyard punctuated by half-buried, mirrored, disco balls that seem to have plummeted to earth like meteorites;  a black monolith, not unlike Kubrick’s famous 2001 genesis-generator containing a small screen that plays a looped performance by a local doom-metal act and in the centre, a contemporary, faux-rococo garden fountain, rendered in a nauseating hot pink and spurting thin, brown streams of Coca-Cola.  Like a coded message from a contemporary soothsayer, it gave timely, charismatic and oblique warning of the inevitable price of excess.

The sum of the parts is not something glib.

I could describe him as a delicious smoothie made from an electronics swap-meet thrown in a blender with a teenagers bedroom.  Or a beautiful alien gas made up of familiar elements but with a whole new smell and the possibility of appearing as a solid or a liquid as easily as a mist.

But I suspect my analogies, although descriptive and entertaining to invent, are possibly impotent and defunct, because put most simply: this is how we make art now. Cotterell is a contemporary artist, like most of us, unbound by a single means of expression.

Now we communicate with a cluster, not an arrow.

Sally Rees,  April 2009

This text was commissioned by Scot Cotterell as an introduction to his work for the audience of his upcoming residency at DF_ARTE in Santiago di Compostela, Spain

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