Mark Kent is an Irish artist and designer based in Holland who recently sent me in his studio work; a series of computer generated posters and album cover designs. Kent has a wide remit often using 3D modelling software to create his work. The commonality that runs through his sculptures, installations, posters and graphic design is architecture; the building of structures, the interlinking of objects, of negative and positive spaces. Kent’s designs have an industrial aesthetic, seem to be a juxtaposition of organic and mechanical, a technological enigma, maps of some kind, floor plans, blue prints. When Kent sent on his statement it all became clear.
This work, all of his work, emanates from a single dream, a recurring dream in which he finds himself in a large house constructed in wood, forever falling apart, in a constant state of disrepair and collapse, without support. This strange space has occupied him for many years and now, as an artist, he is exploring the surreal narrative of his inner self through drawing and 3D computer programs. Here’s what he has to say about his work:
For many years I had a recurring dream where I would find myself in a large house. It would always be constructed from wood. I would always find myself wandering from room to room. The house was always endless and would continue to grow as I moved through the house. At the same time, the house always seemed to fall apart; rooms would be in different states of disrepair and collapse. Some rooms had no walls, just floor; and I could see into other buildings that I could never reach. I sometimes had to walk across a beam of wood to get to one room to the next. When I found myself on the top floor of the house or the attic I would realize nothing was supporting the house on the ground, it was floating and I would always have a fear of falling out of the house. There was always an element of descending into lower levels. These lower levels would be connected to a hospital.
This was a recurring dream, it was different houses, and different architecture but it was always the same narrative. Sometimes the hallways would be connected to foreign cities, with medieval Armenian architecture. I had these dreams until my early thirties. I then began travelling to the Arctic. The trips were a way of collecting source material, not in a dry academic way but in a romantic notion of absolute immersion where I put myself in danger. I planned out my journey on the map and even though I didn’t know what I would find on the way I knew what I was looking for. I slept outside every night in bus shelters and behind schools; I lived in the landscape that I was studying. As I slept in a new place every night I had to constantly be aware of possible places to sleep, sometimes searching for places to sleep in small villages. I slept in a mountain hut some nights and I also like to cycle down mountains in the dark, as there are no cars or people late at night.
Because it’s so far north there’s the midnight sun and not so dark. I was able to experience a special quality of light very rarely seen. On the mountains at night I would have to cycle through tunnels so my eyes would have to adjust coming in and out of the tunnels. Because of the extended sunset the light would be different coming out of the tunnel. I started travelling to Norway and Sweden in 1999 with the goal to cycle to the Arctic Circle, photographing abandoned houses along the way. I was searching for them. The search became a big part of the training and the actual trip. It was getting into the houses and having to somehow break into the houses that were part of the fascination. I found myself in some of the scenarios of my recurring dreams; where floors would collapse underneath me, where rooms were used for odd purposes. After I started photographing abandoned houses I stopped having the dreams. And I started building up a large archive of photographs. The camera used was an ordinary point and shoot 35 mm camera with colour film.