A New Nothing – Ben Alper and Nat Ward

 

Wavepool – How have you approached the idea of having an image-based conversation?

Ben Alper – As much as possible, I’ve tried not to have a specific approach. This process is far more fun, dynamic and surprising when you allow for instinctiveness (and even impulsiveness) to be driving forces. It often feels like an incredibly liberating form of image-improv or pantomime. In that way, my conversation with Nat has become an important outlet for me, one that promotes a wilder and more associative side of my practice. In psychological terms, it’s more id than it is ego.

Ultimately though, it’s as much an expression of friendship for me as anything else. It’s like a grown-up version of passing notes in class, or a secret handshake that changes every time.

Nat Ward – Both casually and sincerely. As much as it’s simply about staying in touch with someone I deeply care about, overcoming distance, time, and the hum of frenetic schedules, the making and posting of the images is a special space to focus and have great fun; to really play. Given that it’s a conversation without words, it’s nearly impossible to plan or strategize beyond your own posting. I like the fact that spontaneity is embedded in the idea that lies at the heart of the project. Directions change at the whim of you or your partner. This ever movable quality seems to be the key to eliciting cleverly naked reactions.

 

 

Wavepool – If you were to compare your exchange to one that is spoken, how would you describe it?

Ben Alper – It’s multifaceted. For me, sometimes I try to be a good “listener”, while other times I just want to interject and change the subject. There are moments that feel akin to a joke being taken to the brink of absurdity. And other moments that feel strangely poignant. Sometimes there’s a “wait, what did you say?” kind of miscommunication feeling, but just as often there’s a “you read my mind” kind of compatibility. It’s like generous banter, marked by flurries of spirited debate and typically followed by pregnant pauses.

Nat Ward – An absurdist ramble with all the pent-up energy of a 7-hour ride in the back seat of a station wagon. It’s super free-associative and, in process at least, pleasurably frantic.

 

 

Wavepool – What have you taken away from the process?

Ben Alper – That serious play is fundamentally important to my development as an artist, a friend and a human.

Nat Ward – I definitely have a revived interest in what can happen within the confines of a linear edit. I’ve spent so much time thinking about editing a web of connections in a sprawling physical space that it’s been really exciting to distill the process down to a back and forth again.

 

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