Wednesday, 13 April 2011

The Rash

Five days to launch and all Alice could think about was the pink rash that had formed on her right arm. There was a press event at one tomorrow afternoon but, Jesus, what the hell was it? Just above the elbow on the back of her forearm, a fat pink line. It didn’t sting or anything but it was a nuisance and, let’s be honest, it can’t have looked particularly attractive. Especially now the weather was getting hotter and she would start wearing dresses. She turned her arm over to get a better look, straining the muscles in her shoulder and involuntarily opening her mouth just a bit. Christ, bloody annoying to have something like that come up now, just as the days were getting longer. She was going to wear that nice short-sleeve top for the event tomorrow but would now need a jacket as well. Those PR things are always so sticky and she knew the jacket would just make her sweat, especially when she would have to field questions from mental paranoids about dangers to human nature. And then all that hand-shaking afterwards with the knowledge that her palms were moist and she would probably smell a bit. Terrible, as if the press needed anything else to pounce on. The Sweaty Tech Witch.

She didn’t really understand the need for another PR meeting, it was only for the company to defend themselves against needless worries and in her opinion it came across as weak. All that crap about mind control and intrusion of human boundaries. It’s only a new sensor and, Christ, if they hadn’t developed it Apple would have. Then we’d be using our eyes to sweep across the pages and download useless aps. This way there was so much more we could do, the release titles were a great example of that. In her opinion the developers had done an amazing job integrating her technology in innovative ways, the first time she played the FPS she even surprised herself how smoothly the sensor detected minute eye movements. With the contraction of her iris the program was able to adapt and shift the game-play accordingly, and the resulting papillary response encouraged the narrative to increase the intensity of its content. As she blew a hole through the head of a Nazi the personal tailoring of the game’s action to her own mental state made her heart beat faster and, if she was honest, she had uncrossed her legs and pressed herself forward and down, just slightly, on the leather board-room chair.

Fuck, this rash was growing, she was sure of it, in the past five minutes alone no less. The phone started ringing and she used her left hand to pick it up, keeping focus on the back of her right forearm. It was her PA, he wanted to know what she would like for lunch tomorrow as the conference centre was booking the meals from the catering service in advance. Chicken was fine. She rested the phone between her shoulder and ear and moved her left hand to the rash. Roast potatoes were fine as well. Her fingers lingered above the pink blotch and she told her PA that yes she would be drinking wine and yes she was planning on getting a taxi home. She touched the rash with the tip of her forefinger. It was fine, she didn’t want him to give her a lift home, she was happy to get a taxi. She pressed the finger into the skin and it slowly eased into her arm, the surface opening around her nail and allowing her to push further, right down to the knuckle. Her PA wanted to know if she was sure about the lunch, as once he’d booked it she would be unable to change her mind. She worked her finger further into her arm and, with a bit of effort, was eventually able to slide a second finger in also. She uncrossed her legs and felt the cold phone against her neck. Yes, it was absolutely fine.     

Friday, 8 April 2011

A Quick Pint With Fran

Fran Copeman is a 25 year old painter and illustrator. She’s exhibited both locally in London and internationally, in Italy, Germany and Manchester. Her work, mixing hyper-realism and abstraction, often depicts disfigured and restricted bodies sunk in a thick painted landscape. I met her outside the John Snow in Soho for a pint.

How was the toilet?

Piss off. Actually, appropriate word. Why the fuck do we pay for water? It just goes straight through you.

What inspires you?

Shall we wait for this environmental services truck to pass?

 A dustbin truck moves past the pavement edge where Tom and Fran are sitting.



Generally I’m interesting in relationships and our relationships with each other. Obviously that gets much more complicated when you’re living in such a busy place, y’know?

No. What do you mean when you say relationships?

I mean the way I react with my external world, simple as. I had an early project, crudely called ‘The City’, I was reading Walter Benjamin and all that, but the idea of the city is still an important metaphor of me.

Do you work a lot in metaphors then?

Yeah definitely. I wouldn’t work in a completely representational way – I mean I do often use the human figure but that’s because it’s a form that I can identify with.

Is that identification important?

All I can say from my personal experiences of exhibiting is that I haven’t seen a single recent piece that has been ‘essentially’ conceptual. There’s always been a narrative or something which gives the audience the ability to see what the artist is doing without having to read a manual. Which is nice.

But your figures aren’t representational?

Well apart from the idea.

Is that idea frustration? It seems to be something you frequently work with.

When I left university I wanted a lot of things, but that all turned to shit really – a lot of people seem frustrated like that at the moment. I was also interested in frustrating the aesthetics of the piece to the point of distortion, and that got me looking at what makes something look distorted; ugly.

Why ugly?

It’s always a nicer challenge to make something that isn’t pretty.

Do you consider your work to be ugly?

Yes, it’s pretty ugly, but the image itself I find quite beautiful because of the detail created by the restriction.

What’s the process of getting that restriction?

Basically tying people up and getting them to break out of things.


Like with rope. Mainly on the face and hands.


That’s where the most gesturing happens. Basically it started off as me imitating artists I admire, like Robert Longo who was active in the 80’s during the yuppie era. I did nick his style a bit but it’s mine now. (Laughs) History repeats itself anyways. We all forget things.

Fran drinks.

Is there a political element to your work?

I suppose the way you feel is based on a lifestyle created for you, which is politically created. Maybe if you lived on the top of a hill on Mars then you wouldn’t have that problem; you wouldn’t have inter…interwhatsitcalled?


Yeah, that. None of that. Fran finishes her drink. I was watching a film and they were saying that women make up the majority of the population.

Your subjects are often women, or yourself.

People say they look androgynous. I really only use females because they’re normally the people I have at hand. I’d probably feel more on-edge getting a man to do it. Well, especially the type of man I’d be looking for…getting him to go crazy in front of the camera like that. At the moment it’s just androgynous me. I think it looks strong though. A bang is heard from across the road.
I’d like to just stand up and punch someone in the face. That would make me feel strong.

Why don’t you?


Punch someone in the face.

Could do.

Are your paintings about people not being able to do that?

Yes, well, no. It’s the fine line; a specific place where someone has seen their restriction and is now at the point where they’re trying to break out of it. My hope is that they’re at a point of rebellion.

What are they rebelling against?

I don’t know, it’ll sound convoluted. I guess their limited channels of expression. Here, look, there’s a big environmental services truck coming.

The same dustbin truck from earlier slowly drives past.

How do you feel about trucks?

That wheel is as big as my body.

The sound of an engine is heard, low and guttural.

Words by Thomas McMullan.
Find out more about Fran and her work on her blog.

(via @MintMagazineUK)