© Matthew Schultz 1998-2020
In all the artwork I create, whether sculpture, music, design, or film, I seek to address the functions of belief systems. Specifically, I ask at what point does faith become industry, does mantra become repetition, does sculpture become manufacture, does entertainment become truth? And vice versa.
Through my own art-based exploration of these questions, I have come to believe that these tipping points exist in both space and time. As an artist, I experience this as a fusion between placement and timing. This critical inquiry has become embedded in my processes to the degree that I work my way through a piece of music as though it were a sculpture, as much as I listen for a melodic curve or a leitmotif when I sculpt. Furthermore, I see this same fusion reflected in the multi-media culture around me. Virtually everything is a form of sculpture or music. A song created with music software has the same building blocks as an object. In addition, the sound has a physicality that, although it cannot be seen, still exists in space. It is as much a part of space as is light or a room filled with objects. For me, pixels, sound waves, wood, ceramics, and bronze all function as matter that can arranged in both space and time. It is only when I play with both their manifest and unmanifest qualities that I am able to enter the conversation about the nature of truth and the function of belief.
Despite the serious, philosophical nature of my starting point, it is important that my work contains a sense of playfulness. The kind of playfulness I seek, however, is more akin to the behavior of a trickster. Specifically, I work with the manufacture of historical and ideological authenticity. Collectively, we put faith in our many systems of information and thought: media, politics, science, religion, etc. My desire is to question their accuracy, to ask if they’re telling the truth or perpetuating the status quo. I feel that art is the perfect medium for this inquiry. When done well, it can so accurately capture "the truth" that words still elude us. Yet we know it speaks honestly. This is the tipping point into which I wish to invite my audience.
In my most recent body of work, The History of the Division, I am dealing, ultimately, with the question of how the ego makes meaning, juxtaposed to the ways in which experience generates meaning. I do this by addressing religious ritual, belief in reincarnation, and the manufacture of spiritual artifacts. In addition, all the literature that surrounds this work --from the brochure, to the display placards, to the coordinating websites --has been crafted in true trickster style, replete with historic references that are both true and irrelevant, and just fascinating enough to keep pulling the audience in. Through both delight and deceit, by revealing and concealing, I strive to connect my own critical inquiry to the thinking of the people who view my work. If this sparks further questions, then I have done my job. If this sparks social change, then I have made art.