Beyond the Conventional: Doubts and Shadows in Amos Peled works
Fakewhale engages in conversation with Amos Peled, a multimedia artist who uses doubt as a methodological foundation to create unique and provocative works. His childhood in a hospital environment deeply influenced his artistic approach, leading him to explore the role of art in medicine. Amos is also involved in collaborative projects like Hamsters where he explores communication and knowledge through talking toys. His work is heavily influenced by experimental music and his passion for exploring the unusual, aiming to push the audience to reflect and reconsider their perception of the familiar.
Fakewhale: In your work, you have focused on the use of doubt as an artistic and conceptual tool. Could you describe a specific moment in which doubt played a crucial role in the creation of one of your works?
Amos: During my work on Shadow of Doubt (2022, Multimedia performance) I explored the possibility of using my own doubts on the process of making the artwork as a foundational framework and methodology to create the artwork itself. It obviously became a highly confusing process, as when a certain aspect of the work seemed settled and clear to me, it inherently contradicted the essence of the methodology.
Therefore, I created a situation where I, as a performer, feel a significant doubt towards the actions I am performing In front of the audience. As part of my research, I developed a few mechanisms that create doubt or Shadow of a doubt, for example in the middle of the performance there are knocks on the door, but there is no one behind the door, the door knocked from itself. I tried to create a sceptical imaginative interpretation system among the audience, individual engagement with the performance, transcending a singular, predefined interpretation. My motivation lies in using doubt to provoke a shift in thinking, inspire new perspectives, and encourage experimentation with the tools and environment around us.
Fakewhale: You often mention an interest in focusing on the experiential conditions of the audience. How do you seek to influence or shape the audience’s experience through your installations and performances? Are you interested in some way in controlling the audience’s experience with the works? Do you think it is a duty of artists to refine their languages so that they are clear and effective in terms of understanding the works?
Amos: It really depends on the motivation for the work. In my work, I’m interested in creating an experience that leads to a symptom, a side effect, that will broaden and inspire individual (critical) thinking rather than conveying a specific message. The goal is to engage the audience in exploring layers of their own subjectivity, provoking reflections on the familiar. Clarity and effectiveness in realizing the works are not my primary focus; instead, it’s about creating a fascination by the difference. I keep this abstract as I truly believe that those can only be created by emerging naturally by themselves in one’s thinking.
I believe one of the functions of art is to get as far as possible from the familiar. Science uses the familiar in order to discover the unfamiliar. Art uses the unfamiliar to discover the familiar. While something is registered with us as familiar, as something we identify, within a category, I believe that we stop examining it in depth or sometimes at all. As consciously recorded repetitive action can disappear completely from our memory. We stop attributing meaning to action, performing by reflexes. We stop questioning, relating, interpreting, understanding. Placing information within a stable and frozen system. If the Artist’s goal is to convey a straightforward narrative, yes, then it’s important to create clear and effective understanding of the work and its meaning, and this is very important.
However, I believe that a unique aspect of expression in an artistic context can be the deconstruction of reality, resulting in a reflection that remains highly effective in conveying a feeling but not a clear message. I believe this can “affect” one more, especially if the initial stand of one’s mind is contradicting the side of the phenomenon that is presented. Presenting a phenomenon in a creative and accessible way leads to a deeper understanding of it. I have never considered it as a goal for my works to be clear or effective in a practical sense, but of course it is something I’m interested in, just not as the motivation or core for making.
Fakewhale: How has your childhood in a hospital environment influenced your artistic approach, particularly in your work with medical technology?
Amos: The shift in perspective from a patient to an artist is one of the biggest influences in my work. Medical technology was always present in the mediation process of my own health conditions. This idea led me to develop methods and activities that use medical technology as a creative mediation platform. In my latest work, Phantom Limb (2023, Live performance and video installation), I linked between the body and medical technology to explore the relationship between a human being and the black box that is their interior. With the use of a medical ultrasound machine, I deconstructed the hierarchical setup of the medical imaging procedure, namely: professionals using medical equipment and patients’ bodies being examined. “Phantom Limb” democratized medical technology making it accessible and providing it with a range of possible affordances.
Fakewhale: In your “Phantom Limb” project, you used a medical ultrasound machine. What was the biggest challenge in adapting this technology to an artistic context?
Amos: In medical technology, the technical terms and data protocols are quite different from what I’m used to from consumer electronics and audio-visual equipment. But, surprisingly, I found a lot of similarities. To get the hang of operating the machine, I took a hands-on approach, basically playing with it, pressing buttons to see what each one does and how it affects the image and sound. This trial and error method is my favorite because it avoids some predetermined ideas and methods. In Phantom Limb, the image remains completely unprocessed.
The machine itself offers such complex and beautiful quality and modes that I didn’t have to do much tinkering. I did have to work a lot, for example, on the conversion of the image output from the machine to make it compatible with nowadays video protocols. To extend the possibilities of the medium, I collaborated on the making of a MAX for LIVE system together with Daniel Treystman, which allows mappings between different parameters of images produced by the machine and parameters for sound production and processing.
Fakewhale: In your collaborative project `Hamsters`, how did you find the inspiration to use talking hamster toys to explore themes of communication and knowledge?
Amos: Each hamster can speak, record, manipulate sound and can move, which for me and for Lawrence Mc Guire, a collaborator on this project, these 5 functions are used as metaphorical contexts in which core principles of communication can emerge. So I got one Hamster as a present and started talking with him, he repeats everything I say in a higher cute and strange voice. Then I remember I asked myself what if there will be 15 Hamster’s, How this basic functions be translated into a larger scale? when I got 15 of them it became so interesting to see how they communicate with each other and distort information that we ordered 50 of them.
Later in the project we developed a system that we could use to test different kinds of feedback loops and different kind of behaviors in the Hamster communities. For example by making it possible to turn them on or off individually from the computer or sending sound directly to them, thus implementing ideas through “agents” that can use text to speech. They become for us as an analogous to social networks In the broad sense, the Hamsters’ communication system mirrors a rhizomatic structure. The work represents channels of information and how they may undergo exponential amplification and distortion due to extreme interpretations of current events.
Fakewhale: Is there a connection between your musical performances and your installations?
Amos: My background is noise and experimental music. This was my first form of public expression, and I still get a lot of inspiration from this field. In the noise scene one of the things that really fascinates me is that one doesn’t need to know how to play an instrument or how to play music at all. Everything is welcome, there is no way of making mistakes, this in my opinion leads to very interesting situations. I think this approach always affects my research and practice. I am always interested in ‘misuse’ of the everyday. As well as my installations usually are sound installations, or at least involving sound in their core, I really like the way sound is more spacious and open than an image.
Fakewhale: Let’s talk about the influence of medical technology on our self-perception. What are your expectations or hopes regarding the impact that your work dealing with these concepts will have on the audience’s understanding of their own body?
Amos: I hope that by the creative use of medical technology in the medical environment one will be able to look different on the technology and on concepts such as sickness and health, I mean I do ask myself lately a lot what is health? What does it mean to be healthy what does it mean for different people. Does to be healthy mean that all your limbs are attached? I do see an importance for art in the medical environment not only as aesthetic escapism but also to tolerate in the medical environment substances that are welcomed or unaccounted for such as humor, fright, doubt, and suffering.
Fakewhale: Can you share how this fascination with shadows, which you told me about, developed and how it affects the creation of your works?
Amos: I think I like the idea of looking at something that’s so engraved in our reality in a new fascinated light, not as obvious. A shadow for me is a two-dimensional representation of the three-dimensional, a shadow omits a dimension from the world, and represents only the contours of a being, without its volume, a shadow can represent the essence in varying magnitude, several times, in varying sharpness. A shadow is a poor or not clear representation of reality, it can be a by-product engraved in the existence of things. Anything that we can see carries with it a shadow. The shadow is changing not only by the object that it is casted from, but also by the source of light and the object on which the shadow is cast upon. The state of a shadow is affected by more factors than the state of the object that creates it which for me is a very intriguing thing, a combination of a source of light and an object. I think my work is striving to engage with the shadows with the unconscious to create a failure in a direct understanding of a message so it can undergo a process of interpretation.
Fakewhale: Describe the creative process behind the intention to make the audience feel as if they are “returning from a long journey”. How do you transform this concept into a tangible experience through your art?
Amos: I do not see it as a tangible experience, but more as a poetic framework of piercing through reality Into the unexplored individual domain.
Fakewhale: What are your future projects, and how do you foresee that your current experiences will influence your artistic path in the coming years? Do you believe in a recurrent path that evolves in different periods?
Amos: I do think the subjects that I deal with now will always remain as my primary focus as they engraved in me. I hope that the ways of my expression will evolve and materialize into a more precise method that can reach out farther. Currently I’m working on ways to explore my creative use of medical technology in the medical environment by the support of the talent development grant of stimulerings fonds NL. I had recently the discovering the potential of doing so. Following feedbacks that I received from people with a long relationship with the medical environment as I have on my work. This gives me the motivation to continue. I call to anyone that reads this if you see the potential of creative use of medical technology and you have any ideas of thoughts about the subjects, how this can be introduced in the medical environment please reach out to me.