Artist of the Month January 2023
Jess Pemberton is an emerging collage artist whose work explores the boundaries between physical and digital spaces.
Jess Pemberton is an emerging collage artist based in Penryn, Cornwall. Her work explores the boundaries between physical and digital spaces and what it means to exist and interact online. “I feel both a deep excitement and fear towards technology,” Jess explains. “I have deep concerns for the future of humanity and how the digital world impacts us as a species and the planet.” Using generative and interactive desktop environments, her works are time-based, surreal landscape collages that combine iterative images of flowers, herbs, fungi, mountains and skies.
Jess has been living in Cornwall since moving there to study at Falmouth University in 2012. This experience was crucial to her artistic development: “the Cornish landscape opened up my love and appreciation for the natural world, and now I’m interested in how natural structures of growth and mutual support can be incorporated into human structures.” The watershed moment came when Jess, a self-proclaimed “hard-core technophobe”, decided to start making interactive, digital collages and learning how to code. Since completing her MA in Digital Media Arts at the University of Brighton in 2020, Jess incorporates patterns found in nature into digital collages by writing code to create “self-evolving” artworks online.
Overall, Jess’s practice involves questioning the status quo of how we engage with the internet and the natural world. Inspired by Berlin Dadaists like Hannah Hoch, the contemporary Solarpunk movement, and environmentalist artists like Friedensreich Hundertwasser, Jess’s collages strike the viewer as playful, kitsch, and irreverent. Her recent Forests of the Web manifesto and collage envisions a digital space that encourages exploration rather than being driven by corporate interest. Jess is conscious that for the health of the planet and humankind, a more decentralised form of governance of both material and digital realms is needed in the future.
Jess is currently collaborating with the musician Oh Mr James to produce art and music videos for his upcoming album. The pair have been working together since 2017, and are both drawn to visual and auditory forms of electronic glitch. Throughout 2023, Jess hopes to keep on experimenting. She intends to create art using game engines, to create broader interactivity, and to move into VR. “It would be amazing to see my interactive code extend back into the physical world,” Jess says, “it’s a good challenge to have up ahead!”