George McGrath interviews Scot Hacker

Scot Hacker
{Check out Hacker's works first}

Introduction by Neil Armstrong / Interview by George McGrath

Scot Hacker's surreal collages are attentively sharp, complex, and puzzling at length. Figures, machinery and miscellaneous parts are engaged in unidentifiable pursuits. The eye is lead through manufactured sections and along fractal background patterns, generating a sense of brisk semblances that defy obvious explanation, even if their incongruity is merry. Hacker's juxtapositions, interrelationships, and extensions of reality create evocative, yet highly controlled visual images.

George McGrath: How do your professional careers in editing and computing affect your artwork?

Scot Hacker: While it seems old hat, or even more normal than working analog to me now, discovering the flexibility of the digital medium was revelatory to me. Because I live, breathe, eat and sleep digitally now, there's no other way. Yet, despite the fact that paper, x-acto knives, and glue sticks seem limiting to me now, those things still hold a romantic attraction, and their tangibility calls to me.

GM: What are these things you assemble in your collages?

SH: They are things. Nothing more, nothing less. Things that set off something in me. While each individual element may have some personal symbolic significance for me, I don't intend that they will for viewers. I think of my collages as being more of formal studies than as meaning-laden works. It is collision that interests me the most, which is why the elements are so disparate.

GM: How was your transition from paper to digital collage?

SH: Joyous and inspiring. Clean. I was happy to get rid of boxes of scraps floating around, and no longer limited to the source material I happened to have sitting around. Potential limitlessness went to real limitlessness.

GM: What are you thinking of while pasting all this together?

SH: Laser beans.

GM: What interests you in the imagery you select?

SH: The mechanical. The organic. The sexual. The biologic. Sense and sensibility. The happy smell of water, the brave smell of a stone. The feel of freshly burnt rubber. Elements must complement one another by differing. In language we don't think of electron microsope photographs and 1940s German motorcycle riders together in the same breath. In collage we can do this.

GM: There's usually an element of humor underlying your works. How does that come into play?

SH: That's a buddhist thing, I think. I'm not, expressly speaking, a Buddhist, though I appreciate and contemplate its lessons. All of life is funny, really. To seriously think you're approaching real answers is folly. Everything is absurd. Collage has tremendous potential for underlining this fact. As Wittgenstein once said, "For a philosopher, there is more grass growing down in the green valleys of silliness than up on the barren heights of cleverness."

GM: Where did you learn to make art?

SH: Self-taught. Or maybe I learned from drugs. Or from trees.

GM: Why do you make collages?

SH: Because the world is so intent on trying to convince itself that it's coherent. I'm trying to show that it's not necessarily so. You could draw more Buddhist analogies here, about the interconnectedness of things, but I won't belabor the point.

GM: Where do you gather inspiration from?

SH: Ack! Please don't get me wrong! My pieces are not inspired! They are not preconceived! They just come into being. If I feel like doing something creative, I sit down with my pile of parts and tools and start building. The pieces tell me what to make, in their own way. There is no inspiration here, only a falling into the process.

GM: What are your thoughts on extraterrestrial life?

SH: I pray that I live long enough to have a chance to meet it, perhaps even to fuck it.

GM: How did the Birdhouse get its name? Tony Hawk's skate co. of the same name?

SH: No! I discovered only after creating the site that there was a skateboard company. I was walking one night in Boston, scanning the brain for a name, saw a birdhouse in someone's yard, and knew that was it.

GM: What's in your new book?

SH: Far too much to tell. The book is all about the Be Operating System, a radical alternative to Macintosh and Windows, far, far easier to use than Linux (faster and more beautiful too). There's so much to say about the BeOS, and I've just spent a year of my life saying it, that I don't want to repeat that here. If you're interested, go to or or or ....

GM: What are your philosophies?

SH: Do not kid yourself that you are important. You are a shooting star, streaking through an absurd universe. Everything that lies beyond the limits of knowledge is important, and knowledge is itself an illusion. Even if it works.

GM: What are your goals as an artist?

SH: To reflect my mind back at the world in ways I can't do with words.

GM: What's the meaning of life?

SH: Refuse to answer on the grounds that it may incriminate me.