About James Cook




I have been developing a body of work having two related, yet distinctive, research paths. The first is philosophically based activity wherein I strive to materialize ideas that are grounded in ontological inquiry and is contextualized to critically examine with some humor Western cultural conventions and practices. This is usually expressed through combined media pieces, video, and installations. I also endeavor to find corollaries between traditional asian sacral forms and their use of time-based formulations with contemporary western secular artistic images and processes. This second vein includes research of traditional icons, rituals, theatre, and sound, and has thus far resulted in five periods of field research in South and East Asia. The scholarly research directly feeds my studio production.

With an increasing and pronounced reliance upon media-lensed information in an environment of data accretion, I feel it is important to understand the impact these conditions have upon our cognitive experience. Linked to our appetite for topical, mediated information is the diminution of our sense of a collective mythos and an ability to "dwell in the presence of being" (Heidegger). My work explores this apparent attrition with particular emphasis upon the orientation strategies we implement in relation to ideas of time, ephemeral existence, decision-making, and the veracity and longevity of data.

I seek visual strategies to bridge rational, linear modes of experience with those that are intuitive. There are specific practices that help me to think about these issues and how they might be given artistic form. I work contemplatively in the studio, employing traditional esoteric strategies to experience more subtle conscious states, and I am an enduring student of diverse philosophic systems.

PIVOT Installation


(written in the Third Person)

The impetus to combine manipulated objets trouves with electronic media stems from Cook's commitment to the idea that the former have a high potential to resonate poetically, while the electronic media generate a psychological/emotional immediacy that can be effectively used when planted in this poetic field. When ordinary objects are transformed through casting techniques or by juxtaposition with other images, they become removed from the associative, rational present. They readily perform as metaphor, and are thereby poetic.

This body of Cook's work conceptually explores the conjunction of directional impulses(physical and metaphorical) in our moment-to-moment existence. These points of shifting have the potential to yield balance and orientation (psychological and spiritual). On the other hand, these junctures often yield confusion, dissatisfaction, or apprehension, rather than equilibrium. He is interested in our choices, how we are often distracted and do not see our options at these momentary junctures.

For Cook, the importance of the presenthinges upon some very basic ontological questions. As humans we operate within self-constructed orientation strategies based upon cultural paradigms and biases. There is constant shifting regarding "factual" information within the sciences, and no consensus within philosophic and spiritual systems. He is interested in the individual and collective orientation avenues we create, or more passively acquire--with death, perhaps, as the ultimate stimulus to seek clarity in our existential situation.

In his work he prefers to employ materials that have a history of use. These objects are then manipulated in the studio and admixed with cast and fabricated images, or other media. He considers these transformed objects, and their new context produced in the studio to be material metaphors. Their construction process is not derived primarily from ideas that are the result of rational processing; rather, they serve as interlocutors of the intuitive.

For the past ten years Cook"s work has shifted from solitary objects to video/sound embedded assemblages, installations, video projections, and interactive situations.