I'm Matt Gordon. I've been making art in one form or another as Hydrocarbon Collective since 2016. I make interactive kinetic art, mostly for myself.
Happiness is a simple reflection on the ways in which simple symbols, like a curved line, can evoke an emotional response; but it also asks: why do we want to control happiness?
2020 is a bad year for art. 2020 is an amazing year for art. 2020 is a year in which we have lost so many friends, to death, to racism, to brutality, to privilege, to mental illness, to self injury. This piece has nothing to do with any of that, and it also has everything to do with it, because I made it to distract me from those things. I have the privilege of being able to distract myself from those things. Most people do not. My failure to rise to the moment is not an excuse, it is simply a fact. Presenting art to the world in 2020 is self-absorbed, and presenting art to the world in 2020 is an act of deepest vulnerability. Fuck you, 2020.
I started work on Urgent Pendulum at the beginning of Shelter-In-Place, in March 2020, using materials I had on hand. The construction was done haphazardly, with a sense of urgency, as we were all immersed in a sense of panic at that time. Over time I slowed down, but continued iterating on the initial design, until it reached a sort of stasis, in its current incarnation. The two radios are each actuated by a pair of rails with a ball bearing between them. As the ball bearings roll back and forth, the radios turn on and off. The mechanism is intentionally simple and comprehensible. The effect is of a message coming in from far away, or from another time. The message is garbled, and it's unclear what it means. Some parts of this sculpture, most notably the motor and motor controller, were repurposed from Torch Song, 2017.
Hot Hand Luke is an interactive fire sculpture, a twist on the game of Skeeball. Except, the balls are on fire. Because art should be dangerous.
In 2016, the homelessness problem in San Francisco became increasingly visible, with tent camps popping up around the city. We created Snapcamp, a fake app, website, and social media account, to draw attention to the misguided "hackathon" culture of relying on software to solve society's problems. Snapcamp also lampooned the clickbait media itself, by becoming an overnight but disposable hot button issue.
Matthew P. Gordon
Maybe Rome had it coming
Maybe Nero figured there wasn't anything left he could do to help.
Maybe he loved playing the fiddle
And feared this might be his last chance
Maybe Rome had it coming
Bursting with love for mankind
Wanted to leave the world with a song
And not a sigh
Apparently, no one ever told Matthew Gordon not to play with matches. Or maybe they did, and he didn’t listen. But who doesn’t like to light stuff on fire?