Saturday, January 17, 2015

Five Minutes with Digital Artist Dan Hansen

Escape from Meaning
I met Dan Hansen at a group show at the Prøve Gallery sometime in the past two years. His work was not only colorful, likewise his wit was colorfully exhibited. His sense of humor and insights struck me as something worth sharing with a wider audience, thus I asked for this opportunity to discuss his work.

EN: Can you tell me about your background... where you are from... went to school, etc.

Dan Hansen: I grew up in Grand Marais. I went to Cook County High School and graduated in '97. I went to UMD for a year with a graphic design major before dropping out altogether. I guess you could say I've never identified with geographical locations or even the past experiences I've had that most people tend to define themselves around. The world seemed like one continuity break after another to me. Disjunction City. I wasn't sure if everyone was in on a big secret that totally escaped me or if I was the one with the big secret that escaped them. Whatever it sure seemed to give a lot of purpose and meaning to those around me. A purpose I've spent the last 17 years trying to discover for myself.

EN: How did you come to take an interest in making art?

DH: I don't think I ever identified myself as being an artist even though I had success with it growing up and throughout high-school. My disability made it very tedious and cumbersome. So art was always a huge struggle. Through the years of getting weaker on account of my progressive neuromuscular disease I felt an increasing level of resentment toward artists who seem to do everything out of a lust for life and a love of their craft. There was a huge emphasis on aesthetics, musical culture, and nature. All of these things I felt utterly rejected by. I was the outsider looking in and feeling absolute contempt for what I saw. I found no content or context in any of the motivations that seemed to drive all artists I observed.

EN: Who have been your biggest influences?

Blocked In
DH: It was around 2005 I had my first eureka moment when I watched the film "Basquiat." Here was an example of an artist who had disregard for aesthetics. With his reckless childish style and use of words he was able to create an anti-aesthetic which was more beautiful than anything I'd seen before. The beauty came from an explosion of pure context, which was exposing all the absurdities and continuity breaks in civilization at large I previously wasn't able to reconcile.

 So this laid a framework for me. I was ecstatic! I said to myself, "Now I'm going to give the public what it deserves... the shittiest looking art in Duluth and they're going to love it!" I then pumped out maybe 35 rage inspired pieces in a couple of weeks which actually was the bulk of my first real art exhibit at Pizza Luce June of 2005 with the aide of my art assistant Lucas Anderson. There seemed to be critical acclaim for my work which was mostly done using MS Paint that came with the Windows XP operating system I used at the time. I was creating the shittiest art on the shittiest graphics program and loving every rage fueled minute of it. For the first time in my life I discovered meaning.

Now that I'm approaching 36 years of age and processed the lion's share of anger I experienced in my 20's and early 30's I have been quite influenced by more spiritual or mystical endeavors. This is the inspiration for my new show coming up in April at Benchmark Tattoo shop. I'm creating the lost writings of Pythagoras. I'm focusing on his number theology mixed with metaphysics, and sacred geometry. It's a work of historical fiction with a mash of philosophies influenced by Pythagoras. I'm just having a lot of fun with it. The realization that I came to is that math and science were derived from mysticism. I think academics are quite embarrassed about this and tend to avoid mention of it. I find an endless amount of entertainment value in this squirmy bit of knowledge and I'm running with it!

EN: What are your interests outside of art? Reading? Movies? Texas Hold’em? NFL Football?

Pyramid Schemes
DH: As far as other interests go I do love blackjack or playing Texas Hold‘em with my friends. Gambling is a huge fascination for me. It's not about odds and statistics with me as much as it is riding the swirling wave of chance. The casino is church to me. It's a sacred place to test one’s spiritual progress and interact with the universe. Other interests I have are computer games, board games and movies. I've seen several thousand movies of every genre and every era. A dream of mine would be to become a filmmaker. I have a couple of half-baked movie scripts in the works we'll see if anything comes of it.

EN: Dan, I know I speak for many others when I say that we're looking forward to your show in April.

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Meantime art goes on all around you. Celebrate forever.


Digitallicus said...

I know this guy - simply incredible human being and artist.He has a seriously deep understanding of Metaphysics and I Cherish the times I get to spend with him discussing it online.

ENNYMAN said...

Thanks for the note. I agree, Dan is a pretty remarkable guy and it has been a privilege getting to know him.