The Installation of Philosophical Inquiry 

An Interview with VCA Student Nick James Archer - Sculptor, Composer and Photographer. 

Words By Moira M Tauiliili


A word that is simple to write down but if one tries to define it, in any sense, they are met with a versatile reality. The very application of art is an intricate practise. As one steps into the application they are met with a multidimensional study, an inquiry of sorts and an epistemological pursuit. It is the artist's job to express - through a conceptual framework - an emotion, a reality or even a story, in a way that stimulates the senses and creates dialogue between the viewer and the veracity that the artist wishes to create. 

These three letters may seem like an average component of everyday life, but they truly have the power to change the course of reality for the human mind and allow a viewer to enter into a unique epoch of anthropological development.

So what could art be? 

In an interview with one of Melbourne's forthcoming artists Nick James Archer, a section of what art truly is, was unplugged as the inevitable parameters of the artistic unknown were simultaneously conferred... 


Nick is in his third year of a Bachelor of Fine Arts at the Victorian College of Arts (VCA).
He is a sculptor, photographer and composer who through philosophical inquiry is creating art within the Melbourne contemporary art sceneI asked Nick a few questions that he answered below. 


“Both are spaces, one virtual and the other physical. It is the dialogue between these spaces, which deeply fascinates me.”


As an Artist, what do you do? 

"For me it starts off with a philosophical frame of mind, that stems from some form of 'existential question.' This question usually echoes the ideas surrounding the contradictions between 'submission' and 'belief,' as well as the virtual - an image of another reality captured that can be viewed but cannot be entered into. 

This philosophical thought then transforms into an installation. I work across photography, sound and sculpture... and a lot of my work in based on contradictions. When you're beginning to discuss ideas of the intangible or ideas of the beyond, to bring it into a visual form one must consider the dialogue between the surrounding architecture within the space and the image and object.

Both are spaces, one virtual and the other physical. It is the dialogue between these spaces, which deeply fascinates me."

Tell me about your process... 

"When I deal with an image I deal with it in two ways. I will take a photograph or a video of a gesture within a space - so the documentation of the existing sculpture -and then the other thing I will do is create a reflective surface - a non-fixed image- bringing it back to the virtual. For sound, in my work, it stems from my background in music, initially through folk music but has progressed into an interest into ideas surrounding deeper listening."

Why do you choose to practise art?

"I think... it stems from a fascination in something, or a set of ideas. What I find is that through the production of work it is a constant 'dissatisfaction' that propels me to want to produce the next thing. And also you never really stop learning, once you do one thing  you realize how little you actually know. I think how this expands from the studio to society is that I try to create these contemplative moments, for people to engage with one some level - to think about existence." 

“I try to create these contemplative moments, for people to engage with on some level - to think about existence.”


What do these three words mean for you? 

"It's kind of poetic... You have the action of belief, you have the action of being and there two actions that in some sense can also contradict themselves. The action of belief requires some form of doubt, but the denial of the doubt also strengthens it. In perhaps a pessimistic sense, it is a process of denial that propels you to do or see something more, I guess. Being is more of a state of existence - a reality -stability... the ground of reality. And the In-between means it’s self in the literal sense. So, if you look at those three words, I don't feel one is more important than the other, as the exist simultaneously." 

How long have you been interested in pursuing art? 

"One could say forever... like since the moment of my birth. This might seem quite narcissistic to hold but in some sense it's true. From the moment of birth you're automatically building your thoughts of the world... learning through filtered things and its interesting seeing the difference between was we filter and what we don't. 

In terms of practice, however, I have been engaged with music since 2008 and then in 2013 I started Studio Arts at High School that got the thinking going, and then in 2015 I started at VCA. 

I think a career in art has a multiple number of stages to it, along the journey different things will trigger other things..." 

As an artist, what inspires you?

"[As discussed a bit earlier ] Where it comes from for me is, dealing with a certain consciousness that is internal... an internal philosophical thought, that isn't necessarily rationalised. Innately it is the tension that I have felt, at times, between my interior and exterior consciousness and in most ways its informing that sense of philosophy. 



“ internal philosophical thought, that isn’t necessarily rationalised.”

Below is a snapshot into Nick's gallery.... 


What areas of art and what artists do you look at for inspiration? 

"The areas of conceptual art which fascinate me are conceptual romanticism and site specificity. People like James Turrell, Olafur Eliason, Bill Viola and Robert Smithson... all who deal with ideas of the beyond and modalities of perception, the virtual and existentialism." 

What do you have coming up? 

"I had my first solo show in August 2016 and I have a show coming up in September at the Mailbox Art Space and a group show in the VCA Art Space in May." 

If you're interested in learning more about Nick
Follow him on Instagram: @nickjarcher
Like him on Facebook: Nick James Archer