Rumours have been heating up in recent months of a new digital dawn in town. So far spotted in Brighton, Shoreham and London – these are the works and manifestations of the infamous Artful Bodgers. From sharks at Shoreham Harbour to a virtual visit to No.10, it seems no subject or place is off-limits to this new wave of artistic bodrification.
Now we at Brighton Journal are on a quest to uncover the artists who’ve been digitally mashing the streets of Brighton. Enter the Artful Bodgers in person – AB1 (Matt Whistler) and AB2 (Archi Ram). With exhibitions and performances in the UK and across the pond, Matt Whistler is the public face of the duo. After finding success with his digital art robot exhibition at the infamous Hotel Pelirocco Brighton, he was duly talent-scouted to exhibit at the Robot Hotel in Manhattan. Whistler also holds three world records – all relating to escapades on a push scooter, naturally. His cover song of the 60s track, ‘Surfin’ Bird’ by The Trashmen went to number 3 in the UK Charts in 2010.
Meanwhile Archi Ram is an anonymous yet prolific second member of the team whose art, life and successes remain mysterious. Ab2’s enigmatic adventures remain firmly concealed beneath his hat.
In true bodger spirit, the gents arrange an exclusive Bjournal interview at the Robin Hood pub in Hove. Here you can find their whimsical appeal to the denizens of Brighton to appreciate their concept of digital art as it stands in 2018.
After a quick introduction and a kind offer of Guinness, I grab my pen and attempt to decipher and pen their responses. It’s at this point I realise that I require an ink tank. To say that these guys are a pool of streaming consciousness is the biggest understatement of 2018. I hit them with my first question as they sat there resplendent in glittering top hats, ready to discuss Bodge World.
The Artful Bodgers have been creating digital mash-ups of the streets of Brighton and beyond. So, to clarify, what is the art of bodrification?
AB: Bodrification is to digitally send any form of visual content to a friend or collaborator. The receiver
artistically changes the visual content without any creative restriction and sends it back to the sender. This can either mean still or moving images. Bodgers are modern day penpals who embrace and encourage mutual artistic admiration through digital global exchange.
You’re both established artists in your own right. How does your concept of digital art play its part in a city brimming with galleries and artists?
AB: Well we bring fun first! We’re not all tortured souls and just because we use fun as an ethos this doesn’t mean we are not serious about exploring new art challenges.
I haphazardly place a beer mat on my head to impersonate an abstract shark and the Artful Bodgers fall about the place laughing.
So, the Shoreham shark spectacle, which went viral on social media. What responses did you receive?
AB: This was an art prank that resulted in hundreds of responses on Facebook. Responses varied from Photoshop analysts conspiratorially dissecting the legitimacy of such a caper, to fearmongers and residents being too scared to go for a swim.
I suddenly felt as though I was sitting with a couple of mad hatters from Alice in wonderland. The Guinness was taking over so I quickly proceeded to the next stage.
What subjects particularly inspire you both to create an Artful Bodger mash up?
AB: Its a process that unfolds through experience. The less we plan the more art unfolds. It’s funny because
Artful Bodger 1 told me he did actually abseil down the i360, but because everyone is becoming accustomed to
digital manipulation they assume it’s just a prank.
The Bodgers went on to explain that exploring multi-dimensional realms in a digital world is limitless, at which point someone walked into the Robin Hood pub dressed as a bunny rabbit collecting money for charity.
If you could digitally bodgify any famous subject in time who and how you would you approach?
(They both respond simultaneously like art twins) Why you of course Kat, you’re the best interviewer we’ve ever had!
Blushes! I pay them later with crackers! Time was running out as a drunken hen party enters the pub dressed as elks. Quick off the mark, AB2 immerses himself in taking photos of the rowdy group for digital bodgrification. I quickly fire out my remaining questions before we all potentially disappear into a pub vortex.
And If you could digitally teleport to any space and time, who would you be and why?
AB: I would teleport back to my negotiations for a bank loan and majorly up the figure.
In the world of artful bodgery, what can we look forward to in 2018 or is that privileged information?
AB: This bodgery started out as fun and still remains so, but bizarrely enough the press love our cheeky ways
and tomfoolery. Even the top hats we wear weren’t our idea. A theatrical prop maker called Red contacted
us to say she had made just the thing for us. The story is unfolding every day.
The hen party girls starts singing Spice Girls songs. It is time to wrap up the interview so we end by asking….
For our readers or fans who’d like to meet and greet The Artful Bodgers, how would they spot the Bodgers of Brighton town?
AB: They will see top hats with any number of slick suits concealing tester pots and brushes for spontaneous bodging. Our top hats are in-lined with duck down cotton because well erm, we’re always ducking down in doorways.
The Artful Bodgers are currently taking commissions to artfully bodgify self-portraits online (alongside a gripping offer to be digitally abducted to outer space by aliens).
© All Rights Reserved 2018 – The Artful Bodgers – Archi Ram + Matt Whistler