On the Couch with Sam Leach

Sam Leach Arts Review On the CouchWho is Sam Leach?
I am a Melbourne based artist, father of two daughters, Phoebe and Astrid, husband of Emma, dilettante.

What would you do differently to what you do now?
Well at the moment I’m on a train, so I guess it would be healthier to be on a bicycle. More generally, I’d like to to do what I do in a bigger studio.

Who inspires you and why?
I’m mainly inspired by science and science fiction. Currently I’m very interested in the work of Dr Mandyam Srinivasan, a neuroscientist specializing in animal cognition, especially bees and budgerigars. His research tests how these animals visually navigate their environment and he applies his findings to the design of semi-autonomous biomimetic robots. I find his approach to understanding these non-human umwelts endlessly fascinating, and the technological applications resonate with my love of science fiction.

What would you do to make a difference in the world?
This depends on the parameters. If I have omnipotence I might do some fine tuning of the human mind to correct a couple of settings that seem to be off. More prosaically, probably a reconsideration of the values of socialism is overdue. Or perhaps we could implement Latour’s suggestion that in parliaments we should always have a spokesperson for then non-human: someone to consider and advocate for non-human interests.

Favourite holiday destination and why?
The most fun I’ve had was a trip to Venice a couple of years ago. I had some work in a collateral event of the biennale so we took the whole family and rented a beautiful apartment. Even though the canals, gondolas and palazzos seem almost cliched, the city is beautiful enough to defeat cynicism and just be utterly charming. Watching my daughters play in the car-free piazzas while Emma and I ate leisurely lunches was really great.

When friends come to town, what attraction would you take them to, and why?
Since I have a studio at home I rarely leave the house. And it is even rarer for me to leave the suburb. So it would have to be an attraction within a few streets of home. Maybe the Brunswick Mess Hall, or the café at Lux foundry. These places have the advantages of being in quite interesting historic buildings as well as having food and drink. I’m getting to like the dog park at the end of my street too.

What are you currently reading?
Kim Stanley Robinson’s New York 2140. KSR is one of my favourite authors. His books always have interesting takes on ecology, recent economic theory, philosophy, art and science. He’s a huge fan of Andy Goldsworthy and there are always a few references to Goldsworthy’s work in any of KSR’s novels. In this book, New York has become a mega-Venice, due to rising sea levels. He looks at the political consequences of that and offers some thoughts about how engineering, social systems and financial structures might evolve in response. I’m also reading The Invisibility Cloak by Ge Fei. As a fairly tragic audiophile I am loving a serious work of literature that name-checks Nordost Red Dawn cables and Clearaudio turntables.

What are you currently listening to?
As I said, I am a tragic audiophile, so specifically I am listening to a pair of Devialet Silver Phantom speakers in the studio and ME Geithain RL 930k speakers in the lounge. As for content, a friend recently put me onto the writings of musicologist Adam Harper who specializes in recent electronic music. As a result I’ve been listening to the back catalogue of the Night Slugs label, along with a lot of PC Music and Vaporwave mixes.

Happiness is?
My favorite time of day is right after I get home from dropping the kids at school when I can spend 30 minutes checking Instagram and cuddling the cat while I mentally prepare for the studio.

What does the future hold for you?
An even better Hifi, maybe? But for now my focus is a couple of really interesting projects I have coming up. I am developing some new work I am developing for a show at Warrnambool which relate to an obsession I have with rocks. And I have started work on a major collaborative project with Dr Srinivasan to be shown next year at Uni SA’s new art/science museum MOD.

Linden New Art will present Sam’s solo exhibition Avian Interplanetary at Domain House, South Yarra from 27 May as part of ART+CLIMATE=CHANGE 2017. For more information, visit: www.lindenarts.org or www.artclimatechange.org for details.

Image: Sam Leach (supplied)