Freedom is what defines an artist’s role in society. It’s both a gift and a responsibility. She’s free to explore whatever creative thread of inquiry that interests her, and abruptly end that inquiry at a whim. He should answer to no one, but respond to what was formerly called an “inner voice” (this might now be thought of as a collective social impulse). The responsibility of the artist is to avoid as much as possible the influence of economic and critical forces.

This is generally impossible and idealistic, but at least it’s an admirable goal. My role models in this regard include Proust’s self-publishing his first volume, Matta-Clark’s futile fight in the last years of his life to move beyond his architectural cuttings, Kubrick’s uncompromising control of his films, and Guston’s radical switch to figuration. There’s no guarantee that this approach will result in successful or meaningful work, but it's the only way to avoid mediocrity.

For me the most influential philosophy is absurdism, as defined by Camus and Kierkegaard. On the surface absurdism may appear pessimistic, but it's actually an optimistically realist philosophy, one that fits well with the American pragmatism of Rorty, Peirce and Dewey. The ideas of this world view have long shaped my work, although for a long time I didn't realize it. My work also often revolves around ideas about cognitive process, perception, cultural and media conditioning, subjectivity, the artistic process, humor and complexity. These ideas influence, but the work isn’t necessarily about any of them.

Whenever I write a new statement, the only entertaining part for me is to list my current influences. For the past few years the list has begun with Martin Kippenberger, and he overshadows everyone else.

Other artists include Gordon Matta-Clark, Thomas Hirschhorn, Paul Thek, Robert Smithson and Ed Ruscha. Writers include Marcel Proust, Albert Camus (especially his essay “The Myth of Sisyphus”), Ludwig Wittgenstein and Haruki Murakami. That’s a pretentious list, so I’ll also mention that I’m a big fan of Seth MacFarlane and I spend much of my time teaching about the History of Animation.