This article was originally published in the fourth issue of VIA Noke Magazine, printed in Roanoke, Virginia in March 2013.
Written by Celine Anderson
When I sat down to interview Roanoke based artist, Matt Ames, he presented me with a short and hilarious animation of his friend, Warren Fry, violently eating a sandwich. Jokes such as this are one of the many characteristics that make up Matt Ames. A tall, bearded man with thick-rimmed glasses, Ames began to tell me about his experiences with Philosophy Inc. and the Marginal Arts Festival.
Philosophy Inc. began as a website hobby but has now grown into a passion for artist Ames. He founded Philosophy Inc., to be an organization that studies Roanoke through photography and video. Humor is one of the things that make Philosophy Inc. an appealing organization to art enthusiasts and average spectator alike. Even the title of the organization itself, Philosophy Inc. suggests jokes about business and capitalism.
Philosophy Inc. creates an enthusiastic and friendly motivating impetus to learn more about the city that we live in. When asked about Roanoke’s art community, Ames responded by saying, “normal people get just as excited about art as artists do.” Through the videos, photography and other various projects of Philosophy Inc., he claims that Roanokers are able to look at their town from a variety of perspectives.
Philosophy Inc.’s most recent project of restoring the S.W. Virginia Commodore Inn sign is a perfect example of what the organization stands for: remembering Roanoke’s past: and taking note of what it is today. The sign holds value for him because it stood over the bar where his grandfather would go to get a drink after work, and was located just around the corner from where Ames grew up. Acknowledging signs from places that cultivate a regional, social culture, such as the Commodore, is important for Roanoke as a whole he claims . Ames calls the sign, “a beautiful piece of history that is worth preserving.”
One of Philosophy Inc.’s earliest involvements with the Marginal Arts Festival was its exhibit at the Taubman Museum of Art, Philosophy Inc. Probes Roanoke (2011). This exhibit featured maps of Roanoke created by local artists and a “Most Boring Photographs of Roanoke” contest. Philosophy Inc.’s involvement in the 2013 Marginal Arts Festival will take place in the Boxley building, on Jefferson Street. For a time, rooms in that building will serve as Philosophy Inc.’s very own office and the headquarters for a collaborative research project. This will include an accumulation of photos and observations circling around Roanoke, Virginia. Stop by and visit Matt from March 25 -29 and participate in his research pro-ject, or check out his other projects and videos on his website, www.philosophyinc.com