Surveillance continues to be an inspiration and investigation for artists and designers in the second decade of the new millennium. Taking a decidedly sunnier, DIY-approach, two French designers created an Etsy shop called Filez Doux to continue this exploration through cardboard art. Crafting and selling handmade versions of surveillance cameras made from discarded cardboard, Filez Doux say they are inspired by the pervasiveness of security culture. Although their real names are partially hidden by their moniker, the Lille-based duo (whose real names are listed as Sylvain and Hélène) create works which avoid the typically-negative tone of most work focusing on the encroaching surveillance state.
Beginning the series by playfully creating a light-post made of cardboard for their apartment, the duo began to look around their streets for another inspiration to replicate with used materials. Settling on a security camera, there was seemingly little message behind the first camera created. As the duo explains, “The first one Sylvain made was very realistic and bigger than an actual camera. At first, it was strange to have it in the living room. I sometimes caught myself glancing at it, as if it could be a real one spying on us. Before we knew it, there were 2, 3, then 4 security cameras! Some serious, some fun, some small, some big.” Each camera takes roughly ten hours to complete, and each is a singular construction, as the duo never reuses a design.
Although they lightly suggest otherwise (an asterisk to their name informs visitors to “keep a low profile“), Filez Doux seem more infused with energy from the re-purposed material and the meticulous replications of their work rather than the social commentary. However, it is evident that surveillance is becoming a larger, more widespread issue if popular culture can so easily recognize and reference the camera as ubiquitous and inescapable in our daily lives. (via junk culture & etsy)
Megan Mosholder creates work from the simplest materials, and then illuminates the installations to give the work a unique visual depth and a lasting sensory experience. Mosholder explains, “My practice is centered around site-responsive, sculptural installations that emphasize obscured elements within recognizable objects. Through the utilization of materials such as light, twine, eyelets and wood, I articulate space and present a multi-sensory experience.”
In her work, Support and Seizure (above), the Ohio-born, Brooklyn-based artist immersed herself in the history of the buildings during her Wassaic Artist Residency. By installing to a former livestock auction space, Mosholder visually connects the past of the local’s agrarian history to the current artist residents. The artist says, “I was interested in the revival of the Wassaic, once a forgotten hamlet plagued with home foreclosures. Many of the community members told me how happy they were that the residency was in existence because it brought new life and interest to the area.”
In her previous work Gossamer (below), nylon cord is hand-painted with light-reactive, glow in the dark paint and blacklit to create a radiant blue field of three-dimensional lines. Installed underneath a Hilton Head Island, South Carolina barn, the work was the artist’s largest to date. Built of 15,000 feet of nylon cord, 2000 screw eyes, and taking over 150 hours to construct, Mosholder responds to the utilitarian construct and architectural forms of the site. Explaining that there is more to each piece than just the visual stimulation, viewers should also understand the creative reaction to the implied histories of the building. “These “three-dimensional drawings” bind the social and literal landscape and reawaken for a moment the simple intrigue of looking. They are a visual dialogue about movement, time and dimension and encourage the viewer to appreciate spaces for what they are but also examine their hidden meanings.” (via designboom)
Ellen Jantzen‘s newest photoseries, Disturbing The Spirits, explores the photographers recent interest in the healing power of nature. In her series’ statement, the St. Louis-born photographer questions, “As human actions impact the natural environment, can artists heal nature? Does art bring “special powers” to the table? If so, what are they? What is ‘art’? What is ‘nature’? What needs healing?”
Focusing on the cameras ability to record fleeting elements of natural elements, Jantzen hopes to bring attention and connection to our environment, often represented in the series by trees. The artist explains, “In “Disturbing the Spirits” I am using imagery to convey my feelings about the state of nature, the nature of trees, and how to express their connection to past, present and future.” The added element of digital manipulation, pulling the image into sheets of linear veils both obscures the focus, yet creates an alluring, gossamer magnetism.Jantzen continues, “By obscuring a portion of the image through a veil, I strive to heighten the remaining reality through discovery and reflection.” The work is made more convincing by using these digital aftereffects, bringing attention to the necessary connection (and beauty) possible when both human and nature coexist.
Although many of the photos present human-altered versions of bucolic landscapes, forests and watery reflections, Jantzen’s work does not seem to say that the natural world is perfection. Rather, the images she depicts are impermanent, and simply reconnecting with nature is not a remedy to our human condition. Instead, the transience (if respected and protected) is the beauty, and will continue to regenerate forever if allowed. Jantzen acknowledges this, stating “(trees) are seen as powerful symbols of growth, decay and resurrection….a tree’s longevity can lull us into a false sense of immortality. It is this very impermanence that I long to understand through my photographic explorations. There is an ineffable natural beauty…. too great to be expressed or described in words.” (via lancia trendvisions)
Adam Harvey is an award-winning designer and technologist whose work deals with the increasingly relevant topics of surveillance, computing identity and personal privacy. Harvey, whose projects combine fashion and product design, computing science and programming, takes an artist’s approach to problem-solving – identifying a problem, developing experiments and possible solutions, and learning any number of skills to fabricate and achieve a solution that calls into question the nature of the problem.
Harvey, whose company ahprojects is based in Brooklyn, New York explains,”I became interested in spoofing and camouflage when cameras metamorphosed from art making tools into enablers of surveillance societies. This happened gradually over the last decade starting with the Patriot Act in 2001. To me, this document marked the beginning of the end of photography as I knew it from art history books.”
Vlad Tenu is an architect and designer based in London whose work is inspired by complex (yet minimal) naturally occurring patterns and spontaneous creation. In his structural series, Synthetic Nature, the Romanian-born artist explore how “the molecular behavior of soap bubbles informs the research method, which involves nature inspired algorithms and geometric constraints.” By utilizing organically-influenced repeating surfaces, which can be reshaped and added onto, his sculptural works could theoretically expand endlessly.
Resembling soap bubbles, honeycombs, seed pods, and other innumerable repeating and interconnecting shapes found in nature, the additive qualities of the work makes their shape completely adaptable, a final form which is limitless. The paradox of Synthetic Nature is that the process, materials and design is all aided or done entirely by computerized systems, thus removing the connection between the influence of organic happenstance and automatic construction. At the same time, the geometries and algorithms that create the work are repeating systems, obeying laws similar to those seen in nature itself.
Synthetic Nature (which is currently on display at London’s Surface_Gallery, through October 18th, 2013) fully explores this connection, parallel and paradox. Tenu, who often replies to the work as a ‘species’ (insinuating a type or categorization) uses more artistic methods, which he combines with his design and architecture background. The artist explains “Synthetic Nature is an instance of my explorative research into spatiality, scale and materiality; all with deep roots in my architectural background. The work has transcended those levels by creating artifacts that are interpretable and adaptable to anything from jewellery, fashion, product design and interiors, architecture to fine art. Algorithmic and geometrical concepts generate surface to volume morphologies that are blurring the boundaries between ‘inside’ and ‘outside’, between ‘solid’ and ‘transparent’ or between ‘natural’ and ‘synthetic’ – blended into abstract hybrid species.” (via design boom)
Michael Gaughan represents a new breed of hyper-creative talents whose work spans an absurd amount of media. Known for a variety of projects (including city-wide scavenger hunts, his chat-roulette in a mock-dorm room rapping identity Ice Rod, and for renting out his apartment for couples needing a romantic getaway on Valentine’s Day), Gaughan creates with an almost child-like glee. Despite the playfulness in the work, however, there is a sophistication and consistency that separates it from most. This is particularly evident in his highly-technical watercolor paintings, where art-world in-jokes exist seamlessly with pop-culture rimshots. In an exclusive talk with Beautiful/Decay, Gaughan summarizes his motivations, “Humor is not my main medium, but definitely a consistent theme in my life and my artwork. I think that putting yourself out there in a vulnerable way is really uncomfortable and nerve-racking. It is a lot easier to do things as a joke rather than take yourself seriously, and simultaneously I am equally motivated by the possibility of brightening up someone else’s day. I ultimately want to bring joy to other people.”
Gaughan’s work references “(art) history…obscenity, pop culture, absurdity, personal experiences, fears, feelings, misunderstandings, language, human experience, and creativity as well. Skate culture is great too!” When asked about the obvious amount of time spent on each work compared to the relatively short amount of time to elicit a humorous response (and if that adds to the joke), Gaughan responds, “Ha ha I hope so. It is also important to remember that punchlines can stay with you… Just because the audience can “get it” in seconds, doesn’t mean that they won’t revisit again it in their mind. I think art-work that takes longer to understand doesn’t necessarily mean that people will remember any longer than something that took only a second to get...”
The geometric paintings of Francesco Lo Castro are made from a time-consuming layering process that combines acrylic, spraypaint, occasional silkscreen and layered epoxy resin to create dynamic explorations of shape and form. This process is so intuitive that the artist says, “Geometry is just a word; it’s an aesthetic. There’s no math involved in it.”
The Italian-born, South Florida artist begins his work layering angular, taped-off shapes painted with aerosol and coated with a layer of epoxy resin. This layer is then sanded down, as is every successive layer, until the piece is finished. This process can take up to a month of 12-hour days to complete, according to an interview with New Times. Explaining his work, Lo Castro says “To me, these paintings represent our entire universe. These shapes are atoms. They are galaxies. They are representational of all that combined. They all represent evolving structures that are constantly in flux and ideas that are constantly clashing with each other. And with these clashes, new ideas arise, and we evolve through them. We have billions of people finally waking up and networking with each other; even if we don’t speak the same language, we are getting to know ourselves in the process for the first time. This kind of communication hasn’t happened before.”
Lo Castro expands this point in the interview, explaining that the former lowbrow arts movement star turned to his current geometric style as an evolution – one which mirrors humanities’ own path towards singularity. The artist o notes that his own work has found an international community thanks to technology and internet exposure, and also because of the geometric aesthetic that we can all share. Lo Castro continues, “I think geometry found me, because all you have are these colors and shapes. No matter what your age, your culture, or language you speak, everyone can jump in.” (via coolhunter and broward-palm beach new times)
Some time ago, The Postnational Monitor, a personal blog focused on “a wide variety of topics to include, but not limited to history, population genetics, and sociology” posted dozens of composite photos of varying geological and ethnic populations, creating an average face for each category. While most categories are a simple comparison, some are surprising social findings, such as the average Indian Female and Indian Male, compared to the average Bollywood Stars, pictured above.
While obviously interesting from a ‘population genetics’ (no sarcasm meant – simply clarifying the author’s, and not this writer’s, term) and anthropology standpoints, the pictures are certainly more novelty than profound statement. However, the composites do resemble more serious artworks by other artists, which begs the question: At what point does machine or computer-created photographic manipulation become art?