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?
Artist James Turrell, pioneer of using light as an art medium, once said “Seeing is a very sensuous act“. Charles Matson Lume follows Turrell’s influential path, adding his own sculptural, material and architectural elements to his light works. Though the two have distinct differences, Lume’s idea that “Light is seemingly capable of releasing a kind of secret from the ordinary” holds many similarities to Turrell’s artistic philosophy.
The Twin Cities-based Lume spoke with Beautiful/Decay on the eve of being named to the ArtPrize Shortlist for 3D Works for his piece, The World’s An Untranslatable Language II (for Charles Wright) (pictured above). Using pedestals of plastic warning tapes, as well as neon duct tape, mirrored paper reflects light onto the gallery’s walls, creating the alluring forms and patterns which are the spirit of Lume’s work. The artist adds, “Yes, the light is elemental in my work. However, the materials hold meaning. For me, the pas du deux of light and materials mirrors my experience in the world.”
This relationship between the materials and the light itself is interesting, as it is the artist’s main medium, yet is given more conceptual heft with the importance placed in the ephemeral materials used to support the light works themselves. Many of Lume’s ideas are broadened (and also named after) his interest in contemporary poetry, but the artist quickly adds, “I am interested in visual pleasure, the sensual, and experiential. I am also interested in what distracts us (Is there anything in our culture that isn’t vying for our attention?) What gets in the way of really living a full life? Art allows me to find gestures in which I can sometimes access a kind of authenticity that is true.”
Visual artist Jennifer Davis is well-known on the internet for her whimsical and imaginative drawings and paintings (previously here). But in one of her latest series, Davis takes her trademark renderings and has paired them with an unlikely match, paper shooting targets.
In a conversation with Beautiful/Decay, the Minneapolis-based artist explains the history of the series, starting with inspiration for a printed target seen in an architecture/lifestyle magazine. “…I learned that I could get enormous packs of different colored targets from a gun shop for under $20. I started off thinking more about the symbolism of guns/violence/innocent victims/”badguys”/etc. (one of the first targets I made was called “Riddled”- I cut an intricate pattern of tiny holes all over the target.)” Davis then began using the colored paper targets as a base, decorating them with hand-drawn and painted intricately unique characters.The series evolved as Davis began taking commissions and painting other people’s ideas and applying them to the targets. “I started doing a lot of commissions, which morphed the way I was thinking about them. It is a fun exercise for me to paint someone else’s vision- it has stretched the way I think about the targets. I no longer relate them only to violence. I think about each one differently and it is interesting for me to play with adding whimsy or beauty to such a symbol. I am transforming them into something new.”
Twin brothers Trevor and Ryan Oakes create works which investigate and analyze perspective, perception and the shapes that are intrinsically connected to the way we view the world around us. In addition to incredibly-detailed renderings on curved paper, the brothers Oakes create particularly interesting sculptural works from metaphorically-loaded materials, like the matchstick sculptures pictured above.
Though made from simple materials, their construction was anything but. The Colorado-born, New York-based artist’s match sculptures were difficult to create, as the review in Ignant documents, the “first form was a small grid of matchsticks which curved in two directions to become a portion of the surface of a sphere. After that, they set out on building an entire dome, starting with a ring of matches on a table surface upon which additional rings were stacked. The form didn’t quite want to emerge into a dome though unless a small amount of space was manually added between the match heads. Curiosity eventually caught them an they began to look for a form that would emerge if they didn’t manually space the heads and let the matches truly guide their own behavior. A sea-shell-like spiral unexpectedly emerged.”
The Oakes describe the shapes created from the matchsticks as a reflection of naturally developing forms. “Forms that occur naturally predicated upon simple rules, or building codes; in this case placing one matchstick next to another and allowing the fact that as the head is a slightly different width than the stick, a form will occur naturally.”
The sculptures possess an immediate cultural recognition being made from commonly used objects, and are given more weight when thousands of them are collected together. But they also hold a seductive energy because the inherent reactive possibilities of the materials. Matchsticks immediately insinuate fire, and collected matchsticks offer the potential for a chain-reaction, a possibility which adds to the idea of power in great numbers. (via Ignant)
Belgian artist Nick Ervinck‘s work is a divergent collection of the physical and the digital: by employing computer design techniques with a singular vision to make sculptural works new and exciting, Ervinck turned to 3D printed sculptures for his gallery works and comes out the other side creating works of singular focus, applicability and immediacy.
Says Ervinck on his website’s artist statement, “I have always been fascinated by how art has developed due to the use of new materials and techniques. Somewhat disappointed in contemporary sculpture and it’s lack of renewal, I turned towards architecture, applied sciences and new media, in order to elaborate a new language generated by computer software, and to compose forms and designs that were unthinkable in all those years before.”
While many of his works contain a quality that derives from ““Using copy paste techniques in a 3D software environment, I derive images, shapes and textures from different sources: basilicas, corals, dinosaurs, cottages, Rorschach inkblots, Chinese rocks and trees, manga, twelfth-century floral wallpaper, anatomical parts…”, perhaps most interesting in Ervinck’s work is his particular interest in the future possibilities and practical uses of the 3-Dimensional printing medium. In works such as the AGRIEBORZ series (pictured above), Ervinck worked closely with medical scientists to create realistic reproductions of the details of the human body in the fledgling bio-printing industry. He has openly remarked that he hopes that his artistic concerns and sculptures will eventually fuel scientific inspiration to continue research into the realms of human potential. (via MELT)
The works São Paulo-based Odires Mlászho hinge on transformations, often employing books, found images, tape, paste and collage. The Brazilian artist’s name is even a work of transmutation. Born José Odires Micowski, Mlászho created his artist pseudonym by borrowing from and combining the names of his two great influences, Max Ernst and László Moholy-Nagy. In a description taken from an insightful studio visit with Goethe-Institut, the following is perhaps the best description of the artist’s working process. “In Odires Mlászho’s work, objects are photos, texts are images, books are sculptures: nothing occupies its original place in the world. With his work the artist proves that things are not such as defined in the way we tend to believe and that after destruction objects can be re-created and reused in a total different way. His work offers us the possibility of entering a world with a completely new kind of perception: it is our world, all the original elements are there, but this world is truly and deeply transformed.
For works which Mlászho debuted earlier this summer at ‘Inside/Outside’ at the Venice Art Biennale 2013, he weaved individual pages of books until they were connected and bound in an entirely new way. Created with fellow Brazilian artist, Hélio Fervenza, the book sculptures rely on an intricate twisting of possibilities which are visually engrossing and immediately approachable, a difficult feat considering the complex theories behind the work.
The lush, vibrant colored pencil drawings of Joe Sinness portray screen and stage stars, queer icons, and online erotica submitters, combining them with antique or thrift store items, flowers and jewels to create carefully constructed tableaus. The technical ability of the Minneapolis-based artist is what one immediately notices, and it is only after that the viewer must attempt to make sense of the laboriously drawn scene before them.
Sinness creates each still-life by hand before photographing and then meticulously executing them with Prismacolor pencils. “I want each still life to have a visual richness or lushness to highlight and celebrate the figures or kitsch objects presented (and I use the term ‘kitsch’ with the utmost seriousness)”.In works like the Shining Indiscretions triptych (seen above), Sinness created a loose mythology which the work is based on, but does not depend upon. Titled from a Tennesse Williams quote (“All good art is an indiscretion.”), Sinness built hundreds of scenes imagining what a queer,flamboyant spirit such as Williams might physically look like, eventually settling on a triptych of shapes formed from gold lamé. The triumph of this triptych is that the viewer most certainly does not need to know this backstory to enjoy the work, because the images are so visually striking and meditative that they speak for themselves. However, they also have a strong conceptual intention and purpose which informs the work for those who wish to dig deeper.
Sinness continues, “I am interested in how objects and people seeking fame become consumable products, a paradox that sees their artistic endeavors pursuing immortality become disposable and commodified. My imagery and subjects are first looted and then loved… In mining these subjects and devotedly recasting them together in shrine-like still lifes, they are given new life in narratives which mirror their subject’s original aspiration and desire for fame and immortality.”
The fascinating possibilities of 3D printing are getting bigger, particularly with the unveiling of one of the most ambitious printed projects yet, the Baroque-by-way-of-Bitmapped sculpture titled Digital Grotesque. Conceived by architects Michael Hansmeyer and Benjamin Dillenburger, the duo claim their project is the world’s first 3D printed room. Computer algorithms designed most of the structure’s 260 million surfaces, which were printed in sections using a composite sand and binding agent to create a sandstone-like material. When each 4 meter tall, 1 meter wide and 3 meter deep sections were manually placed, the enclosure measures 16 feet and weighs a staggering 11 tons.
According to their website, the architects believethat “New materials and fabrication methods have historically led to radical changes in architectural design. They have indeed been the primary drivers in its evolution. Today, additive manufacturing heralds a revolution in fabrication for design. Yet in architecture, this technology has up to now been used only for small scale models. Digital Grotesque takes additive manufacturing technology to a true architectural scale. Not a small model is printed, but the actual room itself.”
Perhaps most compelling from an art perspective (or at least an art-historical perspective) is the logical conclusion the duo’s project makes. “The Digital Grotesque project opens the door to the printing of architecture. It suggests that 3D sandstone printing can be applied both to restoring historic buildings and to constructing new ones.” One can only imagine the possibilities that this technology will yield for museum research, archaeological recreation, and art exhibitions in the coming decades. (via oddly_even)