NAWLZ is an online interactive comic book by Australian artist Stu Campbell (Sutu). What I liked about this project is that it combines the concept of new media art and storytelling. He uses text, illustration, music, animation and interactive juxtaposed imagery and animation to unfold the story. It’s quite an interactive comic book and in a way requires the reader to be attentive as in order to move forward in the story you need to move around the page and find the next tab. It creates an environment that in itself becomes part of a new genre in stroytelling when we are seeing more often the crossover between art, technology and interactivity.
Nicholas Hlobo is a South African artist based in Johannesburg whose work often revolves around the idea of duality, especially as seen in the South African Xhosa culture. The contrast between feminine and masculine sexuality is of special interest to Hlobo, as well as “comfort, shelter, protection, beauty, cleanliness, sacred space, pleasure and fantasy.” An intense collection of work that gracefully explores some of humanity’s founding instincts.
The work of Miller Rodriguez, a.k.a Pretty Puke, is photographic foray into the raunchy underbelly of LA’s nightlife. An encounter with his work is often an experience of knee-jerk repulsion, followed by a driving curiosity; it is not uncommon to see people urinating in dark alleyways, devouring fast food, vomiting, or expressing themselves in shamelessly hypersexual ways, but you can’t stop looking. And even though his technique may initially seem lo-fi, this is part of his distinct style and brand: to present raw, unedited, unglamorous life by hyperbolically representing the experiences and vices relevant to today’s urban youth — those of Generations Y and Z.
When I spoke with Miller about his work, he was a bit vague. As a voyeur to insanity and subversion, so much of his creative identity is founded on a need to remain aloof; even his photo captions are encrypted with what has been accurately described as “an other-worldly hip-hop vernacular” (Source). He did, however, provide me with some glimmering shards of insight into his political and artistic goals, which add new dimensions and interpretive possibilities to his dark repertoire. His perspective on Generation Y (and Z) is particularly illuminating, in that he views their forms of (mis)behavior as symptomatic of their uniquely digitized upbringings, in addition to the reproachful influence of older generations:
“Gen Y lives on the internet, in an entirely different universe. We communicate and express ourselves online in a completely different sphere that older people aren’t aware of. […] Older generations may look down on Generation Y for being too obsessed with technology/internet, too sexually deviant, too entitled, but they are the ones who made us who we are. […] They raised us, and created the shitty economic situation in which we have come of age, and this is the result.”
In many ways, Pretty Puke can be seen as the “found footage” for Generations Y and Z. And even though it seems to only represent a small section of LA-based youth, his work appeals to people across various subcultures as a greater visualization of dissidence.
What makes Miller’s work even more engaging is his approach towards body image, or what he identifies as the “ugly aesthetic”:
“I want to create a world with people who aren’t flawless. […] I don’t have a reaction to perfection. I’m an advocate for the ‘ugly.’ I’m exaggerating and holding up a mirror to showcase how silly we are for making everything look perfect. We all have flaws, and that’s what interests me.”
Photography is often a medium wherein the subject is groomed, propped, and airbrushed to a level of unattainable, hyper-real perfection; for Miller, this artificial manipulation of the body is “more degrading than what [he’s] doing.” He continues: “The fact that you’re carving into a person via Photoshop is mind-blowing to me. I use shitty equipment so I don’t veil the flaws in my subjects. I want to see them how they are.” The moments of cultural rebellion he presents, then, are not only signified by unintelligible and obscene behaviors, but also by the bodies themselves, written on the skin as deviations of “perfection” and conformity.
Check out Pretty Puke on his Tumblr-based website and Instagram, and follow his burgeoning, self-titled genre of stimulating and ephemeral photography. As his sociological insights reveal, his work is open to interpretation and analysis. And if you have contentions with his forms of representation and/or the politics behind them, you are encouraged to express them; the purpose and power of Pretty Puke is to provoke and engage — and not to simply placate.
The artwork of James Payne is a visceral microcosm of xerox fuzz and highlighter smears. He is currently the co-curator of the seminal midwest noise space and art gallery; Skylab, has had a chap book of his poetry published by Monster House Press entitled “Austerity Pleasures”, is the lead singer of the punk band Lose the Tude, and continues to self publish a myriad of zines, comics, and exhibition catalogues.
Dissolving Europe is the latest public art intervention series by Berlin-based street artist Vermibus. Using a hacked inter-rail ticket, he has been traveling Europe with an extensive set of billboard-lock keys, using them to illegally access print billboards and advertisement frames. Once opened, he uses various solvents and paints to alter the images, sometimes removing them entirely, and even cutting and pasting others. this process destroys and beautifies, blurring the already transgressive line of advert-hacking public art interventions. The artist states, “By using the advertising space and how the human figures are represented in that space, Vermibus is removing the masks that we wear and is criticizing advertisement which takes away a person’s identity to replace it by the one of the brand.”
Continued from his website, documenting the process, “Vermibus regularly collects advertising posters from the streets, using them in his studio as the base material for his work. There, a process of transformation begins. Using solvent, he brushes away the faces and flesh of the models appearing in the posters as well as brand logos. Once the transformation is complete, he then reintroduces the adverts back into their original context, hijacking the publicity, and its purpose.” (via lizartblog)
Polish artist Olek not only treats her crochet practice as an art form, but also as a catalyst for social change, or at least political and societal commentary. As a part of the St+art Delhi street festival in Delhi, she chose a homeless shelter to decorate with her colorful and energetic woolen pieces. Enlisting the help of fashion design labels in India to not only donate fabric and materials to her community project, but also volunteering helpers, she was able to cover a huge space. Paying homage to India’s infamous textile economy and bright culture, Olek stitches vivid patterns of purples, blues, reds, yellows and oranges together.
She normally recreates anything in stitches that crosses her way – from text messages to medical reports to found objects; she has even covered an entire studio apartment and a life-size dinosaur with her signature crochet. She says of her intention behind her work:
My work changes from place to place. I studied the science of culture. With a miner’s work ethic, I long to delve deeper and deeper into my investigations. My art was a development that took me away from industrial, close-minded Silesia, Poland. It has always sought to bring color and life, energy, and surprise to the living space. I intend to take advantage of living in NYC with various neighborhoods and, with my actions, create a feedback to the economic and social reality in our community. (Source)
Always working with the public in the back of her mind, Olek has produced work in some pretty interesting settings, from Brazil to Brooklyn, and for some interesting causes. For more of her projects, see here. (Via Hi Fructose)
Argentine based photographer Mariela Sancari‘s series Moisés, acts as an ode to the traditional type of portrait takenof men in their 70’s, the age her deceased father would have been if he were still alive today. After her father’s death, the artist and her twin sister we denied the chance to see his body. She was never sure if it “was because he committed suicide or because of Jewish religious beliefs or both.” In the artist’s statement, she refers to a concept in thanatology (the study of death and practices associated with it) which asserts that when one does not encounter the dead body of a loved one, the lack of visual association prevents the ability to accept their death. Hence, not having the definitive proof of said death aids denial, one of the most complicated stages of grief. Referring to the Baudrillard quote “photography is our exorcism,” Mariela Sancari uses her photographs to play out the fantasy of her attached denial — she uses her portraits to create a fictionalized version of her father. She states;
“I once read that fiction´s primary task is to favor evolution, forcing us to acknowledge and become the otherness around us. I think fiction can help us depict the endless reservoir of the unconscious, allowing us to represent our desires and fantasies.”
Michael Mapes Boxed collages house thousands of individual specimens consisting of dissected photographs and biographical DNA in the form of such things as hair, finger nails, scent, eye lashes, fingerprints, food, botanical elements, fabric swatches, makeup, dirt, handwriting samples and breath. The human specimens reflect the artist’s interest in the role of creative science as lab threatens to supplant studio in his own work. Representations of the specimen are dissected and then reconstructed through artistic interpretation invoking entomological, forensic and artistic methods. (via)