In 1888, Vincent van Gogh severed his left ear with a razor blade—an act that would solidify his reputation in art history as a tortured genius. Last year, in a grim-but-fascinating project titled Sugababe, Dutch artist Diemut Strebe recreated the lost “artifact” as a living replica. She created it using 3D printing and genetic material derived from Lieuwe van Gogh, the great-great-grandson of Vincent’s brother Theo. The ear has been sustained in a nutrient solution, and remarkably, it can hear you; using a microphone, visitors can speak to it, and the sound is processed by a computer that simulates real-time nerve impulses.
The purpose of the project is part science, part literature, part theory. It is an investigation into human replication—can the artist’s essence be reborn, or replaced? Drawing on the Theseus paradox from Plutarch, the ear invokes questions about bioengineering and authenticity. The project’s description on Strebe’s website goes into more detail:
“In the late 1st century Plutarch asked in The Life of Theseus whether a ship, which was restored by replacing all its parts, remained the same ship. In the course of time, many variations of the principle have been described. One of these variations refers to the title of the project. The famous paradox is carried out with biological material making a particular form of human replication, from historical or synthesized material, a central focus of this project. The ear is one of a series of a limited edition, made of different scientific components referring in various ways to the same principle of replacement.” (Source)
Visitors wishing to view this curiosity and “speak” to the deceased artist will be able to see it at the Ronald Feldman Fine Arts’ show Free Radicals, which runs November 7th-December 5th, 2015. (Via The Creators Project)
In 2012, Paris-based photographer Floriane de Lassée was in Ethiopia when she came up with her “How Much Can You Carry?” series. While there, she took notice of the varieties of weight that people would carry above their shoulders. Since Ethiopia, de Lassée has traveled to 6 other countries – Rwanda, Nepal, India, Japan, Indonesia, Bolivia, and Brazil – documenting an even more diverse array of humanity and its essentials. de Lassée says, “‘How Much Can You Carry?'” is above all a tribute to the bearers of life; those whose life is heavy and where smiles and laughter become the key to a livable existence. This series can be read on two levels. The first refers to these modern caryatids; the second, more secret, talks about various weights we all carry, whether physical or psychological (the weight of tradition, education, family, etc).” (via junk culture)
I’m really into these TATE Britain Artist “Shots” lately. All under 5 minutes or less, they’re succinct little vignettes that are informative, yet still short and sweet. Here’s a bite of John Squire, an amazing musician and artist (from my hometown in England of Manchester) who was in the Stone Roses talking about Cy Twombly.
Los Angeles based painter and all around good guy Leo Eguiarte recently updated his site full of hyper colored paintings that will have you feeling like you just took 50 hits of acid. Nice work Leo, keep them coming!
Makena recently concluded her 3 month internship here at the headquarters, and during her stay here contributed a number of excellent blog posts. (You can read her epic anthology here.) Makena wowed us with her Feminist-conceptual essay on PJ Harvey during her interview, and amazed us even further by single handedly re-organizing an entire shelf of thousands B/D back issues. To give you an impression of the monumental nature of this feat, when I asked any and all of our former dude interns to reorganize this shelf for us, they would just look at it, then look at me, shuffle their feet, and mumble to themselves about remembering something else they suddenly had to do. (Sorry dude interns, but you know who you are….feel free to check out the pic of the chick who whooped you above.)
Makena has also compiled some of our most viewed posts, such as her collection of artists who use cut paper in their works or recycled materials. Thanks for all your hard work over the past few months Makena and good luck in your second year at college!
Inspired by a childhood dream to be a rockstar and fueled by a “narcissistic desire to re-embody” himself, innovator Guy Ben-Ary has developed a synthesizer using his own stem cells. The project, titled “cellF,” began with what the artist is calling a “new materialist” quandary: Through using both biological and robotic technologies, what sort of responses can one achieve “in regards to shifting perceptions surrounding understandings of ‘life’ and the materiality of the human body?” Or, in other words, how can one explore one’s biological selfhood via means of a technological interface? Or, even further, how can one “clone” oneself into a robotic entity? And, what does that mean for the purpose of the human body?
The machine acts as a “biological self-portrait,” a literal doubling of the artist that is meant to act and behave as Ben-Ary, using his own cells. After receiving the “Creative Australia Fellowship,” Ben-Ary was able to research and develop his project, which he divided in two parts; the first being to grow his own external “brain,” and the second was the development of the robotic interface that would interact with said brain.
To develop the brain, Ben-Ary gathered his cells through a biopsy of his arm. He then used Induced Pluripotent Stem Cell technology (iPS), a method that manipulates cells back into their embryonic state, which would allow him to “reprogram” the cells.
To development of the robotic interface, he created a machine that would serve as a real time feedback loop between itself and the cells. The robotic interface acted as a sound-producing “body” through an analogue synthesizer that is able to reflect “the complexity and quantity of information via sound.” When noise is fed to cellF, the cells then respond using the synthesizer and “perform” live. Pretty cool. (via The Creators Project)
The architecture and Art team Snarkitecture have been in the art news lately for their installation at the entrance of the Design Miami Pavilion 2012. Dig is an earlier installation from the team featured here. Often mixing elements of architecture design, art, and performance, Dig was at once an installation and a performance.
The team filled the Storefront for Art and Architecture with solid architectural foam. The artists then excavated a network of tunnels through the foam and inhabited them for the following month. The performance was an artful investigation of contemporary architecture based on excavating rather than building, as well as building for necessity.
Perhaps Lady Gaga will up the ante on her outlandishly “avante-garde” sartorial sense, and start rocking these ten inch bejeweled and beaded poo poo-shoes- and you thought stilettos were hard to walk in! Or not. As part of a recent exhibition, Tate Britain asked artists from around the world to respond to Chris Ofili’s controversial elephant dung on the The Holy Mary painting that caused a “Sensation” in NYC 15 years ago. UK-based INSA’s contribution? Poo shoes. Is this what the controversy has been reduced to today? Ohmigawd shoez? Looks like it.