At this point there’s no use denying the ridiculous amount of time most of us spend on a computer each day, and artist Bea Fremderman is among a growing number of contemporary artists that use this reliance as a tool in their practice. Much of (arguably all of) the imagery we see on a computer is an illusion. A digital fabrication or manipulation meant to simulate or document reality. But as our physical and digital worlds continue to fold in on one another – who decides what is real? We must become our own authorities on reality, and Fremderman seems keenly aware of this.
Fremderman may be young, but the elegance with which she blurs lines is anything but amateur. A range of objects and textures shift contexts as they face-off with their own physical and virtual counterparts. The end result of which is an aesthetically and conceptually dynamic body of work. Her practice is multifaceted, but focused. Fremderman chooses her media/mediums based on what will most effectively convey the ideas in her work, and I am eager to see what she comes up with next.
In the fall of 2009 artist Michael Anthony Simon left Chicago behind, and moved to the countryside of Korea. He wanted to experience a new place and culture that would hopefully inform a fresh body of work that could exist beyond the constraints of the western art world. In the spring of 2011, contemporary artist, Ai Weiwei was arrested on falsified charges of tax evasion by a notoriously conservative Chinese government. The claims were suspect to say the least, and many silent protests were organized throughout the world by major museums and institutions calling for his release. These silent protests became a louder gesture than anything anyone could have audibly said. This act of defiant solidarity became a source of motivation for Simon in the year to come. Realizing that by attempting to silence something you make it’s presence that much more apparent he commenced on a series entitled “The Silence Paintings”. Analyzing the design and significance of the word ‘silence’ in different languages lead him to the creation of an intuitive process that would allow for compositions to develop naturally, but with purpose and intention.
We can like status updates on facebook… we can favorite tweets on twitter… we can give videos a “thumbs-up” on youtube… but why can’t we cry? As the first part of an intensive study into the role of crying in a networked culture, the I cried button is an experiment conducted by Dee Kim & Bistin Chen. Using Google Chrome, you can install the button as a plug-in in youtube and press it when you cry while or after watching something from youtube. The button functions similar to the ‘like’ button, because it quantifies and saves your input, but instead of rating the material with a set of shiny stars, your emotions are gauged by tear drops…
Chad Kouri always dreamed of being a designer, and he took the first major step towards making that dream a reality with a freelance gig at the age of sixteen. Ten years later, he has become what some refer to as a cultural engineer. A founding member of the Chicago-based art and design incubator, The Post Family, previous Art Director of Proximity Magazine and recognition as one of Chicago’s Newcity Breakout Artists of 2010 are only a few of his numerous accomplishments. Kouri has been involved with more than thirty different projects over the last two years, and shows no signs of slowing down. For many, there is still a huge chasm between the worlds of design and fine arts, but this distinction is of no interest to Chad Kouri. Un-phased, he continues to breakdown the walls attempting to separate the two industries. A recent collaboration with artists Stephen Eichhorn and Cody Hudson at the Patty and Rusty Rueff Gallery marks his first foray into exhibiting at an institutional level, but with an upcoming solo show at the Rochester Museum of Fine Art slated for the winter of 2012 it will obviously not be his last. Kouri describes his practice as having, “equal interests in conceptual art, consumer culture, typography, design, jazz and the gray areas between these fields, my body of work is more a collection of various ongoing projects, thoughts and experiments tied together by a strong sense of composition, concise documentation and an overall vibe of optimism than a seamless display of a style or genre.” I am excited to watch this process evolve, and I wish him good luck for the future – but somehow I don’t think he’ll need it.
Artist Matt Nichols takes craftsmanship to a new level by pairing bold symbols with an acute sensibility for surface material. While stunning as photos, the work is best experienced in person. Physically interacting with these sculptures definitely forced me to reevaluate the relationship I had to the familiar iconography he often uses as a point of entry for the viewer. Nichols comes from a serious design back ground, being largely responsible for much of the visual branding associated with the clothing company Neff. While most would remain comfortable in that roll – he needed to push things further by shifting his focus towards a more physical realm. With the closing of an exhibition at Hungryman Gallery just behind him, new work is already on the way. Having recently returned to the Los Angeles area you can expect to see his name popping up in galleries across the SoCal area in the very near future.
Martin Hugo’s sketchbooks détourné the commercial imagery he encountered while designing corporate fashion in the “Empire State.” These books read as Hugo’s coping mechanism for trafficking in cultures he actively disdains. Using styles from esoteric hardcore music and quotidian visual culture, Hugo degrades and problematizes “high-brow” mainstays like the fashion industry, the contemporary art world, and our global plutocracy. But these minimal collages would be a bore if they were just well-designed, on-the-nose crits of capitalism’s look and effect; whether it’s through his deft rebranding of The Whitney (it rhymes), or by imploring us to “Support Our Predator Drones,” it’s Hugo’s gallows humor that makes them shine. He is able to look into the abyss of American culture and find the ha-has we need to get through the (last) day(s).
Ladies & Gentlemen Studio is a two person team with a love for vintage items. Looking at their serving utensils from their Superior Servers collection, their sensibilities are immediately apparent- use classic silhouettes in a new modern way. Their other projects share this clever and endearing quality.
Tyler MFA student Erica Prince’s work shows an exploration of alchemy, scientific thought, and creation of intricate worlds. In a recent interview she did with Masters of the Visual Universe, she describes her work as “focused around the idea of the Utopian society”. Her newer work bridges between installation and drawings, where some of the spaces she creates in 2D also have a 3D counterpart. Her work is strong and well researched both visually and philosophically. Each one brings you deeper and deeper into her own visual Utopia.