Using narratives and visual genres found in art, combined with the clean aesthetics of design and contemporary product advertising, the work of Norah Stone is representative of a generation which has seen both art and design coexisting, flattened by the computer screen, and has no use for their separation. “The classic art vs. design question is something that comes up a lot in my daily life but I often find it to be a futile discussion, says the Minneapolis-based Stone, “I guess I just don’t think it’s important to set up boundaries just for the sake of boundaries.”
Norah Stone’s most-recent series, Artificial Utopias, creates thoroughly modern still life scenes, which despite their alluring hyppereal-quality (reminiscent of advertising and pictorial), the distinct sense of disconnect between these spotless digital worlds and our own is unsettling.
“In a culture where most of our daily routines and habits have been replaced by a digital screen, the scroll, the pixel, and the ability to retouch has ultimately changed our ideals of perfection….As I was working on this project I was thinking a lot about how growing up in the digital generation has subconsciously molded me to be attracted to a certain cleanliness that can only be achieved on screen. Artificial Utopias was a culmination of my own personal experience with the digital world and also the research I was doing on still lives. The super clean, almost surreal aesthetic came from trying to recreate the visceral experience that comes from staring at a screen for a long period of time.”
This play between perfection and illusion, the real and the empty, eventually manifested itself into twin video works as well. “In the video works (below) I was trying to recreate the process of eliminating imperfections through the clone stamp tool. In post production, I spent a lot of time retouching these photos to achieve the cleanliness of a stock photo. I wanted to capture the mundane process of retouching and erasing over and over again until you’re left with something completely different,” says Stone, who perhaps quite telling concludes, “or nothing at all.”
California-based artist Gregory Kloehn often repurposes the still completely-usable trash and street detritus that he finds in the streets. His ongoing project Homeless Homes takes this idea one step further, offering real aid by creating housing for the homeless in Oakland. Dubbed as “eclectic building materials for small but efficient mobile homes.” Kloehn and his volunteers recycle and reuse salvage to offer small, mobile house (they are on wheels), Mostly the size of a sofa or small room, these Homeless Homes offer a safe place and protection, and raise awareness to the needs of the homeless community. “Stuff people just throw away on the street can give someone a viable home,” Kloehn said in an interview with NBC News. “Does it have merit as a solution to homelessness? As far as giving people a shelter, yeah, definitely. Is it a solution to homelessness? It’s an answer. An attempt.”
Kloehn further describes his aims on the project’s website, “Our goal is to bring together imaginative people and discarded materials to make sturdy, innovative, mobile shelters for the homeless people. By sourcing our materials from illegal street dumping, commercial waste and excess household items, we strive to diminish money’s influence over the building process.”
Canadian photographer and general polymath Chris McVeigh has found fame as an in-demand commercial illustrator and designer, but his recent forays into LEGO toy designs have been bringing him even more attention recently. Taking inspiration from outdated and outmoded technologies, McVeigh’s recent collection creates sets from existing LEGO parts – and offers them as kits for sale or open-source plans for those who wish to build their own.
Not only does McVeigh create toy replicas of tube-televisions, early computers and gaming systems, but he also creates miniature “sets” – realistic era backdrops – complete with shag carpet, wood-paneling, and tacky wallpaper, just so his creations fit in. (via colossal)
David Redon makes vintage popular culture look new by adding celebrities. The art director at Parisian agency Quai Des Orfèvres combines famous people like Kanye, Beyonce, and Pharrell with Mid-Century advertisements in a series he calls Ads Libitum. We see them endorsing soap, make up, toothpaste, and drive-in restaurants, all having been Photoshopped to fit in with the look and feel of the past.
Redon explains to Adweek why he crafts these remixes, stating, “I like the shift between vintage and modern pop culture, because these days the border between art and commercial is very small, and artists work their images like brands do.” It’s true. Kanye definitely cultivates a specific persona that is polarizing and it’s part of how he sells himself. Pharrell, on the hand, markets himself as a happy-go-lucky likable guy, which makes him more family-friendly with wider appeal.
Ads Libitum is primarily American marketing and culture through the eyes of a non-American. Redon makes some interesting choices on celebrity and advertising pairings. Nirvana, for instance, seems a little outdated, as does Michael Jackson, but to someone who’s an outsider, these people are an icon of music in the United States. (Via Adweek)
Business cards exist as a tangible resource and advertisment for offering one’s trade. Benedetto Papi and Edoardo Satamato of Italian creative agency Invasiona Creativa began to wonder: what jobs would pop culture characters have, and how would their cards look?
Beginning with the idea that these characters (ranging from science fiction to comedy to horror and action films) lost their jobs, how would they rebrand? Although most of the results involve wordplay over any serious retelling of the character’s myth, the results are playful and fun, which seems to be the duo’s motivation.
On their website, the group declares, “A different approach compared to canonical style of advertising agencies: a NERD APPROACH…We will do everything to…give new life to mundane communications, to re-invent social campaigns completely useless, to regain lost contact with the consumer, to open new horizons in the world of apps…” (via mymodernmet)
Artists/design team Thyra Hilden and Pio Diaz collaborated to create, Forms in Nature, a chandelier which, when alight, creates shadows in any (reasonably sized) room that appear to be intertwined tree branches or entire root system. Describing their collaborative process as combining “existing cultural icons and basic elements, which they transform and modify to tamper with the common perception”, the duo essentially reconnects modern technology to more primitive, natural elements.
The creators say of the piece, “The shadows engulf the room and transforms the walls into unruly shadows of branches, bushes, and gnarled trees. Mirrorings are thrown out upon the walls and ceilings and provide weak Rorschach-like hints of faces, life and flow of consciousness.” (via mymodernmet)
Digital artist and graphic designer Kode Logic (aka Boss Logic) is used to taking existing imagery and adapting, changing and repurposing it. With his newest series, Playing With History, the Melbourne, Australia artist samples some of the most recognizable photos in the history of the medium, and either subtly or blatantly alters them by including superheroes and villains.
Ranging from the construction workers who built New York’s skyscrapers palling around with Spiderman, or an alternate history where Mortal Kombat’s four-armed boss Goro menacingly watches over Ellis Island on the Statue of Liberty’s plinth, Kode Logic plays with both humor and irreverence (exemplified by two separate Kennedy edits – one with Marty McFly skitching on his hover-board, the other featuring The Watchmen’s The Comedian preparing to assassinate the president). Explaining the project (and a premise shared by many from the digital and web-based design and art communities), Kode Logic says, “…as a digital artist we are the new breed of artists and we are all trying to innovate our own style to be remembered and past on as a foundation you laid down…” (via albotas)
Fra.Biancoshock insists he is not a street artist, but rather the Milan-based experientialist noticed that his street-level installations and interventions spoke using the same language as Street Art. In regards to the movement of Street Art in regards to his work, the mysterious, identity-protecting Fra. says, “For me, that phrase is a provocation: I have not studied art, I do not frequent artistic circles, or amicidell’amicodelcuginodelfratellodelsuoamico … And I have no particular technical and artistic skills. I just have ideas and I like to strain my mind in trying to propose to the common people through what I call “Unconventional Experiences.” I think mine are “experiences” rather than works of art.”
With ties and intentions closer to Performance and Conceptual Art (for those paying off MFA degrees, think Guy Debord), the man who would become Fra.Biancoshock developed the performative avant-garde school of art he calls Effimerismo (“The Effimerismo is a movement that has the aim of producing works of art that exists in a limited way in the space, but that they persist in an infinite way in time…”) as a means of exploring and categorizing his specific means of street engagement (or as he is known to call them, “speeches”).
Operating in this very-intentionally public mode of communication, Fra.Biancoshock uses the streets as a forum, installing temporary interventions to call attention to themes of poverty, urban blight, modern stress and decay. Present in most works is how Fra deals with serious themes with a disarmingly light-hearted approach. His work has mostly been viewed (often quite temporarily) in Europe, though as Fra. says in his Manifesto-like statement, “Prior to founding the movement, [Fra.biancoshock] has made more than 400 speeches on the streets of Italy , Spain , Portugal, Croatia, Hungary, Czech Republic, Malaysia and the State of Singapore, and has no intention of stopping.” (via hi-fructose)