Through the metamorphic conversion of discarded paraphernalia given a second life, art created from materials otherwise destined for a landfill has turned waste into resource. In a conscious reflection of a recycled object’s inherent value as a cultural statement, the fragmented disarray of salvaged goods conjoin as a reflection on the surplus of consumerism. Computer relics and plastic toys from the 1990’s resurface as jarring, three-dimensional works that reestablish a value beyond their initial introduction as cultural commodities. Extending the life of goods long since forgotten, the immortalization of a wastefulness that continues to swell stands as not only a poignant reminder of the ecological decay resulting from our consumption, but the opportunity to revisit and remake otherwise quotidian, superfluous goods.
Working predominately, if not entirely, with upcycled goods, the following artists create stunning installation and sculptural works that are a visual whirlpool of texture, color and line.
Barnaby Barford is a British artist who works primarily with ceramics to create unique narrative pieces. He works with both mass-market and antique found porcelain figurines, cutting up and exchanging elements or adding to them and repainting them, to create sculptures which are often sinister and sardonic but invariably humorous. With irony, he draws a portrait of our contemporary lives.
In Barford’s world a kitsch figure of a 19th century peasant boy becomes a 20th century teenage thug in a hoodie; cute little girls roast adorable lambs on a spit; a rosy cheeked boy beats and cracks humpty dumpty into hundreds of pieces. Through his unique works, Barford explores all aspects of our society. Following in the tradition of Hogarth, Chaucer, Dickens and Shakespeare; with a dark sense of English humor and satire, Barford’s work explores and celebrates the human condition.
The embedded video above comes from the latest project by Montreal-based media artist Jon Rafman. Kool-Aid Man in Second Life offers to give Internet users free guided tours of Second Life by Rafman’s avatar, the Kool-Aid Man. The aforementioned video is a promotional video showing scenes of the tour (by the way, apparently some of this may not be NSFW, though I watched the first minute or two and didn’t really notice anything bad). The subtlety of the video, and the entire project, is what makes it so engaging. There are all sorts of questions raised here: about the role of crafted pop culture icons in the new era of user generated content, about the nature of scenic beauty, about our interaction with kitsch. Someone take the tour and let us know how it is!
PS: Check out this essay Rafman wrote on Google Street View. Very compelling stuff.