Brooklyn-based graphic designer Victoria Siemer, also known as Witchoria, has an ongoing photography series updated weekly called ‘Human Error” in which the artist digitally overlays an existential or lovelorn computerized error message over a scanned Polaroid. The error message prompts the viewer for an action or to wait, illustrating the futility of this technological exercise when perceived in the context of heartbreak or ennui. Siemer’s series elegantly pairs new technology, represented by the computerized message, with older technology, represented by the vintage mode of a Polaroid photograph, combining the nostalgia evoked by a Polaroid with the technological angst that fuels many of our modern relationships.
For his project “Nipple,” the multimedia artist Shinji Murakami approaches female eroticism in an unexpected way, creating 8-bit images from photographs of Janet Jackson’s Superbowl “nip-slip,” Paris Hilton’s breast-baring bikini, and Kim Kardashian’s Playboy images. In constructing the pixilated images, the artist focuses solely on a tiny square area of each celebrity’s nipple.
In bringing the erogenous zone into the digital age, Shinji paradoxically desexualizes this part of the female body; while the original images are intended to be or considered to arousing, the blown-up nipple’s abstract, geometric pixel patterns inspire no erotic response. In this way, the work might be seen as a brutal reminder that, try as it might, digital media cannot stand in for true sexual intimacy.
Or perhaps “Nipple” is an unsettling prophecy: as we rely more upon technology, this series represents a more modern “sexy.” Erotic images of women’s bodies are becoming more accessible and more mass-produced; the video game industry, whose advanced technology serves as Shinji’s inspiration, has been criticized for its objectification of women. “Nipple” is that idea taken to the extreme; in these works, these female subjects are reduced to a single body part, and in turn, that body part is pixelated and transformed into an utterly dehumanized abstraction.
That is not to say that the images don’t contain beauty; in fact, the simplicity of their geometric form spotlights lovely hues. Each woman’s flesh becomes a digital tapestry of unexpected color variances. Like a modern take on the work of French Impressionists, “Nipple” precisely examines and deconstructs its subjects into tiny sections; here, in the place of a heavy brushstroke, is a pixel. What do you think of this conceptual take on the cultural connotations of the female body? Is it offensive or refreshing?
In collaboration with microbiologists, the English artist Anna Dumitriu has honed her unique talent for working with bacteria as a means of staining fabric; her high-art fashions feature organic patterns made by microorganisms. In her most recent installation project, The Romantic Disease, she works with a more dangerous type of bacteria: Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the organism responsible for Tuberculosis.
In combining now-killed TB DNA with found and altered relics of late 19th and early 20th century technologies, Dumitriu creates a vivid medicinal—and often foreboding— landscape. Before the invention of antibiotics, TB patients were taken to “sanatoria,” hospitals built at high altitudes (then thought to be beneficial to sufferers), where they were confined to bed and given extreme treatments. For a piece titled “Rest, Rest, and Rest!” Dumitriu constructs a model sanitarium bed; for another piece, she carves the pattern of lung tissue onto an actual Pneumothorax Machine, once used to collapse patients’ lungs.
The Romantic Disease is neither a historical or scientific tour of old hospital machinery; on the contrary, is is an emotionally dangerous and poignantly subjective exploration of the disease. Although the exhibit avoids mention or representation of actual sufferers, individual pieces are imbued with a distinctly human touch. The sanitarium bed and curtain are small and delicate as dollhouse pieces; beside the larger pieces, they appear lonesome and afraid. Similarly, a group of miniature woven felt lungs, each containing sterilized Mycobacterium tuberculosis, appear to flutter like tiny, fragile birds beside the Pneumothorax Machine.
A maternity dress, dyed with supposed TB cures like safflower and madder root, hangs loosely on a dress form; this piece becomes all the more heartbreaking with the knowledge that at a time when the disease was thought to be spread genetically, pregnant women underwent forced abortions. The historical reverence and tender craftsmanship with which Anna Dumitriu presents The Romantic Disease serves to humanize those who suffered at the hands of this politically and socially fraught disease. The work is currently on display at West London’s Waterman’s. (via Smithsonian Magazine and Anna Dumitriu)
Joshua Harker‘s incredible sculptures are the result of advanced 3D printing technologies. Harker’s designs represent patterns of symmetry and naturally dividing or winding formations like those found in nature or as part of our bodies. His work combines 2D design and imaging with the geometry of the 3D form. Some of his work has even been rendered in steel, bronze, silver, glass, polyamide, and ceramics, merging current sculptural technology with past technology. Two of his projects, Crania Anatomica Filigre and Anatomica di Revolutis, are two of the most funded sculpture projects on Kickstarter.
“My work reveals a passion for the uninhibited and represents my quest for originality in the most literal sense. Incorporated imagery & influences include organic mathematics (phi, knot theory, fluid & turbulence dynamics), vermicular & arabesque patterns. Intentionally, viewers are invited to exercise their own translation of my work in much the same way a Rorschach inkblot elicits various interpretations. The forms and images become uniquely personal to the viewer through this psychological dialogue. My art bears qualities of neo-surrealism, tachisme abstract expressionism, and is invariably contemporary.”
Korean illustrator Kim Dong-Kyu gives technological updates to Girl With A Pearl Earring and other iconic works in Art History.
Kyu’s images, although hysterical, are quite critical of the way smartphones/gadgets have dramatically changed today’s social interaction. Themes of alienation, avoidance, self-centerness, and attachment prevail through the series of images. It is interesting to think back on the cultural history of most of these works [mostly the 19th and 20th century works on here]; the juxtaposition of the cultural implications of the scenes of each painting and today’s conception of socialization is quite amusing and very different, yet, at some points, very similar.
For instance, Degas’ The Absinthe Drinker’ from 1876, reveals the increasing social isolation in Paris due to a stage of rapid growth and confinement brought forth by the highly urbanized and elite-driven atmosphere of the new Paris. The woman, actress Ellen Andrée, blankly stares into the walls of a Parisian café. With a glass of absinthe in front of her, she solemnly contemplates the nothingness of what is going on around her. The man, painter Marcellin Desboutin, sits next to her but glaces towards the opposite direction, looking to catch on to something interesting outside of his close quarters. Similarly, on Kyu’s rendition, the woman find herself ignored and in a state of alienation as she is the only one not using a gadget.
These definitely leave us wondering if social interaction has been one of those things that evolve to become more of the same thing. With or without technology, it seems clear to me that the urban, and the elite societies, both rendered in these paintings (with and without Kyu’s additions), look to the outside, and inside, towards their phones, in order to fill some sort of void, and/or escape whatever lies in font of them. If this is true or not…that is up to you to decide.
Luxury car brand, Lexus, has figured out a way to transform driving into art. Literally. In a new project titled Art Is Motion, the company combines art, software, and driving as a way to produce a painting as you commute to work. Lexus gave long-time art collector Walter Vanhaerent a new Lexus IS 300h hybrid vehicle that creates auto-generative portraits of the driver. As Vanhaerent drives, the car paints. Art Is Motion is part marketing and part art experiment.
The software used for Art Is Motion measures Vanhaerent’s speed, acceleration, and hybridity. It takes this data and converts it into brush strokes, which are modeled from the style of Spanish multi-media artist Sergio Abilac. The artist is really enthusiastic about this new technology. In a video interview, Abilac refers to the software as cloning his creative process. It’s not meant to be derogatory, and he seems genuinely excited at the prospect of this new technological assistant generating his work. It allows him to make things he would never had time to make otherwise.
The way the software renders a portrait is all based on how Vanhaerent drives. If he feels like speeding (using the gas engine), then the portrait is going have a lot of warm colors with abstract brush strokes. If Vanhaerent decides to relax and enjoy the scenery (using the hybrid engine), then that too will be reflected. His portrait will have smaller, detailed strokes with blues and cool greens.
The car features a large LCD display that dynamically paints Vanhaerent’s face as he drives. On the Art Is Motion website (www.artismotion.com), Lexus has recorded a few trips. In 2 minute long video segments, the portrait is recreated, showing us the speed the car was traveling, and more. By watching it, you really start to understand how much the style of driving affects the outcome of the portrait. (Via Gizmodo.)
Zim & Zou are a French design studio created by Thibault Zimmermann and Lucie Thomas. In addition to paper sculptures, they also explore graphic design, illustration, and installation work. Rather than use a computer, the duo prefer to use paper to design and sculpt many of their images before photographing them. From a series entitled “Back to Basics,” these brightly sculpted electronic devices represent 80s and 90s nostalgia and employ color schemes that remind me of the Nickelodeon shows I grew up watching. Each item is meticulously sculpted to real-life size and shape dimensions and includes thoughtful details that give the appearance of full functionality. The use of paper to recreate outdated technological objects also confronts the current modern tension between print and digital media.
The duo told Don’t Panic, ”…[A]t first sight it’s a tribute to vintage technologies which marked the technological evolution of the last years, and all the nostalgia of the memories that each have with them. By bringing those ‘dead’ objects back to life, we tried to highlight the very fast evolution of our everyday objects. The devices we use nowadays will, in a few years, be considered as relics too. We wanted to ask a question as well: where will this evolution lead us to?
What inspired us personally for this project are the original objects themselves. Every day we use some of those objects, such as the Polaroid camera and we often play Tetris on the original grey Gameboy.”
Their website has a gallery full of other paper sculpture designs, including paper birds, food, spaceships, and a Higgs Boson. You can watch a time-lapse video of their construction process here. (via unknown editors)
Jon Kessler’s installations respond to our current information-saturated culture where the search for the self often occurs within the realm of digital media. His most recent exhibition, “The Web“, immerses viewers in our technology obsessed world. Cameras and surveillance equipment abound, constantly capturing and clicking photos and videos of participants. The installation itself is a conceptual clusterfuck that suggests our importance of ritualistic clicking over what’s actually being captured with the clicks. His other work similarly addresses themes of capture, surveillance, fame, and mass media by using related techniques. These installations confuse us and ask us to consider the nature of reality and the authority we grant to technology and mass media with regard to our own identities.