Since I learned about stencil street art on my last trip to Berlin I’ve been tossing some project ideas around in my mind. One was sparked by the idea of exhibiting an art piece at the Berlin Tech Open Air, where I could have set up an installation in a fine abandoned building. The big concept for the installation revolved around integrating a stencil project with the duality between scientific controversy and the type of revolution themes that street art is built around. There would be an augmented reality app to integration with the installation, but the center piece would be using street art techniques to highlight figures and revolutionary or controversial ideas and figures from science history. One on my favorites is Ludwig Boltzmann. So I searched for some images of Dr. Boltzmann, went through some tutorials on stencil creation using Photoshop, and did a quick test. The project is growing and more of it is coming each week.
The next 1 Day of Art event from (t)here Magazine is going to be in London on Oct. 28th-29th. If you’re an artist around London I highly recommend contacting them to see if you can participate (How to Participate). I was at 1 Day of Art Copenhagen last fall and it was an amazing experience (Thank you talenthouse!). The format is simple. You get together with the magazine crew on Friday night, draw a topic to work on, and then you have 24 hours to produce your work within the city limits. For my part I did three paintings in the bathroom of the Diamonds room at HotelFox, based partially on my experiences walking around Copenhagen late Friday night. Before the 24 hours kicked off we were all interviewed, and the camera crew and editors came around during the day to see how the work was progressing.
The whole thing has the nonlinear feeling of a hackathon or startup weekend, naturally without any coding, laptops and API’s replaced by canvas, paint, cameras, whatever you use to put your vision into the real world. Once the spark goes off you get the materials you need together and then create. The work from the other artists at Copenhagen is going to be revealed with the next issue of the magazine, but the cover is already on the web. Believe in the energy of the night and inspiration of the process and great things will come to those who decide to create. I’m looking forward to see what comes out of London.
VOLUME 13 – COPENHAGEN – COMING SOON…
On the Verge is an art show, featuring the work of the artists enrolled in The Professional Artist Mentorship Seminar, docent Olga Stefan (F&F Schule für Kunst und Mediadesign). We will be showing at the F&F Schule by the Rote Fabrik in Zurich. Works will include painting, sculpture, installation, a video game and short films. We are artists on the Verge and this is the opportunity to see our work. We have a show over the weekend, with a Vernissage on Saturday night from 7pm, with the art fun continuing on Sunday 12-5pm.
Vernissage on Saturday June 25th from 7pm
Rote Fabrik Zurich
Feel free to drop by Saturday night before heading to Hive, enjoy a coffee lunch Sunday morning at the Rote Fabrik and then wander through our work at the F&F Schule. Artists will be on-hand to mingle and we would love it if you can join us. Promo video of the show is at the end.
Vernissage on Saturday June 25th from 7pm
Show open Sunday June 26th from 12-5pm
Rote Fabrik Zurich
Entrance B – 3rd Floor – Room 201
The most interesting part of writing an artist statement is taking the time to deconstruct your and explain to yourself what it is you’re doing as an artist. If you don’t do this I can’t imagine how you can write a coherent artist statement that anyone else besides the person in your head will ever understand. Going through my paintings it’s clear I’m interested in exploring the concept of God, mortals, and how they relate to one another. A lot of this comes from watching movies like Troy, 300, Clash of the Titans, Fight Club, and reading books like Jitterbug Perfume (Pan Aroma) by Tim Robbins. I especially like philosophizing on this line from Troy,
“The Gods envy us. They envy us because we’re mortal, because any moment might be our last. Everything is more beautiful because we’re doomed. You will never be lovelier than you are now. We will never be here again.” (Troy: Achilles)
Often in my paintings I take this idea of gods envying mortals and mortals loving gods and combine it with the figurative representation of self-identity. It is the self-portrait, the question in the mind of a person in life, wondering what will happen when they die and if the gods will care when they are prayed to. This painting here I call God Envy. Above the head I’ve also written Mortal Lust. Of course, I wasn’t consciously thinking any of this, I just wanted to create something before heading to 1 Day of Art Copenhagen, and this is what I put together. Today, May 21st 2011 has been billed as the day of Rapture by a number of people around the world. It’s the day that the true believers (true believers of May 21st) will be raptured and the rest of humanity will be destroyed in the Armageddon, or at least it should start around that time.
Today is the day I give a presentation on my art at the Rote Fabrik. It’s all part of the professional artist class from the F&F school in Zurich. We’ve focused on writing the artist statement, and today I give a 45 minute presentation of Gonzo Art. There are a number of seemingly unplanned for events which have lead up to the point of me trying to tell the story of my paintings, but for sure I wouldn’t be at this point if I hadn’t won the 1 Day of Art Copenhagen creative invite on Talenthouse. Copenhagen was a stronger marker in my life, and the kind folks from (t)here magazine gave me a creative spring-board to propel myself somewhere I wouldn’t gone otherwise. I like to think I do various forms of art, but this presentation is totally focused on the Gonzo Art concept. It borrows from the Gonzo journalism themes set down by Hunter S. Thompson, I interpret it in art as meaning that the idea goes from the sub-conscious mind of the artist to the world as quickly as possible. No digital, no editing, pure inspiration thrown down on the canvas. Below is my presentation on SlideShare, I’ll add a version with audio but these are the bare-bones of the beast. The final version will include videos showing how my paint lands on the canvas and how the final form of the works evolve (basically like the videos I created for my Lazy Art period). So, I’ve done Lazy Art, this has morphed into Gonzo Art, and for sure it’ll evolve into something else – but here’s the story so far.
It’s about 5:30pm on Wed. so it mush be time for the pre-art class beer by the Rote Fabrik in Zurich. Chilling in the shade, a cool lake breeze on my face – paradise. Time to lighten the head you see, make it all non-linear and stuff, ready to soak up the art direction. Engineering detox, twist the neural pathways into different directions and stretch out the frontal lobe. Time for the professional artist seminar, time to think about an artist statement and professional purpose for the work. I’ve been working on my statement but so far have stalled at, Statement is a purpose and art has none. But that’s why I’m here. If I had it all straight in my head there wouldn’t be a reason for being here drinking a beer, waiting for class to start. Instead I would be sick with confidence and taking the gallery world by storm. Carpe diem and fuck the emotional insecurities, I have something tho say and it just needs to packaged into a conversation that the art can have with anyone.
Ah, yes, the backstory, since I’m depressed enough to be an artist I decided to take a professional artist class at the F&F Schule in Zurich. Olga Stefan is running the course, and each week we hear a mentor from the Swiss art community speak and mentor us on our way to poverty or art stardom. Each week one or two students gives a presentation of their work, and mine is do next week. We’re learning how the art gallery game is played in Zurich and how to go pro. A key element of being a pro is the artist statement. A short but potent set of words that defines and explains your work to the masses. It’s an excellent self-realization adventure to define your work, but naturally the first thing in my head was, statement is a purpose, and art has none. The artist statement is your brand of sorts and should allow any one to get it. However, since the mobile internet thing has re-shaped all manner of print and video media and consumption habits, I’m highly interested in what it’s doing to the gallery scene and art buying in general.
To write a statement I’ve been deconstructing my paintings and their meanings, and the undertone of the meanings behind the meanings to understand my sense of self in order to make a presentation for the class, and eventually, to write my artist statement. I love to write, but it just seems so 1990’s to write up an artist statement instead of creating a video which can be consumed on a mobile device. Maybe I need to unplug? A video sort of thing is in the works, and that’s why I registered ArtistStatement.me the other week. Like with anything, I’ll start with what I know, figure out what I don’t know, and then go from there.
I’m not depressed, I’m an artist. Remember this, for it is my new motto with which to deal with certain aspects of life. In a book I once wrote, “Now, actually being an alcoholic is an unhealthy way to live, but pretending to be one for the night helps break life up into more manageable chunks.” If you pretend to not be an artist, I don’t think anything good will come of it. If you wake up wondering why you feel depressed and unfulfilled in the morning, it’s possible that you’re simply an artist. This one simple realization can make a large difference in your day to day life.
Accept who you are and always look on the bright side. Pretending to not be an artist will probably make you depressed, but actually being an artist opens up a whole city of plausible excuses and diversions to sensible responsibility. For example, when you’re an artist you can say, “I can’t do math today, my brain patterns are too nonlinear.” This is a no-go statement in the engineering world, you have to do math because that’s how we understand the natural world. “I can’t work today, I’m in a creative void, I’ll stay at the cafe all day drinking espresso.” To be fair, I don’t think this is reality, it’s just what I’ve see from the movies and over-dramatic artistic characters. I imagine myself more like a poor Howard Hughes, who wasn’t an artist in the traditional sense, but had the fantastic ability to run an engineering empire and be a director of photography in the same lifetime. Or maybe like a Paul Verhoeven, who holds degrees in math and physics, but also directed Starship Troopers and Total Recall.
For the longest time I thought I was an engineer who just liked to draw in math class. I figured it would stop at some point and I’d just use these talents to design car handles or airplane designs or something. Now I’ve realized that I got it all wrong these first 33 years, and my birthday is just after Marche du Nain Rouge, so there must be some Detroit devil inside me, and I think it’s time to admit defeat and start dealing with being an artist. Understand, I don’t really know what it means to be an artist, I only know the engineer lifestyle. I never attended art school and haven’t a clue how to act or conduct myself. I already wear colorful shoes and carry pens around to write and draw with. There’s a room in my apartment dedicated to painting and I have a pair of jeans stained with colored latex. What else should I be doing?
I don’t have a specific medium that I work in. I was asked once what texture I use when painting – and my first impulse was to ask the woman what the fuck she was talking about. As I understand it, texture is what the surface of your painting looks like (I thought it was just a layering technique in Photoshop). Always a new language to learn. I like to think that I specialize in ideas, and they come out in painting, video, digital photography, whatever is at hand. The biggest problem is the need for expression, and this is the friction point with traditional engineering persona. Here is where the friction of the situation leads to conflict in the brain. For some personalities it’s easy, or at least normal to just calculate things and to find solutions in a number format and to be done with it. It would be nice if that were enough, but it’s not. I want to hold a thing in my hand. I like to bring something from nothingness into being, from concept to final product. It’s scary to stare down a blank white canvas and it’s a rush to look upon the final work. When you get used to feeling that rush in the studio, you naturally want to feel it elsewhere, it becomes a normal entity in your emotional map. However, it’s difficult to attain in a traditional engineering world. The only sane solution is to find a happy medium. Something which includes design and science, something where the two sides can coexist and benefit one another. I don’t know what the future brings, but hopefully I’ll find out soon enough.
I live in Switzerland, and here is a picture of Jennifer Chalbaud in Venezuela, holding a picture of my Gonzo Art painting. The internet is a fine and fabulous thing, but I grew up writing things with a pen, and that’s sometimes the best way to send a message. This isn’t always the case, my hand-writing can be horrible and near impossible to read. However, if I take my time the writing is coherent. Sometimes I’ll write a letter on the computer and then write it out by hand to send. In the instant message update world of Facebook and Twitter, I think it’s important to write by hand sometimes. Just like I think it’s important to sometimes paint with real brushes instead of only with the virtual ones in Photoshop. Words are sometimes more meaningful when you know that someone took the time to write them specifically just for you. Sharing words on Facebook and Twitter is fine, it’s fun to do and sometimes contributes to the over-throw of governments. Sharing written words is a dying form of communication, but it’s far more likely that you’ll be able to read a written letter you’ve saved in twenty years than find the random Tweets you’ve sent.
Sometime in the past I joined a website called Talenthouse.com and added some paintings to my portfolio. This was all fine and good, but then I applied to a Creative Invite competition, I won, and as a result spent a weekend in Copenhagen as a guest at Hotel Fox, doing paintings for (t)here magazine. This was an interesting time, but one of the cooler points of a place like Talenthouse, is that you meet interesting people you wouldn’t have met in any other way. One such person is Jennifer Chalbaud, a fashion designer from Venezuela. Around Christmas time in 2010 I decided I needed to stop just using Facebook and Twitter to send messages and decided to step back in time and write some cards or letters. To be dramatic, I told people I was protesting the instant update. I decided it would be best to get some of my photos/paintings printed, so I got cards made at moo.com, my favorite place for such things. I had five images printed, including a Bratz doll, an image from my ProtestLove series, and Gonzo Art (my masterpiece to date), produced in Copenhagen. I figured it would be best to send cards to people who want them, and I posted an update to Facebook/Twitter asking if anyone wanted me to send them a card. One of those who responded was Jennifer. She said she liked my Gonzo Art image so naturally I sent her one of those. In the card I basically said that it’s been cool getting to know about her and her work, and that it’s great to get to know people who you feel inspired by.
Sharing is Good
Eventually the Gonzo Art card worked its way through the global mail systems and ended up in her mailbox. Then Jennifer had a dream (this is how she described it). In her dream I was at a beach taking some portraits of a couple, and the couple had done some body paintings done in the style of my Gonzo Art. The idea for Gonzo Art was taken by me from from the writing style of the late Hunter S. Thompson, the idea being that the work is done fast and with a purpose. It should happen in the moment – without thinking, the hand writes what the mind perceives and it’s sent off to the printed without edits (of course, this never happened in reality). So, Jennifer followed that style for her inspiration and created a design for the Mambo Surfdeluxe contest on Facebook.
I’m a trained scientist and I naturally like to look for patterns in life. Patterns give people a certain reassurance, a slight feeling of being able to sort of tell the future by understanding the rules of the World and the rhythms that operate in the universe. Other people prefer total chaos. One of the surest patterns I know in this life is that sharing leads to good things. It worked when I was five and it works even better now. I shared my art on Talenthouse and had an awesome experience painting in Copenhagen. I shared some thoughts with Jennifer and sent her an image of my art and she was inspired to create something new of her own. She has shared this creation on the Mambo Surfdeluxe Facebook page, and it has been viewed by a number of different people, and I wonder what they have been inspired to do. Be inspired, create, share, repeat.
Photography is a fun hobby, but it’s been taking a side-seat to short film and video production. My first coherent attempt is called ArtDeath – KunstMord. It’s a bit of a self-reflection piece, centered on the idea that the artists is driven to destroy their work, and in doing so set their spirit free to create again. I don’t know where this came from, but it’s a theme I’ve been building in my brains, and 1 Day of Art Copenhagen put things into context for me. I’m a lover a visual media, and it seems totally natural to present a painting as a concept in a short film instead of just in a gallery. The painting is just a container for the ideas and feelings of the viewer and of the artist. Film gives the artist another pallet to work with in displaying the work. Essentially I want to take the content of paintings, including the background story of how the work was created, and package that together into short films. At the point the term video poetry comes to mind, and I see short films in my head which are a mix a visuals, poetry vocals, and the correct imagery. Of course, implementing this is naturally had to do until you know what you’re doing. My first attempt was Gonzo Art – I: a short film all about my Gonzo Art painting with vocals connected to the writing I added to the painting.
I had had the idea for ArtMord (or KunstDeath) for a while but time was short, so I shot the film with my girlfriend over a few nights time and used such innovative production equipment as a skateboard dolly with my NEX-VG10 attached with a Manfrotto super clamp. This had the nice effect of not being totally stable while rolling on my hardwood floors, and added a nice vibration to the footage, which fit in nicely with the tension I wanted to build in the film. Naturally it’s up to the viewer to decide if this worked or not.
I added my Big Blue Beast chainsaw to the mix, as I like the idea of mass and loud destruction on an artistic scale. I don’t think the machine actually works, but it was irrelevant as I used music to simulate the beast getting fired up. In the future I envision a flamethrower, but I’ll need a real place to work in, like an actual industrial space or studio instead of my apartment. For the soundtrack I used GarageBand with my own vocals, modified of course, to sound like high-pitched youth. It somehow mixes better with the back-beats than my natural voice (or so I thought at the time). It’s like when I do portraits and I want to add a texture layer, somehow it just makes everything mix better together, like baking a cake or cooking an Indian curry for dinner.
On Monday evening I had lighting strike of inspiration hit my head. First, I turned off 300 on my computer, then I finished reviewing changes to a research paper, and then I decided to Tweet the creation process of a painting. The idea was, I’d take pictures at different intervals and then post them to my social networks including Tumblr, Twitter, and Facebook. Since they’re all tied together, I just send it all to Tumblr and the updates were forwarded to the other accounts. I don’t know if this was a good idea, or if it just seemed like it should have been a good idea at the time, but it seemed like an idea, and so I followed through with the plan. I like Facebook for networking and Twitter is cool to get an overview on trends, but I’d never attempted to harness these things to broadcast a message of creation. However, after downing a red bull, everything seemed possible, so I pulled out a canvas and manga markers and started writing some things and sketching out a large head.
I can’t say for sure what was going through my head, but I wanted to start small, and wrote, “all the things you long to forget” on one side of the canvas. After some fun with the manga markers and using a stencil to write out MORTAL LUST - or was it before? Well, at some point early in the process I added the line, “It’s distasteful to think that every day should be special and beautiful. That you must enjoy life just because the sun warms your face with love before giving you skin cancer.” I don’t know where this line came from, possibly from a journal entry or maybe it was the red bull twisting my mind. In any event, I decided that the large head needed some fire coming out of the mouth and that it would also need to be green at some point.
I like using manga markers on canvas. It’s something about the way that the fabric soaks up the ink. With these markers you can go back and blend two colors together, so I’ll start with a base color for the edge of the flame, and then fill and blend it with a lighter color on the interior. It’s like taking all the fun of Photoshop and transplanting the experience to 3D reality. This also gives off a lot of vapor, and possibly this inspired me to write, “Shaman set me free” in the corner of the canvas. This all formed the basis for the painting, and I decided that it was now time to retire to the paint-throwing wing of my apartment, and get to work blending colors together. So I tapped up the plastic that had fallen down in my painting room and setup the canvas on the floor. I was barefoot of course, because that’s the best way to paint.
I made it point, when I moved into my place, to not buy any furniture. People move into places and buy stuff and then the whole space is filled up with useless places to sit and relax. Fuck that I thought, I want a laboratory to create in. So I left a room connecting to the photo studio mainly empty, and eventually covered the floor and walls with plastic to throw paint around in. Now that I’ve ben in to painting for a year or so I’m getting a collection of works. I’ll either need to hang them all up, or sell them, or just destroy the basterds with a chainsaw at some point. But, until that time I’ll stick with creating paintings. I’ll call this piece Gonzo Art II, or maybe Mortal Art, or whatever. Names can be so meaningless without a proper context. As I said, I had the bright idea to tweet the creation process and uploaded the images to my Tumblr account, which then filtered to Facebook and Twitter. I don’t know if this had a positive impact on the world, but it was a fun experiment, and all the images can be enjoyed here below.
I’ve had an interesting trip the past two years. I started focusing on photography, turned to painting, and now I’m into the idea of mixing everything in video/film production. I like learning new things, it drives me in life to look back after a year after and see those interesting turning points where I learned something new about my position in life and those around me. In the past I did some experiments with Art Casting, making stop-motion videos of paintings as they’re painted to show the evolution of the work. After I participated in 1 Day of Art Copenhagen I realized there could be something more.
I wanted to create a video that brings together the thoughts in my head and the music that I feel as I paint. So after getting back from Copenhagen I picking up a Sony VG10, started watching the Vincent Laforet film class from CreativeLive, and began learning how to make short films. The first few so far are Birth – Kraft and Gonzo Art. The goal is just to make something, that is going in the right direction. I’m basically a self-learning film student at the moment, and my first goal is to get down the film production workflow and make 1-2 minute films with a message.
Birth – Kraft
Birth – Kraft is a collaboration with Ethan Oelman, a photographer in Zurich. He planned a shoot with a dancer and rented out a pool in Altstetten in Zurich. I came by with my VG10 to shoot footage for a behind-the-scenes video and also to experiment. I shot footage of the dancer coming out of the water and then cut that together with still images that Ethan made during the shoot. I used Abaltat Muse to make the soundtrack. The flow of the film and the transition between themes was my main focus. Abaltat is an interesting program for quickly cutting music for videos, but I need to energize some music skills into the workflow.
Gonzo Art is a video of my favorite painting from 1 Day of Art Copenhagen, made for (t)here magazine. It includes a lot of writing inspired by Copenhagen and has many visual elements like fire and a giant head. How do you capture the texture of a painting on video? How do the visual forms need to be presented? I don’t know exactly, and that’s why this is an experiment. I used Garageband with samples from Computer Music magazine to cut the music. I then added voice-over using a helium filter on my vocals in Garageband. The soundtrack sort of sucks, but it’s a starting point for moving forward. Video production is forming the motivation to develop my music creation abilities, something I always wanted to get into.
I don’t know the future, I just know the awesome feeling I have cutting visual and music elements together. It feels right and powerful in an intimate way. It’s important to look back on how you got where you are. This short Gonzo Art video started with Talenthouse and a Creative Invite. I submitted my Lazy Art paintings and (t)here magazine picked my work, allowing me to participate in 1 Day of Art Copenhagen. This opened up a turing point in my creative life, I realized the ability to create is there, it just needs the right motivations and environment. You excel when you have awesome people around you, chilling on your own behind a computer is a recipie for mediocracy. The internet and social media are awesome for connecting people to one another and to new ideas, but you need a healthy creative environment in you life.
I was looking through my Facebook and saw that Jennifer Chalbaud, a designer I had met through Talenthouse had submitted to the Kanto AV speaker Creative Invite, and that it was ending in 6 hours. I had a vision for a second, and wondered what it would be like to combine Lazy Art IV and Gonzo Art in a speaker design. It seemed fitting, to take the art created from 1 Day of Art Copenhagen, and see how it would work when applied to product design. I got back to my place around 5:30pm and had until 7pm to submit my design. After screwing around with SketchUp and a dxf file in Adobe Illustrator for 30 minutes I decided to go back to what I know and started making layers and masking in Photoshop. The result might scare some people, but I would buy one.
I started off with a white Kanto speaker box from Talenthouse…it’s a nice simplistic design, speakers on the front, clean lines, contoured sides and curves, something very clean and sexy. At this point, one could go with a minimalistic design to complement the form of the product, or go in the opposite direction and create something that dominates, both in color and form. I decided on impulse to go with the latter approach, and in my mind grafted two paintings onto the Kanto…
My favorite painting from 1 Day of Art went on the front, using the lower section of the patinting, which includes passages of writing, and this flows upwards with the Basquiat-Alien inspired head. I wanted somthing else for the top though, and decided to go with Lazy Art IV, which is sort of a universe view, with lots of color combinations running into one another. The paintings are sort of inspired from music, visions in the head, so it made sense to combine them with a speaker design. The final design is on Talenthouse at…Design for limited edition Kanto speakers