The Language of Man II – Tangible Virtual Reality Art

I attended the opening of Language of Man II at the knoerle & baettig gallery in Winterthur and it sort of blew my mind. The opening featured Jay Shinn and Pard Morrison, their works focused on 3D imagery, realized in more traditional art mediums of painting and sculpture, rather than pure projection video art or a combination of the Oculus Rift or Kinect cameras (topics had been freely flowing through my mind lately).

LanguageOfMan_II-08406Jay Shinn

Jay’s works look simple, but I got a bit entranced with them and pulled into the perfection between virtual objects and…reality. Jay’s painting-projections are really more installations than paintings, he paints geometric forms on the walls, then projection is overlaid via a spot light from across the room. The projections add the perception of 3D depth to the 2D painting, so when you look at it, it feels like a 3D sculpture, or virtual object in a virtual reality (VR) world. It feels that way, but you’re still standing in grounded reality in the gallery. I loved these works on multiple levels.

With the killer graphics of console games, mobile devices, and the rise of VR goggles like the Occulus Rift, we’re moving (as a society) towards a world where the physical artefacts of our existence will be continually blurred. The mind does not differentiate from reality and fantasy on a biochemical level, it’s only when we pinch ourselves, and believe in the tactile response of our fingers connecting to our skin and the associated quick whisp of pain that we are assured of being awake and not asleep or immersed in a viral place. It makes me think of how people can get pulled into, and interact with elements in the virtual worlds more comfortably than the real one.

Too see how Jay creates his installations, check out the video below:

LanguageOfMan_II-08414Pard Morrison

The works from Pard mainly included sculptures (I’ll call them than), three-dimensional, the pieces are fired pigment on Aluminum, and remind me of the Space Invaders street art (and imitations) I saw while visiting the street art show at the Musée de La Poste back in Dec. 2012 (and from touring the city). The work from Pard seems to fit together perfectly with the projection paintings from Jay.

I like the space invader tiles (and the copies) since street art is generally sort of non-linear like graffiti or stencils, and then the space invader tiles are see on the walls all nicely ordered and perfect. Plus, they are little 3D sculptures, coming out of the city instead of feeling like ideas overlaid on walls. Lovecloud in particular was a tad mesmerising to look at. You have the feeling of chaotic forces of nature nicely ordered in 3D blocks. If you move in you see the brush strokes alongside the hard geometric lines that separate each colour square.


As an artist-scientist with a  background in photography and a passion for street art, I’m often jumping between different mediums. One day it’s the meaning behind data sets, another it’s skin pores on high-resolution portraits, the day after it might be a film project, or painting on large canvases. From the tech side I’ve been experimenting with virtual and augmented reality projects, the RGBD Toolkit, Kinect cameras, use cases for the Oculus Rift, or interactive sculptures with an embeded Arduino or maybe a robot with a Rasperry Pi.

At Language of Man II…I loved, simply loved forgetting all of that and focusing on the realism of Pard’s 3D perfect geometry clouds and Jay’s real-world 3D projections. The Language of Man II was a fabulous and unexpected immersion experience for me, pulling me out of my focus on 3D animation and projection art (sparked by visiting the SMK open-data hackathon), and opened up this perspective of the real virtual world. Whatever the true impact will be for my future is still unknown. But, that’s the wonderful thing about stepping into a modern art gallery in Winterthur like knoerle & baettig without expectations or preconceptions of what you’ll find there.

Ignite Zurich – Art – Rarity and the Web

I gave talk at the 1st Ignite Zurich (Dec. 2nd at The Hub Zurich) centered on art, rarity, and what that means in the context of the internet and web technologies. A big thank you to Inês Santos Silva for organizing, the night was an awesome inspirational event. Here’s a break down of the ideas I put into my talk…

The Value of Art

What is the value of art, why is it traded for money and why is it sometime considered priceless? The value of art is a combination of traditional supply and demand, rarity, and context. you can’t assign value to art without considering the context of it’s creation. the time and place, and how it fits in with the overall context of the art scene at that particular point in time, that will never come again. Yes, it’s possible that your five year old could have painted that, but they didn’t. Art is idea execution. If you were the first person to put your shit in a can and sell it, you would eventually command a price of over 100,000 USD, but if you do it now it’s just considered a strange precousur to insanity and generally socially unacceptable.

What is Art?

Art is a combination of having the new idea and executing it. Art is not an idea, it is the creation of something significant, just as an idea is worthless in a startup company that doesn’t execute it well. Facebook, Google, Apple, Microsoft all executed their ideas at the right points in time, but they weren’t necessarily the first. It doesn’t matter is someone “stole” your startup idea, it matters if a company was created from that idea. That’s the execution and beauty of it. Now, at this point in time you can launch your own social network, search engine, and software company, but it won’t have the same impact, unless it brings something new and is understood to be genius in the current context of the tech scene. It doesn’t matter if you paint a new Mona Lisa, the idea is done (and overdone and redone in reproductions).

The unique thing about art is that the work gets value at any point in time so long as it fits the context of the history of an art movement, or rather is a disruption. Vincent van Gothe died barely selling a painting. If it’s not discovered and put into context it’s worthless. This is why artists get discovered later on but younger artists are promoted more than older ones when they come onto the art scene. You want the work of the young artists before they become “big” but it’s just a gamble that that will actually happen. So, logically you should create some great work and then kill yourself, because this ensures that you won’t be able to produce any more excellent art. The first person to paint grey instead of blue and red and green would be considered amazing, and all the rest that follow will just be part of the movement. Without the movement, no one cares about the first one, it has no value.

Context vs Content

How can an artist create the context for the work to have value? Or should you just create things and hope that they have some value for other people? The Doktor of Science in me says you get to the heart of the beast and just create or engineer your own context to create value. A piece of art work is a container for an idea, it’s a physical execution of an idea that can be viewed and reinterpreted as needed by society. Nobody cares what the first design of Google looked like, we just want to use it. Maybe the first sketch will sell for a million dollars one day, like the first apple computer, but only because of the context of history. This is because on the internet content is king. People was to use the technologies of the internet, not just be influenced by the ideas.

The UX Perspective

One thing I learned from hanging out with people at the Zurch UX Book club is some of the psychology behind buying things. When things are rare, inside of you is triggered that, “buy it now” mentality. When you see there’s only a few things left in stock, you’re pressured to buy it now. This probably goes back to the natural instinct to collect things and then trade them later on for things you might want from other people, the beginnings of capitalism. So I thought, how can I create a “buy it now” context for my art? In a world of immersion and augmented reality, installations will be the containers. Will we really care if things are real or not? Will it matter if it’s the real Mona Lisa or not? The experience will probably become more and more necessary to have an impact, but we’re not there just yet.

Art Death Concept

The Art Death concept is an auction platform idea I started putting together after taking a professional artist seminar at the F&F Kunst Schule with Olga Stefan. To combine the ideas of art with value related to context and the percieved value of art increasing due to psychological tendencies related to rarity, the best thing is to create an auction where the context of value is engineered into the platform, or rather, the performance.

I can accomplish this by putting up my art for auction on a combined internet and real world platform, having a reserve bid for each piece and a time constraint. If the work doesn’t sell for the reserve price, I have to destroy it personally with various dramatic methods. Like taking a rusty chainsaw or a flame thrower and purifiying the world of my mistakes that don’t sell because they have no value to society. It will take some preparation to do this thing right, and I think some fundraising via Kickstarter is in order.

On the Verge: F&F Art Show at Rote Fabrik Zurich

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. 

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

Artists Exhibiting:

Misha Camenzind
Christiane Haase
Sarah Honner
Dominik His
Malgorzata Krynicka
Annamarie Merz
Mark Melnykowycz
Kirsten Moselund
Chris Solarski
Louise Tidd
Annie Unsworth

God Envy – Deconstructing A Painting

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.

Gonzo Art Presentation

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.

Tweeting the Gonzo Art Creation

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.

Mortal Lust

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.

Time to Jet: Paints Packed for Copenhagen

This weekend I’m heading to 1 Day of Art in Copenhagen and I’m sort of freaking out. To recap, I won the 1 Day of Art Creative Invite offered on Talenthouse, sponsored by (t)here magazine and Hotel Fox. The point of the adventure is to create a body of art in 24 hours for the magazine. There are only a few things I know for sure, floating around in my conscious brain, I have a flight to Copenhagen and a confirmation at Hotel Fox, all else is basically a mystery. When I asked what I should bring along, I was informed,

“bring what you need to create.  camera. paint spray paint glue  sticky notes paper sketch books”

Naturally I have most of these things on hand, but shopping for paints is ten time more fun than shopping for shoes, so I headed to the stores to pick up some paints and accessories for the trip, but now my heads are filled with adrenaline and sort of freaking out. You can’t think too much here, because you don’t know what’s coming. What will the Assignment be? We must prepare ourselves for anything, the future is a blank page and I’m walking into it with a curious anticipation I’ve never felt before. I have no game plan when it comes to art. I like the moment of creation to be unconnected from planning and science. I don’t plan out paintings, I don’t imagine how colors should connect with shapes, I just let myself fall into a trance state and let it all flow out. So it’s sort of hard to know what to take along. However, I’ve accepted the flight ticket and will now enjoy the ride.

My take-with list includes:

  • Various tubes of latex paint, rollers, sponge brushes
  • Paint and Manga markers
  • Sony A900, Sony F58 flashes, Orbis ring flash adapter
  • A head full of nervous anticipation

I don’t want to come off as a kindergarten-hack painter in Copenhagen, but I guess the best way to deal with these emotional insecurities is with a healthy cocktail of unearned confidence and a generous quantity of “just be yourself.” I was picked based on the Lazy Art I submitted, so logically I just have to do what I was doing before, and resist the urge to rewatch Basquiat and attempt to play myself off as some nouveau uber-awesome creative artist, because at the end of the day, I’m nothing more glamorous than a Doktor of Science. I should be prepared for anything. However, the airline has a baggage limit, and you’re always improvising with what you have anyways, no matter how much stuff you bring along to an event or setup in a laboratory. Whatever I create at 1 Day of Art it’ll probably have some elements of illustration, painting (color throwing) and writing. I can’t really separate these things, they all come up in the process and it seems like a natural thing to combine  them all. I’m uber excited to see what happens in Copenhagen, a city I’ve never been to and an environment I’ve never experienced before, it’s primed to be an awesome time and I’m still in awe that it’s happening.

Heading to 1 Day of Art in Copenhagen

Strange and interesting opportunities come to those that seek them out. That’s the a sequence of words which come into mine when I pondered the email I had received from Talenthouse, stating in clear and unclutterd language that my Lazy Art submission had won me a trip to Copenhagen to participate in the 1 Day of Art event from (t)here Magazine.

Talenthouse is a social-networking website for creatives. I joined it a year or so ago, and eventually started adding to my online portfolio. It has a slick interface and is designed to be a very socially-oriented website. It’s like Flickr with the visual feeling of DeviantArt and something that no other website I know of offers, the opportunity to submit work to Creative Invites. It’s like this, a company organizes an invite, users submit their work, the sponsor picks the winners, and in my case, it means a flight to Copenhagen and a free license to go crazy creating art for an issue of (t)here magazine.

I submitted three pieces from my Lazy Art collection of 1mx1m paintings. These are graffiti inspired splatter feats of madness I do in my apartment from time to time. I started painting because it’s more fun than playing on Photoshop, and a billion times more interesting than screwing around on Facebook or watching MTV. Getting to do this in Copenhagen is sort of like a weird dream sequence. I don’t know what will happen there, but I’m heading into the future with an open mind and soul filled with desire to experience the unknown.

lazy art number oneThe premise of 1 Day of Art Copenhagen is straight forward. I fly to Copenhagen, there’s a bunch of other artists, photographers, etc. who will be there as well. We blindly pick an editorial assignment, and then have 24 hours to create a body of work on that mysterious subject. Here’s the official out line of events from (t)here magazine:

On October 1, 2010, artists of all disciplines will gather in COPENHAGEN for a one day creative event – 1 DAY OF ART. In this premier (t)here magazine concept – photographers, writers, visual artists, designers, and musicians will participate in an undisclosed editorial assignment. Our participants will gather in one location where they will randomly draw their assigned subject. Their subsequent content must be executed in one day, and executed within the city limits of Copenhagen. All files and relevant materials are due 24 hours later

The results will be published in (t)here Volume 13, due for release in SPRING 2011.

To be honest, this is balls to the wall scary for me because I don’t have any clue what’s coming, and I run the risk of making a fool of myself on the world stage. It’s also barrel-of-monkies fun, the type of trip I was born to go on. When fear and the thought of falling on my face creep up my spine, I look inward to setting my mind. I look at it like mountaineering. No sane person can head into the mountains without thinking they could die. Or, I think that’s the only responsible way to mountaineer. This sort of mindset keeps your senses alert and sharp, even when you’ve been out for 10 hours and your legs are shaking on the rock edge of a long ridge. You keep going because there’s no other option, and that’s my mindset for Copenhagen, head into the adventure without much of a plan, but all the disrespect for failure my sarcastic personality can muster.

There are a few things – philosophies if you will, that work for me in life. It starts with accepting that I may die on each mountaineering trip, welcoming that I’ll probably fail at whatever I start out doing, and believing that that inevitable failure means absolutely nothing. This method has served me well so far in life. It means I’ll try nearly anything, including walking into a cloud of tear gas, just to see what it will feel like (it’s like cooking too many onions in a kitchen with the window closed) and even if I do screw up along the way, I’m not blocked from going forward and living an interesting life. I know this comes off as sounding a little arrogant, but I’m a vented Doktor of Science, and assure you that I’m the first to admit when I’m spewing nonsense from my lips.

I would like to officially thank Talenthouse(t)here Magazine, and Hotel Fox for making this adventure possible. I don’t know what will happen next, but my senses are alert, and I’m geared in the head to find out what will materialize from this interesting course of events.

The Gods Envy Us

lazy art number 3Editor’s note:

Please excuse the logic from the following piece. The tortured author was locked in his apartment for a rainy Sunday afternoon and took to watching the great classics, Troy, Clash of the Titans, Basquiat, and began pondering a simple philosophy of art as ancient religion, and if artists are Gods giving birth to their creations, will it kill the creator when it grows up?

“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)

I just want everything to be clear, uncluttered and obvious without reproach when I get it all wrong. The fear is to get it all wrong in the end – to drop the bomb to stop the war and end up in a toxic arms race for the next 30 years. You don’t know in the conception stage if the creation will turn out evil and rebel against you like a the son of a Greek king. Will it kill you in your sleep and renounce the love you thought existed. We are masters of ourselves, and the watchful beings above are there to make sure we don’t get out of hand.

What do mortals do when the creativity Gods continually fuck with our minds? Do you turn to drink and drugs like a cliche creative sob-story ready for a TV docudrama regurgitation of a plotline? Is it acceptable to sit back and let it all play out as they like? Let the images from our paintings and photographs bully us into self-loathing and despair. The abstract painting demands red instead of blue so I sit there in front of the canvas and do as it commands. Then when I try to sleep the demon beast invades my thoughts and dreams, taunting me with shapes and colors I can’t translate into reality.

“We can do it,” says reason, we can renounce the Gods and bring them to their knees. We can destroy the Mona Lisa and set fire to every painting we did, crush the statues and delete all the images. I close my eyes and almost feel the Nirvana of an Art free, madness-not world. Then faith opens a doorway to fear and we kneel before the darkness, praying for protection and salvation. Save every picture and each stupid sketch. Nothing can be lost – for it means that nothing ever mattered.

The Gods need us, they need us because we enable their existence. Because without us to imagine their lips and lungs, they would have no breath to take. A symbiosis is always existing, one feeding the other and taking life somewhere else. Hope, fear, and faith. Love, philosophy and hate. I’m going g places in my heads. The painting doesn’t exist without the painter, the picture needs the person to exist.

Images suggest stories and colors with shapes, and they demand a symphony of understanding – creating a clear flow between each other and giving the viewer a sense of intuitive understanding. No thinking is required for faith in art. No emphathy is need to kill the creation.

Even the creator doesn’t understand it
No need to look for a deeper meaning, for none exists
I was just fucking around, there is no genius here
The creation and the conception are not the same

The Gods envy us. They envy us because they can not create, but only observe the creator of their beings. The painting hangs on the wall and wonders what it would be like to build a human from DNA fragments and bits of bio-paint.

lazy art number one

The Digital Age – Art for the People

Art is a strange trapping.  Things can be creations and sometimes be called creative – but Art is generally the realm of artists.  People who do creativity for a living and the application of it to nonlinear representations.  They’re expressive and cultured and define what’s hip in the world, an now you can be one of them without quitting your money-making job.

Cheap manufacturing and digital design tools make things like radio slaves and flashes accessible to the masses.  Why pay a photographer to do that holiday card when for a bit more than the cost of a professional taking and printing the photos you can probably pick up an umbrella, stand, and remote flash and do it yourself.

Couple that flash with your current digital camera and now you can open the door to getting the digital images that you want out of life.  Be your own artist.

Let’s erase bad photos from the Earth.  Let’s put art where it belongs, in the hands of the people.

Even ten years ago this would have been nearly impossible for the normal folks.  Things like expensive digital cameras and crazy expensive flashes meant that you had to know what you were doing.  You still do of course, there’s no magic bullet (as the photo geeks say), but the divide between shit photo and Hollywood Lighting Master is now much reduced.

Now you can grab any point and shoot with manual control, use the flash to trigger the remote flashes, or pick up a cheap Chinese radio slave from eBay, and a half hour of fooling around later you have evenly exposed kick ass photos.

We actually have the ability to erraticate bad photography in our lifetime.

The digital laptop studio and the corner of your apartment translates into the ability to take cool photos of yourself or anyone you choose.

I like to go overboard, but the point is that now art and creativity are easier to express than at any time in history.  The mediums are limitless and accessible to more people than ever before.

Hollywood Lighting Master?  No, but I’m an engineer.

So what does this mean?  What’s the gist?  The gist is that you can easily create and enjoy art for yourself.  The digital age means having the power – the tools to make the art instead of looking to professionals to complete your need for expression.  If it’s not a multi-thousand dollar AD campaign, why not do it yourself?

I say embrace that freedom, erraticate harsh flash photos and embrace the clarity of the digital photo age.

It means allowing Artistic expression to reside in the hands of the un-artistically educated people of the World, not solely on museum walls and in expensive photo books.