Perhaps the digital artwork of Antonio Strafella isn’t so profane as it may at first seem. His series Spiritual Hero at once compares and juxtaposes saints and superheroes, the holy and the vulgar. Comic books are often thought of as the exclusive domain of young people, rarely taken serious. However, in a strange way the superheroes don’t seem exceptionally out of place in Strafella’s work. Indeed, many of the grand story lines of the characters featured by Strafella have clear Biblical references. He goes on to say:
“These icons have various aspects in common: saints do miracles and superheroes have superpowers, both are venerated, opening the conflict between faith and zealotry.”
To the street artist known as R1, the city is a living thing and he creates his ‘interventions’ accordingly. The city and its streets are something we interact with each day. R1’s simple interventions reveal our relationship with our urban homes. Perhaps more importantly, though, it challenges us to interact with the city in an entirely new ways. R1 says of his process:
“I consider the street as an open canvas. I work with urban interventions and collect every day found materials, transforming them and placing them back where they came from, to become a part of the city’s journey. The resulting artwork is tactile, moving within the motion of the cityscape. Like the street, the work finds its meaning once an interaction with the passer-by takes place.”
Artist Motoi Yamamoto is known for his sprawling installations entirely composed of carefully poured salt. His newest installation Charlotte, North Carolina’s Mint Museum is titled Floating Garden. Existing for slightly under a month, the community was invited to ‘dismantle’ the installation. A huge swirling pattern, one familiar from nature, covers the floor. Upon closer inspection, the hurricane-like shape is a tight network of neat lines of salt. Salt is replete with symbolism in Western culture but has special meaning in Japanese culture. The museum explains:
“Salt, a traditional symbol for purification and mourning in Japanese culture, is used in funeral rituals and by sumo wrestlers before matches. It is frequently placed in small piles at the entrance to restaurants and other businesses to ward off evil spirits and to attract benevolent ones. Motoi forged a connection to the substance while mourning the death of his sister, at the age of twenty-four, from brain cancer, and began to create art out of salt in an effort to preserve his memories of her.” [via]
Strata #4 is a two channel video by the artist known simply as Quayola. For the video, Quayola used images of two grand altarpieces by Rubens and Van Dyck. He worked with an HDR photographer to obtain huge 20,000 by 20,000 pixel images of the work. Then using unbelievable computing power and algorithms Quayloa investigates each masterpiece’s underlying structure, composition, and color. Strata #4 at turn resembles 20th century abstract renditions of the baroque work. Yet his video squarely part of a New Aesthetic, part of a 21st century sensibility.
Artist Harvey Moon admits that he has always had a difficult time drawing. Naturally, then, he built a robot to do it. Moon’s machines use the same pens that you’ll find on your desk right now. However the pens are moved around, picked up, and put down on a sheet of paper by motors running on a program. His first drawing machine works vertically with only two simple motors. The amount of detail put to paper by the machine, though, is astounding. Check out the video to see Moon give a more detailed explanation of the way the drawing machine works.
The work of artist Derek Paul Boyle can often seem humorous. Everyday objects are presented in simple juxtapositions that can be pleasantly surprising. His work begins with suppositions, trusted concepts, and expectations and ‘plays’ with them. Boyle depicts the familiar from a different conceptual angle to make his subject matter new. He says:
“I am interested in the power of contradiction, objects as events, and incompatible states of the self – what was once bound is made free, the known made unknown. In a wavering step between angst and serenity, fear and pleasure, I want to give form to anxiety, a shape to tension.”
The work of Koen Hauser floats somewhere between fine art and fashion photography. His series Modische Atlas der Anatomie illustrates this well. The series’ title is a kind play on words – literally it translates as “Fashionable Anatomy Atlas”, yet with a single vowel change it can be translated as “Medical Anatomy Atlas”. In the series, his subject seem to be modeling her organs as much as her clothes. Portions of the model’s body are cut away to reveal her inner workings. However, rather than depict the organs true to life, Hauser referenced traditional anatomy atlas’ – artistic medical reference works.
Dutch artists Thomas voor ‘t Hekke and Bas van Oerle make up the duo known as Front 404. While their work varies in medium it is consistent in being humorously subversive. For example, their project Plantmines is a sort of landmine that is constructive rather than destructive. Unaware passersby step on and discharge the plant mine sending colored powder and confetti into the air. More importantly, though, the confetti contains flower seeds that are intended to eventually grow at the site of the “blast”. The duo says of the project:
“You’ve stepped on a Plantmine, and the explosion of flower confetti serves as an instant party to celebrate that you live in a country where you don’t have to worry about stepping on a real landmine. The flower confetti contains flower seeds, to create a permanent happy and colourful spot in the place of the plantmine explosion.”
Check out the video to see a Plantmine or two blow up.