Love the funny face mask contrast
Eye like Fine Art
‘Pornographic and disgusting’ painting removed from top London exhibition – because it features a woman’s pubic hair
This painting selected by the Society for Womens Artists (SWA) has been removed from a London exhibition because it was deemed to be “too pornographic and disgusting”, the artist has said.
Leena McCall’s oil painting of her friend, entitled Portrait of Ms Ruby May, Standing, features the model smoking a pipe and wearing a fur-trimmed vest and short trousers, unbuttoned to reveal her cleavage and a strip of black pubic hair.
The artist said the piece was designed to “get people talking about [Ms May’s] sexuality” – but it seems she has been too successful in that regard for the liking of the management at The Mall Gallery in central London.
Two days after a charity evening and private viewing at the gallery, Ms McCall said she received a phone call from the SWA saying her picture had been removed.
She said: “My work deals with female sexual and erotic identity. The fact that the gallery has deemed the work inappropriate and seen it necessary to have it removed from public display underlines the precise issue I am trying to address: how women choose to express their sexual identity beyond the male gaze.”The gallery offered her the opportunity to replace her painting with another work, but she said that would be tantamount to admitted there was something wrong with it.
Instead, she has set up a social media campaign under the banner #eroticcensorship – to see if she can get people talking about sexuality in that medium instead.
Twitter users lamented the “19th century Victorian ideas” at play, and asked: “How is that any more outré than classical nudes?”
Ruby May, the subject of the painting, said: “I don’t think people realise how threatening a sexually empowered woman is to a paradigm that is still patriarchal at its roots. Thankfully, the world is evolving, this outdated paradigm is crumbling, and forms of censorship such as this are becoming unacceptable to the wider public.”
In a statement, the Mall Gallery said: “As an educational arts charity, the federation has a responsibility to its trustees and to the children and vulnerable adults who use its galleries and learning centre. After a number of complaints regarding the depiction of the subject and taking account of its location en route for children to our learning centre, we requested the painting was removed.”
The SWA told the Guardian: “The executive secretary, Rebecca Cotton, said: “We thought the painting was beautifully executed and the composition was much admired. We saw nothing wrong with it; had we, the piece would not have been selected. We hire the gallery space from the Mall Galleries for the period that the show is on. The gallery took it down without seeking our approval.”
Ruby May McCall Painting- The image that was removed.
Tracey Emins bed removed
Tracey Emins Bed removed
Chris Ofili- removed art work
Chris Ofili- removed art work
Glenn Copus/Evening Standard/Rex
Pioneering artists from across Europe, the Americas and Japan will be shown at Tate St Ives for the first time in The Modern Lens.
This will be the largest display of photographic works ever to be exhibited at the gallery. Looking at developments in international photography from the 1920s to the 1960s, the exhibition uncovers the sense of curiosity and experimentation as artists harnessed the medium in new ways.
Photography was used to explore ideas of abstraction, developed in tandem with the emergence of wider modernist languages across the globe. It also demonstrated the significance of a local perspective, as artists combined the broad influences of abstraction, constructivism and surrealism with their own contexts. There are images of rural landscapes, organic formations, manmade objects and industrial materials, as well as of urban architecture.
Loosely arranged by location, The Modern Lens opens with photography and abstraction in Latin America: architecture, light and constructed forms underpin works by artists such as Geraldo de Barros and Thomaz Farkas in Brazil.
In subsequent galleries, paintings and sculptures from British artists in the 1930s, including Paul Nash, Ben Nicholson, Ivon Hitchens, Barbara Hepworth and Henry Moore, explore a moment in British modernism shaped by the opposing forces of pure abstraction and surrealism. These works are shown in relation to a photographic sequence made by architect and designer Charlotte Perriand, artistFernand Léger and architect Pierre Jeanneret, who were collaborating in Paris in the same period; their work is the result of a series of ‘performed’ walks in which they staged encounters with geometric forms in nature.
The embracing of new technologies to relay the formal qualities of light, space and tone were central lessons of the Bauhaus in Germany from its opening in 1919.
Including rare photograms, prints and film footage by renowned tutors László Moholy-Nagy and Walter Peterhans along with their students, the exhibition considers how the school influenced migrant modernist photographers such asIwao Yamawaki from Japan and the Hungarian Judit Kárász.
The Modern Lens culminates with the work of Harry Callahan, one of America’s most influential photographers. Invited to teach at Moholy-Nagy’s New Bauhaus (Chicago Institute of Design), Callahan worked equally in black and white as well as in colour, and was key to the development of formal abstraction in post-war American photography.
James Ostrer's sugary-adorned portraits
The Times Powerpoint
While we are throwing away bottles of pop and avoiding hidden sugars in the quest to tackle the obesity crisis, others are using art to deal with their rampant sweet issues. The photographer James Ostrer, a self-confessed sugar addict, has covered his subjects, including himself, in layers of sweets, buns, crisps, chocolate and cakes for his latest photographic study, Wotsit All About?
He starts by mixing cream cheese with artificial colouring, which he then smears over his subjects, before adding the junk food. A full body can take up to one hour to finish, the face only about 30 minutes. He has to plan ahead meticulously, making the adornments in advance, because there is only a certain amount of time the food will stay looking perfect before it falls off the subject or, if it’s ice cream, melts.
“I wanted to engulf myself in sugary foods hoping that by doing this, I wouldn’t be attracted to them anymore,” says Ostrer. “I thought the project would cure me. It did create a sense of detachment between me and the item as a consumable, but now that the show is hung, I have removed the vast boxes of junk food from my studio, so that I don’t binge.”
His photographs include a model covered in endless hundred and thousands. In one photograph (above left) a man has
chips as hair, a burger as amouth with tomato ketchup dips for eyes and a chicken nugget as a nose. A tribal theme runs through the photographs. “I wanted to redefine the human species in modern tribes based on what they eat.”
Ostrer studied at the Royal College of Art, before becoming a set designer at the English National Ballet. After some scenery fell on him causing a back injury, he turned to photography. His portrait of interior designer Nicky Haslam sitting in Lucien Freud’s chair hangs in the National Portrait Gallery. Most of his work is “self-help therapy”, though, focusing on addiction and family.
Of his latest body of work, he says: “Instead of wanting to create something that makes you feel down in 20 minutes, like sugar, I wanted to create something beautiful that lasts forever.”
James Ostrer’s sugar sculptures.
ames Ostrer is a sugar addict. Not that he’s alone - apparently the average Briton consumes the equivalent of up to 238 teaspoons of sugar every week. Half of us are overweight, nore than a quarter of us are obese and it’s costing us billions of pounds in healthcare every year. Unlike most of us (who angst about it, and then order pudding), Ostrer, a photographer known for his nude portrait of interior designer Nicky Haslam, decided to explore this modern scourge by slathering his friends in icing, sticking them all over with doughnuts and hundreds and thousands to make unbearbly sticky living sculptures, and then taking photographs. Say cream cheese, you’re on candy camera. The results are lurid. The images nod to ‘tribal’ art, but in inky pinks, screaming yellows, thoroughly unnatural blues.
“It was meant to be an exercise in separating me from becoming highly addicted to sugar, to unpick Tony the Tiger telling me to have bowls of sugar for breakfast” Ostrer says.
The pictures have a nightmarish quality - think Leigh Bowery les loose at Cadbury World - a reference, he says, to the way that we fail to nurture ourselves by eating foods with little ir no nutritional value, while paying no attention to where it comes from. And he’s as guilty as the rest of us.
“My relationship with sugar is compulsive. Anything with bright coloured packaging. I went through a massive chocolate fingers phase, those little bright bullets, you just pop them in. But making this body of work means that now when I look at these objects they’ve become sculpting items. When I walk into a supermarket I don’t see food. But I have two car loads of junk food in my studio, like it;s my own corner shop, and that’s a dangerous place to be.”
A: Are you conscious about the food you eat?
JO: Whenever I visit my mum she says to me, “Are you still on the lentils or do you want a bacon sandwich?”. I go through phases of swinging from bad to good without much of a middle ground. Also my one real vice is that I love eating out for most meals so there tends to be a lot less control in what is in the food. When you order a “healthy” chicken salad it may as well be a Big Mac with all the dressing and croutons....
A: What do you want audiences to take from the work?
JO: As an artist I want people to feel something and whatever happens is great. This is the first show that I have ever had where not one person out of everyone that came up to me at the opening asked me what the work was about. They all im- mediately launched into what the works meant to them on a personal and/or global level. This is the greatest compliment and experience I have ever had as it means the works are doing what they are meant to.....
A: What do you have planned for next?
JO: I don’t like to discuss my new projects before I have completed them but I am very excited about what is going on..... On a personal level the other major focus is that I want to start to cook for myself as healthily as I cook for my dog. He nearly died a year ago from having cancer and a heart condition. I started to hand cook chicken and vegetables and sometimes goose fat for him every day and he literally runs around like a puppy again. The happiness and energy he has now is unbe- lievable and I have no comprehension as to why I can’t do the same thing for myself.
Agi and Sam Fall 2015 | Yume No Yonbai cover artwork
Jake and Dinos Chapman at White Cube
Jake and Dinos Chapman at White Cube
The End of Fun (detail)
84 5/8 x 50 11/16 x 98 3/8 in. (215 x 128.7 x 249.8 cm)
Central vitrine: 84 13/16 x 50 3/8 x 50 3/8 in. (215.4 x 128 x 128 cm)
Fibreglass, plastic and mixed media in nine vitrines
Courtesy of the Duerckheim Collection
The End of Fun: 1 / 7
Jake & Dinos Chapman make iconoclastic sculpture, prints and installations that examine, with searing wit and energy, contemporary politics, religion and morality.
Working together since their graduation from the Royal College of Art in 1990, the Chapmans first received critical acclaim in 1991 for a diorama sculpture entitled 'Disasters of War' created out of remodelled plastic figurines enacting scenes from Goya's 'Disasters of War' etchings. Later they took a single scene from the work and meticulously transformed it into a 'Great Deeds Against the Dead' (1994), a life-size tableau of reworked fibreglass mannequins depicting three castrated and mutilated soldiers tied to a tree.
Arguably their most ambitious work was 'Hell' (1999), an immense tabletop tableau, peopled with over 30,000 remodelled, 2-inch-high figures, many in Nazi uniform and performing egregious acts of cruelty. The work combined historical, religious and mythic narratives to present an apocalyptic snapshot of the twentieth-century. Tragically this work was destroyed in the MOMART fire in 2004 and the Chapmans rebuked by saying they would make another, more ambitious in scale and detail - the result of which was 'Fucking Hell' (2008). The interim saw 'The Chapman Family Collection' (2002), comprised of a group of sculptures that bring to mind the loot from a Victorian explorer’s trophy bag, yet also portraying characters from McDonald’s. The conflation of the exotic fetish and the cheap fast-food giveaway, imperialism and globalisation, created a powerful sense of dislocation. ‘Like A Dog Returns To Its Vomit’ (2005), was an exhibition of the Chapmans’ graphic works, a large collection of etchings and drawings displayed on two walls and arranged in the shape of dogs. Many of the works were reinterpretations of Goya etchings, including the ‘Disasters Of War’ and the ‘Los Caprichos’ series. Using the Tate Collection's erotomanic sculpture 'Little Death Machine (Castrated)' (1993) as their point of departure, the Chapmans created 'When Humans Walked the Earth' (2008) an installation of ten improbable machines, cast in bronze and now ossified, emulating aspects of human behaviour with a trademark subversive wit.
Jake Chapman was born in 1966 in Cheltenham, Dinos Chapman in 1962 in London. They live and work in London. They have exhibited extensively, including solo shows at Serpentine Sackler Gallery, (2013); Chicken, Pinchuk Art Center, Kiev (2013); The Hermitage, St. Petersburg (2012); Museo Pino Pascali, Polignano a Mare, Italy (2010); Hastings Museum, UK (2009); Kestner Gesellschaft Hannover (2008); Tate Britain, London (2007); Tate Liverpool (2006); Kunsthaus Bregenz (2005); Museum Kunst Palast Düsseldorf (2003); Modern Art Oxford (2003); and PS1 Contemporary Art Center, New York (2000). Group exhibitions include the 1st Kiev International Biennale (2012), the 17th Biennale of Sydney (2010); Meadows Museum, Texas (2010); ‘Rude Britannia’, Tate Britain (2010); Bundeskunsthalle, Bonn (2010); Hareng Saur: Ensor and Contemporary Art, S.M.A.K, Ghent (2010), National Center of Contemporary Art, Moscow (2009); Kunstverein Hamburg (2009); British Museum, London (2009); Palais des Beaux Arts de Lille (2008); Haus der Kunst, Munich (2008); ICA, London (2008); ‘Summer Exhibition’, Annenberg Courtyard, Royal Academy of Arts, London (2007); ARS 06, Museum of Contemporary Art KIASMA, Helsinki (2006) and Turner Prize, Tate Britain (2003).
Borromeo's Knots 4
23 5/8 x 29 1/2 x 39 3/8 in. (60 x 75 x 100 cm)
Photo: Stephen White
Borromeo's Knots 4: 1 / 4
Damián Ortega’s work explores specific economic, aesthetic and cultural situations and, in particular, how regional culture affects commodity consumption.
He began his career as a political cartoonist and his art has the intellectual rigour and sense of playfulness often associated with his previous occupation. Ortega's sculptures, installations, videos and actions are inspired by a wide range of mundane objects, from pick-axes to bricks, rubbish bins and tortillas, all subjected to what has been described as Ortega’s characteristically “mischievous process of transformation and dysfunction”. In Cosmic Thing (2002), one of his most celebrated works, Ortega disassembled a Volkswagen Beetle and re-composed it piece by piece, suspended from wires in mid-air, in the manner of a mechanic’s instruction manual. The result was both a diagram and a fragmented object that offered a new way of seeing the 'people’s car' first developed in Nazi Germany but now produced en masse in his native Mexico. In Spirit (2005), Ortega constructed a series of architectural spaces using recycled materials which, when viewed from above, spelled out the letters of the work’s title, playing with the idea of optical and physical illusion.
In 2010, for his exhibition The Independent at The Barbican Curve Gallery, Ortega reverted back to his days as a political cartoonist and set himself the challenge of making a new artwork each day for the period of one month, based on a daily news item. Inspiration came from a headline, photograph, cartoon or graphic and ranged in subject from flooding in Pakistan to an Arsenal football game.
Damián Ortega was born in 1967 in Mexico City and currently lives and works in Mexico City and Berlin, Germany. He has exhibited internationally including solo exhibitions at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia (2002), Kunsthalle Basel (2004), Tate Modern, London and Museu da Arte Pampulha, Belo Horizonte, Brazil (2005), The Ikon Gallery, Birmingham, The Gallery at REDCAT, Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (2007), Centre Pompidou, Paris (2008), Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston (2009), Barbican Curve Gallery, London (2010) and The Freud Museum, London (2013). Group exhibitions include the 50th Venice Biennale (2003), 'Made in Mexico', Insitute of Contemporary Art, Boston (2003) and the São Paulo Biennial (2006).
10 1/4 x 13 13/16 in. (26 x 35.2 cm)
Oil on canvas
ellen altfest - 2011
Photo: Todd-White Art Photography
Paintings 2011: 1 / 3
Since leaving Yale School of Art Ellen Altfest has developed her own distinct and devoted approach to a figurative and representational painting. The writer and artist David Humphrey’s describes ‘her paintings celebrate the way objects become engulfed by their surroundings and simple acts of identification multiply and transform’.
Altfest always paints from life, drawn towards domestic plants, vegetables and more recently, male models. Altfest immerses herself in an intense analysis and personal engagement with the subject that pushes her vision beyond the real.
Compositionally the paintings are all tightly edited and framed, almost encroaching on the subject’s space whether it be the nucleus of tumbleweed through to the wrinkled skin of a cacti next to the neckline of the sitter. Altfest approaches her various subjects with a similar intent, spending hours of careful observation and study that results in images that although appear voyeuristic are portrayed with a deadpan humour and utmost vigilance towards her painting process.
Her first New York exhibition was titled ‘Rocks and Trees’ (2002) where the works were created outdoors, looking intensely at the variegated surfaces of bark and stone and how they contrast within their natural environment. For her next solo show ‘Still lives’ (2005) she began to bring nature, both living and decaying into her industrial studio space. In Two Logs, the wood depicted is both gnarly and lichen covered but lays camouflaged into the paint spattered wooden floor. While the Tumbleweed is pushed into the corner of the room and becomes , as David Humphrey suggests, ‘like all [of] her subjects… a brain, a world or animate being.’
In 2006 Altfest started the series of male nude studies with a candid portrayal of The Penis that almost topographically registers every hair, vein and skin tone as rigorously as the abstract paint- stained stool that the model sits on. In the Sleeping Man the creases or stretch of his skin almost mimics the leather couch that he reclines on. With this heightened sense of realism or myopic vision of all her subjects, Altfest animates everything she observes oscillating between desire and detachment. In her most recent paintings, Rock, foot, plant and Head and Plant there is an uncanny interplay between still life and life-model so the identity of the sitter is obscured by an object and the body parts become further displaced. As Altfest explains ‘The paintings of men seem to have an inverse relationship to still life, with the men becoming less like human subjects and more like still life objects.’
Ellen Altfest received an MFA from Yale University. She attended the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture (2002) and was awarded a studio at the Marie Walsh Sharpe art foundation (2004-5). In 2004 she was a resident at the Dorland Mountain Art Center in the foothills of Temecula, CA. She now lives and works in New York City. Since her solo exhibition at White Cube in 2007 she has completed a residency and solo exhibition at the Chinati Foundation, Marfa, Texas (2010). In 2012 she will participate in group exhibitions ‘It Is What It Is, Or Is It?’ at the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston and The National Academy Museum's Annual Exhibition, New York. Other exhibitions include ‘USA Today’ at the Royal Academy of Arts, London and ‘Men’, a group exhibition she curated at I-20 Gallery in New York, in 2006.
Antony Gormley is widely acclaimed for his sculptures, installations and public artworks that investigate the relationship of the human body to space. His work has developed the potential opened up by sculpture since the 1960s through a critical engagement with both his own body and those of others in a way that confronts fundamental questions of where human beings stand in relation to nature and the cosmos. Gormley continually tries to identify the space of art as a place of becoming in which new behaviours, thoughts and feelings can arise.
Gormley’s work has been widely exhibited throughout the UK and internationally with exhibitions at Zentrum Paul Klee, Bern (2014); Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil, São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Brasilia (2012); Deichtorhallen, Hamburg (2012); The State Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg (2011); Kunsthaus Bregenz, Austria (2010); Hayward Gallery, London (2007); Malmö Konsthall, Sweden (1993) and Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Humlebæk, Denmark (1989). He has also participated in major group shows such as the Venice Biennale (1982 and 1986) and Documenta 8, Kassel, Germany (1987). Permanent public works include the Angel of the North (Gateshead, England), Another Place (Crosby Beach, England), Inside Australia (Lake Ballard, Western Australia) and Exposure (Lelystad, The Netherlands).
Gormley was awarded the Turner Prize in 1994, the South Bank Prize for Visual Art in 1999, the Bernhard Heiliger Award for Sculpture in 2007, the Obayashi Prize in 2012 and the Praemium Imperiale in 2013. In 1997 he was made an Officer of the British Empire (OBE) and was made a knight in the New Year’s Honours list in 2014. He is an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architects, an Honorary Doctor of the University of Cambridge and a Fellow of Trinity and Jesus Colleges, Cambridge. Gormley has been a Royal Academician since 2003 and a British Museum Trustee since 2007.
Antony Gormley was born in London in 1950.
Antony Gormley Field
Antony Gormley Field
This spring and summer, three rooms at Barrington Court will be filled with Antony Gormley’s acclaimed work Field for the British Isles, consisting of 40,000 small clay figures.
Barrington Court in Somerset is one of five National Trust properties around the country to be chosen to exhibit a special selection of pieces on loan from the Arts Council Collection, the largest loan collection of modern and contemporary British art in the world, as part of the Trust New Art programme.
Barrington Court is normally empty of furniture and the three ground floor rooms will be transformed by the presence of the exhibition of Antony Gormley’s work.This is the first time that Field for the British Isles has been spread through three rooms. Antony Gormley is one of Britain’s foremost sculptors, his most famous work being the Angel of the North in Gateshead. His work frequently uses human figures, including several involving life sized cast iron figures. Barrington Court is no stranger to contemporary art, but Field for the British Isles is by far the most ambitious project to have been brought to the National Trust house.
Talking about Field coming to Somerset Antony Gormley said: “Field for the British Isles has been in the Arts Council Collection for years and has been seen in varied venues. I hope that at Barrington the impression that the work could go on forever as it reaches into inaccessible places works, so that it appears to have flooded the space. It’s good that the Trust commissions and shows new art. All art was contemporary once.”
Sonja Power, Barrington Court’s House and Collections Manager said. “The figures won’t just fill the rooms, they flow across them from wall to wall,” said ‘The house is normally empty spaces – now it has been brought to life by thousands and thousands of tiny people. We have had contemporary art at Barrington before but this is an entirely different scale. Even with the rest of the house still empty, it will make people look at Barrington in a very different way – and respond to Gormley’s installation in a new way as well.”
In keeping with the artist’s instructions, the installation will be set up by local people from across Somerset, who will be working with a team from the Arts Council Collection. Eight of the volunteers involved have been recruited from SCAT (Somerset College of Art and Technology). The Fine Art degree students all of them have a specific interest in installation and sculptural practice. Other volunteers work for South Somerset District Council’s arts and cultural unit while others volunteer already for the Trust at Barrington Court.
“Having local community involvement is integral to this work,” explained Paul Howard, who is managing in the installation for the National Trust.
“The figures were each made by the local community on Merseyside and here it is the people of Somerset who will be placing them in Barrington. Each figure is obviously hand made, very simple and yet they look back at you as you look into the rooms – and make the rooms feel so very different. They invade the rooms with their presence but also occupy the minds of those who see the installation, often creating an unexpected reaction.”
Antony Gormley said: “Field was my first collaborative work. The concept was mine, but it could not have been made without the help of many people. The instructions to create the work are very simple. You sit on the floor. You take a ball of clay from a pile. With your clay, you create a “body” in the space between your hands. You allow it to stand up, and make it conscious by giving it eyes with the point of a sharpened pencil. That repeated action of taking a hand-sized ball of clay, squeezing it between your hands, standing it up and giving it consciousness becomes meditative, the repeated action becoming almost like breathing, or a heartbeat.”
The figures were made by a community of families in St Helens, Merseyside, and Gormley won the Turner Prize in 1994 for his 1993 exhibition at Tate Liverpool which included Field. It has taken five days to set up the installation at Barrington Court.
Caroline Douglas, Head of the Arts Council Collection, said: “The Arts Council Collection has always been committed to showing works in the widest possible range of public buildings across the UK. We are delighted to be working with Barrington Court to bring Field for the British Isles to a new audience as part of the Trust New Art initiative.”
In addition to hosting the exhibition, Barrington Court will be running workshops for school groups and visitors who will make their own figures at the property.
Trust New Art is the National Trust’s 3-year programme in partnership with the Arts Council England to promote contemporary and modern art in its historic places.
Field for the British Isles has been loaned by the Arts Council Collection, as part of a new collaboration with the National Trust which will see five sites in the Trust’s care show modern and contemporary works from the Collection in selections that resonate with each site’s history and unique character.
Field close up
men dyeing their beards and hair colours
Men Dyeing Their Beards Bright Colors Is the Latest Trend in Facial Hair
In the latest attempt to bring attention to their facial hair, men are dyeing their beards insanely bright colors. Although men dyeing their beards isn't exactly a brand new trend, the practice is picking up steam, likely due to the rise of beards in general.
Men are going all out making their beards bright shades of green, blue, pink, or just turning it into a full on rainbow. The new colorful beards are strongly reminiscent of women who started dyeing their armpit hair a spectrum of neon colors last year.
In 2014, men put flowers and Christmas decorations in their beards, so this actually doesn't seem too far off course. Maybe this is all to blame on the hordes of dudes who spent $7,000 on facial hair transplants and are now desperately trying to make the most out of their new, expensive accessory.
men dying their beards(wow the makeup on that man)
Givenchy Autumn winter
from drones to bio-hacking, are we ready for a tech takeover?
We investigate the tech trends of 2015, and whether this is the year everything we know to be sci-fi, will become sci-fact.
"2015? You mean we're in the future?" says Marty McFly in Back to the Future II. We're firmly living in the fast paced age of technology and while we might not be cruising through the clouds in flying cars or eating hydrated pizzas, technology is developing at the speed of light! It shocked our systems in 2014 as we welcomed the rise of wearable technology, got down and dirty with masturbating robots, watched FKA Twigs look fly in Google Glass and broke the internet with #cometlanding. 2015 kicked off with a glimpse into our future at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, and it turns out drones and robots are the next big thing, we're heading to infinity and beyond in driverless cars and practically everything on show can to connect to the Internet.
The latest tech trends are intended to benefit mankind in every shape and form, from health and fitness to sex and surveillance. Taking off at the CES, shiny new drones performed dance routines, delivered parcels, took the perfect selfie and tracked, filmed and followed their users. There was even one called Nixie that shape shifts from bracelet to flying camera when thrown in the air. If all goes well, Amazon Prime Air will have your package flown through the sky by their delivering drones, right to your front door in 30 minutes. Driverless cars were an even hotter hit. Fast, furious and futuristic, the self driving Mercedes-Benz F015 stole the show, Nissan is teaming up with NASA and BMW are getting closer and closer to an autonomous car. Wearable technology is still the future of fashion, with smart watches, belts and bracelets monitoring everything from heart rate to health and happiness.
Recently, Channel 4 sent comedian KG to the land of high-tech dreams, San Francisco, to film the 4oD Shorts series, Futurgasm. From $100 dollar cups that analyse your drink, to fit friendly watches that shock your body (literally) if you don't exercise, he was exposed to brand spanking new gadgets and gizmos. "The most exciting technology had to be Oculus Rift," says KG on the virtual reality headset. "As a part of an exhibition called Birdy I was flying around the skies of San Francisco. It felt like I was "Matrixed" into this virtual world that felt so real. When I got off the machine I felt nauseous but I missed my ability to fly." It's easy to get carried away in a virtual reality, dreaming of drones delivering takeaways or driverless cars chauffeuring us to and fro, but what problems arise from our love affair with high tech? "I love technology; I think we should just remember to use our brains. The best thing about the latest developments is how the impossible has become possible," says KG.
It's easy to let your mind wonder away with the possibilities of where technology can take us. Over in the states we are one step closer to combining man and machine. Bio-hacking is the term used to describe those who upgrade the body with D.I.Y body enhancements, such as magnetic implants or home gene sequencing. It's like a reinvention of mankind, a superhero makeover for the modern world. "The weirdest part of the trip had to be the bio-hackers. Before we met I was sure I was going to meet cyborg type people - I watch a lot of movies," KG explains. "When the guy starting moving metal with his finger and picking up keys I was sold. I met a person who had inserted a magnet but his finger was rejecting the foreign object. He said when it finally comes out there is going to be some blood, but he is going to insert a new one right away - hardcore."
Bio-hacking is dramatically changing our limitations as humans - Matrix-style magnetic control is only the beginning. Set in a not too far off future, an episode of Charlie Brooker's TV series Black Mirror explored the idea of extreme bio-hacking, with humans implanting micro-chips in their brain, allowing their eyes to work in the same way as Google Glass. It's the idea of merging together the familiar with the future in an exploration to see how far we can push the boundaries of technology. The concept of human manipulation opens up a whole new sci-fi world to explore, how far can we really take bio-hacking? "We already have bum-borgs, these are girls that are trying to get the Kim Kardashian booty via ways of cosmetic surgery, and it's only a matter of time before they can connect a USB port to one of their butt cheeks so you can charge your phone while you are on the go," says KG. "I think it will take another 10 years before we try something as crazy as that, but if a well known celebrity does it tomorrow we will have bio-hackers all over UK. Celeb culture is still the future, so if it's mixed with technology the cocktail is complete."
2015 is the year that technology may takeover. It's the year that could spell the end of privacy as we enter a constantly surveyed society, one where drones fly overhead recording every move you make, more Orwell's Big Brother than the Channel 5 variety. The more we're used to technology aiding our everyday lives the less we question the ways in which we're becoming powerless and how it may be used against us. Released later this month is Alex Garland's directorial debut Ex Machina. The sci-fi thriller depicts the story of a computer coder who ends up involved in an experiment with a brand new kind of artificial intelligence - a beautiful human-like robot named Ava. Is it possible that the idea behind Ex Machina is more sci-fact than sci-fi? Google have just spent £242 million to purchase DeepMind, a British A.I. company, who are trying to develop artificial conciseness as we speak. If A.I. develops conciseness, emotions and the ability to improve itself, perhaps it's humans that will go out of fashion. Who knows, maybe we are on our way to a post-human dystopian future where robots rule the world. It's like KG said - the impossible has become possible.
London Art Fair - Photo50 ‘Against Nature’
January 24, 2015
art | read
Tom Lovelace, Photo50 Against Nature, London Art Fair 2015
London Art Fair - Photo50 ‘Against Nature’
This year’s edition of Photo50 is Against Nature an exhibition curated by Sheyi Bankale, curator, photographer, and Editor of Next Level Magazine. Against Nature inspired by Joris-Karl Huysman’s eponymous novel, featuring 9 photographers; Jonny Briggs, Thorsten Brinkmann, Julio Galeote, Hassan Hajjaj, Darren Harvey-Regan, Adad Hannah, Andrew Lacon, Tom Lovelace, and Nikolai Ishchuk; question contemporary image-making and raise the photograph to the status of an object.
Against Nature is a bold visual and sensory delight, and if anyone is still under the impression that photography is not a ‘real’ art form, this exhibition will change your opinion. It consists of 4 connected spaces, the viewer navigates on a kind of explorative journey. Bankale most certainly has the ability to not only curate an informative display, but also one that is surprising, unconventional, at times theatrical, and at others subtle and quite. It’s plain that Bankale is an expert on the subject of photography, he lives and breathes it. Concerned not only by photography’s current identity, but also its future in the contemporary art world, Bankale himself states,
“for photography itself obtaining the status of an object, even an art
object of high symbolic value is now commonplace. This moment of
awareness of photography as object is significant, yet presumptuously
already out of date as new generations are in search of a new wave of
photography. Still, it is a perfect moment to unearth various reference
points to the physical nature of this art form.”
Sheyi Bankale, http://www.londonartfair.co.uk/library/Photo50, 23/1/15
To summarise Bankale through Against Nature intends to dissect the elevation of photography to an object and the narrative threads that underlie each piece. The narrative element of the show is immediately evident, in its title, Against Nature taken from a Joris-Klaus Huysman’s eponymous 1884 novel, whose central character, de Esseintes, turns against Bourgeois society and seeks recourse in isolated contemplation and constant stimulation of his senses. Significantly, this was also an important time in the development of photography, where techniques emerged linking photography more directly with the identity of an object: daguerrotype, tintype, and heliography. Through technological advances and the digitisation of photography, the final photograph today, has never seemed more ephemeral or farther away from an object.
Against Nature has the potent theatricality about it. Intentionally, as Bankale is employing each of the 9 photographers to design distinctive environments through their work, recreating a space much like the elaborately decorated and themed rooms of de Esseintes in Huysman’s version of Against Nature. The viewer is presented with a colourful exploration of the myriad of ways in which photography identifies itself today, beginning with photographer, sculptor, and performer, Tom Lovelace. His installation of colourful brooms, stacked up like mikado sticks, immediately invites the viewer in a light-hearted yet perplexing way. Thorsten Brinkmanns’ works take over an entire space and resemble an alluringly vivid cabinet of curiosities featuring his objet trove assemblages and photomontages. Spanish artist Julio Galeote, photographs staged realities in the alternate setting of the photographic studio. Through works entitled, “When Is An Image Not An Image?” Darren Harvey Regan attacks more directly the notion of representation in photography. Andrew Lacon employs photographic techniques to a sculptural end. Whereas Jonny Briggs touches upon photographic traditions in subject matter, having explored the constructed reality of the family for last 10 years. Nikolai Ishchuk’s works rest deceptively on the floor, looking heavy and solid, but his mixed-media approach actually involves disguising materials.A sense of familiarity prevails the exhibition, making it inviting and homely, whilst maintaining an element of the intentional uncanny; much like de Esseintes refuge mansion. However, the aforementioned familiarity stems from the fact that Bankale has previously worked with almost all of the artist in the exhibition. Brinkmann was included in Alice in Wonderland for the European City of Culture 2011 in Finland; and Hassan Hajjaj gave Bankale his first job. Hajjaj’s work, the last room of the exhibition is a playful, Marrocan inspired tea room splattered with pop culture references: coca cola and stop-sign wallpaper. Bankale wants to encourage the viewer to stop and reflect upon what he/her has seen and repose for a moment, after all Against Nature is intended to open a dialogue on the possibility of photograph as object. Against Nature is a beautiful, reflective exhibition, spanning media, time periods, and countries with its selection of artists.