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WEB

CURRENT


MARTINA MENEGON
ADAM FERRISS
SHANE MECKLENBURGER

FUTURE


JERON BRAXTON
BRENNA MURPHY
MARK DORF
RAMAN K. MUSTAFA

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CURRENT


MARTINA MENEGON
ADAM FERRISS
SHANE MECKLENBURGER

FUTURE


JERON BRAXTON
BRENNA MURPHY
MARK DORF
RAMAN K. MUSTAFA

ABOUT

This is not a gallery

This is not a museum

This is not an institute

This is not a game

This is the space between virtual and material

This is Paper-Thin

Paper-Thin is produced and curated by Daniel Alexander Smith and Cameron Buckley.



ALAN RESNICK
HUNTER JONAKIN
D. BAIRD + H. AHMED
RACHAEL ARCHIBALD
HUGO ARCIER
ANDY LOMAS
CONTACT

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ALAN RESNICK


Alan Resnick is a visual artist, comedian, and filmmaker based in Baltimore, Maryland.

Since 2009 he has been a member of the arts, music, and comedy collective Wham City. He has shown work, performed, and toured internationally. He is obsessed with his own face. He is small. He treats his computer like a person. He co-created the Adult Swim specials Unedited Footage of A Bear and Live Forever As You Are Now With Alan Resnick.

alanresnick.info

 

PAPER-THIN: How did you approach your installation at Paper-Thin and can you talk about how this fits in with your current artistic practice?

ALAN RESNICK: I had been playing around with image-based lighting. I got a gazing globe to use for making custom HDRI images. When I was shopping for it I ended up looking at all these photos of gazing globes people were selling online. Each image of a gazing globe had all the reflections of the room it was in and a reflection of the photographer. I started to save and collect these images. The photographer, who wants to sell this garden gazing globe, is only trying to show us the object, but ends up capturing an image of themselves, the entire room, and the lighting conditions they were in. That is useful data, so I "unwrapped" the image to correct the distortion and started using them to light 3d scenes. After I had this collection of lighting conditions I started making "color tests", placing objects under all these various lighting conditions.


Image from: Ringworm - Installed at Paper-Thin

PAPER-THIN: Where does the figure (Ringworm) in your installation at Paper-Thin come from?

ALAN RESNICK: The character and name come from a comic I doodled. I like to make 3D objects from simple bad drawings.

PAPER-THIN: Looking at pieces like Live Forever As You Are Now With Alan Resnick, DVD Featurette, and Living Your Dreams Through Motion Capture, what role does comedy and performance play in your work? How do you see new media fitting into the comedy world, and what new opportunities does the medium present?

ALAN RESNICK: I think there is a lot of humorless fine art and a lot of aesthetic-less comedy. For me they are linked. I've always loved learning about advancements in technology, especially when it relates to Hollywood special effects. The visual language of these technologies has overtly influenced my fine art, but it's also influenced me as a person. Comedians and artists both make work about their own lives and experiences. For some comedians that means jokes about hating their wives and having kids, but for me it means jokes about boolean meshes.


Image from: The Ring Worm

PAPER-THIN: Describe your creative process. Which artists or comedians do you look at for inspiration?

ALAN RESNICK: I use intuition to make most creative decisions. Jiminy Glick is one of my favorite comedians.

PAPER-THIN: How do you approach the range of demands in different projects? For instance, with your Adult Swim work, did you have to change your creative development process drastically? Do you approach your comics in a conceptually different manner than, say, your 3D work or performance work?

ALAN RESNICK: I just want to make something I would want to see. If it’s comedic I just want to make myself laugh. The stuff I’ve made for Adult Swim is way way way more collaborative than most of my other work, but it is still coming from that same intention. The people I’ve collaborated with have very similar senses of humor and taste.


Image from: Live Forever As You Are Now

PAPER-THIN: With this variety of mediums present in your work, like the digital performances (Gchat, alantutorial) and animated computer models (Two Horrible Brothers, Ebay Gazing Globes - Suffering Mask) as well as the comics, what do you consider your primary medium? When did you first create work in this medium?

ALAN RESNICK: It’s hard for me to pick a primary focus. I enjoy bouncing around between many things, but professionally I end up working most in video. I’ve always made videos, starting when I was a little kid. In college I made the first video I would describe as "work".


Image from: Ebay Gazing Globes - Suffering Mask

PAPER-THIN: Can you talk about Wham City and your role in the group?

ALAN RESNICK: Wham City is a very amorphous group of friends who live in Baltimore who enjoy each other's work. They were more active before I started working with them, and now it's not not so much a thing with the exception of a lecture series and the comedy group I work with. Wham City Comedy has a core group of Robby Rackleff, Ben O'brien and myself but we pull in other people from time to time.

PAPER-THIN: How do you think living and working in Baltimore has influenced your comedy and art?

ALAN RESNICK: Living in Baltimore means I can afford to live as an artist full time and still pay rent. I think it keeps me a bit closer to reality? I'm sure it has influenced my comedy and art but in ways I'm not sure I can articulate.

 

HUNTER JONAKIN


Hunter Jonakin is a multimedia artist and educator who lives in Minneapolis, MN. He teaches at the Minneapolis Institute of Art and the University of Minnesota.

He has shown at MOCA Tucson, Zadok Gallery in Miami, and at the Governor's Island Art Fair in New York City. His work has been featured on the Creators Project (Vice), Italian public television, and BoingBoing, and in the Atlantic, the Huffington Post, Animal NYC, and Vanity Fair Italia, to name a few.

His most recent shows were at Xpo Gallery in Paris and the KW Institute of Art in Berlin.

hunterjonakin.com

 

PAPER-THIN: Satire plays a recurring role in much of your work-- Personal Pan Performances, Jeff Koons Must Die!!!, and Utility Harness for the Tortured Artist to name a few examples. Why is satire important in your art practice?

HUNTER JONAKIN: The short answer is that I enjoy it. I think a lot of people use an art framework to deconstruct and analyze other institutional systems. I tend to use art as way of being introspective about a system in which I am fully immersed. I also think it's much more of a challenge to inject humor into art. It's fun to push those boundaries.


Image from: The Author Must Die: Iteration 01

PAPER-THIN: Your installation at Paper-Thin is derived from the series, Collector's Digital Art Piece. What led you to make this series?

HUNTER JONAKIN: I was thinking about the problematic nature of digital art within an art commodity framework. One-of-a-kind can't really exist for a digital work. It is so easily reproduced and distributed. I created that series as a reaction to the art collector's market being so slow to accept digital work. I tried to connect a real-world, high-priced commodity mentality to a digital object in order to make it more appealing to collectors. It is meant to be tongue-in-cheek but presented in a very dry manner.

PAPER-THIN: How does installing Collector's Digital Art Piece at Paper-Thin affect the work?

HUNTER JONAKIN: I think it anchors it in a "reality", of sorts, which in turn also gives it an attachment of implied credibility. The fact that Paper-Thin seems to mirror a conventional museum space helps even more.


Image from: Collector's Digital Art Piece

PAPER-THIN: How do you envision the future of the digital art economy?

HUNTER JONAKIN: I honestly have no idea. I am very disconnected from that world. In fact, I see it as completely separate and even disparate from the act of creating art. Of course, there is an overlap and this overlap is what I am engaging with.

PAPER-THIN: Many of your works, such as Modern Flaneur, One Note, and YaDunGoofed, deal with the evolving relationship of the digital world with the world we physically inhabit. How do you view this relationship, and how do you see it changing?

HUNTER JONAKIN: I see the human/digital relationship becoming much more immersed, which can create a disconnect with the analog world. I'm not sure that this is a good or bad thing. It is just the way that technology is entering our lives. The view that we all share is now filtered through a digital screen. Personally, I'm excited by all of the possibilities, but every technological advance comes with a learning curve and an equalization time-frame.


Image from: Modern Flaneur

PAPER-THIN: You mention there is an overlap between the art economy and the creation of art. While the art economy provides audiences and possible markets, it often compels homogenization and stymies creativity. What has been your experience regarding "the art collector's market being so slow to accept digital work"? Has it been a source of frustration or liberation?

HUNTER JONAKIN: I've never been frustrated by the art market. The big money art world might as well exist in another dimension as far as I am concerned. It has never affected my life very much and probably never will. It's an insulated environment that exists in a cultural vacuum, created by a handful of "experts" and taste-makers. There is so much amazing work out there that is largely ignored by the blue chip art market that it is difficult for me to lend it much credibility. I think a lot of artists equate big gallery representation to winning the lottery, which is a pretty silly notion. The minute you start pandering to one group or another you start losing yourself. That does not appeal to me. So, I poke fun instead. I will say, gallery representation can be an amazing thing and there are wonderful galleries out there. However, it is not the pinnacle of an art career. The work is. Institutional critique is important.

PAPER-THIN: Collector's Digital Art Piece: Platinum costs $10,000, and the purchaser receives a webpage and Flash Drive. In contrast, Personal Pan Performances are advertised on your website as "Mid-level performance art that everyone can afford." However, the conditions for purchase are also quite comical. For instance with the purchase of Golden Mean Clean, you offer to "clean a 6" x 9.7" rectangular section of [the buyer's] car using a stencil, a lint free cloth, and Green Works cleaning solution." Is it important that any of these transactions ever actually occur, or is it simply enough that there be the possibility of purchase?

HUNTER JONAKIN: I think it is important that they could be purchased but not important that they are. Actually, in all honesty, I would probably be bummed if I had to figure out how to do some of these performances. It would take quite a bit more time than $35 would account for.


Image from: Collector's Digital Art Piece - Installed in Paper-Thin

PAPER-THIN: You say the disconnection with the analog world is not necessarily good or bad, but it is often depicted as an isolating force in your work. Do you explore any positive effects of this disconnection in your artwork?

HUNTER JONAKIN: I haven't yet, but that could be very interesting. Maybe, all of the new VR technology that is coming online will lead to more positive explorations of that disconnect.

 

DANIEL G. BAIRD + HASEEB AHMED


Daniel G. Baird considers ideas endemic to Western society of culture and technology, often subverting ideas of technological progress with juxtapositions of their primitive translations.

Haseeb Ahmed is a research-based artist. Originally from the US, he now lives and works in Brussels and Zurich. He produces objects, site-specific installations, and writes for various publications. He is a member of the Size Matters artistic research group at the Zurich University of the Arts. In collaboration with Daniel, Haseeb works on the project Has the World Already Been Made?, iterations of which have been shown at the Jan van Eyck Academie, Elizabeth Foundation, and the Leeds College of Art Museum. He is a founding member of the group Platypus Affiliated Society that publishes a monthly review on the history of the radical Left.

danielgbaird.com
haseebahmed.com

 

PAPER-THIN: For your installation at Paper-Thin, you installed a massively enlarged mold cast from a section of the Metropolitan Museum of Art along with a series of smaller tiles. The installation transforms both the virtual museum space of Paper-Thin as well as the physical architecture of the MET. What are you trying to accomplish through these transformations?

BAIRD + AHMED: Has the World Already Been Made? (HWBM) is a project that has developed over a successive series of iterations where each version has built on the one that came before it. The project began with the collecting of architectural details from around the world through an on-site mold making process used in architectural conservation. The project is collaborative while we live thousands of miles apart (Haseeb in Brussels and Daniel in Chicago). This means we have made molds the world over. These molds, which we share with one another, form an inventory of fragments that we’ve drawn on to compose sculptures and installations.

HWBM? x8 commissioned for Paper-Thin, is a transformation of a piece of the building of the Metropolitan Museum of Art (MET) in NYC. Through a shift in scale it asks a fundamental question, does the part contain the whole? If so, in what ways is this index rendered available for experience? The MET itself is meant to contain the cultural totality of civilization within its walls. What does a fragment of its exterior contain when appearing in virtual space as a building that can itself be occupied?


Image from: HWBM? x8 - Installed at Paper-Thin

Introducing the scaled fragment of the MET into the virtual space of Paper-Thin functions like a wormhole between physical and virtual spaces. Considered alone, the original molded section functions like a souvenir of a place. The fragment’s 1:1 scale (roughly 10" x 8" in size) is a kind of physical photography where the form of the place is recorded through an impression into silicone instead of a place in the context of a moment in time in a photograph. This fragmented impression can represent the entire place of the museum itself in an indexical and abstract way.

Furthermore, we used a technique of photogrammetry to digitize the mold into a virtual object. Turning this fragment into a digital model allowed for a new engagement with scale in the project. The scale-induced abstracted form immediately read as a naturally occurring cave-like cavity and thus a form of architecture in itself. The removal of the roof in the virtual space allowed the object to be read as a habitable structure and introduced another synthetic element, the outside world, into the virtual museum space of Paper-Thin. The clock on the user’s computer controls the movement of the sun in the virtual environment and we found this fascinating. The natural is reproduced to scale inside of the virtual platform.


Image from: HWBM? x7

PAPER-THIN: For your installation at Paper-Thin, you installed a massively enlarged mold cast from a section of the Metropolitan Museum of Art along with a series of smaller tiles. The installation transforms both the virtual museum space of Paper-Thin as well as the physical architecture of the MET. What are you trying to accomplish through these transformations?

BAIRD + AHMED: The floor tiles are made from documentation of a floor sculpture from our last HWBM? x7 exhibition at Harlan Levey Projects, Brussels and also shown at Leeds College of Art Museum. The handprints that line the interior of our MET model are from scanned images of our own hands and repeated digitally.

The tiles-as-documentation anchors the project in an exterior reality by reproducing a 1:1 model of our sculpture. However, the sculpture itself is composed of scaled down models of the molds that we took from around the world. We made molds, cast them, 3D scanned them, scaled them down, 3D printed them, made molds of them, and then cast them as small modules. For us this sculpture was a portrait of the world to the extent that we have reconstructed it through our project. This is a kind of process-oriented zooming in when they appear in the Paper-Thin exhibition.

When we were making the work for the exhibition in Brussels we decided to use a repetitive tiling system taken from Islamic geometric ornament that would allow the work to expand outwards as far as we wished and to reiterate the molds function as modules. When we were considering what to put onto the floor, the virtual space implied this infinite expanse that was implicit in the repeating tiles we had made previously.

The function of documentation of an artwork is a topic we have dealt with in various ways throughout our project and we felt the use of images themselves would be a good way to further question the relationship of the photograph to sculptural works.

The hands are references to the oldest cave paintings that in many places around the world feature depictions of animals while humans are represented by outlines of hands. The hand of the painter is used as a stencil upon which pigment is blown (i.e. Cueve de las Manos in Argentina). The MET is meant to contain a historical and material record of the whole of humanity. By adding this reference to the earliest function of art for humanity, we wanted to compress all art that has existed between the present day MET and this earliest practice. By using our own hands we created a direct link between the practices of art making of the distant past and those of the present experienced through a relatively new digital medium.


Image from: HWBM? x4

PAPER-THIN: Your installation at Paper-Thin is the eighth iteration of the work, Has the World Already Been Made? Why do you continue to revisit this work, and how has the project changed with each iteration?

BAIRD + AHMED: Since 2011, each iteration of the project has built on the previous versions and is a pathway to its next manifestation. In this sense it is a self-referential body of work that is continually infused by historical forms we introduce from our mold making practice.

In the beginning we set the parameters of the work by establishing an inventory of different molds we each acquired from all over the world. The molds varied in importance from something very deliberate such as architect Louis Sullivan’s gravestone to something seemingly arbitrary like the dry cracked earth of the Utah desert, to a heroic horse head in Moscow, to a geometrically patterned grill in Pakistan. All of these places and fragments meet at an equal level in our inventory and are the vocabulary by which we build our "universalized installations."

Each new development of the project asks, how do we represent the transoceanic collaborative process physically? How can we utilize exhibition spaces to ask questions at the scale of architecture?


Image from: HWBM? x5

PAPER-THIN: Daniel and Haseeb, you have worked together for several years on different versions of HWBM. How has your collaboration informed the work?

BAIRD + AHMED: For us, the collaboration itself is the work.

We work from shared experiences. Our inaugural installation was inspired by a visit to the Pergammon Museum in Berlin. Other visits include the home and studio of Frank Lloyd Wright in Oak Park, Illinois or Gaudi’s la Sagrada Familia in Barcelona. Some of these references can be seen in the work while the works remain open.

PAPER-THIN: I enjoy your series HWBM? in part because it explores the boundaries of a variety of media. Because the virtual environment of Paper-Thin was a somewhat unfamiliar media for your practice, Cameron, my collaborator at Paper-Thin, and I worked with you quite a bit to make your ideas possible in the virtual space. How did this additional facet of collaboration affect your decision making process?

BAIRD + AHMED: We are very grateful for the assistance both of you provided us! While we are well versed in virtual modeling systems for 3d printing and physical fabrication, although we had never ventured into the realm of texturing a work, animating, and navigating it, and having it remain digital.

The virtual platform of Paper-Thin really opened up an exciting possibility for what our sculptures could do when not constrained by gravity or physics. Yet the virtual space still resembled a museum space, a familiar container. This was an interesting paradox for us.

In some ways you collaborated as the installation would have looked different were it not for the support you lent to the piece.


Image from: HWBM? x3

PAPER-THIN: I was surprised to learn that you both work together remotely over huge distances. In particular, while I was in contact with you, Haseeb, you were constantly traveling in the U.S. and abroad. Inevitably, your communications with each other must be abstracted and mediated through technology. It seems to me that the themes of mediation frequently recur in the various iterations of HWBM. What is the role of mediation in the work?

BAIRD + AHMED: The idea of mediation is an important aspect to the works creation. We communicate pretty frequently over email but when we Skype it is either late night or early morning for one of us. It follows the idea of the project that while we experience fragmented aspects of reality, it is still one totality. While the emphasis may appear to be on telecommunications, the infrastructure of global capital can be made coherent by revealing the recurrence of forms throughout the world. For instance, while making our first installation at the Jan van Eyck Academie in Maastricht, the Netherlands, we used a plaster replica of a sculpture of Atlas borrowed from the Academie voor Beldende Kunste. In the second installation of the project as part of the Merge Visible show in Chicago we used another replica of the same sculpture found at an architectural salvage store, this time carrying a birdbath on its shoulders. This concurrence showed us we were on the right track.

When we are working on a project our process of making begins abstractly, settles into a rough form, and ultimately turns into something unexpected when produced. The long conversations and research manifest themselves in intensive production and installation periods where the gallery is often turned into a studio and back into a gallery again before an opening. Digitization is a development that makes sense in this practice, while being grounded in physical reality.

We now both own 3D printers and are excited about the new approaches that this might yield.


Image from: HWBM? x8 - Installed at Paper-Thin

PAPER-THIN: Looking forward, do you see virtual environments as an important media for your work?

BAIRD + AHMED: I think the project has turned towards a new terrain of investigation following the digitization of all of our original elements. The potential for this collection through digital means seems very rich and no doubt has been bolstered by our experience with this piece for Paper-Thin.

 

ANDY LOMAS


Andy Lomas is a digital artist, mathematician and Emmy award-winning supervisor of computer generated effects. He has had work exhibited in over 50 joint and solo exhibitions, including SIGGRAPH, the Japan Media Arts Festival, the Ars Electronica Festival, the Los Angeles Center for Digital Art and the Centro Andaluz de Arte Contemporaneo. He has work in the D'Arcy Thompson Art Fund Collection, and was selected by Saatchi Online to contribute to a special exhibition in the Zoo Art Fair at the Royal Academy of Arts.

In 2014, Cellular Forms won The Lumen Prize Gold Award, as well as the Best Artwork Award from the A-Eye exhibition at AISB-50, and an Honorary Mention from the jury at the Ars Electronica Festival.

His production credits include Walking With Dinosaurs, Matrix: Revolutions, Matrix: Reloaded, Over the Hedge, The Tale of Despereaux, Avatar. He received Emmys for his work on The Odyssey (1997) and Alice in Wonderland (1999).

andylomas.com

 

PAPER-THIN: Unlike most fine artists, I understand that your background is in math and computer graphics for motion pictures. This rigorous technical history shows through in the complex simulated biology of Cellular Forms, the work you’ve adapted for Paper-Thin. How has your history in the cinema industry impacted your artwork?

ANDY LOMAS: Yes, my background is in math and computer graphics. I studied mathematics at Cambridge, and then spent about 20 years working on visual effects and animation productions. The way I always saw mathematics was from a very visual point of view, and you learn a deep appreciation of beauty and simplicity. Through working in visual effects and animation you learn a lot of discipline, as well as techniques for dealing with extraordinarily complex data and turning it into visual form.

PAPER-THIN: What caused the transition from industry to fine art?

ANDY LOMAS: I've been pursuing the work for many years as a passion alongside working on productions, so it hasn't been a sudden transition. More like an itch that I've been scratching for a long time. Recently, though, things have been taking off and I have had the opportunity to work full time on developing my art. It was a big step leaving the comfort of regular paid employment, but it has been great so far. In particular there are a lot of really interesting potential collaborations as well as the opportunity to explore things like new techniques in computational fabrication and where that may lead. Working on the exhibit for Paper-Thin was also a great opportunity to get a deeper understanding of technology such as Unity and what that may enable for art.


Image from: Cellular Forms 18 00011 0003 - Installed at Paper-Thin

PAPER-THIN: Your work, Cellular forms, has the appearance of an elaborate animation, but it is actually a simulation with mathematical constraints, which generates forms which appear biological. What is the process you devised for creating these forms?

ANDY LOMAS: All my work involves exploring the process of growth and how that leads to structure and form. The Cellular Forms work is based on a very simple model that is inspired by but not designed to copy biology. The structures are created using cellular units, and there are rules for how cells divide based on them accumulating food and being selected for splitting when the food level exceeds a given threshold. There are then rules for how new cells are connected back into the structure, and the forces that each cell exerts on its neighbors. The result is a form whose structure dynamically changes over time, starting as a simple ball of cells and developing increasing levels of complexity.

One important thing is that I'm not trying to emulate any specific biological structures. What I'm looking for are emergent results that are hopefully deeply reminiscent of forms from nature but are also alien and new. The ugly as well as the beautiful. The simple as well as the complex. I'm choosing forms I like by aesthetic criteria: survival of the intriguing rather than survival of the fittest.

PAPER-THIN: There is something both inspiring and devious about the fact that you determine the rules for the development of these virtual life processes. It makes me think of Descartes’ evil genius, as well as broader questions about genetic determination. In an interview with CGS, you said your process is somewhat chaotic, as you "light the wick and let it go." How do you go about picking the initial rules that dictate your simulated life forms?

ANDY LOMAS: I guess I'm generally trying to find things that are going to be simple but hopefully produce remarkably complex emergent results. As often as not intuitions don't work out, so there is a lot of experimentation involved, and what I'm been slowly building for myself is a framework that allows me to try ideas out. Often it's the simplest ideas that work best, such as creating surfaces that will naturally fold in intricate ways is basically down to things that modify the curvature of a surface. This means that small adjustments to rules that govern the direction that a cell splits, such as whether it's in the direction of most stress or perpendicular to that direction, often has an unexpectedly dramatic influence on how a forms develop.


Image from: Cellular Forms 18 0011 0003 - Installed at Paper-Thin

PAPER-THIN: Your process brings to mind Conway’s Game of Life, the Morris Worm, and the abundance of artificial life programs that exist online. What got you started simulating organic processes?

ANDY LOMAS: There's definitely a lot of commonality with the sort of rich emergent results that you get from things like cellular automata. John Conway was actually one of the lecturers I had when I was an undergraduate, and I was fascinated by his work such as 'On Numbers and Games'. The main area I specialized in was dynamical systems: the mathematics of functions that feed back into themselves. That combined with reading D'Arcy Thompson's 'On Growth and Form' was the big spark for me. As far as I was concerned the processes of growth that D'Arcy Thompson describes can be seen as a dynamical system. Those were probably the main initial sparks, and working with computer graphics gave me tools and techniques to visualize the results.

I should also probably thank the growth of computer gaming for making amazing technology like modern graphics cards available. The power of a massively parallel super-computer on your desktop. All my programs for running simulations and rendering the results make use of the extraordinary computational power that GPUs provide.


Detail from: Flow 19

PAPER-THIN: For the past several years, you’ve exhibited projects which simulate processes reminiscent of biology, including Aggregation, Flow, and Cellular forms. Do you use other media in your artwork, or is that something you are interested in exploring in the future?

ANDY LOMAS: There's obviously a lot going on at present in the bio-art scene. I guess that my interest is much more along the lines of artificial life though: 'life as it could be' rather than 'life as it is'. My instinct is always to strip things down to the simplest parts possible and see what richness can emerge.

One of the main things I'm exploring at present is using other media than print and video to present work, but more from the point of view of revealing different aspects of the data than actually using 'wet' biological entities. I think there's a danger with my work of mixing in already living matter: it wouldn't be clear where any rich interesting behavior was coming from.

PAPER-THIN: Right now life is changing across the globe due to the warming climate and humankind’s efforts to adapt and redefine how we relate to nature. In many ways we have to address the question of ‘life as it could be’ rather than 'life as it is,' because the way we relate to nature is unsustainable. Is the question of how life could be entirely theoretical for you, or is there a practical element to the question?

ANDY LOMAS: I think I'm deeply interested in life as a process, and my work definitely leads to marveling at its beauty and diversity. What life will be going forward is obviously a huge question. Life is definitely changing, including questions about what is life. Hopefully questioning what is it that makes something alive will help us focus on what is most important.

I probably have a perspective that is overly influenced by the mathematics of dynamical systems, but I think that life can essentially be seen as a remarkably fragile series of wave-fronts of self-sustaining complexity. The frontier of complexity is a narrow one between regularity and chaos, but it is generally a region of incredible beauty. Life is a system that actively tends towards that frontier achieving higher and higher levels of complexity. For me that is an astonishing and beautiful thing. I think that by itself is enough reason to want to fight for, preserve and promote life in it's true rich complexity.


Image from: Aggregation 4

PAPER-THIN: Because so much of your work for TV and film consisted of large scale collaborations, it seems natural that you would collaborate with others for your artwork. However, most of your art which I have seen is a solo production. What are some of the art collaborations you have been pursuing?

ANDY LOMAS: It's probably a bit early to talk in any detail about any of the collaborations as they are still at quite an early stage, but they are generally in the areas of exploring computational fabrication and robotics, where the generative methods to create forms hopefully pose interesting challenges, as well as in the fields of virtual reality, augmented reality and music. There are quite a number of possible directions to go!

 

HUGO ARCIER


Devoted initially to special effects for feature films, Arcier has worked on numerous projects with prestigious directors including Roman Polanski and Alain Resnais. His experience has allowed him to gain a deep understanding of digital tools - in particular 3D graphics - which are essential for the birth of his projects. He regularly does commissioned works that use computer graphics such as the 2012 album cover, Cruel Summer, for Kanye West. Along with commercial work, he develops plastic and reflective works that meticulously dissect the specificities of the new medium of 3D computer graphics. Initially working only on films, Arcier now develops increasingly ambitious projects in print media, sculpture, and installation, such as the series, Nostalgia for Nature. His artwork has been featured in numerous festivals including Elektra, Videoformes, and Némo, as well as the galleries Magda Danysz, Plateforme. He has shown at art venues including New Media Art Center of Sichuan Fine Arts Institute, Le Cube, Okayama Art Center, Palais de Tokyo, and he has participated in the contemporary art fairs Slick and Show off.

hugoarcier.com

 

Note: The original French and translated English are both provided.

PAPER-THIN: Your installation at Paper-Thin stems from a previous series, Degeneration, which depicts 3D computer models whose geometry is simplified until their original forms are destroyed. The skulls in your Paper-Thin installation connect this digital degeneration with the idea of memento mori. How do you see the connection between the digital artifact and memento mori?

HUGO ARCIER: I started the Degeneration series in 2007 and then evolved and displayed it in different forms. From the beginning, this series was thought of as a memento mori. The idea is to apply to the virtual, with an algorithm, something related to the organic: alteration, aging and then death. To express that, I use a visual language linked to computer graphics: the fact that 3D objects are made of polygons. Little by little, I destroy information and reduce the number of polygons. I have always considered computer graphics as a culture with its own codes, and not only as a tool. This series is a way for me to talk about death using specific codes from computer graphics.

Dégénérescence est une série que j’ai commencée en 2007 et que j’ai ensuite fait évoluer et que j’ai présentée sous différentes formes. Dès le début, cette série est pensée comme un memento mori. Il s’agit d’appliquer au virtuel, par un algorithme, quelque chose qui est lié à l’organique : l’altération, le vieillissement et enfin la mort. Pour exprimer cela, j’utilise un langage visuel lié aux images de synthèse, le fait que les objets 3D sont constitués de polygones, et je détruis peu à peu des informations, je réduis le nombre de polygones. J’ai toujours considéré les images de synthèses comme une culture, avec ses codes, et pas seulement comme un outil. Cette série est pour moi une façon de parler de la mort en utilisant des codes spécifiques aux images de synthèse.


Image from: Degeneration - Installed at Paper-Thin

PAPER-THIN: How is the idea of digital degeneration relevant to the idea of the museum space-or in this case a virtual museum space?

HUGO ARCIER: A virtual museum is a space that doesn't suffer any deterioration: it is an unalterable space. Contrary to a real space, it doesn’t age. Navigating in this kind of space one can easily forget the impermanence of things. I thought it was interesting to evoke and remind us of this impermanence in a virtual space.

Un musée virtuel est un espace qui ne subit pas de détérioration, c’est un espace immuable. Contrairement à un espace réel, il ne vieillit pas. En naviguant dans ce type d’espace, nous pouvons facilement oublier l’impermanence des choses. Cela me semblait intéressant d’évoquer et de rappeler dans un espace virtuel cette impermanence.

PAPER-THIN: I'm interested in the way light and sound rapidly move through your installation, while all of the 3D models remain perfectly still. This zoetropic style of animation using static objects is more complex than regular animation. Why did decide to convey motion this way?

HUGO ARCIER: I wanted to express time with something other than traditional animation that works with "crushing": one image or shape replaces the previous one. I wanted to use the space so I decided to place different lights in different locations. The light directs the look and in this way imposes a temporality. The speed creates a tension; the spectator may have wanted to put everything on pause to see one state more clearly but it is impossible, exactly like the inexorable flow of time.

Je voulais exprimer le temps par autre chose qu’une animation traditionnelle qui fonctionne par écrasement : une image ou une forme qui remplace l’image ou la forme précédente. J’avais envie d’utiliser l’espace et donc de disposer différent temps à des endroits différents. La lumière permettait de diriger le regard et ainsi d’imposer une temporalité. La vitesse de défilement génère une forme de tension, le spectateur aurait peut-être l’envie de mettre les choses en pause pour mieux saisir une des étapes, mais c’est impossible, exactement comme le temps qui s’écoule inexorablement.


Image from: Nostalgia for Nature

PAPER-THIN: You are known for making artificially rendered artwork. What attracts me to your work, however, is your continuing focus on the natural world. Nostalgia for Nature, Folded Nature, and Fiction 1 exemplify this trend. Given your interest in organic imagery, why do you find it important to work with 3D computer graphics?

HUGO ARCIER: I think there is a misunderstanding about computer graphics. People make a link between technology and artificial and so they oppose it to nature. On the contrary, for me this opposition doesn't exist. We must not forget that computer graphics are above all, and historically, a simulation technique which consists of observing then recreating with mathematical equations natural phenomena and the world around us. Mathematizing nature is a way to understand it better, appreciate it more, and see all her complexity and beauty. When you want to recreate something as banal as a tree leaf, it is absolutely fascinating to observe it deeply, try to understand what it is made of, how light reacts on it and in it. Practicing computer graphics is rediscovering amazement of banal things, things we don't look at anymore.

Je pense qu’il y a une incompréhension concernant les images de synthèse. Les gens relient cette technique à l’artificiel et donc l’opposent à la nature. Pour moi, cette opposition n’existe pas, bien au contraire. Il ne faut pas oublier que les images de synthèse sont avant tout, et historiquement, une technique de simulation qui consiste à observer puis recréer par des équations mathématiques des phénomènes naturels et le monde qui nous entoure. Mathématiser la nature, c’est mieux la comprendre, mieux l’aimer, en saisir toute la complexité et la beauté. Quand vous voulez recréer quelque chose d’aussi banal qu’une feuille d’arbre, c’est absolument fascinant de l’observer profondément, d’essayer de comprendre comment elle est constituée, comment la lumière réagit sur elle et en elle. Pratiquer les images de synthèse, c’est retrouver l’émerveillement pour des choses banales, que l’on ne voit plus.

PAPER-THIN: Given your background in working with 3D computer graphics for large feature films, what inspired you to become an independent artist working on relatively smaller projects?

HUGO ARCIER: Working on feature films with prestigious directors is interesting but it has never been totally satisfying artistically. Computer graphics in feature films are used for a purely realistic purpose, and it is not what interests me the most. Very early I decided to work on my own projects, which give me more satisfaction. Things have evolved and my artworks have taken more and more importance in my life.

Travailler sur des films avec des réalisateurs prestigieux a de nombreux intérêts, mais ça n’a jamais été pour moi pleinement satisfaisant artistiquement. Les images de synthèses dans les films sont utilisées dans un but de réalisme pur et ça n’est pas ce qui m’intéresse le plus. Très tôt j’ai voulu travailler sur mes propres projets, ce qui me procurait une plus grande satisfaction. Les choses ont évolué et mes travaux artistiques ont pris de plus en plus d’importance dans ma vie.


Image from: Degeneration - Installed at Paper-Thin

PAPER-THIN: On your personal website, you describe what you believe is a connection between the renaissance artists' invention of perspective and the current innovations taking place today with virtual imaging. You write, "the computer-generated image as we know it today is a direct continuation of this movement, a parallel artistic path." Explain for me what you mean by this.

HUGO ARCIER: If we look at the history of art, we see a very clear line from representation to abstraction, then the total disappearance of the canvas: conceptual art. The achievement of this evolution ends with artists working on the void. There was a retrospective in 2009 at the Centre Pompidou: several empty rooms. For contemporary artists it is impossible to continue this trend and subtract from the void. The artists have to find their own way. It is something liberating in a way. Everything is possible now. We can project in the past and go on an artistic movement. Nothing is outdated. Someone for instance can decide to do figurative paintings. So there are now several parallel paths. I make a link between digital artists, in particular those who do computer graphics, and renaissance painters, because at that time artists were also scientists; they were using scientific concepts. Mathematical breakthroughs, like the invention of perspective, had an impact on artistic practice. Then we totally lost that, but it comes back again and an artist today can express himself, for example, using code, which was previously unthinkable.

Si on regarde dans l’histoire de l’art, il semble se dégager une ligne très claire partant de la figuration vers l’abstraction, les à-plats, ensuite la disparition totale de la toile, l’art conceptuel. L’aboutissement de cette évolution trouve à mon sens son terme avec une série d’artistes s’intéressant au vide. Il y a eu d’ailleurs une rétrospective en 2009 au Centre Pompidou : plusieurs salles du musée vides. Pour les artistes contemporains, il est impossible de continuer dans cette lignée et de soustraire au vide. Les artistes doivent trouver leur voie. D’une certaine façon, c’est libérateur, tout est possible aujourd’hui, on peut se projeter dans le passé et continuer un mouvement artistique. Rien n’est ringard, quelqu’un peut décider aujourd’hui de faire des tableaux figuratifs. Il existe donc plusieurs courants parallèles. Je relie les artistes numériques, en particulier ceux qui pratiquent les images de synthèses, aux peintres de la Renaissance, parce qu’à l’époque ces artistes étaient aussi des scientifiques ou en tout cas maniaient des notions scientifiques. À cette époque, les avancées mathématiques, comme l’invention de la perspective, faisaient progresser leur pratique artistique. Par la suite, on a totalement perdu ça, mais ça revient : un artiste peut aujourd’hui s’exprimer par exemple par le code, ce qui était impensable il y a peu.

PAPER-THIN: I'm interested in your new video work, 11 Executions. The video depicts 11 murders occurring within the world of Grand Theft Auto. The characters in this video game world are controlled through semi-randomized AI, and so there is no rationality to any of the killings. What disturbs me about this video is that it incorporates human will into the digital memento mori. The realistic horror of these deaths makes culpable the commonplace gamer, who regularly participates in these simulations. By the same stroke, the algorithmic chaos of each act does not simply suggest that explanations for such shootings are arbitrary. For my money, it indicates that arbitrariness is their explanation. What do you intend to convey through your manipulation of the (in)human will in this work?

HUGO ARCIER: In this piece I wanted to stay as close as possible to the original game and, after all, just very small things can change the perception and the meaning of the images. First I remind that the typical viewpoint of a third person video game - the camera that follows the back of the character - before being in video games, finds its source in movies. It creates a suspense, a tension. It is an atypical shot because of its length and suggests an event will occur. Then I add to the video game a shot of the victim when the violent act happens, and this simple shot changes everything. It is essential. Changing the point of view, and showing the result of the violence, creates empathy and makes the film horrible and difficult to watch.

What was interesting in using an engine of a game like Grand Theft Auto V is that characters are randomly placed, and their reactions are generated by artificial intelligence. Even if one premeditates an action, it is impossible to know before the victims. To make this idea understandable I chose to recreate each execution twice to illustrate the absurdity and arbitrariness of these acts.

I would like to point out that when I use video game forms in my artistic work it is not my goal to criticize this media. One can be surprised by the proportion of violent games, and regret it, but I will never criticize the violence of a fictional media: books, movies, or other.

What is violent is reality.

Dans cette œuvre, je voulais rester le plus proche possible du jeu d’origine, et finalement, par des petites choses, changer la perception et le sens des images. Tout d’abord, je rappelle que le plan typique des jeux à la troisième personne, la caméra qui suit un personnage de dos, avant d’être un plan de jeu vidéo, trouve sa source dans le cinéma. Je cite notamment le génial court-métrage Elephant d’Alan Clarke. Ce qui dans le jeu est un élément pratique et permet de suivre le personnage principal prend un tout autre sens dans le cinéma. Cela génère du suspense et de la tension, c’est un plan atypique par sa longueur, qui suggère un événement qui va arriver. Ensuite, ce que j’ajoute au jeu video, au moment de l’acte violent, et c’est essentiel, c’est un plan sur la victime, et ce simple plan change tout. Changer de point de vue et montrer le résultat de la violence, c’est ce qui crée le sentiment d’empathie et ce qui rend le film horrible et difficile à regarder.

Ce qui m’intéressait dans l’utilisation du moteur d’un jeu comme GTA V, c’est que les personnages sont placés de façon aléatoire et que leur réaction est générée par l’intelligence artificielle du jeu. Même en préméditant une action, impossible d’en connaître les victimes. Pour rendre cette idée compréhensible, j’ai donc choisi de répéter chaque exécution pour illustrer le côté absurde et arbitraire de ces actes.

Je tiens à préciser que si j’utilise dans mon travail artistique la forme du jeu video, ce n’est pas dans le but de critiquer ce média. On peut simplement s’étonner de la proportion de jeux violents, et le regretter mais je ne critiquerai jamais la violence d’un média fictionnel, livre, film, ou autre. Ce qui est violent, c’est la réalité.


Image from: Camgirl Odalisque

PAPER-THIN: From the coldness of 11 Executions to the faux sensuality of Camgirl Odalisque, much of your work focuses on human experiences of death and desire mediated through technology. Where does this interest stem from?

HUGO ARCIER: They are classical and universal art themes. I think it is interesting and important for a contemporary artist to embrace and modernize them using new technologies. If these themes are classical, it is because they are a common denominator for humans. They have always existed and will always exist.

Il s’agit de thèmes classiques et universels en art. Je trouve que c’est intéressant et important pour un artiste contemporain de se les approprier et de les moderniser en utilisant des techniques actuelles. Si ces thèmes sont classiques, c’est parce qu’ils sont un dénominateur commun pour les humains. Ils ont toujours existé et existeront toujours.

PAPER-THIN: Like 11 Executions, your installation at Paper-Thin toys with the idea of agency. The viewer can control his perception of the work as he moves around it, triggering a clock-like memento mori animation. Are you interested in further exploring interactivity in future artworks?

HUGO ARCIER: Absolutely. At the end of April, I will have a solo exhibition at Lux in Valence (France). I will show several new pieces and one of them is interactive. It is called FPS. It can be seen as a mix between L’Affaiblissement progressif des ressources for the form and 11 Executions for the meaning. Contrary to 11 Executions that uses an engine of an existing game, FPS is created from scratch. I don't want to completely reveal it now, but what I can say is that it is about blindness. I think in particular to the blindness of terrorists that kill people who are listening to music in a concert room or having a drink. To shoot these innocent people one needs blinders; a little bit of compassion makes those acts impossible. So I want talk about that subject using the mechanism of a first person shooter. One visual idea totally shifts the perception that we have of this kind of game. I really test the limits of the interactivity. I want for the person who experiments with the installation - I don't call him a player - to go from a fun mood of discovery to a kind of disgust. If he wants to put down the gamepad, I will have succeeded.

Absolument. A la fin d’avril, je vais présenter une exposition personnelle au Lux, à Valence (France). J’y montrerai plusieurs nouvelles œuvres, dont une est interactive. Elle s’appelle FPS. On peut le voir comme une sorte de mélange entre L’Affaiblissement progressif des ressources dans la forme et 11 Executions pour le sens. Contrairement à 11 Executions, qui utilise le moteur d’un jeu existant, FPS est une œuvre créée à partir de zéro. Je ne veux pas dévoiler complément ce qu’elle sera, mais ce que je peux dire, c’est qu’il s’agit d’une œuvre sur l’aveuglement. Je pense notamment à l’aveuglement dont font preuve des terroristes qui tuent des gens en train d’écouter de la musique dans une salle de concert ou de boire un verre à la terrasse d’un café. Pour tirer sur ces innocents, il faut obligatoirement avoir des œillères, un minimum de compassion rendrait ces actes impossibles. Je veux donc traiter de ce sujet en utilisant les mécanismes d’un jeu de tir à la première personne. Une idée visuelle me permet de décaler complétement la perception qu’on a de ce type de jeu. Je teste vraiment les limites de l’interactivité, je veux que la personne qui expérimente l’installation - que je n’appelle pas un joueur - passe d’un état un peu fun de la découverte à une forme de dégoût. Si à un moment il a envie de poser le pad, c’est que j’aurai gagné mon pari.

 

RACHAEL ARCHIBALD


Rachael Archibald has established herself firmly within the global digital arts community since completing a Bachelor of Fine Art from Queensland College of Art. Although living and working in Brisbane, Australia, the majority of her work has been exhibited both overseas and online. Her foray into the online art community was in the 2014 New Digital Art Biennale - The Wrong, held at various online locations across the web. From this, she gained increasing attention and opportunities throughout the year with printed fabric works shown in Venice for a group show, Venturi Effect, videos in Bristol for Bending Light and another shown on office shelves simultaneously in New York and Dresden for Official Office. This year her artwork flew high in the form of a flag, alongside 15 other notable digital artists' in Berlin for Long Distance Gallery at the Transmediale Festival. Her practice involves playing with the conventions of artistic categories and conforming them into an all-inclusive art form through the use of digital technologies.

rachaelarchibald.tumblr.com

 

PAPER-THIN: In your about page on your website, you mention an important part of your practice "involves playing with the conventions of artistic categories and conforming them into an all-inclusive form through the use of digital technologies." How do you perceive digital technology as an enabler for inclusion?

RACHAEL ARCHIBALD: There are so many possibilities. I could make a sculpture or a painting or graphics and combine them all into one work, taking influences from every field. Not to say you can't do that with anything else but the instant nature of using digital technology makes it faster, more compact and efficient. I could make a sculpture float around the room if I want to.


Image from: Portals

PAPER-THIN: Your digital object work seems to be oriented around these unidentifiable yet familiar forms. How would you describe these objects?

RACHAEL ARCHIBALD: The program I use works as if you were sculpting a ball of clay. So I play around, drawing and pinching and bulging and smoothing (these are the descriptions of tools) in a very unconscious way, with no preconceived idea of the shape. Until something comes out that is most pleasing to me. Other times I've expanded on these shapes adding lots of holes over it, to make for interesting close up textures and reflections.

PAPER-THIN: What first sparked or inspired this series of objects/forms?

RACHAEL ARCHIBALD: I was and still am very interested in rocks and geological formations. On a very superficial level. Being attracted to the beauty of earthly forms and textures. Macro and Micro, like topographical views of a landscape and microscopic views of things and how they often look so similar.

This particular series also comes from research into the term 'pink', a colour I am most attracted to. Etymologically it is the common name for a flower with a frilled edge and further meaning any decorative edge (as in pinking shears which are scissors that cut a decorative pattern). Variations on the colour also lead to the word carnate meaning flesh (which humans are innately attracted to and value in terms of beauty) and also can be related to the flower 'Carnation', which is in the same family as the flower 'Pink'.

My work helps me understand my attraction to certain inanimate things.


Image from: video for Jlin Narlei, DJ NOIR + more

PAPER-THIN: Your piece at Paper-Thin, and your gif work, seems to have this organic yet synthetic aspect to it. How do you approach the relationship of the digital and the natural in your work?

RACHAEL ARCHIBALD: The textures and reflections I use on the rock-like objects are often photos I've taken of natural things, and I often use this marbled paper I made once. I mostly work with things I'm attracted to in the real world and apply them to my digital world. It's a pretty simple relationship I guess. I don't think digital and natural need to be binaries in which you choose one or the other.

PAPER-THIN: At Paper-Thin, your 3D artwork becomes interactive. How did this change your approach to the creation of this installation?

RACHAEL ARCHIBALD: I've never had to think about lighting a space virtually before. And having so many possibilities to do so. Or how the shapes would move in the space, what sizes they would be. It was strange because I wasn't doing it myself in real time, I'd wait for a preview of the install and give feedback from that, so I was relying on what the Paper-Thin team could do and asking so many questions, being unsure what was possible.


Image from: carnate (in-pinking)

PAPER-THIN: One of the things I enjoyed about working with you on the installation of your work was your openness to ideas and adaptability. It seemed to me that the end product was the result of a playful process. How are play and process part of your larger practice?

RACHAEL ARCHIBALD: The only way I can work is through play. I need at least a few hours or days at the beginning of any project for trial and error, and often from that I discover new techniques by accident. I'm entirely self-taught with my digital tools, so the only way I learn new things is through play. Obviously collaborating on projects like this teaches me a lot too. Sometimes using Photoshop there are difficulties translating files to other 3D platforms, so I have to find ways to work around that with the help of people more experienced.

 

ADAM FERRISS


Adam Ferriss is an artist based out of Los Angeles, CA. He received a BFA from the Maryland Institute College of Art, and an MFA from the University of California, Los Angeles. His work has been featured widely in print and around the web on the New York Times, Foreign Policy, n+1, Creators Project, Wired, Fast Company, booooooom, but does it float, and more. He writes custom software to create websites, print media, and real time video effects, often employing the feedback loop as a digital agent of change. His recent works utilize software to examine the visual language found in computer vision and machine learning.

adamferriss.com

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SHANE MECKLENBURGER


Shane Mecklenburger is an intermedia artist working between sculpture, media art and performance. His projects interrogate systems of value, simulation and conflict, often in collaboration with diverse fields of research.

His work has exhibited at The Victoria and Albert Museum, London; Eyebeam, NYC; Bitforms Gallery, NYC; Queens Museum, NYC; Übersee-Museum, Bremen, Germany; The Dallas Museum of Art, Texas; Phoenix Art Museum, Arizona; The Columbus Museum of Art, Ohio; The El Paso Museum of Art, Texas; El Centro Cultural Paso Del Norte, Juarez, Mexico; California College of Art, San Francisco; and Antena Gallery, Chicago. He received his MFA from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago and is Assistant Professor of Sculpture and Intermedia at the University of Massachusetts Amherst Department of Art. He lives and works in Queens, New York.

shmeck.com

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MARTINA MENEGON


Martina Menegon (1988, Italy) is a new media artist, programmer and educator. Her work deals with the instability and ephemerality of the human body as well as the alienation from physicality in today’s digital age, questioning the gap between real and virtual, flesh and data. Since 2010 she collaborates with Stefano D’Alessio and Klaus Obermaier, creating interactive performances and installations. With a degree in Visual and Performing Art at IUAV University of Venice and in Transmedial Arts at The University for Applied Arts of Vienna, since 2010 she is a teaching assistant at the IUAV University, where she teaches multimedia tools for interactive arts with Klaus Obermaier. She is also lecturing in the Transmedial Art department at the University of Applied Art in Vienna and in the department of Time-based and Interactive Art at the Art University of Linz. Martina Menegon currently lives and work in Vienna.

martinamenegon.tumblr.com

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