Friday 04th March 2016Artist Spotlight: Alice Smeets & Atis Rezistans
On this week's edition of Artist Spotlight, we're going to look at the collaborative work of award-winning documentary photography Alice Smeets and a Haitian artist collective named Atis Rezistans. The project is actually not overly recent, but may not have received the widespread note that the odd mixture of haunting and downright weird deserved. Entitled 'The Ghetto Tarot', the project was an attempt to turn the images from the world-famous Rider-Waite tarot deck into a series of photographs using nothing more than materials available in the ghettos of Port-au-Prince.
Smeets recalled some of the stranger moments that occurred during the extended photoshoot. "There have been plenty of little, funny moments. One example: when we were shooting the scene of the Death card, I asked the artists if they had real skulls to place them in the picture. Five minutes later, Claudel, one of the artists and my dearest assistant, came along holding a plastic bag filled with skulls in his hands as if it was the most normal thing in the world to carry dead people's heads around.
It constantly surprised me how the artists almost always found immediately what I asked for. For the picture of the High Priestess, we needed horns to place them next to her feet. I hadn’t let them known beforehand that we would be in need of them. As soon as Claudel found out, he ran and came back a moment later with two horns in his hands. They never told me where they found all of the materials, they just happened to lay around somewhere in the Ghetto."
The end result of the project is a tarot deck with the created photos, which is available for sale for 35 euros on Indiegogo, the crowdfunding site that provided the funding for the entire project, totalling almost 50,000 euros.
There is an odd mixture of successes and failures in the images, some of which are incredibly striking and others which seem more like a lazy art school project - although to be fair, the same thing could be said of the original Rider-Waite illustrations with equal applicability.
“The spirit of the Ghetto Tarot project is the inspiration to turn negative into positive while playing. The group of artists ‘Atiz Rezistans’ use trash to create art with their own visions that are a reflection of the beauty they see hidden within the waste. They are claiming the word ‘Ghetto,’ thus freeing themselves of its depreciating undertone and turning it into something beautiful.”
Posted on March 04th 2016 on 04:40am
Wednesday 17th February 2016Robot Artists of the World Unite
It seems like robots are everywhere lately, whether it's replacing cashiers at a McDonalds, on the assembly line at the local plant, or being harassed by Boston Dynamics workers. While it's surely only a matter of time before our robot slaves rebel and crush us into so much biomass, surely the jobs provided by the artistic community would be safe - at least for the time being, right? Well, maybe not.
While robotic painting is hardly a new phenomenon, as experiments were conducted with the mashup as far back as the the 1950s, new technology always creates new opportunities and new ground to cover. Chris Chen has a dream, and while that dream is a slightly blurry and more than a bit messy one, it still involves robots painting portraits of the customers patronizing his company Instapainting.
Above and beyond the stated goals of Instapainting, Chen has opened up access to one of the painting robots to the internet (always a risky move) and streamed the whole thing using the Twitch platform. Users could control the motion of the painting robot, which lead to its own unique set of problems.
"The bots came back and tried to paint 'dickbutts' but the point and click interface made it easy for anyone to interfere. That's probably why this looks more like a Jackson Pollock. I was surprised it mostly ran without issues," he said. "It was a $250 machine slapped together with quickly written software, so running it for that long was an endurance test."
So is it all overblown hype? Surely a robot can't really be an artist, without the hopes, drives, dreams, emotions, and all the other je ne sais quoi that helps fuel the human creative spirit …. right? But what about a robot that is indirectly controlled by a mass of humans?
Perhaps the issue lies in the fact that all the headlines about the story are written as clickbait, hoping to ensnare users for their valuable ad space consumption and clickthrough rates, but if you stop and consider it as a collaborative art project, it starts to become a bit more appealing. We shouldn't go so far as to call it a robot artist, but rather an interesting experiment into collaborative experience that creates a necessary interstitial zone between the body of collaborators and the body of the work.
Posted on February 17th 2016 on 02:38pm