anti-matter: recontextualizing the material
In our collective freefall into a new â€œdigitalâ€ culture, new kinds of interactions and communication are replacing familiar ones. Itâ€™s not surprising that artists are coming to terms with the conflicting feelings of anticipation, isolation, instability, anonymity and material consumption. Through recombinant technology, whether digitally based or not, these artists reflect a yearning for familiar ground in a changing landscape.
The six artists included in anti-matter: recontextualizing the material all use materials in an individualistic way that emphasizes process, instability and familiarity. The incorporation of high and low materials by artists represents a shift in attitudes towards the conventional that is culturally significant and personal at the same time. The work of Suzanna Fields, Helen Frederick, Alberto GaitÃ¡n, Morgan Kennedy, Susan Noyes and Jennie Thwing are representative of how artists are searching for new interpretations and meanings from common materials.
Creating with found materials became come art practice after Duchamp and the Dada movement. Instead of creating with a desire to protest or in response to the anti art movement; the artist selected use materials to challenge or affirm what is considered a high or low material. These artists are using materials without regard to their context. Paint is used as sculptural material, while plastic and cardboard are considered texturally rich enough to be a foreground element. The effect is one of both reinvention and familiarity, comforting and discordant at the same time.
Artists are confronted with emerging issues of global warming, visual and auditory bombardment, interactive media, and virtual reality. The sense of what is â€˜realâ€™ globally and locally can at times seem skewed. The foreign incarnates itself into unknown truths of global information; and in their search for the â€˜localâ€™ or the â€˜knownâ€™ artist extrapolate from their past.
Recontextualizing material is a response these artists use to recycle thoughts, desires, and is a way to humanize our digitized environment. Often works created by artists using found materials are seen as craft or homemade art. The familiarity of the imagery is the appeal of the work. In an age where there is constant questioning of â€œwhat is artâ€ these artists create pieces that are powerful and delightful. Their visual and conceptual direction offers an insightful punch at contemporary art.
Noyes work uses a traditional canvas ground, but replaces the brush stroke with mechanically created razor blades arranged into a formal pattern. By doing this she creates a powerful message of familiarity and potential danger but at the same time there is an unmistakable beauty that pervades the work. Fields takes the opposite approach, using artist acrylic paint but foregoing the use of canvas altogether. The stroke is replaced with sculpture creating a sweet phantasm that also hints at excess and decay.
In the process of incorporating found materials each artist fulfills a desire to explore the human condition. Jennie Thwingâ€™s use of video projections investigates personal narratives of loss and death. She uses storage trunks one would find in an attack or yard sale, along with old window frames from abandoned or demolished homes.
Helen Frederick and Morgan Kennedy installations are made up of the detritus that we leave behind us as we live in a modern society. Trailing a wake of debris we leave behind images, memories, water and everything that we consume as we move to a new place. Helen Frederick explores the interrelationship between the concrete and the transference of visual imagery. It is by holding onto the nostalgic; reviewing the past, while incorporating their forced involvement in a rapidly changing visceral society that these artists are moving in a new direction.
Creating with old familiar objects allows her to extrapolate and resolve the uneasiness audiences experience when viewing new art forms. Viewers can place the imagery in a familiar context that is safe and intimate. Incorporating technology and humanizing art gives the work an impact that we yearn to see. The desire for nostalgia against the force of technological change brings forth new ideals regarding art and how art is approached in an age of cyber and haptic technology.
Is there in fact a divide between our technological selves and our corporeal bodies? Is communication through new technology any less real than older forms of interaction? Through the unorthodox choice of materials or by using conventional materials in new forms these artists draw our eyes, ears and mind back to the physical quality of materiality itself. Rather than proposing a binary relation of â€˜highâ€™ and â€˜lowâ€™ material these artists fold materials back onto itself in a way that justifies both as physically significant.
Transforming found materials into experiential art requires a sociological awareness that isnâ€™t random, but instinctive. Each of artists selected in anti-matter expresses an intuitive use of materials which references the way in which technology has become part of our unconscious thought processes. As Duchamp and the Dada artists chose to create â€˜ready madeâ€™ into art; these artists deconstruct the familiar and incorporate their cultural influences of the digital era. Artists are recycling, recording, and extrapolating materials around them; fulfilling a need to reaffirm the past. The desire to edify the past; compounded with insecurities in identity, social and cultural instabilities, result in a phenomenological process of creating.
With Ouroboros Alberto GaitÃ¡n has created a feedback xylophone that is both familiar and technological. His work is technically advanced but materially primitive and transparent. An old intercom is recycled along with a bicycle wheel and mailing tubes to create what is essentially a childâ€™s toy. Nostalgia mixed with technology is used to make an object that is familiar and new at the same time.
The works selected are a reflection of artists tapping into a new era of art. They are creating from an unfamiliar place in which institutionalized art forums are having difficulty processing. Artists today may seem to lack rage or the sensationalized urgency of past generations, frustrating curators, gallery directors, and critics. These artists hold onto the traditional as nostalgic, reviewing their past and incorporating their forced involvement in a rapidly changing visceral society.
Installation art forms, time based media, interactive works, along with images created by tissue paper, cardboard, water bottles, all confirm that this generation of artists is part of the hyper media generation. This approach is uniquely different from past genres, while still exploring universal themes of death, body image, politics, war, and consumerism.
The impact and direction of anti-matter is to acknowledge the desire to understand societies overlapping narratives. Living in a technologized, globalized culture brings forth burdens artist are approaching through investigative processes. How does oneâ€™s culture of mass consumption affect another countries poverty? It is in working with recontextualized materials that these artists are interested in recording the human experience in non-traditional terms, in a multitude of aesthetic cultural vectors.