“Life-sized pictures of people found on Google’s Street View are printed and posted without authorization at the same spot where they were taken.”
Nifty idea is one thing, but in terms of execution it’s truly impressive – so far he has done this in Manhattan NYC, Brooklyn NYC, Denver, Buffalo, Montreal, London, Berlin, Stuttgart, Brussels, Lyon, Marseille, Bilbao, Barcelona, & Sydney.
While Cirio’s work is definitely a novel take on street art, there’s a political edge to the work, too.
In this project, I exposed the specters of Google’s eternal realm of private, misappropriated data: the bodies of people captured by Google’s Street View cameras, whose ghostly, virtual presence I marked in Street Art fashion at the precise spot in the real world where they were photographed.
Street Ghosts hit some of the most important international Street Art “halls of fame” with low-resolution, human scale posters of people taken from Google Street View. These images do not offer details, but the blurred colors and lines on the posters give a gauzy, spectral aspect to the human figures, unveiling their presence like a digital shadow haunting the real world.
This ready-made artwork simply takes the information amassed by Google as material to be used for art, despite its copyrighted status and private source.
As the publicly accessible pictures are of individuals taken without their permission, I reversed the act: I took the pictures of individuals without Google’s permission and posted them on public walls. In doing so, I highlight the viability of this sort of medium as an artistic material ready to comment and shake our society.
The collections of data that Google and similar corporations have become the material of everyday life, yet their source is the personal information of private individuals. By remixing and reusing this material, I artistically explore the boundaries of ownership and exposure of this publicly displayed, privately-held information about our personal lives.
- From the artist’s statement on streetghosts.net
I like the idea of playing with the metanarrative of the overlap of the real and the virtual world – it’s very layered. The whole idea of copyright and ownership in the context of a map of the world made up of street level photos adds yet another layer. I’m not so certain that Google’s copyright is meant as anything more than laying claim to the use of the images within the context of mapping and wayfinding, but it is certainly food for thought. I would love to hear an official response from Google. Does Street Ghosts count as deriviative work in the sense of copyright law since it is only using this material to directly comment on Google Street, making it okay under fair use? Or since it’s only a very small portion of Google Street View that’s being reproduced, does it qualify as fair use under the de minimus concept? I’m not a lawyer so this is pure speculation, but I’m intrigued. In any case, given the siginificant amount of press attention this project has generated, it seems to be giving a lot of other people food for thought, too.
A quite extensive gallery of Street Ghosts can be seen here.
If you’re going to be in Montréal May 17 (this Friday) you should seriously consider checking out the Beauty of Tragedy at Conseil des Arts de Montréal at 1210 Rue Sherbrooke Est, at the corner or Montcalm & Sherbrooke. It’s worth noting that this Friday is not an opening or vernissage per se – the party, a finissage in this case, will be held from 6 pm-10 pm June 16 (same location) coinciding with the closure of the MURAL festival.
It’s a group show with an excellent roster of well-known artists including some I’ve written about on ye olde blogge – Peter Ferguson & Omen will be there, along with Jason Botkin, WIA, Labrona, Scaner and Alan Ganev (who is also the curator). This promises to be a truly excellent show.
The Beauty of Tragedy, explores the phenomenon that occurs when tragic events lead to the expression beauty. The works presented were inspired by a variety of tragedies, either conceptual or emotional, which touched the selected artists in unique ways. Focusing on personal, social, political or cultural subjects, their artistic expression was used as a tool of awareness and/or personal healing, and the execution of their ideas honour the concept for this exhibition. Combining the contrasting notions of tragedy and beauty has led to a series of powerful and visually stimulating artworks.
The exhibition focuses on a selection of artists strongly influenced by graffiti, lowbrow, and street culture, but all have a candid curiosity and willingness to practice beyond the boundaries of their artistic niches. It is precisely this urge for innovation which makes their work authentic and worth celebrating, for their artistic expression contributes to Montréal’s visual culture.
Stephanie Buer is an artist living in Portland, Oregon. Her work consists of drawings and paintings of abandoned industrial spaces. Before I go into that more, some backstory:
Wandering through the wilds of the internet, I found a grainy black-and-white photograph of a car ramp in an abandoned parking garage. But wait…. not a photo, but a drawing. A very accurate, detailed charcoal drawing. For all its accuracy, though, what captivates me most about this piece is its sense of place, and the timelessness of abandoned spaces. Not timeless in the sense of being an old standby, or clichéd in any way, but being outside of time.
So yeah, timelessness. It’s kind of the same idea as the “pure objects” Yuki Saiga describes when talking about his photos of Gunkanjima:
Order and value that only prevailed through human existence had long been disrupted. Items were scattered here and there with no context, no ranking. Everything had equal value. The sight I saw spoke of the relationship of the master and servant that had vanished at the time these items were discarded, which liberated them from human reign. To be abandoned meant freedom from all. The items left behind on the island lost their names, their given tasks, even the meaning of their existence. The laid there as mere “objects”. Books and clocks and empty bottles were no longer books and clocks and empty bottles. Things that had been domesticated by humans no longer existed on the island. Just as the inhabitants started their new lives by leaving the island, these things too, left behind on the island, shed their identity once forced on by humans, to start their lives as “pure objects”.
All this to say that there is a quiet poetry to be found in abandoned spaces. Enough with backstory, back to Stephanie Buer:
Stephanie Buer began pursing a career in art at the College for Creative Studies in Detroit, Michigan where she fell in love with the city and urban exploration. She spent the next ten years living in Detroit and developing as an artist.
- Juxtapoz Magazine Back Talk: A Conversation with Stephanie Buer April 23, 2012
Buer’s appreciation for these spaces shines through in her work. Although they are firmly within the traditions of representational realism, her drawings and paintings don’t lack in emotive qualities. The interplay of light and texture in her work lends an almost post- romantic quality in the art history sense to the rigidity of industrial architecture. As these urban landscapes are quietly disassembled by plant life and exposure to the elements, you could read it as Buer’s postmodern riff on Victorian paintings of overgrown ruins.
Buer recognizes these art historical influences (as a realist painter-in-oils it’s kind of inescapable) but also acknowledges the contemporary aspect of her subject matter and the influences those bring to her.
I love the way that Manet and Sargent use oil paint, every time I see one of their pieces in real life I can’t pull myself away. I also really love the work of Franz Kline, Kevin Cyr, Josh Keyes and any and all street art; Kid Acne is one of my favorites right now.
- Juxtapoz Magazine Back Talk: A Conversation with Stephanie Buer April 23, 2012
I’ve written about Kevin Cyr‘s sculptures and modifed prints of NYC delivery vans and I can see the commonality – I’m also reminded of the graffiti-rich urban landscapes of Jessica Hess or the abandoned industrial building paintings of Morgan Craig. I think Buer’s paintings have a unique quality, though, in how she handles paint. When she references Manet and Sargent it’s easy to see the influence – I was reminded of Waterhouse, too, and the skies and light in Turner‘s late works.
There’s a meticulousness to realist representationalism that sometimes ends up being too much about the accurate details and carefully rendered surfaces to the detriment of mood. This is where Buer’s nod to art history pays off ; her work evokes mood – in spades.
While Buer’s paintings are breathtaking, her drawings are equally worthy of notice. Despite the stark rigidity of industrial architecture, they have a lushness to them. Her drawings are not only an accurate representation of an abandoned space, but of the meditative stillness, and the timelessnes I mentioned earlier. I can almost smell the rotting concrete and hear the water dripping when I look at them.
Her urban landscapes explore the many layers of history found in the marginal areas of cities. From the imprints of industry and production to its eventual decay, each subject has a historical context, an original purpose that is now lost. She is fascinated by how these places change as they succumb to the manipulation of vandals, artists and the resilience of nature ever slowly growing alongside. Through her art Stephanie seeks to find beauty and peace in these forgotten and unloved areas of cities.
I make no secret of my love for graffiti & street art, and Montreal is a fertile breeding ground for this expression of cultural vitality. Checking out the April 2013 edition of Cult MTL I see that Yves Laroche Gallery is having a show of work by one of Montreal’s best-known “public artists”, Stare.
…this month the NME crew co-founder mounts his first-ever full-fledged solo exhibition. Entitled “Star d’un Soir”, the show at Yves Laroche is timed to coincide with the launch of a small-run art book of the same name.
…Unlike many outdoor artists who take their work indoors, Stare doesn’t just reproduce his street art aesthetic in the studio and then hang it in a gallery. “Star d’un Soir” is a meta-commentary on street art’s relationship with documenting itself, staged by reproducing several of his own since-buffed murals as paintings of Polaroid photographs.
Emily Raine “Staring Stare.” Cult MTL (April 2013)
This reminds me a bit of the work of Kevin Cyr who photographed NYC delivery vans, created tiny scale models, then created prints based on the models – or that of Jessica Hess who does oil paintings of urban scenes full of graffiti. Stare really does kick it up a notch conceptually by reproducing his own outdoor work, though.
I’d love to show you some pictures from the exhibition but oddly Cult MTL doesn’t have an online version of the article, Stare doesn’t appear to have a website, and Yves Laroche gallery hasn’t put any tasters online – but they have put up a video teaser for the show:
Here are a few examples of Stare’s work from my Montreal street art/graffiti 2002-2012 collection:
Needless to say I’m pretty excited to go check out the show, and those of you similarly inclined should do so, too. Yves Laroche gallery is at 6355 Saint-Laurent (just a bit south of Beaubien), and the vernissage is this Wednesday from 5-9. The show runs until April 26.
There are few artists whose work I admire more than that of Robert Rauschenberg. Not only for his work itself, but how it pushed boundaries of how art was considered.
In 1964, after Robert Rauschenberg won the Venice Biennale Grand Prize, the Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano deplored the event as “the total and general defeat of culture.”
from a Review of “Combines” by Jorg von Uthmann 2006
For me, in many ways, Rauschenberg’s work exists outside context. What I mean by that is that he wasn’t really associated with any one specific movement, and as his work evolved a lot over his very long working career, it’s hard to peg him down to any one specific style or even medium. Many of his pieces mix genres and art media freely, and while there are obviously some commonalities with his contemporaries, for the most part his work is its own context more than anything else that was going on in the art world at the time.
Robert Rauschenberg (October 22, 1925 – May 12, 2008) was an American painter and graphic artist whose early works anticipated the pop art movement. Rauschenberg is well known for his “Combines” of the 1950s, in which non-traditional materials and objects were employed in innovative combinations. Rauschenberg was both a painter and a sculptor and the Combines are a combination of both, but he also worked with photography, printmaking, papermaking, and performance. He was awarded the National Medal of Arts in 1993.
The one piece of Rauschenberg’s I most admire is Monogram, a mixed-media sculpture/ collage/ painting made of manipulated found objects. It appeals to my own aesthetic sensibility for many reasons, and in many ways. When I was in high school, our art teacher told me that Rauschenberg used to walk around his block in 1950′s New York, and pick through the trash in the empty lots, alleys, and garbage cans. If he found anything he thought he could use, he’d take it back to his studio. If he didn’t, well, he wouldn’t make any art that day. This may or may not be apocryphal but it appeals to me – not just as a fellow artistic trash-picker (you can find some great stuff, you know), but in that there’s a kind of poetry in working with the detritus of modern civilization; making objects of cultural relevance from the leavings of that culture. Then there’s the notion of the cit’s cast-off items giving hints to a meta-narrative of what it is to be in the city, to the extent that the things you find in the trash are a key to the secret language of the city itself, like in Paul Auster’s story City of Glass from his New York Trilogy.
Now, I realize it reads like I’m over-analyzing, but hey, that’s what modern art’s all about. Like this bit from an awesome article about Rauschenberg on ArtNet:
That looking turned breathless in 1959 when Rauschenberg completed Monogram, one of the most outlandish and barbarous works of art ever made. Monogram features a stuffed Angora goat encircled by a tire. The goat, whose snout is covered in multicolored war paint, is standing on a painting, as if grazing at pasture. A sort of gargoyle or ravaging scavenger guarding over and also destroying art, this cloven-hoofed creature is a shamanic manifestation of Rauschenberg. In early Christian art goats symbolized the damned. This is exactly what Rauschenberg was as a gay/bisexual man and an artist, at the time. A dingy tennis ball behind the animal suggests it has defecated on painting. Allegorically, Rauschenberg is a bull in the china shop of art history, a satyr squeezing through the eye of an esthetic/erotic needle. As Johns’s Flag (1954-1955) is a Delphic rebel yell that says, “I create and am a part of this symbol of American openness even though as a gay man I am shunned by it,” so Monogram is Rauschenberg’s credo, a line drawn in the psychic sands of American sexual and cultural values. It is a love letter, a death threat, and a ransom note. It is Rauschenberg carving his monogram into art history.
- Our Picasso? from Artnet, by Jerry Saltz
I love the idea of the horny old goat as a tongue-in-cheek self portrait feeding off the art field while remaining disdainfully above it. So delightfully apocalyptic and a witty exploration of many of the concerns around figuration and modernism of the day – contrast this with the Abstract Expressionists’ obsession with the picture plane or Pop Artists’ with consumer culture. Anyhow, I like it, whether you think of it as a critique, a celebration, a sexual banner, a tongue-in cheek artistic in-joke, or some combination thereof. Monogram speaks to me not just as art, but as a window into Rauschenberg’s work and thought processes. If you would like to see more of Rauschenberg’s work, MoMA has a pretty decent online selection, or you can check out the online info related to the 2006 show focusing on Rauschenberg’s combines at Centre Pompidou in Paris. If you’re interested in a more detailed exploration, there’s always Robert Rauschenberg: Combines for a look specifically at the period of his career where he made “Monogram”, or a more thorough look at his, well, art and life can be found in Rauschenberg: Art and Life.
I leave you with this photo of Rauschenberg taken by Dennis Hopper at Claes Oldenburg’s wedding in 1966.
I got this email today via this blog:
We are [redacted], a design your own custom quality skateboard company. We are contacting you because we thought your readers might be interested in our Third Thursday monthly design contest that we are starting. We have run successful design contests in the past, but wanted to bring it back to a monthly thing with different themes. Every month will involve a new theme and each winner will receive a $100 cash prize as well as their design printed on a skateboard deck. Each winner will also receive a spot in the new limited edition Third Thursday shop creating a ongoing catalog of winners and representation for those artist. Details can be found here [redacted], but if you have any questions or would like any further information or [redacted] materials please feel free to email me back.
Best, – [redacted]
Hi [redacted] -
On one level this sounds like a cool way for artists to get their work seen and maybe make a couple of bucks. On another level, you’re asking artists to work on spec, and that’s not cool. Everyone has to make a living, right? If you have a bunch of people submitting their art and you only pay the one that wins, everyone else worked for free. That works out pretty sweet for you, but not so much for everyone else. As a creative professional, I can’t support this contest – getting people to compete to get paid for their artwork is part of the reason it’s hard to make a living as an illustrator. Threadless basically does the same thing for t-shirts and lots of people go for that, so you’ll probably do well with this initiative anyhow, but I’m going to have to politely decline your suggestion that I do free advertising for your contest to maybe get paid.
Well, it’s been some time since I’ve posted. I’ve been super busy with home & work but that’s no excuse, right? Here’s a look at my sketchbook for now.
I read an interesting article (I forget the source, sorry – getting old I guess) about how handstyles are looked down on, as tags are mostly crap… At the same time they’re the entry point to graffiti for most people ) and they’re effectively the last remainder of calligraphy and actually doing lettering in any meaningful way. There’s some value to that. Sure, many are crap but it’s people starting out so that’s to be expected. Nobody likes to wake up to see their front door toy tagged but whatever. I don’t hate tags but I do look at pieces as more impressive, but maybe that’s because my background is fine arts instead of graf. I don’t look down on graf (at all) and actively love street art (I’m beginning to understand the reasons for the division between street art and graffiti even if I don’t think it’s that important) but the thought that tags are essentially calligraphy is a very charming one.
In any case this is me thinking about all that, playing with acrylic markers and my sketchbook. Make of it what you will. As always this is in my Moleskine… if you like to beat the heck out of your sketchbooks and are looking for a nice pocket-style book, you can always get a Moleskine for yourself.
//edit – I found the article! It was on imprint, about Christian Acker.
“We tap keyboards far more frequently than we touch pen to paper,” designer and author Christian Acker says in his introduction to Flip the Script: A Guidebook for Aspiring Vandals and Typographers (Ginko Press, 2013). “Graffiti may well be the last great execution of highly practiced penmanship in popular culture.”
Flip the Script seeks to contextualize the tagging styles of American graffiti writers from different periods and regions in visual history. This is the first book of its kind, and it is vast in its scope. Flip the Script documents over 500 signatures, or “tags,” the calling card of the street writer. Acker systematically analyzes historic hand styles by collecting a remarkable body of work from the most influential US cities, and searching for the common threads that connect cultures.
A friend of mine, Aaron Morgan, has been putting together crowdsourced art books for some time now. His latest venture is Oh! Daddy – a collection of erotic art and writing, featuring the art and writing of 20+ people from all over the place. Aaron invited me to contribute, and the images below are the 2 pieces by me that will appear in the final edition. For the first one I was taking a photomontage kind of route, rocking my photoshop skillzorz, thinking about voyeurism as a theme.
For the second one, I turned to drawing (in illustrator this time), thinking about how erotic fixation can be a thematic thing that lends itself towards a collage-like approach.
The thing I like about crowdsourcing conceptually is that it’s an obvious development on the independently published zine format, allowing creatives the ability to access forms of publishing historically only available to commercial publishing by getting the funding up front. Beyond that of course is that a wider public can be reached by independent art workers via the magic of the interwebs, so whether you’re in Seattle like Aaron or in Montreal like me, you can get together with like-minded people and create some really interesting work.
Support independent artists, reserve an advance copy of Oh! Daddy – a collection of erotic art and writing today …there are also lots of very cool perks for different donation tiers, so check it out.
WOOHOO new art supplies – I picked up my first acrylic markers (where you babies been all my life) and man, this is a game-changer.
This page all started from an Albrecht Dürer illustration of the wing of a blue roller that’s been making its rounds on the Tumblrverse… And also the Song off the MIA/ Diplo mix album, Definition of a Roller… But yeah, decocolor markers. Pretty amazing. As always this is in my Moleskine… if you like to beat the heck out of your sketchbooks and are looking for a nice pocket-style book, you can always get a Moleskine for yourself.
I’ve mentioned Peter Ferguson before but just as a refresher, he is a wonderfully talented Montrealer that I have the good fortune to count amongst my friends. He has worked as an illustrator and artist for many years, and as I was saying, his show opens this Friday at Roq La Rue Gallery in Seattle.
Hi-Fructose has a pile of pieces up on their site, so go check that out if you want to see more (and who wouldn’t really) and if you are in the Seattle area, be sure to stop by and check out these exquisite paintings in person because wee little images on the interwebs do not do them justice.
I won’t get to see the show in person, unfortunately, but I have seen most of these paintings and I assure you, it is very much worth your while to head on out to Roq la Rue and check out Peter’s work in person.