Thursday, 31 October 2013

Cartrain: from the street to conceit


'Mr Trainwash'

Is he a car? Is he a train? One thing the East London spray-canister assailant knows for sure is that he quite frankly, really doesn't like capitalism. Starting off at Leytonstone, he made his way centrewards to Shoreditch and even the Houses of Parliament in the hope the tourist-begot foot traffic will generate the attention he's after. His path is marked with stencils of well-known consumer products, characters and logos against those of political leaders stressing on the gluttonous, consumerism-driven society and the government's exploitation of it.

With works selling for hundreds of pounds, Cartrain gained his notoriety through the skull/pencil scandal with Damien Hirst's ego. After being sued for using Damien's diamond scull in his 'For the Love Of God' collage, he fought back and called him out on being nothing but a commercial money-making machine by taking hostage his cherished £500,000 pencils residing in Tate Britain. That was not the first time this Robin Hood of street art brought to light profiteering laziness masked by the widely-accepted ambiguity of modern art - he put up a cardboard box at Tate Modern in 2008 and superglued a 'Nike' plate in the British Museum in 2006, both of which went unnoticed for hours. And after all that, this year he finally got the chance to host his own exhibition at the Graffik gallery in May. 

Today, he himself capitalises on recognised logos covering his prints that are at once bold and simple, as if they were generated by a graphic designer. The works intend to uncover the hidden cracks within the social order, how we witlessly flock to follow the mainstream and the fact the conglomerates' marketing strings us along like puppets to spend more and more money. Why is it that the poor are working to fill the pockets the rich and are rewarded with horse meat in their burgers and chicken heads in happy meals? These questions raised within his work have been twisted with irony by his move away from producing free public street art to canvas prints the price of which reaches a modest £750. All the pieces sell out instantly - seems that people never got his message of consumerism after all. Cartrain is surely on the road (or tracks) to generating more revenue thanks to the capitalist society he so despises.

 'Warhol Fries Chicken'


Image sources: http://www.flickr.com/photos/mhodgins/7889081070/
http://www.artofthestate.co.uk/blog2/index.php/tag/cartrain/
https://scontent-b-lhr.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-prn1/77128_360629407390938_580782733_n.jpg

Thursday, 10 October 2013

Space-age clubbing (outside of Cyberdog)






M&C Saatchi recently asked Neon House, Daero Ra and Adrian Law to create an installation for the House of Peroni and the outcome was a new-age DJ booth which opened the door to a neoteric form of interaction between the DJ and his audience. The booth was home to resident DJ Alessio Natalizia who threw his beats out from within the steel cube frame wrapped by two kilometres of fluorescent nylon string. The neon glow of the string rocketed the booth into a 'space-age' feel, coinciding with it's futuristic, innovative concept which combines sound and movement into one. The structure is reminiscent of modern pop-up, open-space architecture which encourages interaction by reducing walls and boundaries and bestowing the visitor with power to control their environment. The relationship between the DJ and his audience has grown and developed from the all-night dance parties to Jack Your Body and Strings of Life to the M25 congregations where ravers took over and blasted their electronic sounds over quiet suburban towns and to today's dark, undiscerning underground maze that is Fabric where the location of the tap water man is the only thing anyone's really sure of. Music for the DJ is a tool to converse with his audience, to set the mood and to provoke a reaction which usually materialises itself in uncontrolled shuffling and arm-jerking. However, the booth in question lets the listener touch the outside strings which in effect create a melody, playing alongside that of the DJ. Is this be the future of clubbing? Will we soon be the ones dictating the music through our own movement and feelings rather than the other way around? I spoke to the duo behind the installation to find out.


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HOW DID THE IDEA COME ABOUT?
DAERO RA: An interaction booth was needed for the House of Peroni's marketing event. There was a plan to make the DJ booth interactive and communicate with the audience in real time.
ADRIAN LAW: The event lasted for the better part of June over at Portland Place. What started out as a neon string structure to simply house an Italian DJ manifested into making the entire installation interactive, which is when we were brought into the mix.

DO YOU CLUB A LOT? WHAT'S YOUR VIEW ON THE CLUB SCENE TODAY?
DR: To be honest I don't enjoy loud or noisy places. However, a DJ playing music is a great idea! In a club, the DJ leads the atmosphere.
AL: Well yes frequently as I believe it's an expression of how we live our lives in contemporary times. The actual premise behind this was to create a unique connection between the DJ, the structure, the music, and the audience - this truly was the heart of this interactive art installation, and because of that the magnitude of its impact was quite unprecedented.

DO YOU FEEL THERE IS A PARTITION BETWEEN THE DJ AND THE CROWD? CAN THE INTERACTION BE PUSHED FURTHER?
DR: If there are interactive ways to communicate between the DJ or environment and the people, it must be more exciting and interesting!
AL: The clubbing scene, I would consider to be a venue, or rather a canvas in which this sort of artwork can take place. To that end I think that the interaction between the DJ and the Crowd is being experimented even now, and the partition between them is challenged. I recall going to a Silent Disco event at the Royal Festival Hall, and what was equally great to the strange yet fun sensation to be dancing in a silent room with headphones on, was that you were listening to awesome music you liked in the same manner that the DJ was with his on! The fact that Jonathan Ross was the DJ made the connection and experience all the more personal. But unconventional events such as Silent Disco and VJ performances are happening, and have been since the dawn of partying, it is just continually evolving, quietly in the background.

DO YOU THINK PROJECTS LIKE NEON HOUSE CAN SHIFT AND LESSEN THE POWER OF THE DJ IN THE FUTURE?
DR: I do think so. Currently, the DJ always watches the audience's responses - these are untouchable. If there is a more clear way to communicate with the audience, it must be more dramatic not only for the DJ but also for the audience because the above is a two-way communication.
AL: Well, arguably DJs are having to evolve to become VJs so that they can still maintain the rhythm and vibe of the nightclub. So I'd say no, it wouldn't because it doesn't seem to have been happening with other interactive projects. Or in other words projects that do weaken the role of the DJ are bad projects for doing so.

MUSIC BRINGS PEOPLE TOGETHER AND EVOKES A PHYSICAL AND EMOTIONAL RESPONSE FROM THE LISTENER. THE PROJECT HOWEVER EMPOWERS THE LISTENER TO TAKE CONTROL OF THE MUSIC - HOW DO YOU THINK THIS WOULD CHANGE THE INTERACTION IN A CLUB ENVIRONMENT? WOULD THERE BE A SENSE OF COMPETITION AND LESS UNITY AND COHESION?
DR: The interaction system should be well designed to avoid interrupting each other.
In the House of Peroni's case, I allocated different channels of each sound from each input from stimulus.
AL: This was a principal issue that was brought up during the collaboration - architects whose priority was on their structure - DJ Alessio, who was concerned about contending with such discourse, and us who were worried that we were being brought in to practically make all the magic happen! That's why I would say that by design we were responsible for giving the audience the power of participation, rather than a power to gain control. I had to negotiate between the sound and the structure, so that while the audience was able to interact, the sounds were carefully chosen by Alessio.

WE ARE CONSTANTLY DEVELOPING NEW MEANS OF COMMUNICATION, WHAT DO YOU THINK THE FUTURE HOLDS FOR HOW WE INTERACT WITH ONE ANOTHER?
DR: I believe technologies can bring more plentiful and intuitional human communication with human or digital devices. Current interfaces are limited to screens, monitors, and sound interface. Technology will, however, allow more physical and trifling communication with extended, spatial censoring systems.
AL: Participation is definitely our frontier with regards to the future and new methods of communication. Our world has changed with technology, smart phones, social network, blogging etc. - the audience is no longer a passive entity and is more engaged and interactive. The future will definitely involve experimenting with new technology and engaging the artist's audience - the partition between the artist and the audience is shrinking, and that is an exciting and terrifying revelation.

WOULD YOU LIKE TO EXPERIMENT WITH INTERACTIVE ARCHITECTURE FURTHER? WHERE DO YOU SEE THE JOURNEY TAKING YOU?
DR: I will test a new type of Tangible User Interface with a more organic and kinetic design for a particular environment. If devices can save and reload human emotion or feeling and also feel the same feeling in real time, it must be a true communication. My role is to find applicable existing technology and design interactive and touchable interface.
AL: I've been in touch with both Alessio and Neon with the prospects of doing a version 2.0, since all the parties involved were so invigorated with what we had created. Daero and myself are working on a collaboration with Eccleston Square Hotel to produce a collection of interactive sound and light sculptures following in the same spirit. The individual is no longer passive and the world and our way of living is becoming more and more dynamic.


More of Daero Ra's work on http://neodro.blogspot.co.uk/
More of Adrian Law's work on www.adrianlaw.co.uk

Image sources: http://www.seeneon.com/projects/house-of-peroni/?dm_i=F44,1VAB4,4YA29Y,6PKK4,1