Wednesday, March 4, 2015

The Chronicles of Our Hero

So it's that time again.

For those of you who follow up on my work regularly, you know that I've been producing a bunch of new and fun work.

One of the things that has been on my mind a lot (for a very long time) is human behavior. As many of us have seen over time, the scope of "public behavior" has become somewhat complicated by things like mobile tech, social media, news/politics, and the digital age of dating. Because this is a bit of a vast subject to try and wrap one's mind around, I simplified in the only way I know how: I've been funneling all of these human attributes into a character (even a caricature, as some might say). I've taken this opportunity to, not just create a visual experience, but make these new works as interactive as possible. In hindsight, this work as a participatory experience is a little ironic, considering that the social aspect of today's technology

Our Hero, Exasperated, 31"x26", acrylic, collage, rope, and cardboard on reclaimed wood, 2015
The character I've created is named Our Hero- I realize that the name is a little loaded, but dammit if it wasn't the most sensible name I could give him. His powers? Well... "powers" might be a little bit of a strong term... His function is that he embodies our habits when it comes to tech, social media, etc. He is a hedonist, self-absorbed, and speaks in half-truths. He is unembarrassed by things his "civilian" self would blush while addressing. He is passive aggressive. He is, above all else, a model for the new role-model. 

Our Hero Has Chicken Pox, 11.25"x14", acrylic, magnets, collage, rope, and cardboard on reclaimed wood, 2015
In the cases of works like Our Hero Has Chicken Pox, I'm very much taking a jab at my own guilt in terms of bad tech habits. In this piece, I'm thinking about my iPhone... the little red balloons that- like chicken pox- scream "hey! you've got an itch to scratch!" How many of us get yelled at for checking our phones during dinner? This is a reminder to myself, and those of us who do this, that scratching the pox gives you tiny little scars- even though it feels like relief at the time. 

Our Hero Finds the Perfect Lighting, 8"x16"x7", metal, paper mache, plastic, acrylic, reclaimed wood, and cloth, 2015

Our Hero #GetsSwole, 20.5"x27", acrylic, cloth, rope, and cardboard on reclaimed wood, 2015

  An interesting, and sometimes confounding, aspect of all the things I'm thinking about with these works is "the selfie." With all of the alleged psychological implications being released lately, along with the behavior itself, selfies are one of those magical multi-layered resources that artists (I guess myself included) seem to LOVE to take jabs at. While Our Hero #GetsSwole is a bit of a jab at "the gym selfie," it is also about the self-image aspect of these things. I once had a friend explain that selfies (which she is completely unshy and uncandid about) are often being used as a self-esteem boost. My interest in this, though, is about how far this actually goes. In this piece, I am providing a juxtaposition between what the subject intends to display and what reality has to offer. In this case, a self-described alpha physique and the cartoony drooping biceps; something I've always found hilarious as an ego-deflator from my formative years glued to Loony Tunes and Tom & Jerry. 

In the case of Our Hero Finds the Perfect Lighting, I am again thinking about how the selfie functions. Specifically, with an intention of showing the actual difference between reality and perception through this medium. When viewing the sculpture as an outsider in the space, we see the figure as he is in his element and true form. Once we look through the plastic in his hands, we see something else- his "filtered" self. We notice its distortion through shape, color, and cropping- but only as it compares to the truth. Imagine our perception if there were no basis of comparison.

Our Hero, Situation #1 and Our Hero, Situation #2 (top to bottom), variable size, acrylic and paper mache on paper and cloth, 2015-
Let me start off by saying I have never really considered performance as a viable branch for my artwork. Having said that, I figured that if I was going to make these works both relevant and participatory, what better way than to allow myself and other willing participants to actually be Our Hero... after all, I am already asserting that I and we all are. So with that, I have begun what I'm anticipating to be my first photographic series in over 10 years; documenting the different forms Our Hero takes in the real world, while physically hiding behind the avatar that is Our Hero. This way, we all get to wear the mask and cape, finally being that superhero we all claim to be when the digital soap box calls us. 

Below, you will find more of the works related to the scope of these topics- the theatrical, the identity based, the mentality, and everything in between. 

Until next time!


Our Hero Brings the T&A, 14"x17"x5", acrylic, cardboard, cloth, rope, metal, plastic, and reclaimed wood, 2015
Our Hero Introduces his Spokesman and Sidekick, 10.5"x17"x7", cloth, acrylic, rope, cardboard, metal, buttons, and reclaimed wood, 2015

Our Hero Regurgitates (and He Likes that You Like That), 16.5"x19"x4", acrylic, cardboard, paper mache, metal, rope, and reclaimed wood, 2015
Our Hero, Minus the Kung Fu Grip, 24"x6"x8", acrylic, cardboard, rope, metal, and plastic on reclaimed wood, 2015