Who Says QR Codes and Digital Media Can’t Be Art?
Art and Technology Meet Under the Influence
It’s officially bottle popping season. Everyone is gearing up to attend holiday parties where wine bottles will be emptied into glasses clinked together in celebration of the holidays. Wine has been the center of spiritual and social rituals and gatherings for centuries. Its involvement in our culture has been immortalized in works of art. The imagery of its influence has been described in the prose of great writers and lyrics of our favorite musical performers.
Curator Souleo invited artists to create pieces inspired by enology, the study of all things related to wine and winemaking at the exhibit appropriately called “Art Enology”. The exhibit features pieces from over twenty artists including paintings, sculpture and film, made with or inspired by wine bottles. Recently, some of the artists who accepted Souleo’s challenge along with others who are familiar with aspects of making and selling wine gathered at Art in Flux Harlem gallery to participate in a panel discussion titled “From Picasso to Drake”. The panel was made up of two artists who were featured in the exhibit Jeremiah Drake, and Janet Goldner as well as, Megan Wiig, Mutineer magazine columnist and founder of Wine Wise Consulting, Dustin Nelson, Marketing Director of Le Poisson Rouge and Founding Editor of inDigest magazine and Michael Cavanagh, journalist for Wine Enthusiast and The Culture-ist.
Discussion ranged from the influences of wine on the arts and artists throughout history and in modern times as well as the role it plays in the way we socialize. Panelists answered questions about the business of wine, the creation of wine and how the existence of wine in our culture has been reflected through the works of artists as well as the effects on those who are experiencing the art. The panel discussion commenced with a wine tasting with red wine provided by Simone International/ Papi Wines.
Artists who participated in the Art Enology exhibit were able to bring relevance to the subject with their pieces reflecting their interpretation of the topic. Two of the artists took the challenge and added elements to their work that not only showed the manifestation of wine and its influence but the evolution of art as it is combined with cutting edge technology. Both artists were able to merge traditional mediums with advances in technology, giving the term visual art another meaning.
The first piece used the much buzzed about Zcorp 3D printer. After creating an image on the computer, the Zcorp 3D printer begins the process of building that image into a tangible object. Artist Joshua DeMonte used revolutionary technology to create his piece featured in the exhibit entitled “Cushion”. The red brick pattern on the piece was applied onto the surface of the object during the printing process. Though the printer does a good amount of the work evolving a one dimensional image into a 3D creation, after extracting the object from the printer, artists and designers must then begin a process of covering the piece with a super glue or epoxy substance to ensure the strength of the final product. This video shows a step by step process of how objects are “printed”.
Tej: Code (Traditional Ethiopian Honey Wine) by Jason E. Auguste shows two wine bottles framing an image in the center that resembles an ancient symbol. A closer look of the piece reveals that the design in the center of this piece is QR code. By scanning the image using a QR scanner app which can easily be downloaded on any smartphone, users are linked to websites featuring everything from information about a product to promotional deals. By scanning Auguste’s artwork, the piece came to life and links viewers to a video that explained the history of wine in Ethiopia. Check out the video here.
Every piece on display showcased the way each artist manipulated the wine bottles to tell a distinctive story. Four of the twenty plus artists who participated in the exhibition attended the event and gave patrons some behind the scenes information about their interpretation of the subject, their chosen medium, and their process of making each piece.
Beau McCall made three pieces for the show. McCall has an extensive background in wearable art. He recalled that his first piece was a sweater made entirely out of buttons. Over time the shape of that sweater started to change due to the weight of the buttons. McCalls compares his evolution of the use of that material including the pieces showcased in Art Enology, to the changing nature of that first piece.
According to McCall, the topic of Art Enology made him think about house parties and the three types of drinkers you would see at such event. Though each piece tells its own story, collectively they are called “Harlem Hangover” no party would be complete without the three types of drinkers McCall includes in his installation.
The first piece “Pop Pop Pop” represents the celebratory drinker.
The second piece titled “A Social Siiiiip” symbolizes the social drinker.
The final piece “Tiiipsssyyy” embodies the nature of the lush as it shows wine spilling over.
Greg Frederick is known for using vinyl records to create eclectic pop art pieces. Though this piece was not made up of vinyl, Frederick took the opportunity to immortalize an acclaimed singer in his work called “Amy Winehouse”. The piece is a portrait of the late singer made out of wine labels. Looking closely at the piece you not only see the labels of Frederick’s favorite wines but titles that reflect the way some may have viewed Winehouse such as a Smoking Loon label. The piece had humor but also soul. Next to her eye is a label featuring a silhouette of man dancing which we both agreed was like Winehouse’s spirit guide.
Janet Goldner who also sat on the panel is a welder. Goldner enjoys manipulating steel to create her pieces. Her contribution to Art Enology is called “Exuberance”. The steel elements of the piece look as if they are bursting from the bottle holding true to the title of the sculpture.
Jeremiah Drake another panelist made his piece using found objects. “Black Baby in the Garbage- Don’t Pay That Baby No Mind” is an homage to a real life baby he came across while in transition in Los Angeles. The baby was indeed in the garbage and none of the people in the area seemed concerned. Drake was unable to assist the child on that day but that image stayed with him. “The baby sits on top of a totem,” he says while explaining that the imagery is meant to show the actual importance of the child. Though the piece brought back a painful memory and can definitely spark some commentary about the world we live in Drake believes, “Art is using our senses to get closer to the truth”.
The event was a success in that it allowed for open discussion and artistic expression about a substance that many of the panelists and artists agreed is a “social lubricant” and at times an enhancement for creativity. One of the panelists described the process of making wine as taking a grape which in itself is a work of art created by nature and then transforming it into a substance that inspires the creative nature of others as they create their art work. Through the use of mixed mediums and the incorporation of technology into some of the work, Art Enology transported the viewers of the art leaving them with a feeling that can only be achieved by taking a sip.
Art Enology will continue to be on display at the Art in Flux Harlem gallery until January 23, 2013. Future special events surrounding the exhibit include:
Look Like a Collector, Drink Like a Connoisseur on January 12th (1- 3pm)
Blindfold Me: Envisioning Wine on January 18th (7- 8pm)
Closing Reception on January 23rd (6-9pm)