Tuesday, April 30, 2013

A Primer on "Nano-Nonobjective-Oriented Ontographs and Qubit-Built Quilts"

Even though we’ll do the occasional controversial political exhibition in our gallery, such as Yevgeniy Fiks’ “Homosexuality Is Stalin’s Atom Bomb to Destroy America,” which generated quite a few written responses, including this selected sub-list:
very few exhibitions we’ve presented have generated the technical (and with that, oddly, in some cases hostile) level of discussion that our current show by Shane Hope is doing. 

I suspect the hostility comes from the fact that partially what’s at stake in Shane’s work is nothing less than a vision for the future of humankind. 

Because of the interesting/challenging nature of most of the questions we’re getting on a daily basis though, and because I can’t easily call Shane each time someone in the gallery asks me something beyond my knowledge base, I asked him if he’d be willing to do a quick Q&A with me on the types of questions we get most often and a few raised by comments to reviews of his show online. His answers were so charming, intriguing, and in places unexpected, I thought I’d share them here: 


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Q (EW): Let’s begin with a few easy ones to set the context. The question we hear most often by people who’ve never seen your work before is “What am I looking at?” With the experience you now have after The Armory Show of people from all walks of life (with widely different knowledge about art and/or technology) asking that question, have you found a single best answer? 

A (SH): That “What am I looking at?” question has a some serious semantic gamut gap. Here are at least two go-to replies: Firstly, the future. Actually, allusions to the future's futures as in visual art answers to technological singularity blindsightedness. Secondly, 3D printed molecular models. My main goal as of late has been to visually relate the operative ideologies, promises, and hype of 3D printing to the R&D and speculations surrounding theoretical molecular manufacturing. 

Q: We also receive a very interesting array of comments about what people thought the work was until they came up close to it, including textile/fiber artwork or quilts, collaged toy bits, and even (by a prominent art critic) painted macaroni. The textile artists in particular are very enthusiastic about the similarities between their practice and these works. Does that surprise you, and if not, why not? 

A: Not so surprising as it is confirming. I’m trying to increase awareness of object-shock styled otherness after all. And that's akin to how abundance technologies will manifest objecthoods the likes of which we’ve not known and maybe can’t know without equivalently extraordinary exocortical enhancements. Arguably, objects are already starting to be thought of as more about their semantic-brainstorm-cloud formations of computability above and beyond them. 

Q: Another common question (I’ve heard it a dozen times myself) is “If these are generated on a machine, why does it look like I can see the artist’s hand in these works?” 

A: Distributed agency. The hand of the artist has always been about algorithms, albeit biological and heuristic. To trial and error is human? Naw, not only anyway. Human is NOT as human does. If you can hack them well enough, all machines prove to be more than what they ever do too. To properly problematize, I refer to my 3D printers as mindchild-playborers yet consider them not-so-much mere collaborators. We share together in new collablobjecthoods. Carpentry can now be considered an act of making an object become philosophy. Plus, I do actually paint on and compose parts upon these pieces. My approach to painting is to put forth solution spaces spanning across problems. Some artists show only answers, whereas I show the work. 

Q: Now for some more technical questions. Can you give us a quick overview of the software and hardware you use for your 3D-printer-generated work? 

A: From molecular modeling to 3D printing, my open-source linux-based software toolchain is considerably lengthy. Here’s a shortlist: PyMol, NanoEngineer-1, Blender, MeshLab, Skeinforge, Slic3r, and Printrun. Several of those I'm myself modifying and configuring before compiling. There's also plenty of python scripting going on in-between and throughout. I also always assemble all my own hardware from scratch. There's definitely a discernible difference to pursuing an Arduino-based RepRap piecemeal approach to 3D printing rather than building some 'some-assembly-required' kind of kit such as an Ultimaker, Up!, or Makerbot. Sourcing all your own parts separately and having to learn how to hand-hobble it all into working order each time produces printers with personality. I can hear my gear. 

Q: When you say your process involves certain types of “hacking,” can you be more specific? 

A: Hacking generally means to tinker with any kind of system in order to better understand how it works, discover exploits etc., and ultimately redirect or expand that system’s use parameters and creative deployment potential. My ability to hack so many systems involved in my overall toolchain additionally accounts for that aforementioned “hand-of-the-artist” look. And as far as the future of hacking matter is concerned, materiality may become all about atomic administrator access-privileges and whether or not you can root your reality. 

Q: In one of the online articles about your current show, a commenter wrote “So people will buy my scrap filament and failed prints if I stick it on foam board and claim it is art.” Aside from the dismissible snark, though, that comment does raise the rather interesting question of what, in your practice, constitutes a “failed” 3D print? 

A: All models are all about how wrong a model has to be to not be useful. While I do actually code for generative molecular designs and algorithmically-automated alternative representations of nano-scaled structures, I additionally aim at atomoleculuring anythingyness artifacts for itselfhoods. I mean, more attention might well be properly placed upon that which 3D printing pundits too often dismiss or discard as fails, extraneous, unfinished, scrap, unusable, and ultimately recyclable (soylent green tea anyone?!). The most useful 3D printed prototypes aren't so much exhausted or collapsed into fully exploitable usability in the Functionalist sense. Parts provide qualities serving only as temporarily useful caricatures. Artifacts are kinds of qualities that objects do. It should by now be better understood that the sum of the parts is actually much greater than the whole. 

 Q: Another commenter on that site asked whether these works are not better described as “collages” than “paintings.” How would your answer that? 

A: I use paint as a binder to affix my 3D printed molecular models to sundry substrates. My “Nano-Nonobjective-Oriented Ontographs” and “Species-Tool-Beings” are sculptural reliefs and yet somewhere between collage and assemblage since some models are printed paper-thin. When I say I work to inscribe object-to-object fault lines of relata distortion on equal ontologically flattened footing with humans, 'fault lines' can be taken to mean literal painterly reconciliations. When I claim to consider my compositions compendia serving to lay bare the interobjectivity between unit operations, paint is precisely that which must behave like scar tissue, as evidence of paying dues, earning injuries and also healing. 

Q: Personally I was floored that Bruce Sterling (the highly influential science fiction writer and one of the gods of the “cyber punk” genre) was so impressed with your technical “rap” (if we can call it that) in your press release that he wrote on Wired: “check out that last paragraph where the gallery pitch turns into pure Burroughsian gibberish. That’s some pretty good stuff.” What role does terminology (at times of your own invention) play in your overall practice? 

A: I consider my praxis to be first and foremost a form of Future Studies. To round out that program by indirectly describing that which definitely defies depiction, I draft these “pathetic-prophetic techno-poetic cognitive haze phraseologies”. Sterling's tip of the proverbial hat is professional peer review proper and affirming feedback bar none. To the initiated, my writings prove parsable inasmuch as the content obviously originates from or refers to sci-fi, hacker, transhumanist, singularitarian, and futurological terminology. Regarding my refined “rap” or rather “enzymin’-rhymin’ chmodder-fodder” style, I say I'm speaking “in speculative-vernacular”. 

Shane Hope's exhibition Nano-Nonobjective-Oriented Ontographs and Qubit-Built Quilts continues in the gallery through this Saturday, May 4, 2013.

4 Comments:

Anonymous Larry said...

As I expect you have already surmised, Ed, I consider Shane Hope perhaps the most brilliant and original artist you have in your group, and I am already starting my third purchase. When I saw his first show, I was dazzled by the intricacy and asymmetry of shapes and colors - when looked at far way, they are like a dark forest of textures, but when seen up close there is an unending variety of detail that calls to mind a digital Jackson Pollock with overtones of Miro's Constellations but far denser. I bought an 18x24 in this vein, and a tiny ink drawing maybe 8" round that must have 200 tiny individual objects. And now the 3D printer technique unites digital Jackson Pollock with a 21st-century version of bas relief. I say worry less about the technique than the lyrical fantasy Shane achieves in the best of these pieces. In the one I've reserved, the primary coloration is pink and white, and I love how the figurations and colors call to each other and vary each other over the anchoring substrate. There seems to be a lot of musical influence here too - I sense a visual rendering of pieces like Karlheinz Stockhausen's "Gruppen" or the Tombeau section from Pierre Boulez's "Pli Selon Pli" - and whether Shane intended this influence is besides the point, 'cause it's there.

4/30/2013 10:36:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

yep, definite Pollock connection, ever since I saw Shane's work I was thinking Jackson Pollock was the first 3 d printer in art.

5/01/2013 09:17:00 AM  
Anonymous Dennis said...

When you talk about larger gallerise poaching the emerging artists in a smaller galleries program, Shane Hope definitely comes to mind. I hope that you are both able to get Shane's the proper recognition that it deserves. Far lesser work at much larger galleries is routinely hailed and critically praised while better artists in smaller galleries struggle to garner the attention from institutions and collectors who rely upon the same formula to determine which work is worthy of supporting. I would personally love to own Shane's work, but I cannot afford it now and hopefully will be far less able to afford it in a few years! Due to the challenging nature of the work, it is already a success in my book, but here's to Hope-ing that the tastemakers and culture pay attention as well.

5/01/2013 11:07:00 PM  
Anonymous Larry said...

"Far lesser work at much larger galleries is routinely hailed and critically praised," says Dennis.

Well, yes, and I don't get that at all much of the time. Usually whenever I walk into a branch of Gagosian I feel like I'm in a vast, impersonal corporate wasteland; and you couldn't pay me to own a Jeff Koons or Damien Hirst. (Then again, no one has made me such an offer, so I can't say how much of that statement is pure bravado.)

5/02/2013 11:01:00 AM  

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