I’d like to discuss a particular brand of net art that culls from the expansive recesses of the internet where discarded imagery and unassuming nostalgia become the basis for visceral expression and a unique sort of social commentary. Stylistically ranging anywhere from the macabre campiness of Kenneth Anger to the cosmic naivety of Lisa Frank as well as from the mundane plethora of vast amounts of picture hosting sites teeming with a treasure trove of potential material that at first glance may seem innocuous yet somehow poignantly glimpses into the fascinating world of the human condition.
It is in this intangible world of perpetual digital information and discarded esoteric novelty that artists such as Noel Buddy Fantastique and Tommy Blackburn find the inspiration to archive and transform the everyday into something magical, unusual, a subtle perception of reality.
Tommy Blackburn aka tommyboy is a multimedia artist whose work originates from obscure pop culture references, which are then twisted into a disturbing yet comical distortion of the materials original context. Primarily working with altered videos usually derived from 80’s sci-fi or horror films, the artist seeks out elements of the original films that offer maximum visual or unsettling impact. In works such as Need U Boo the artist’s objective is deliberately unclear and equally disturbing. Utilizing scenes from a lesser known film about two castaways on a deserted island inhabited by a sole primordial remnant, Tommyboy warps the already uncanny premise of the film into an erotic sort of clichéd R&B romance.
Another aspect of tommyboy’s aesthetic is his ability to discover and draw out messages from stills of opening titles to VHS films or vintage late night television programming. The artist changes the context of the messages subliminally as the viewer is left to draw his or her own conclusions as to how the messages relate to them.
|tommyboy video still|
The artists’ intentions appear to be pure art for arts sake and interpretations of the works reveal more about the viewer than the artist.
In a similar tactic are the works by artist Noel Buddy Fantastique an Internet moniker devised for exhibiting found imagery exclusively on the social networking site Facebook. Primarily showcasing, or perhaps more accurately, archiving unusually candid photos of humanity at its rawest and purest form of self-unawareness, the images create an assessment of the human condition in ways that words simply cannot accurately express. What results is a tragically beautiful portrait of the diversity of humanity in various contexts. The images range from awkward yearbook photos or self shot portraits to more esoteric imagery of feats of human physiology or bizarre handicaps and deformations. Each image speaks for itself and is presented as an autonomous portrayal that puts the liability of interpretation upon the viewer.
|Noel Buddy Fantastique Various images|
The artist is in effect more of a curator, yet not in the sense of a circus freak show that seeks to shock and awe his audience with the most unusual and bizarre curiosities. Fantastique showcases the images with a reverence for the diversity to be found within our world, each nuance and personality equally celebrated with no mention or allusions to irony or novelty, the artists does not seek to exploit the subjects or highlight any particular aspect of them. Regarding the exclusivity of utilizing Facebook as the sole means of exhibiting these images the artist states in a Facebook correspondence,
-Anton Chavez…when I first came on Facebook, I didn't really see anyone else doing what I ended up doing. I saw this as a great opportunity to try something untested and to use a social network as an art project. I saw all these people spilling out all this deeply personal stuff about themselves, and also posting in great detail the banality of their everyday life. It made me think that one could indeed be deeply personal about what they were presenting, but without being so overt, or self-obsessed. To use found materials to illustrate these points. To say I hurt and laugh and shit, and so do you. To do it in such a way where a complete stranger is connecting to people outside of one's group. To make it less about Me, and more about the Us.