Tag Archives: sculpture

The Back of the Eyes

We hope you enjoyed our Lights Out video in response to the artistic creation from Jimmy Guthrie. He was given a fox’s head to decorate in response to Viral Pandas. His creation is beautiful and complex, so we wanted to make sure you got the chance to see what we see up close. Here’s a wobbly film of the inside of the eyes.

Take from it what you will.

We felt that perhaps the inside of the fox’s head represented the digital self, hidden behind the real face. The mirrors and gems are a distraction like smoke and mirrors: a dazzling, glistening, but disorientating view of the world that takes some examination to comprehend and find some truth in.

This reminds us very much of the work of Yayoi Kusama, below.

Yayoi Kusama

Yayoi Kusama

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Lights Out: Video

Thanks to artist, Jimmy Guthrie, for the first artistic response to The Sneezing Pandas Project. We gave him a fox head that Katherine had used in a previous arts project and he could decorate or alter the animal head in any way he might choose to, in response to Viral Pandas. We really like what he came up with and we’ll explain more about what it is, exactly, but for now we simply explored the creation. We had some fun filming it in a way that might digitally capture something significant about our physical response to it.

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Human and Animal Ink

Having previously looked at dermatological disease, Mark Twain, and also influenced by this exquisite work from Kim Joon, we’ve become very interested in skin.

The imagery from Joon that you see below is from an exhibition called Tattoo and Taboo, which isn’t altogether related to what we’re doing with The Sneezing Pandas Project, but the idea of controversy and a desire to stand out very much is.

The sense of *mutual* desire to see and be seen.

A skin is physical or metaphorical.

Viral Pandas | The Sneezing Pandas Project | Kim Joon

From ‘Tattoo and Taboo’, by Kim Joon

Joon has focused on the human body for his tattoo-based art projects, but we also discovered a Belgian artist who tattoos pigs.

Is this exquisite, and taboo?

Viral Pandas | The Sneezing Pandas Project | Wim Delvoye

Art Farm, by Wim Delvoye

Viral Pandas | The Sneezing Pandas Project | Wim Delvoye

Artist, Wim Delvoye, at work

Online breeding grounds for creative visuals, like Pinterest for example, have a strong ‘ink community’ – that is, lovers of tattoos. Delvoye extends this circle to include animal ink. Since the pigs we see here have no opportunity to object or give consent, you have to wonder whether the audience is encouraged to the pig, the craft, or for the artist himself, and why.

In human subjects, these self-made marks on the skin are interesting to us because they are blemishes on a clear-skinned perfection so many people aspire to; be that the physical or the metaphorical skin – a covering; protection, or display. The inked narrative and the meaning of individual tattoos is far more complex than we can go in to here, but the online community that follows and shares this craft is ‘anti’ or ‘other’ to the usual rules.

In effect, they turn this process on its head.

Upside down.

So where are the barriers we cross in what we want to see and what we do not?

What goes viral and what is suffocated?

We’ll continue to use our talking heads to explore such desire. Katherine talks a little here about where The Sneezing Pandas Project is going next.

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Paper Over the Cracks

We’ve been covering our clay heads in paper ready for the next artistic exploration. Covering up the cracks on the He/She Head as we went along the process became really satisfying. Just as the original head was neotenised to represent what is often more attractive to people, we papered over imperfections that often lead to less interest.

Cracks

Cracks

This very basic level of satisfaction that came from something as simple as covering over the dark areas of clay still showing on our domesticated head could be a physical representation of our lives online: papering over the cracks, escaping reality, and projecting something the way in which we want it to be seen.

Purifying. Perfecting. Beautifying?

Sculpting our own ideals.

Do we then take more pleasure from it?

Covered

Covered

With music playing in the background, along came what seemed like an optimal time to video the process. It is in no way meant to have a professional finish or represent anything in particular, it simply documents art in progress and for us a turn in direction with the project, having become quite fond of our talking heads.

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Kate Clark: Human/Animal Heads

Exploring faces, both human and animal, as well as the distinctions between domesticated and wild; attraction and repulsion, we came across this wonderful work from sculptor, Kate Clark.

Sculpture by Kate Clark

Sculpture by Kate Clark

The beauty in her work speaks for itself, so please visit her website for more.

Clark’s artist statement is as below:

“Studying the tension between personal and mythical realms, I create sculpture that synthesizes the human face into the body of wild animals. Initially, these forms can be shocking and repelling as viewers both recognize and reject their presence. The disruptive alignment of the intimate face and animal body asserts that human experience is mostly contained, a mask which is incomprehensible and psychologically complex.

We bring assumptions to any contemplation of the wild. We project unease, a response to what we understand to be primitive, unrestrained, even dangerous.

The tamed face, our face, is a mirror reflecting safety and cultivation. Emotion is caught in the eyes, the mouth, the tilt of the head. A single life, with its private and unique history, gazes back at us.

The visible seams themselves are there to remind the viewer that I’ve undone the exotic and wild to construct portraits which ask you to embrace contradiction. One can seek out themselves in the vulnerability of expression, while confronting a shifting and uncertain relationship: underlying violence beneath a guise of control.”

Kate Clark, Artist Statement

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So, What of our Wild Man?

We’ve been working on the second head in our domestication pocket of the project; our He/She Head complete. The He Head, which could be seen in its neotenised state as a She Head is in need of stark contrast to help us reach further in to our thoughts about beauty and repulsion.

Why is juvenilisation in animals often more attractive to people?

Why are those animals shared, liked and commented on more?

We considered what is the opposite of neotony.

Besides the smaller eyes, the hairy face and the ‘wild’ exterior, we also considered the popular Mark Twain quote that sparked a number of comments, and the ideas we have already explored around parasites, dermatological diseases and other physical marks on a face that make it less appealing to others, both on and offline.

Our wild man is taking shape:

Wild Man 1

Wild Man 1

Wild Man 2

Wild Man 2

Wild Man 3

Wild Man 3

How do you feel about him?

As we begin to grimace by the wild man’s appearance, Katherine explains more about the process of creating him and the thought process behind her work:

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Communication Confines

Katherine and Natalie discuss where the project is heading. We’ve been looking at neoteny (juvenilisation) and are using two portrait heads to examine domestication. Katherine has now successfully domesticated, or neotenised, one of these in to the He/She Head.

Now, how about we start a conversation?

If one of our figures is ‘wild’ and one is domesticated, what would they say to one another?

How do the issues we’ve been discussing relate to one another?

Attractive vs Repulsive | Online vs Offline | Cyborg vs Human | Robot vs Real

Do we idolise the perfect, robotic, manipulated ‘reality’ of one world, but prefer the flawed, human, down to earth reality in everyday life?

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The He/She Head

The result of the domestication of a clay head is altogether removed from the starting point:

Viral Pandas | Clay Head | Domestication Studies    Viral Pandas | Clay Head | Domestication Studies

You’ll see that in relation to our neoteny studies, the eyes are larger, the skin smooth and hair free, the forehead larger and the nose smaller.

Is it just me, or is the domesticated head more appealing?

Are you drawn to look more at this one?

To look for longer?

Does it look more female to you?

Katherine explains more about the proportions of the domesticated head and, as she was working on it, the influence of the Uncanny Valley submission on making things look hyper real. In the digital world it seems the more neotenous and the more familiar (domesticated) an animal is; the more popular.

You can watch the morphing of the original head in to the domesticated head in this video:

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Domestication of a Clay Head

The Covenant of the Wild by Stephen Budiansky is a book both Katherine and Natalie have read and enjoyed. It leads us to Viral Pandas ideas around domestication and appeal.

What draws us to certain animals over others?

What is it that attracts us most?

Budiansky describes the climatic and environmental changes that set the stage for domestication. He provides evidence that domestication, like the development of agriculture, was a gradual process and not a revolutionary idea. He also describes the mechanisms by which domestication may have taken place, centering on the phenomenon of neoteny (or juvenilisation). This is a characteristic of domesticated animals where juvenile traits, like docility, are sustained in to the adult life of the animal [Source].

Physical features play a part in juvenilisation and pugs are a classic example – incredibly popular for their large, wide eyes; small size, and look of vulnerability, they can often inspire mothering instincts from human owners. In the same way, human adult features like a small nose and jaw, a hairless body and face, larger eyes, and a flattened, broader face are all considered neotenous, inspiring the same instincts.

We decided it might be interesting to domesticate a clay head.

Because Katherine‘s teaching methods are demonstration based, she often has unfinished portrait heads in her studio, and so she sets to work with this one, shown here in its original form.

Viral Pandas | Clay Head | Domestication Studies

There are two of these heads, which will be used, as part of The Sneezing Pandas Project to explore domestication and wild; perhaps attraction and repulsion at the same time.

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