Emoji Ink – Art Review

To construct the face from emoji’s, is to say perhaps, that emoticons (emoji) are the contemporary emotional currency, taking precedence over copresent emotional connectivity.

Emoji.ink (link attached) is a interactive online application produced by artist Vince Mckelvie. Opening the link to emoji.ink surfaces all currently available apple emoji (displayed translucently, transposed over a white background), with the simple instruction: select an emoji. Once selecting the pink and yellow sparkling love heart emoji for instance the other emoji dissapear, (and can be accessed again by pressing the space bar). The white background now becomes an empty drawing scape, with a size icon in the lower right hand corner and the instructive:

click to draw

press any key to select an emoji

save the image

site by Vince Mckelvie (hyperlink to Mckelvie’s Tumblr attached)

The only function unaccounted for which is of importance would be the ability to undo, although I appreciate how the inability to delete makes choices more committed. With each emoji, its placement and size needing to be considered in relation to the next. The online interactive application, along with others developed by Mckelvie, (avaliable on Tumblr, link attached) are captivating with their consideration of simplicity, functionality, form, colour and movement.

The interactions with ‘emoji art’ vary in ‘skill’, time taken and approach. An artist by the name Yung Jake noted the applications potential, by adopting emoji.ink with its use of recognisable emoji icons and applying them to produce celebrity portraits from online images, and dispersing these images across social media.

Miley Cyrus, Ellen DeGeneres, Drake, Kim Kardashian, Madonna, Taylor Swift (among others) all rendered in appropriately assorted emoji’s. With the formal qualities of each emoji being considers, and I speculate, an awareness of how emoji’s operate as loaded symbols. For example Taylor Swift’s portrait as rendered in love related symbols operates in relation to her love life being capitalised on by the media, which saturates her career, personal romantic relationships and Yung’s Emoji portrait. Positioning Swift as an embodiment of the classic heartbreaker / heartbroken ‘women scorned’.

Engaging with Yung Jake’s ‘emoji art’ and the application Emoji.ink are recommended, enjoyable and crediable sources, that open up consideration around the potential usages of cyber tools in the production and situation of art online.


Phone Arts – Publication Review

By Maddy Plimmer


Did you know you can get a drawing application on your phone?

Did you know you could makes .gifs on your phone?

Did you know you could make 3D rendered animations on your phone?

Well, phonearts.net does and have created a site for the publication of art made in your little portable studio.  The sole purpose of the user-contributed blog is to display art works made on cellphones. The resulting artworks range from simple abstract digital paintings, to the rather more complicated 3D .gifs. It is a celebration of easily accessible technology, and an exploration of its limitations (or rather, lack of).

It was founded by Guillaume Hugon and Daniel Littlewood. The blog exists on a tumblr-built site, but it has its own domain name and favicon, which gives the website a sense of professionalism.  It still however allows for people to follow the posts via their tumblr dashboard. Only some of the works are credited to the artist, which seems inconsistent, and perhaps doesn’t embrace the spirit of the using of a widely accessible technology and making it possible for users to submit work. Only known artists seem to be named as contributors almost as if to elevate their work in relation to the non-credited works, which are simply labeled “submissions.”  However, it is not known whether or not these submissions have been made anonymously, and therefore they would be unable to credit the artist.

I like the celebrative exploration of cell phone technology, however I feel the layout of the blog could reflect this more by giving each piece more white space around it.  The layout is somewhat cramped and cluttered, which is heightened but the variation in size and shape of the art works. Overall, I am drawn to the concept of the site but I would be happier to see the presentation be altered to give the works more space and perhaps even some captions on the images.

exibbit.com – Online Art Review

By Maddy Plimmer

You could stop at 5 or 6 dealer galleries or just one! The days of 40% commission are over, because now it’s only US$10 a month to set up an online gallery with http://exhibbit.com/.

Vesa Peltonen is just one of many artists currently exhibiting work. As you click on his name and image to enter the gallery, you are briefly shown some text about the artist while the gallery loads, so we know going in that he is as dedicated to his art as he is to protecting and celebrating human rights. Once loaded, you find yourself situated within a virtual gallery. It is a long white room with tall narrow windows to provide natural light and marble floors. There is also a cushioned seat at either end, which is nice if you need to sit down or would like to contemplate the works for an extended period of time.  There is the option for a tour of the gallery, but I decided to use the arrows keys and find my way around myself. Despite becoming briefly trapped in the ceiling, I did enjoy floating around the room, moving through ghost people and furniture to view the mixed media limited edition prints. It was nice to be able to get up really close and see every pixel of the work. The other people viewing the works weren’t bothering me in the beginning, largely because they were see-through and I was able to move through them, however I did later decide I wanted to be alone with the art, so I got rid of them.

I then decided that I wanted to see these works on a magenta wall, so I made that happen.

Screen shot 2015-05-20 at 9.17.19 AM

I thought this was a very handy feature. Gone are the days when one’s entire critique could consist of “I’d like them so much better if the wall was painted magenta!”

Overall, I enjoyed my visit to Vesa Peltonen’s exhibition in one of exhibbit’s many galleries. It could perhaps of benefitted from some higher resolution images of the works, but I liked that I as the viewer had control over the exhibition space. I don’t know what Vesa Peltonen thinks of magenta walls but at the end of the day, this was my viewing experience, and I tailored it to my tastes. I don’t really know how these features enhance the artworks, or allow

Aram Bartholl: Paint figure drawing class – Online Artwork Review

By Maddy Plimmer

Aram Bartholl’s “Paint figure drawing class” combines the amusing nostalgia of MS paint with the quiet poise of a figure drawing class. He reinvents the traditional life drawing class by infusing it with post-internet shitty aesthetics. There are the following restrictions on how participants must draw in the class: They must draw with a computer mouse on a version of a simple computer drawing application, such as Paintxp or Gpaint. No layers, gradients or antialiasing is allowed in the document, and there is a maximum of 3 undos and 48 colours permitted.

Having these restrictions on how the work is made seems as if it’s an attempt to more closely mimic how drawing on paper operates. You can’t exactly draw underneath something you’ve already drawn on the page, nor can you quickly create a smooth gradient and completely remove a mark you’ve made. It creates a more simulated environment. Instead of simply creating a space to do life drawing digitally, it strives to recreate the scenario of the class within a somewhat accurate framework. It speaks to the limitations of virtual technology, and also perhaps how we try to create these digital spaces within an already existing structure. We save a pretend file into a pretend folder on our pretend desktop. Technology creates this window into the cybernetic world, which is separate yet engrained in our corporeal experience. Separate because it is fabricated, engrained because the windows are everywhere. Probably in your pocket and definitely in front of you right now. This constructed space that has limitations entirely different to the limitations of the physical world, however we attempt to situate all its elements within a tangible-world context. We further constrain what a technology can do, by further inflicting our human context on it, but it is also an important part of computers usability is enhanced. Sure, we could create a completely new mode of thought for how we use technology, but by situating it in our already understood context, they are easier and more instinctive to use.

This work to me is not just a class, but rather a participatory performance exhibition. It clearly has roots in conceptual post-internet practice, as a post-internet artist set up the class.  The resulting drawings the naïve drawing style of online memes, and reflect the trollpunk style born out of humans interaction with linear digital technology. This performance celebrates the merging of the traditional with the new, and humans with technology within a fine art context, so let’s join in and embrace the Internet ugly!


Then and Now, Here and Nowhere – Exhibition Review

By John Fuller

Then and Now, Here and Nowhere – Adam Art Gallery, Victoria University Campus, Kelburn.

3 February – 12 April 2015

Artists: Gavin Hipkins, Peter Trevelyan, Shaun Waugh, Kates Woods and Brent Wong

The Adam Gallery is my favourite place for contemplating art in Wellington. Somehow, it works for me on a number of levels. The Adam flatters average art and makes great art shine. Perhaps that is what a well designed gallery is supposed to do. The current exhibitions (all three) are packed full of great art, so go and take a look, I can’t say much more than that.

This review will focus on “Then and now, Here and Nowhere”. The exhibition only features a few works, and plays on an interesting strategy of locating pieces from different artists and different generations side by side, challenging the viewer to think about what may have changed and what remains constant. Brent Wong’s arresting surrealist pieces from the late 60’s sit surprisingly comfortably with Kate Wood’s very contemporary and rather hypnotic video work, or her 3D photographic studies, which exist slightly awkwardly I feel, somewhere between kitsch and the sublime. Both artists attempt to fool around with the mind of the viewer, spark the imagination, question reality. Both do this successfully and both complement one another, despite the generational rift.

Gavin Hipkins and Shaun Waugh use photography to play similar games. Hipkins large work, “The Model (1999), is a dynamic series of small photographs featuring mathematical multi-faceted objects from the Victoria University Mathematics Department. The work can be reconfigured each time it is installed. It dominates the entire double level wall inside the Adam entry foyer and could arguably be called sculpture. Waugh plays with surrealism, but exploits digital technology to replace paint and brush. Again both these artists sit comfortably beside Wong in spite of time.

Arguably the odd one out in this picture is Peter Trevelyan. His sculptural piece is not typical of other work I have seen before. It plays on the notion of concealment, secret hiding places, in this case a cut out book amongst other books on a table. Of course the concealed compartment contains a small and delicate lattice type structure he is so well known for. For me, and I may be missing something here, this work does not sit well with Wong, but then again that may be the whole idea.

How have times changed? Artists have creative tools in 2015 that Brent Wong would not have even been able to imagine in 1969, yet he was able to create a surreal world with his paint, a world that shares so much with the work of these contemporary artists. It makes one wonder what he could do with an iMac and a digital camera.

Image. The Keeper. Brent Wong. (1969-75), oil on board

Social Media & Kim Laughton’s Siliconcious.

By Jesse Bowling

Me and my friend Josh use Facebook messenger to communicate on a daily basis all day every day, even when I’m at home in the morning being like “keen on breakfast boiiii” oh yeah I also live with him.

Through social media and type language you can emit emotion through word structure or how blunt you talk, bold lettering, plenty of !!!!!!! etc. I feel when I talk to Josh I can grasp his mood or the emotions he is feeling at the time, and vice versa.

I also just got a Twitter account, which I’m kind of excited about!!!!! Twitter is this strange platform where it’s ok to vent your self for the world to see, make stupid remarks, and have online arguments.

What cant you do online, through a messaging service or social media, which you can’t communicate in irl?

Is it ok to break up with your partner via instant message? Why not? Your still going feel the same if you did it face to face, it’s the same outcome, if you really want to do it face to face use Skype.

Kim Laughton’s Siliconcious talks about all this pent up emotion that we put in the cloud and “hypothetically” gets stored within a silicone chip. This implies that we spend so much time portraying our online lives, all our happy moments NEED to be published online to show, how happy we are, to reinforce our personal persona in the physical domain, this can also be negative emotions too.

Over all I think this work brings digital technology into perspective for us, and shows our dependence/ level of social engagement we portray through these platforms. I’m unsure if these implications are bad so I’m probably going to post about it, and am going happy with using social media as an outlet?

I just want to be a Twitter artist now.

The Unbearable Lightness of Art by Simon Mark Smith – Exhibition Review

By John Fuller

Little Chelsea Gallery, UK. – 7 – 29 June 2014

Simon Mark Smith is a UK based artist with an eclectic mix of talents, ranging from digital art, photography and writing through to traditional painting. He is also a singer/songwriter. This particular exhibition sparked my interest, not because of the art itself, which is almost incidental in my view, or the slightly deadpan presentation, but because of the philosophical and far-reaching questions Smith is asking through this art and the innovative methods he has used to set up a dialogue with the viewer .

This artist uses digital photo frames, iPads, paint, photography, QR codes and mixes them all up to create what I would best describe as an artistic quandary, a situation where the questions asked have no clear answers. In fact if anything they possibly lead to more questions.

The Unbearable Lightness of Art opens up a Pandora’s Box of debates around the value of virtual art vs the value of printed art vs the value of traditional media. It questions how and who decides this value and even tackles the issue of the value of the artist’s name.

Thrown into the mix are hybrid works, which utilise digital photo frames with real paint added directly to the screens. There are digital photographs of objects, which are printed, painted on and then re-photographed before being digitally altered and displayed virtually in digital frames. These are displayed next to the same images printed on paper. Again questions around value (both monetary and artistic) are asked. Does a digital image on an iPad have any value? When the same image is printed does its value change? Again more questions than answers.

Smith goes on to explore the longevity of virtual art, or more accurately its lack of longevity. Will it survive over time, or will it be lost? Does it exist at all if it is not printed? Is its lack of permanency a good thing or a bad thing? Finally he uses QR codes to generate dialogue and some virtual images, including one of a self-portrait which was constructed entirely on his iPad using graphics software. This is a highly realistic rendering of the artist generated by his use of software. Is it a self-portrait or a portrait produced by a machine? Again more questions than answers. I have a head ache.

Bonus Simon Mark Smith music track. WARNING don’t watch this if you hate Elvis.