by Rahul KumarApr 27, 2021
‘New’ is defined as something created or discovered, something not existing before, or, a fresh beginning or transformation. The etymology of the word creativity is from the word create, which really must be something non-extant too. Creative professionals therefore perform various acts, on stage, in studios, or with pen on paper, to give birth to something ‘new’. This could occupy time (performance) or space (object), but the creation almost always provides a fresh perspective. Works of art imagine and express, to help discover a point of view. One that is personal but allows the viewer to be guided through that private journey of their belief, conviction, sometimes satirical and at other times emotional. Experts believe that Artificial Intelligence (AI) is expected to slowly replace most human skills, with the only exception of creativity. And that is probably because machines must rely on what exists.
STIR recently launched an open call inviting global creatives to respond to the idea of ‘point of new’. With an overwhelming response of more than 620 entries from across the globe, we had artists, designers, architects, and writers send in their version of this broad thematic from the repertoire of their practice. And while we enjoyed the creative works from all over the world, we had the tough job of selecting the best five entries.
Malaysian designer Zairul Puad manipulates photographs to give a surrealistic twist to them. Though often recognisable views, he creates images that can only exist in one’s imagination. He posts his creations on social media channels and his works are sure to intrigue and create a unique experience for its viewers. He believes that this style of creative process places no constraints or limitations and he is therefore free to imagine absolutely anything. In the work chosen for #PointOfNew, he skilfully places a boat floating on water on a puddle that appears to be in urban surrounding. It has reflections of surrounding built structures. It is not easily evident of the exact city. The play of scale and as well as context of a boat literally on city roads creates for a dynamic view that could be unnerving for some but fascinating nevertheless.
Ken Kelleher from USA believes that his sculptures are an ongoing dialogue between many things…material, form, substance, light and shadow, time and space, and content. “Sculpture is curiosity made visible in three dimensions. For public works I like to create pieces that respond to the site in some way. Is the site about innovation and science? Then the work can connect to it and have people respond in a new way,” he says. His works have multiple layers of references – physical, the contrast of a perceived material placed out of context; cultural, how the work speaks to what is around it from a cultural standpoint; curiosity, how does the work engage a person, what questions does it invoke, how can it challenge a perception; humour, to make people think as they laugh; and scale, the experience of the work itself.
His work selected for #PointOfNew, titled Listen to the Earth, is a sculpture that depicts a chair to see things from a different perspective. The chair is at the top of a tall set of stairs, with a telescope. On both sides are giant horn shaped trumpets, bent to the ground. “As a species one thing we definitely have a hard time doing is listening. As the pandemic points out, when people get upset over doing some of the most basic things to protect each other, we see rebellion, selfishness. With nature, and the most obvious signs of our impact on it become catastrophic events, what do we see very often in the place of listening? So, this piece is about seeing and listening, in the context of our world in the present time,” explains Kelleher.
Texas-based Ernesto Marenco relies on the readymade objects recreated with a deep sense of satire. He says, “The human conditions depicted through common object as its representative is the only thing I have ever wanted to create. Some people say I make assemblages, sculptures, or art objects, but for me, my work is closer to literature, specifically to poetry or short stories”. Marenco considers himself a writer and a poet but one who does not write with pencil and paper, but rather with abandoned and uncommon material to create 3-dimensional poetry. A visual artist for four decades, he is the son of an exiled Nicaraguan poet. He grew up surrounded by artists, painters, and writers who were exiled to Mexico during the Spanish Civil War. The artist has exhibited with international galleries and museums. He has produced over 20 covers for books in Latin America, mainly on poetry. His works go far beyond the simple manipulation of objects. If in a first glance they seem absurd, but on deeper introspection reveal the depth of his expression and irony of humankind.
His work selected for #PointOfNew, titled Coffee cup for masochists is a recognisable ceramic cup. Devoid of any cultural affiliation, the cup chosen for the work seems like the one mass produced belonging to any contemporary urban coffee shop. The handle of the cup is conspicuously placed inside the cup rather than the usual functional placement on the outside. The work leaves the viewer wondering if it is meant to be used at all, or as the title suggest, it only creates the pain of trying to put it to use, but the pain that gives pleasure.
Yvette van den Boogaard from The Netherlands began as an artist by painting abstract imagery on paper and canvas. But resources ran dry and she switched to textiles. “From a pile of old white t-shirts given to me I created a series of artworks. After this I had no money at all so I learned to make art from scraps,” she says. A building site across the street from her residence produced a lot of wood scraps that Boogaard reclaimed. “It answers my quest to make free-form art, without extra or complex support of expensive material,” she adds. Conceptually her work is about human behaviour, about how we try to connect, how we interact, how we love, how we long, how we desire, how we distract, how we look back at our personal history, how we deal with pain, how we hope for better things, how we protect ourselves behind masks. “It is a cry, it is a laugh, it was anger but no more. In a weird way it displays social issues,” she explains.
Her work selected for #PointOfNew is titled Circles they grow. This series became a turning point in the artist’s career. She says, “I made this piece after seeing the movie Into the wild and in combination with the soundtrack of that movie (songs by Eddie Vedder): ‘Circles they grow and they swallow people whole / Half their lives they say goodnight to wives they'll never know / Got a mind full of questions and a teacher in my soul’.
The work transcends 'wall art' to 'wearable art'. I am at a phase where I realise I not only make artworks but am art myself. A phase where the work and artist unite to become one”.
Austrian designer Stefan Sagmeister likes to work on “larger project that deals with long term thinking”. He believes that short-term media like Twitter and hourly news on it creates an impression of a world out of control. “But if we look at developments concerning the world from a long-term perspective, the only sense making way, almost any aspect concerning humanity seems to get better,” he adds. Sagmeister is engaged in creating visuals that evoke a sense of optimism. “Fewer people go hungry, fewer people die in wars and natural disasters, more people live in democracies, and live much longer lives than ever before. Two hundred years ago, nine out of 10 people could neither read nor write, now it is just one out of 10,” he says. He is creating visualisations of these developments with the goal that viewers might want to place them into their living rooms, as reminders that the latest tweets are just tiny blips in an overall rather healthy environment.
For #PointOfNew, Sagmeister shared the design he created for his favourite coffee company, Illy. The visual graphic on the saucer is reflected into a data visualisation on the mirrored cup showing how one aspect of human development has improved. “As my Dutch friends aptly said: Data is the new oil,” he adds.