NATURE & SPIRIT, 2015
Nature & Spirit: A Digital Lens of Gay-Male Culture explores how the culture-at-large (the mainstream culture) has specifically suppressed gay-male behavior, simultaneously fueling the formation of support networks and popular gay characteristics (e.g. lingo & speak, art, camp and drag). Revisiting 20th century expressions of gay-male culture through 21st century new media practices, Nature & Spirit decodes and interprets the interplay of identity politics and biological politics in dialogue with biomimetic creative practices. Nature & Spirit begins with the identification of critical vectors by which the culture-at-large has critiqued gay men. With time gay men have remastered such criticisms, developing behavioral tools of empowerment and allowing for better incorporation of gay culture into the culture-at-large.
Crucial to this discussion is a series of personally informed creative explorations that have influenced discussions of sexual identity and biological politics. As a conceptual artist, it is imperative that I consider placement of myself in this work. Ultimately, Nature & Spirit represents my personal feelings about my youth, family and friends, and aims to reference the natural spirit within all beings.
Motivated by Andy Warhol’s Death and Disaster series, this investigation surveys electro-shock therapies used to ‘cure the gay away.’ As a gay man I often felt I was different than others, and while part of a loving family, something separated me from most everyone else. As a whole, the community of chairs represents the lack of comfort I felt in my own skin, and as a youth how I always felt on edge. The red chair stands out from the rest, and is placed at the head of the table, to call attention to such discomfort.
DragNet presents varying iconic representations of gay-male culture, often seen witnessed throughout drag (cross dressing) communities. From afar, elements of DragNet blend together forming a chandelier, which does not appear out of place or confrontational within a dining room how set. However, upon closer inspection, visitors can see that it consists of five different custom designed icons, cut and etched out of clear acrylic, which reflect different aspects of gay culture.
DragNet’s movements represent community solidarity present across many gay-male activist networks. Moving as one defensive unit – forming a networked community – DragNet empowers and gains empowerment from its overall system. Each of its three servomotors is directed by datasets regarding marriage equality throughout U.S. history. Exploring biomimicry, DragNet explores a symbolic approach to complex biological systems through an investigation of natural swarm patterns atop modern iconic representations of gay-male culture.
As insects were not believed intelligent enough to create complex communication networks, inspiring digital media advancements, gay-male communities were not envisioned as capable of withstanding the oppressive pressures of the culture-at-large. Gay men have flourished, in part, because of their ability to blend within in their surrounding cultural aesthetic. Like natural swarms, gay-male communities have united – often adapting to their surroundings by mimicking those that objectify them – standing strong in the face of adversity.
DataLith [Process I & II]
DataLith [Process 1] is a series of generative, data-driven visual explorations including timeline and demographic trend correlations between U.S. state gay marriage bans and repeals, and 1960s Civil Rights movement interracial marriage bans and repeals. DataLith [Process 2] explores the astrological birth chart data for the Stonewall Uprising (1969) and the passing of California’s Proposition 8 (2004). Laser etching data content into woven paper offers a softer and more eloquent function juxtaposed against DataLith’s harder form.