Artist Research: James Concannon

I am so excited to type this post cause just yesterday I discovered an artist named James Concannon while scrolling through Instagram and he could quite possibly be my favourite artist of all time.

I love everything about this guy…the fact he uses garbage, trash to make art and the way he assembles them in that particular DIY punk style without having to resort to glitter tactics to make them look good. It feels soooo immediate and raw (like body fluids pls) and the final image created is always so strong and visually appealing (at least to me).

I love how he just tears photographs, cardboard and puts them together in such a raw fashion. (I think I’m starting to use this word a lot…) and the how he uses DUCT TAPE OMG YOU HAVE NO IDEA HOW HAPPY THIS MAKES ME FEEL…I LOVE USING DUCT TAPE!!

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Most of his works are critiques of America and he makes many references to pop culture. While this does not make him a particularly unique artist, considering how so many artists love criticising the american society, its his manner of presentation that keeps me interested in his work. It is clear that his style is probably derived from the punk movement of the 70s but his choice of materials allows him to stand out from being simply associated with the general punk aesthetic. Typographic elements also become a very important feature in most of his work, adding a new meaning on top of the imagery created by the materials alone.

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New Hostess Club Opening Soon~

I have to admit the past 2 weeks I didn’t really have much of a concrete idea of what to do…all I did was go to the library, borrowed books on 80s graphic design, concert flyer designs, old chinese label designs, cut-and-paste graphics…basically types of designs I was interested in but still I wasn’t really sure how to put them together…(will do a separate research post on those books)

and then the night before last week’s lesson, I still had no idea what to do and with limited time on my hands, I grabbed some materials and arrange them to create this…

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Not the most appealing but I sense some idea behind this…I went with the intention of playing with contrasting materials and meaning when added together. I also like making things look tacky so there’s the “Baby” and fake gold chain. It represents a collection of materials associated with a type of girl…one that scrubs floors, where dirt and trash is part of her everyday life (she doesn’t have to necessarily be a cleaner or dishwasher but just someone who doesn’t have a very glamorous job) but at the same time craves glamour and a dreamy love life. Not sure if it shows but I thought it would be interesting to explore duality in female subjects where both glam and trash meet which brings me to my next idea…

I shall do typographic portraits on prostitutes/hostesses/strippers! Each A5 card will be like a name card of each of the different females so in the sense I will be presenting it in a mock hostess club setting. Usually name cards introducing the females will be like those in the above photo where a photograph of the female and a number to dial is presented but for this project, I will be using typographic design elements to represent them instead. This will allow me to present a more complex identity behind these females instead of just surface level representations. Still, I would like to keep the concept of a name card so I will need to think of how to incorporate name card elements in along with the designs.


I took reference from Orientalia: Sex in Asia by Photographer Reagan Louie for some ideas to construct the different narratives for each female.

Contrary to most books about females in the sex industry, her book’s emphasis is not on the graphic lurid images of females in various poses but features their life outside of prostitution as well, show that they are just like us, some being daughters and mothers as well. I think exploring the different identities of prostitutes/strippers/hostesses is interesting due to their prevalence in almost any country. Yet, they cannot be simply be generalised under one identity given their different backgrounds and reasons for entering the industry (be it for pragmatism or simply pleasure). This gives me the opportunity to mix design elements from both east and west, classy and kitschy, formal and messy.

Another idea that I am keen to explore through this project would be how some kinds of fonts can represent the English language as seen from a foreigner’s perspective. Some obvious ones would be having narrow Arial font with a much wider than usual kerning like the above or having really light serif fonts with a lower value of kerning. I see this as a way to touch on the topic of exoticism present in the sex industry as well.

Some further reading for myself hoho:

The Tart Cards of Tel Aviv

The Virtual Embrace

The virtual embrace was definitely unlike a physical one since it did not involve any sort of physical contact but more of positioning our hands in the right place. This itself required a unique sort of mutual collaboration that created a new sensation when making contact with someone.  The process also becomes more dragged out due to the need to match the scaling and positioning, thus a longer contact is established in the virtual world even without a physical touch interestingly enough.

Research Critique: Biometrics

Neri Oxman and a group from the MIT mediated matter group recently collaborated with Christoph Bader and Dominik Kolb on a project known as ‘Wanderers: Wearables for Interplanetary Pilgrims’. With the intention of sustaining life through voyages beyond our planet,  the wearables are created to hold life sustaining elements contained within 3D printed vascular structures with internal cavities. It makes use of a technology that produces digitally manufactured wearables with multi-material 3D printing machinery.

3D printed vascular structures with internal cavities

 According to the mediated matter group, they’ve found a way to embed ‘living matter in the form of engineered bacteria within the 3D structures in order to augment the environment. living matter within these structures will ultimately transform oxygen for breathing, photons for seeing, biomass for eating, biofuels for moving and calcium for building.’

The internal cavities are infused with synthetically engineered microorganisms to make the hostile habitable and the deadly alive. Inspired by natural growth behaviour, starting as seeds, the biomimicry process of the technology simulates growth by continuously expanding and adapting its shape to the environment. The wearable is capable of generating the basic elements needed for survival through elements that photosynthesise, bio-mineralise to strengthen human bone or contain florescence to provide light in dark places.

Skip to 1:04 to watch how the growth process works

multi-material fluidic valve 3D printed using the connex 500 stratasys 3D printer

3D printed fluidics and a syringe pump. mediated matter

I found this wearable to be very fascinating due to its potential for the future, in fact, it already sounds almost straight out of science fiction itself. Yet, I do have my doubts when it comes to the idea of holding all these bacteria that can be potentially deadly, on my body. If one of the cavities breaks, it could threaten my life rather than prolong it. The form of the wearable does not seem very pragmatic either for travel so I do hope the design can be improved in this aspect.

The wearables were produced on an ‘objet500 connex3 color multi-material 3D production system’


Research Critique: Costume & Textile

Japanese techno-pop unit Perfume’s interactive dress worn during their “Spending All My Time” performance at Cannes in 2013 was a result of their collaboration with Japan’s techno-artist Daito Manabe. Manabe is a programmer whose work fuses advanced technology and artistic creativity. The concept behind many of Perfume’s performances involve mimicking androids, thus the digital patterns projected on the dress complement their performance.

Motion capturing technology on Perfume’s dresses

For this particular performance, Perfume used twitter to connect with its fans and then through open source technology, fans were able to download 3D data of the females and simple drawing programmes to create their own unique graphics.

Fans submit different graphics to be projected onto the dresses

They were invited to submit their own digital graphics which were then projected onto the dresses in sync with the rhythm of the music through motion capturing and project mapping technology, creating a fine example where technology invites the audience to be part of the performance.

Behind the scenes

“During the performance, a dynamic projection mapping system cast visuals onto the semi-translucent screens in front of the singers; motion capture allowed the position of the projections to be calibrated automatically moment by moment. The cameras filming the performance were also watched by a motion capture system, each outfitted with a marker allowing the system to track the camera’s position and orientation in space. This, Manabe says, was key for morphing seamlessly between perspectives, an effect conjured by Rhizomatiks computer vision wizard Yuya Hanai. The final video moves seamlessly between the live footage and the 3D model captured ahead of time.” – WIRED

Project mapping revealed at the exhibit “Rhizomatiks Inspired by Perfume”

Personally, aside from the fact that the performance was amazing and seemed so ahead of its time, I find this integration of technology and performance very fascinating. By blending advanced technology with pop music performances, technology does not feel out of place but rather complements and adds value to the experience to create one their is multi-sensory and highly engaging. The combination of both art and technology is full of potential and I look forward to more of such.