Sunday, May 24, 2009

Speedism, A Celebration of Futurism

The 3rd lecture of the Futurism series, Futurist Visions in Architecture for Shanghai (featuring Dutch Pavilion designer and artist John Körmeling; visual artist Alicia Framis; artist-architect collective Speedism; and architect Koon Wee) opened up a new way for me to think about the use of Photoshop. Previously, I would do as I have always done: shoot a photograph, scan the negative, and then let Photoshop work its magic, but after yesterday’s talk I began to think about Photoshop as performance art.
This was all thanks to Speedism, a European duo doing incredible things with Photoshop. At the lecture, Speedism told a story of Shanghai’s development using a Photoshop created model city, a gray, bleak, and dark landscape of construction and smoke stacks. The story goes like this: Shanghai grows in power, wealth, prestige…, the world focuses its attention on her (they decided Shanghai was a female), the audience then finds out that Futurist Andre Marinetti is controlling the city with a version of his brain that sits on the roof of the tallest building, the brain then develops a tumor that begins to infect the whole city, and Shanghai begins to deconstruct. As one of the artists brings us through the plot, the other moves us through this virtual city, letting us feast our eyes on a city that is constantly being broken down and built up. Simultaneously, a loud heavy base beat is playing in the background. The cursor (instead of an arrow, it was a watch- appropriately enough) moves to the beat, stopping and starting as the music falls in and out.
Although I did not necessarily appreciate the content of their story, I really enjoyed watching them twist the parameters of Photoshop. They were able to take something that is only seen as means to making a finishing product and turn it into a constantly changing and never finished product, or a performance.

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