Art has always been a way to tell a story. From ancient times to modern day, art has been a key component of telling the story of how people of the time were/are living. With the rise of technology and its presence in modern day life, the art world has adapted to show and include this new wave of technology. In the realm of digital media, the art relies heavily on the use of technology in its works. The inclusion of technology in modern day art, not only tells the story of a tech driven world, but also adds depth to the works created. Two artists that use technology to their advantage in their art are Jonas Lund and Sebastian Schmieg. They are European based artists with a knack for telling a story through digital based art. In specific, this paper will analyze Jonas Lund’s exhibition, Your Logo Here, and Sebastian Schmieg’s exhibition, 56 Broken Kindle Screens.
First, one should look at the artist’s backgrounds, in order to fully analyze their work. “Jonas Lund is a Swedish artist that creates paintings, sculpture, photography, websites and performances that critically reflects on contemporary networked systems and technological innovations.” Although he is Swedish born, he is currently based in Berlin and Amsterdam. He has gained a BFA from the Gerrit Rietveld Academie in Amsterdam and masters in fine art from the Piet Zwart Institute in the Netherlands. Since the start of his career (2011) he has been a part of over seventy group shows and has had fourteen solo shows. When taking this background into account, one can see where Lund gets his minimalist style. The Nordic regions of Europe are known for their minimalist “Ikea” style and one can see how it plays a role in Lund’s work. Lund is a major advocate for the arts and in methodological project, Studio Practice, Lund stated, “making art is easy and anyone who tells you otherwise is either an artist and wants to protect the art world conspiracy or is not an artist and doesn’t know how to make art.”
Sebastian Schmieg, German born, is also a Berlin based artist like Lund. He “examines the ways modern technologies shape online and offline realities, in artworks that range from interactive sculptures to video experimentations with generative algorithms.” He received his education from the University of the Arts, Berlin in 2013 and he also attended the Merz Akademie. Due to his German background, Schmeig takes a more gruff and “slap-stick” style to his work. There is a beauty in the oddness of his work and it works well to critique and comment on the technological world around him.
Taking their backgrounds and styles into account, one can now examine their respective works with a full frame of mind. Lund’s Los Angeles exhibition, Your Logo Here, is a comment on the ““exchange economy” of the art world by presenting an installation featuring a ping pong arena where visitors can compete against a robot in an atmosphere created to resemble a sports event. Banners, jerseys and paintings hung throughout the gallery will feature the logos of the art-related institutions which have agreed to sponsor the exhibition—by making some sort of exchange with the artist.”
The main colors of exhibition are red and blue, creating this sort of “red versus blue” environment; this idea of “red versus blue” also creates a competitive atmosphere that is mirrored by the ping pong tournament. Another aspect that adds to this competition atmosphere is the fact that patrons of the gallery can actively participate with his work. By allowing the patrons to play ping pong against a robot, they can get fully immersed in the work and its message. It is also interesting that on the opening day of the gallery, patrons were allowed to play against one another, versus playing against a robot; which also adds to the ideas of competition in the art world. One can also assume that since this is a comment on the art world and its institutions paired with a competition aspect, that Lund is making a comment on how competitive the art world is. Whether is the competition for sponsorship or gallery space, there is quite a high demand from artists to be recognized in this capacity.
Sebastian Schmeig’s work, 56 Broken Kindle Screens, “is a print on demand paperback that consists of found photos depicting broken Kindle screens. The Kindle is Amazon’s e-reading device which is by default connected to the company’s book store.The book takes as its starting point the peculiar aesthetic of broken E Ink displays and serves as an examination into the reading device’s materiality. As the screens break, they become collages composed of different pages, cover illustrations and interface elements.”
The photographs of the Kindle screens are in black and white, which can be read as an ode to classic books which are typically black text on white paper. Another ironic thing about the work is that it is created of photographs of various electronic books, in a hard copy paper based book. One can assume that Schmeig may be trying to comment on the changes in technology by presenting these photographs in such a way. In talking about the ironies of the book, one can also find the satire and humor in the fact that you can get 56 Broken Kindle Screens as an e-book on your kindle.
When comparing 56 Broken Kindle Screens to Lund’s, there is not much common conceptually. But, the style in which this work was presented can be considered minimalist, which one can see in Lund’s various works. The minimalist approach in 56 Broken Kindle Screens is done through monotone colors and lack of text in the paperback book. This raw and simple style really drives home Schmeig’s narrative and his comments on technology.
Although these artists respective bodies of work don’t have much in common when it comes to color choice or theme, they do play an important role in showing the concerns of the artists as we move forward in the world. Lund’s concern for the art world and the rising competition is something that all artists need to be paying attention too. Respectively, Schmeig’s concern with the rise of technology and the decline of the hard copy is something that everyone, not just artists, need to be paying attention to. Together these artists are working to draw attention to problems they see in the world and they are achieving that awareness in creative and unique ways.
“56 Broken Kindle Screens | Sebastian Schmieg Silvio Lorusso.” Sebastian Schmieg. Accessed May 12, 2017. http://sebastianschmieg.com/56brokenkindlescreens/.
“Your Logo Here.” Jonas Lund. Accessed May 12, 2017. https://jonaslund.biz/works/your-logo-here/.
“Jonas Lund – CV & Resume.” Jonas Lund. Accessed May 12, 2017. https://jonaslund.biz/resume/.
“Sebastian Schmieg.” 3 Artworks, Bio & Shows on Artsy. Accessed May 12, 2017. https://www.artsy.net/artist/sebastian-schmieg.
“About.” Sebastian Schmieg. Accessed May 12, 2017. http://sebastianschmieg.com/about/.
“MAKE it BIG and FLAT.” Art Papers Magazine 39, no. 4 (July 2015): 46-50. Art Full Text (H.W. Wilson), EBSCOhost (accessed May 12, 2017).