Technology has an integral effect on contemporary culture – and it’s changes continue to change us individually – the new stuff always sucks us in. Remember radical new Friendster a few years ago and how your actual friend Clyde Fromage was nearly wetting himself because he had all these virtual friends on the computer and you thought he was raving mad and a shallow idiot? Did you just check Twittertwice during the previous sentence?
A lot of today’s street artists grew up with video games around and they have a romantic nostalgia for the 8-bit characters of the “early” age of joysticks and chords and 2-color screens. For example Matt Siren bases his ghost-girl on his formative years with Pac Man.
The little orange ghost girls were greatly influenced by Pac Man. "Skinny Drip" by Matt Siren and Lee Holin (for "Street Crush" show curated by Brooklyn Street Art)
Reaching back to that same nostalgic simplicity, the street artist Invader references the 1978 Atari video game that featured Space Invaders. The pointillismof his countryman Seurat a hundred years earlier was updated by Invader when he began putting mosaics up in the streets of Paris in the late 1990s. The irony lies in the unique choice of medium – the tile; as old as fire urns, at once mass-produced and hand-hewn, makes up the “bit”.
This month Invader will be showing his new work, and his choice of medium is again unusual, but not out of character. The Rubik’s Cube was a mind-stumping 3-d mechanical puzzle invented in 1974 that became a “hot” toy for kids around the same time as the Space Invader video game. You can see pretty quickly why this toy is a turn-on to an artist like Invader. In the video below, Invader pays homage to famous covers of vinyl album, a technology that has since been digitized too.
Ghost Girl is a perfect amalgam of the perfect girl for Matt Siren.
Long hours playing Pacman as a kid seered her ghostly shape into his retina. Long hours sitting in the pew at Catholic church in Queens staring at the rosary produced the stylized Keltic Cross barrette in her perfectly combed hair. Her prim reserve and Japanime styling probably folds into that Catholic upbringing too, but let’s not all be armchair psychoanalysts! Or am I projecting?
You’ll find Ghost Girl nested into pieces by Matt, even when the topic is something else, or when he is collaborating. He likes collaborating with artist to see what is produced by the collision of styles, and usually is really stoked by the results. His show at Woodward Gallery with Dark Clouds last year featured multiple collaborations with a number of street artists (see a nice post on C-Monster from that show). A designer at heart, Matt has produced clean boyant posters for bands and burlesque shows.
For the “Street Crush” show at Alphabeta this Friday, Matt is collaborating with artist Lee Holin, who favors portraits of friends in his work – first photographing their image and then painting it. “Skinny Drip”, their piece together, features one of these black and white images with silver screen print of Matt’s newest character (the Skull Mistress) masking out part of Holin’s model. And of course, nestled into the text at the bottom you see 4 little red “Ghost Girls”. Perfect!
"Skinny Drip" by Matt Siren and Lee Holin (for "Street Crush" show)