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Digital Identities: A Photo Feature from the New Issue of VICE Magazine

Seven multimedia artists revitalize self-portraiture in this special feature from 'The Future of Tech Issue.'

The Creators Project

This article appeared in the February Issue of VICE magazine. Click HERE to subscribe.

We were honored to collaborate on the "The Future of Tech" Issue for VICE Magazine alongside our colleagues Waypoint and Motherboard. The issue investigated how tech affects our lives, from an essay on sex in virtual reality to conversations with a slew of professionals on how we can make technology work better for all of us. For our contribution, The Creators Project selected seven multimedia artists whose work uses technology as a canvas or explores larger notions of modern security and identity. Many of these artists pour themselves into creating 3D worlds or robotic personas, so we asked them to submit self-portraits that honor their creative identities. See likenesses that reveal the wondrous, wild, and computed facets of a few of our favorite artists below. 

::vtol::

All images courtesy the artists

As they did for the original synthesizer makers of the United Kingdom after World War II, discarded scraps of techno-rubble provided copious building materials for ::vtol::, a.k.a., Dmitry Morozov, one of the first multimedia artists to emerge in post-Soviet Russia. In addition to residencies from Norway to Oswego, New York, Morozov has lectured at UC Berkeley’s Center for New Music and Audio Technologies and the 19th-century Polytechnic Museum in Moscow. In 2015, he was an honorable mention at Ars Electronica in Linz for Digital Musics and Sound-Art. These days, the Moscow-based tinkerer and musician solders his chops in robotics, sound art, and science into a succession of experimental musical instruments and modular synthesizers, including robotic-painting machines, a magnetically levitating Bluetooth speaker, and a musical tattoo. – Emerson Rosenthal

Cool 3D World

Masters of the absurd, Cool 3D World is an ongoing collaborative animation project from artists Brian Tessler and Jon Baken, otherwise known as brianbrian—brianbrian and popcorn10. Since 2015, the two have been publishing a hoard of 3D-animated shorts and digital portraits of some of the most bizarre media the internet has to offer. In the absence of any sort of linear narrative, Cool 3D World’s animations follow a loosely familiar cast of characters recognizable only by their lopsided and deformed renderings. The duo’s sublime vignettes transport the viewer to another world—one that is dramatic and unpredictable, where anything is possible. The bizarre animated episodes from these uncompromising artists will leave you laughing and confused, if not a little sick to your stomach. Their creative process is as much about spontaneity and experimentation as it is about humor. Cool 3D World doesn’t ask why, but why not. – Nathaniel Ainley

Browntourage

 Enmeshed in a Bay Area creative circle primarily populated by white dudes, Tonia Beglari and Hawa Arsala took it upon themselves to create space for diverse female artists. The idea for Browntourage, the duo’s curatorial collective supporting female artists of color, was born out of a party foul: An inebriated man at a party asked the women to form his harem. The incident inspired Beglari and Arsala to turn a cultural paradigm on its head. They formed Browntourage as a coalition of women of color, intent on advocating for representation in mainstream media by inserting themselves into the cultural-feedback loop. Today, the collective functions as a media agency, curatorial portal, and production company, enabling the work of diverse artists around the globe. A recent collaboration with Iranian new-media artist Morehshin Allahyari interrogates censorship and cultural genocide in the Middle East. Balancing entertainment with advocacy, the women of Browntourage endeavor to end appropriation by shifting conversations around race and gender, one genre-defying project at a time. – Kara Weisenstein

Chico MacMurtrie

The term “amorphic robot works” (ARW) is either a proper noun or a disturbing declaration, but for the Brooklyn-based artist Chico MacMurtrie, it’s both—and then some. ARW is the name of the kinetic sculptor, roboticist, installation artist, and performer’s interdisciplinary collective, a group responsible for award-winning experimental artworks that have garnered a grant from the Andy Warhol Foundation, and, most recently, a Guggenheim Fellowship. In 2015, MacMurtrie filled a church in Brooklyn with more than 50 robots, including a series of music-making machines. Last year, he created Border Crossers, giant internally illuminated inflatables designed to simultaneously balloon on both sides of the US-Mexico border. – Emerson Rosenthal

PussyKrew

Originally from Poland, this experimental CGI duo has taken what started as a creative exploration of new media and turned it into something of an internationally recognized art practice. Comprised of Andrzej Wojtas, a.k.a. mi$ gogo, and Ewelina Aleksandrowicz, a.k.a., Tikul, PussyKrew uses a combination of motion graphics and 3D-scanned imagery to create fully immersive installations and multimedia experiences. Through their assertive and disorienting digital compositions, PussyKrew plays with gender in a way that challenges our preconceived notions of heteronormativity and the patriarchy. Their music videos and live performance–based visuals explore the aesthetics of the urban landscape, man’s assumptions about the future, and how we perceive the synthetic and the organic. PussyKrew makes visual journeys they describe as “carnal data mesh, liquid dysphoria, and 3D fantasy shuffle.” – Nathaniel Ainley

Nina Beier

Though the phrase gets bandied about pretty liberally in creative critique, Nina Beier is the embodiment of a truly multimedia artist. Her artistic experimentation varies vastly, to the point that it’s hard to categorize. Unafraid of the untested, Beier fearlessly fords uncharted technological waters, experimenting with green screens and live-video feeds that transport viewers to fantastical digital locales. It’s an exploration of the ephemerality of our lives, in an age when we can be manipulated, transported, and transformed by technology at the touch of a button. Though disparate, the Danish-born, Berlin-based artist’s works are unified in their surrealism. Dealing in dog hair and paint, data and fabric, her unfaithful relationship to form is what makes Beier one of the most well-equipped artists to traverse emerging digital mediums. – Kara Weisenstein

Jeremy Couillard

Jeremy Couillard is a mad conductor of media, orchestrating 3D-printed sculpture, painting, film, and video games into a candy-colored assault on the physical world that consumes whole galleries or theaters. He offers out-of- body experiences and journeys to the afterlife. Couillard’s virtual reality–based multimedia installation Out of Body Experience Clinic asks, “What if it were possible to leave the terres- trial plane at will?” After donning VR goggles, viewers find themselves in an exact replica of their physical surroundings—then rip through the ceiling into a metaphysical sojourn full of chanting and monsters. At the end, the soul is reunited with body, but the insistent belief in his world never fades. Hailing from the suburbs of Detroit, the Brooklyn-based artist got his MFA at Columbia University, where he developed the pop-surrealistic painting style that colors his experiential art. Through computer-generated art, he not only needles at the inherent biases of our physical world, but of the technology giants building the digital one. – Beckett Mufson

Click here to read more stories from The Future of Tech Issue, out now. 

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