editorial: (i)materiality

For our April issue, SuperGlue will look into artists who are pushing the boundaries of materiality in their work. From dissecting the medium of photography, to the on-going debate about NFTs, we hope to discuss some of the most exciting artists in our three cities who are challenging the status quo of art. What is interesting about the discussion of the materiality of art, is that there naturally follows an inspection of what art is, or indeed what art can be; is the very nature of art tied to the material, or can it be more than that? This discussion will be central to our articles for this month as we bring you artists making waves in the art scenes of Geneva, London, and Seoul.

Mark Tamer, A Red Sun, 2019. Polaroid collage. Courtesy of the artist.

Where does the idea begin, and the artwork commence? Is the artistic process that leads to the creation of an artwork considered to be art? Art starts with an idea, the essence of what is being expressed, but this ephemeral moment cannot always be expressed within the confines of standard materials. For Mark Tamer, the essence of a material only reveals itself upon its unplanned deconstruction. As chance takes over, the façade of the object is worn away, revealing the truest aspect of the material. In his photographic works, Tamer examines the materiality of the photographic medium by exposing what lies beneath the surface of a photograph. There begins a process of random degradation that is beyond the control of the material, producing photographs that look as if they have been pulled apart and manipulated to a point at which they reveal their true identity. Here, where the image is at its most vulnerable, at its essence, a calmness is exposed that distills the chaos of life. It speaks volumes that in an instance where the material is being challenged and dissected in such a testing manner, what is left behind is a stillness from which tranquillity can be found.

Whilst Mark Tamer deconstructs the materiality of photography, Geneva based artist Opale constructs his works through a process of assemblage. In his artistic practice, he juxtaposes photographs, paintings and painterly textures to materialise alternative realities. In the Nymphs series, the artist collapses different temporalities and localities by physically manipulating old art magazine pages. He takes a similar approach in his series Exhibition souvenirs, which results from his desire to keep a physical trace of his visits to museums. Through an analogue superimposition of photographs capturing paintings, Opale builds unexpected dialogues between different art historical periods. Thus, through these various palimpsests, the artist establishes a delicate balance between the past and the present, the material and the immaterial, memories and the lived moment…

Opale, Nymph Good Morning. Mix Media, infinite dimensions. Courtesy of artist

In our contemporary lived moment, Non Fungible Token (NFT) art has been on the rise. This unique digital art offers the artist a chance to sell their art as a unique product, wrapped in a webbing of encrypted block-chains, as with crypto currencies, which means that in purchasing the work, the buyer can be assured of its uniqueness. It seems as though this format is challenging the materiality of the canon by championing the intangible medium of digital art. Given that digital technology has been adopted as a common medium in contemporary art, the concept of materiality as an aesthetic concept has consequently changed. After the post-digital age, materiality was expressed as immateriality, as a way to explain art that was not of the classic media of painting, sculpture, and textile arts. Furthermore, it was also proposed as the concept of neomaterility (Christiane Paul, “From Immateriality to Neomateriality: Art and the Conditions of Digital Materiality”. ISEA 2015: Proceedings, 2015).

Mr Misang, Packed Subway, 2021, Animated version of Mr Misang's original nft series Modern Life Is Rubbish, Courtesy of the artist and Gblsts(owner).

In the April issue, Superglue attempts to connect with Non Fungible Token (NFT) art, one of the most controversial issues in contemporary art, by discussing the materiality of contemporary art in the digital age. In our featured article, we highlight Mr Misang, the most active and rising Korean artist currently in the NFT art market. Mr Misang is currently ranked among the top 2 artists in the recent sales segment on SuperRare, the international NFT platform. The cumulative transaction amount of his works is approximately $900,000 as of 5th April 2021. Considering the number one spot is occupied by the official account of Time Magazine, he is ranked as the highest individual artist. His digital graphic artworks are based on a psychedelic style and contain stories about the crowd in modern society. In speaking with the artist, Superglue will examine the materiality of contemporary art that can be newly created in the digital space by unpacking Mr Misang’s unique world. This article will be accompanied by an interview with Mr Misang. It talks about the various possibilities arising from new NFT art and the materiality of artworks in this digitally transformed space. So, buckle up, and let SuperGlue take you to a digital world.

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