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Tag: disturbing

Berlin’s Diego Garcia Explores Gestalt Psychology and Interdisciplinary Artwork

Diego Garcia is a transmedia artist from Brazil who is currently living in Berlin. Garcia’s artwork covers a broad spectrum of artistic mediums, including music, video, and design. His work often deals with shocking and disturbing images while managing to retain conceptual integrity. In Garcia’s current series, Projekt Gestalten, he applies theories of gestalt psychology to the fine art world. Projekt Gestalten can also be found online at http://www.projektgestalten.com/.

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Paul Weiner:
How did you find your start in music and how has it translated to visual and video art?

Diego Garcia:
I started making music around 2003, mostly house music and electro. But, after a while, I got bored with it and started approaching more experimental styles such as IDM, ambient, techprono and downtempo. In the meantime, I was studying visual arts at my university. I was so scared because I thought that, at some point, I would have to choose between being a musician or a visual artist/designer. Then it hit me: “why do I have to pick one area if I can merge all of these types of art into one thing?” I think the turning point was at my final graduation project. I made a music-video, but, besides shooting, directing, and editing it, I also made the music and designed the whole visual art promotional material. Then I felt like a true multimedia artist.

Paul Weiner:
How do you usually begin a work of art? Is it different depending on the medium you’re using?

Diego Garcia:
Yes, it is. With music, I just go and start building up grooves that I like until I get something that I think is consistent. This process can be done in half hour or several hours. It really depends. Now, with graphic design, it’s a little bit more mechanic. If I am doing a project like a visual identity or an advertisement poster for a client, for instance, there are basic design rules in regards to visual psychology, color theory, and geometry that I need to obey. However, if it’s an artistic thing made just for the sake of art, all of these rules can be broken, of course. Now, if I am doing a video or a photographic project I usually already have an idea of what I want in my head. So, I make a little storyboard or sketches and start working from there. Sometimes it turns out the exact way that I wanted, like with the Lars von Trier project, or sometimes completely different, which also can generate very interesting results.
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Paul Weiner:
Tell us about the concept behind your Projekt Gestalten.

Diego Garcia:
Projekt Gestalten is the artistic name for my audio productions and my live act performances. The name literally means “construction project,” and I think that’s exactly what I do, regardless of the medium I use: I construct visual and sonic things. But gestalten also is related to the “gestalt psychology,” which is a concept I have learned while studying at my university. Its basic principle is that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. So, basically, for you to understand something, you need to see the whole picture as opposed to trying to analyze specific things at first. I think that concept also applies in order to understand my work and maybe even myself. I make a lot of different projects with a lot of different mediums, and I am just trying to put all the pieces together.

Paul Weiner:
Do you like to work with ideas that are shocking? Take, for instance, your “Reality Remix 001 (Sausage Commercial X Pig Being Killed).”

Diego Garcia:
Yes, I do like to work with shocking elements and try pushing the boundaries of standard behaviors. The “Reality Remix 001” project is actually a particularly disturbing one. What I like about this project is that there is not too much shockingly graphic content in this video. Due to the very fast editing work, you cannot actually see what is going on for sure. What it makes it so dramatically disturbing is the sound. Hearing the pig screaming and, at the same time, seeing bits and glimpses of him dying makes you mentally visualize the whole scene inside your head without even having to actually see the whole scene. The juxtaposition of the candid happy sausage commercial just adds another layer to the project. It’s not like I made it all up; this is what really happens inside these meat factories. Despite being a vegetarian, I don’t like militancy, and the goal of the video is not to try to abruptly stop people from eating meat but to create a dialogue about the subject and make them think more about the subject.

There are some videos like “Boi da Cara-Preta (Black-Face Ox),” which is my most viewed video on YouTube, that I would not consider too disturbing. But, it turns out that Boi da Cara-Preta was disturbing to other people. The video is an animation showing kids being devoured by this black-faced ox. The music is a remix that I made from a very traditional children’s lullaby with the same name. The melody is very tender and calm, which can be heard at the end of my version; however, the lyrics always have disturbed me, even since I was a kid. It goes like this: “black-face ox, take away these little children who are afraid of scary faces.”

I’ve received so much backlash for this video, and even some aggressive and hateful threats. I think it’s because most people associate this song with their childhood, and they search for it on the internet in order to relive happy moments. Instead, they end up stuck with my video. It was never my goal to shock people, just to translate the lyrics to their literal meaning.

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Paul Weiner:
Why did you choose to move to Berlin?

Diego Garcia:
It always has been a goal of mine to move to Europe at some point. Initially, I was thinking about going to London to do my Masters in arts over there. However, after spending a week in Berlin, during a backpack trip of mine, I fell in love with the city. It is such an amazing place to be. It’s so artistic, and I like how people are more open-minded around here. Plus, I can do my Masters in Berlin for a fraction of what I would pay in the UK. I also would have to admit that the music scene and the clubbing scene played a big role in my decision to move to the city. I truly feel like I am home in here, and I am already very inserted into the scene within only a few months of living in Berlin. It is funny because, in Brazil and in a lot of other places in the world, I’ve always felt like an alien because of the way I think, behave, dress, etc. But, in Berlin, it is like I have found my mothership back again!

Paul Weiner:
How would you describe the art scene in Berlin?

Diego Garcia:
The art scene in Berlin is vibrant, but, at the same time, it is also frustrating. I love the fact that there are so many art galleries around, but I also think that the market should value the professional a whole lot more. I see ads from these really big art galleries in Berlin seeking art assistants with years of experience, fluency in a lot of languages, and a college degree to work on unpaid “internships.” I mean, not everything is about money, but artists also need to eat and make money at some point. The only projects that I would work for free would be the philanthropic kind or the ones that are way too good to miss out on.

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Paul Weiner:
So, it sounds like you work with clients for graphic design. Would you ever work with clients for your video work or do you prefer to keep it purely experimental and fine art based?

Diego Garcia:
I think, if I could choose, I would always work with experimental/fine art projects, but I also have to make some money to support myself, and that’s not always possible with only making conceptual works. I actually briefly worked in a sound design agency back in Brazil specialized only on making big TV commercials; they even won the Golden Lion Award at the Cannes Festival at some point, and, honestly, I had a blast working there. Sometimes we had boring projects, but, even so, we could get more artistic by coming up with sound effects or recreating music to use in it. I remember when we had to hire a professional opera singer to come up and record a version of the song “Casta Diva” for us to use in a potato chip commercial. But, of course, if I would work with only this, without having my conceptual side projects as a cathartic output, I would go crazy. The same thing goes with video. I could do more commercial works, but I would never stop doing artistic projects in order to dedicate myself exclusively for that. Now, with music itself, I would never ever work with pop artists or with musicians that I don’t like for money.

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Paul Weiner:
Would you ever consider adding painting, printmaking, or a more traditional form of art to your repertoire?

Diego Garcia:
Yes. I would like to do that in the future. I had some classes back in college where I was taught more traditional techniques, but I still would like to learn more. I don’t like to rely on the computer to make art all the time. In the future, I would like to wok with watercolor paintings or something like that.


Please view Diego Garcia’s artwork at http://www.projektgestalten.com/ and “like” Critique Collective on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/critiquecollective.

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Maxwell Coppola Intertwines Innocence and the Digital Age

Maxwell Coppola is an artist who explores the duality between childhood innocence and disturbing images. He recently stumbled into the world of internet-based art with a series of work reliant upon Google image searches. Check out Maxwell’s work online at http://www.maxwellcoppola.com.

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Paul Weiner:
Could you describe the process you went through in order to capture the images in your word searches series?

Maxwell Coppola:
I developed the concept for my word search pieces while looking up references for my paintings. I’m always searching the Internet for images to help formulate my paintings, and I do so much of this through Google’s image search. After doing some more experimental projects, I decided to give the word search series a shot.

To create the pieces, I search for a word or phrase, write down the time and day of the search, and take screenshots of the output. The screenshots are then pieced together to form the piece.

I like how many different concepts these pieces touch upon: pop culture, mass media, the internet, search engines, fair use, copyright, abstract vs. figurative, aesthetics, perception. I think these pieces have a lot of potential talking points.

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Paul Weiner:
This process is intriguing because it points out the extent to which Google informs our perceptions and opinions on ideas, objects, and people. How is it that you determine the compositions for these works? Do you create the compositions intuitively and aesthetically or with rigid conceptual requirements like an algorithm?

Maxwell Coppola:
An image search engine follows an algorithm to determine which images it will display. Google creates the algorithm, but the images themselves are out across the Internet. I think the search offers a sort of current aggregate perception of a word or phrase.

I’m still exploring how I want to continue this process, actually. Searching for a celebrity like Oprah Winfrey is much different than searching for, let’s say, the color blue. The one thing I will always do is write down the search time and date. How different might a search for “World Trade Center” be in 2000 versus 2002?

I try to be conceptual initially, but I certainly think about aesthetics and whether my initial concept will ultimately work as a visual piece. I like your idea of incorporating an algorithm to create the pieces. I could definitely explore that.

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Paul Weiner:
Why have you chosen to create artwork which questions your own identity in reference to child-like and disturbing imagery?

Maxwell Coppola:
I’m not sure I’m really trying to question my identity with these. There are some images within these paintings that relate to my childhood directly, but those are usually thrown in as little Easter eggs to myself.

I’m really influenced by members of my own family and my own experience working with children. My mother works with children aged 2-5; my aunt is a principal at a grade school; I have a lot of young cousins; I have my own history of working as a camp counselor for 5 years. I’m also influenced by pop surrealist artists, who seem to use a lot of children in their artwork. I think the disturbing and twisted imagery makes for good contrast against the innocence of childhood, but that could just be in my own head.

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Paul Weiner:
I’ve noticed that many of your works use stuffed animals as a symbol for childhood. Are the stuffed animals in your images directly related to you or simply made up for the paintings?

Maxwell Coppola:
I remember the characters, and they were a part of my life in some capacity, but the images used as references were taken from the Internet.

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Paul Weiner:
Do you view aestheticism as a chief concern in the creation of your images or is it secondary to the concept?

Maxwell Coppola:
The aesthetics are always a concern for me; however, they are not the first on the list. The concept is always first, but I do my best to make a professional looking piece. I’ve always had the mindset that my paintings should be beautiful from afar, but twisted when you get closer and actually see what’s going on.

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Paul Weiner:
Describe the process you use in beginning a work of art. How does this change when creating photography, conceptual art, and painting?

Maxwell Coppola:
Whether creating photography, conceptual art, or paintings, I start the same way. I’m always trying to generate ideas that are weird, ironic, controversial, funny, unexpected, gross, beautiful, and some mix of all of that. The main test an idea has to pass in my own mind is:

1. Is it interesting?

2. Is this me?

One interesting part about number 2 is that I probably would not have started my word search series if I hadn’t let myself experiment with my mixed media pieces. I started as a painter, and I was planning on working strictly within that medium. I think by allowing myself to explore different media and ideas, it helped me become more open minded about my artwork and who I wanted to be as an artist.

Paul Weiner:
Your Word Search series seems to move away from the theme of childhood. Is that a direction you’re planning on heading in for future work?

Maxwell Coppola:
That’s a good question. I think that I will continue to paint as I am. However, I love exploring new concepts and ideas and working with different materials. Also, you never know what might catch on in the art world.


Please view Maxwell Coppola’s artwork online at http://www.maxwellcoppola.com and “like” Critique Collective on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/critiquecollective.

Subscribe to the Critique Collective newsletter for additional content, faster updates, art tips, and insider information absolutely free.