Joseph DeLappe is a professor at Abertay University in Scotland, teaching “Games and Tactical Media” with a history of gaming centered pieces and projects that tackle real life subjects and topic matters such as war, media, and emerging technology like virtual reality. Micol Hebron is also a professor, teaching at Chapman University, as well as an all around acomplished artist, helping opening up art galleries and chairing in the board of directors for X-Tra magazines. Her work explores topics such as gender equality through newly emerging mediums in the digital realm.
Both of these artists use a variety of mediums in their projects, both vastly digital more than physical. As such, I’ll be examining just one example from each.
This is a physical art piece by Joseph DeLappe dubbed, “Playing Unreal.” The title is aptly named as these are actually the graphite tracings of his mouse while he was playing the video game “Unreal” where you move the mouse to aim at other players to shoot them. Being graphite, it is black and gray on white rag paper. Theres one major amorphous blob on the top of each paper, with stray lines jutting out, often sharp, while the entire trace has a slight curve to it.
This is “Sisterhood is Powerful” by Micol Hebron. The first thing to note is that it is representative of a vagina. It’s constructed entirely of quartz crystal, embedded into a firm wall, and surrounded by shag carpet. It also despenses pina coladas for visitors! The carpet itself is black, while the contrasting walls are pure white. Both of thsese colors still don’t describe the quartz however, which are “white” but more off colored, even yellow or brown sometimes. Carpet, of course, is soft, and the walls are smooth and bare as well. The quartz being crystals, are sharp and jagged, most likely retaining the form they kept when mined.
So let’s talk about these two pieces. On one hand, we have squares of paper with graphite markings and the other a literal room high crystal vagina. One made with complete unknowing of it’s outcome and the other meticulously crafted. With DeLappe’s piece, the outcome to him was unknown and had no real goal in mind when making the piece. He did, however, had the idea and wanted to see the result of the actions he took. This piece is demonstrative of a work that is more about the unseen, unwritten, and unexplained idea and process that went into the final piece, rather than the “beauty” of the final product. There was no goal, no meaning, and no message behind these drwaings that resulted in some no doubt awesome matches in Unreal with those flick shots you can see. But rather, if anything, an intriguing visual to percieve and ponder even in the most mundane of tasks like moving a mouse back and forth.
Micol Hebron’s piece is the exact opposite. It had visual form in mind. It had a goal. It had planning. It had time and effort and resources poured into it. You don’t just accidentally construct a pina colada fountain made of crystals after all. To understand where the piece is coming from, a good idea is to look at the work Hebron is actively working on, which promotes discussion and societal reforms in gender equality. The piece is called “Sisterhood is Powerful” and something can be said about sisterhood and vaginas having a correlation. The actual piece being constructed in crystals, and embedded into a solid wall can be a physical symbolism of power and strength. But power could also lend itself to the temptation that “sisterhoods” have, both symbolized by the pina colada double as tempting alcohol and representative of another liquid secreted.
Both of these artists have definitley more wild and new pieces that aren’t quite easily captured in a blog post, but I indeed have spent time looking at them. From videos by Hebron dubbed “Waterfalls” that was way more than disturbing to watch, to DeLappe’s games that he has full on developed to send a message about war and the effects it has on it’s soldiers, often critisizing their position and power in the entire ordeal was quite eye opening to the new avenues that art has taken in these last few years. I knew that movies and video and interactive exhibits could win art awards, but never to the extent of these mild extremes. Especially with DeLappe, as by the looks of it, is an avid gamer as I am, even being into virtual reality technology as far back as the first wave when monitors became just small enough to fit into a headset that had to have 3, inch thick cables coming out the back into a wall of computers. That was most definitley a fun journey to see from someone who has more experience in both fields than I have.