By Katarina Hybenova
…the idea of a rave cave itself, as both a retreat to primitivism, and a celebration of techno
Jerstin Crosby is the guy who made a sculpture of a slice of pizza. As if it wasn’t enough, he thought it would be cool if there was something going on in the pizza bubble. Something like rave. With a strobe light and a disco ball. Why not, right? He added house music thudding from inside of the rave bubble, and that’s how Vegan Pizza Party began. His funny sculptural piece named the art show of our artsy sister Bushwick Gallery that took place at The Active Space and is currently available online.
Jerstin has a background in sculpture but nowadays cannot be called anything other than a multidisciplinary artist. He creates multimedia sculptures inspired by random juxtapositions we experience while surfing the internet. He frequently experiments with animation and video using traditional and new media like the silkscreen animation process and with footage filmed on an infrared Microsoft Kinect camera.
Jerstin lives in Bed-Stuy, works at Wayfarers and has a cool cat. We asked him a bunch of questions about his work.
You started originally as a sculptor. What made you explore new media?
Early on I was making performative sculpture work, things which could only be documented with a video camera. These were often exhibited as video, due to the temporal nature of the work. For instance, I built the word ‘STEEL’ (STEEL, 2001) out of wood and metal, about 12 feet long, and somehow convinced construction workers to lift it up on a 300 foot crane and let it interact visually with their massive construction site. Some other sculptures were like containers with windows and arm length gloves that I would get inside of and hang out disconnected.
In 2008, I began curating and producing Acid Rain Production, a cable access series that broadcast one video piece by one artist each month on television. This is still going on, every month, airing on Manhattan Neighborhood Network, the Peoples Channel in North Carolina, and the internet. This has allowed me to stay connected to how people are experimenting with moving images, and because I invite guest curators, it’s been a continuing education in new media, video, and film. When I began making larger installations, I brought video into the environment. With the newer sculpture works I wanted to find a way to sum up what I was doing with the installations into one object, and so I’ve been adding multimedia elements like light, and sound.
Can you explain to us the process of making your silkscreening animations using a kinect camera? Was there a specific occasion when you realized that you can use silk screening for your work?
I was fortunate to have a year long residency at Artists Image Resource, a printmaking non-profit in Pittsburgh. I knew from the beginning that I wanted to screenprint videos, but there was a learning curve from both ends. We (the A.I.R. staff and myself) eventually found a common language, and began experimenting with video resolution versus screen mesh count. This all became the ‘Silkscreen Tests’ animation. That residency ended in February, and now I’m working on a docu-fiction, and doing more tests to get better resolution. The kinect test pieces began by filming myself wearing a mask, filtered through a simple, default Processing code. I make some minor manipulations to the video then export as frames, organize the frames into large grids of 72 (6 x 12), burn it onto a silkscreen, screenprint it, scan it, break it into frames, and re-constitute it back into a moving image.
How does your sculptural work relate to all the new media stuff?
I’m not always sure that it does, or needs, to relate but in the past I would exhibit them alongside one another in an installation. Viewers were asked to consider them simultaneously as information and references within a larger context. For instance, in my installation “On The Inside”, at the Mattress Factory, I built a long table that echoed the perimeter of the exhibition space, which I had painted all purple. On the raw wood table, I placed found objects, some trompe l’oeil objects which I had intricately produced, plants, and a massive Sony Trinitron museum monitor with a video of me dressed as the guitarist Buckethead, practicing the Deep Purple song, “Smoke on the Water”. The objects, and the video all were references to arson and eco-activism; so there are times when they work together towards a common syntax.
Have you been following the New Aesthetic discussion on art and technology blogs? What do you think? Is New Aesthetic a thing?
Not particularly, but last year I went to an Art&&Code conference at Carnegie Mellon which centered around these ideas, although it wasn’t stated in such a way. This is where I learned what little bit of Processing I know for use with the Kinect sensor. The artists, and researchers involved with that are the ones making and sharing software for others to use, and modify. I think it’s a nice way to work and share, but I think of myself as a folk artist compared to that method.
Can you describe us your sculpture ‘Vegan Pizza Party’? What’s going on there? Any drama? 🙂
Vegan Pizza Party (2012) is an allegorical slice of day-old pizza, with a rave cave built inside of it. It bumps out techno, and has a disco ball. I think it’s funny that it is food with a cave inside, because caves can swallow us, too. When I made it I was thinking about the ways that information gets erratically juxtaposed online, through allegedly “smart” algorithms that send us targeted advertising. It was inspired by actual experiences. If there is drama, then it would be in the idea of a rave cave itself, as both a retreat to primitivism and a celebration of techno.
Whose work have you been following recently?
I’m reading Ed Sanders’ memoir “Fug You”, and really getting back into early ’60s artists, poets, comedians and underground filmmakers that were hanging around the Lower East Side back then…