Last weekend I attended EG, a TED-like conference in Monterey. One of the speakers, a woman named Hong Yi, made representational art from cheap materials – a portrait from coffee-stained napkins, for example. The most stirring talks were by Matt Harding (dancing video) and Jo Montgomery and Chuck Johnson (circus school) but she, more than anyone else, seemed to have done something with big implications. Her art was attractive, profitable, very cheap, and diverse (many materials, many representational styles). If anyone else has ever done this, I don’t know about it. She is an architect in Shanghai and her art began because she was in China. At a wholesale supply store, she came across very cheap candles. She realized she could buy enough of them to make a picture with one candle = one pixel. I imagine people will be watching Harding’s video a hundred years from now and the underlying point of Montgomery and Johnson’s circus school will be valid forever, but both were enormous expensive unique efforts. Hong’s work was much easier and cost almost nothing. The benefit/cost ratio was very high and millions of people could do something like what she did.
I realized that my work resembled hers. (more…)