Synchronized Chaos

Synchronized Chaos

Q & A With Los Angeles Photographer And Painter Alexandra Dean Grossi,

After Her Show At P.E. Deans Gallery, The Analog Internet

May 1, 2013  – Link

Alexandra Dean Grossi is a painter, photographer and webdesigner in Los Angeles, CA. Her most recent art exhibit presents an artistic look at the imagery pervading the Internet. This Q and A interview was inspired by her gallery show at P.E. Deans Gallery, The Analog Internet: Re-Imagining the Internet through Art.

Why and how did you choose the Net as a subject for your work?

I was born in 1983 and I think I am part of the last generation who remembers what life was like before consumer computers, cell phones and the internet. I have been hyper aware of how much the presence of such technology has affected our lives. As as a fully mainstreamed hearing impaired person, I use a cochlear implant to hear (I speak and never learned to sign). Email, instant messaging and texting became available just when I needed it most: the beginning of my disastrously awkward teenage years.

As soon as I entered high school I got my first laptop and gone were the days when I had to have my parents call a friend for me. When I entered college, Facebook became available and the concept of loosing touch with people became obsolete. There’s hardly an aspect of my life that’s untouched by the internet; from my career as a web designer, to finding my homes on craigslist, adopting my rescued pups through Petfinder, to meeting my boyfriend through OkCupid.

More specifically, I’ve developed a fascination for how the internet and smart phones have morphed from being primarily a tool for communication and information to becoming an important part of modern pop culture. The shared experience that brings people together is more widespread and accessible than ever before and we are still learning how exactly that affects us as a world wide culture. For the purpose of this show I focused on very specific themes: Facebook and what we choose to reveal in our profiles, Instagram and its most common subjects, Crowdsourcing, where I asked my Facebook friends for my subjects and what artist’s style they wanted me to emulate, and finally LOLcats, proof that the internet is run by our overlords, our pets.

Are you taking any position on all the controversies surrounding the Net (i.e. privacy, safety, censorship, whether it’s ‘real’ social interaction or not?)

My work in this series definitely explores the lighter side of the internet. There are without a doubt awful, evil and incredibly scary elements about the web, but I’ve also seen so much good come from it. The internet provides ways to raise awareness about issues, be inspired, and share a laugh with your closest 750 Facebook friends.

My “serious” online consumption is punctuated with ridiculous Steve Martin tweets and George Takei’s hysterical posts. I think it’s also important to note that this show represents an internet frozen in time. It is a time capsule, in this case, of April 2013. A year from now, 5 years from now, grumpy cat will be forgotten and Facebook may be as irrelevant as Myspace. This was another aspect that drew me to this subject. I’m curious to see how people in the future will react to my work in this series.

How do you think the Internet has affected artistic mediums? (Lots of people can now create and share work directly with the public, bypass gallery owners, but there are fewer filters, quality controls or even ways to organize information.)

With personal sites and portfolio sites such as Behance and DeviantArt as well as online shop sites such as Etsy, the need for a gallery presence to make a living as an artist has gone down tremendously. However there is a balance; when microwaves came out, people thought that families would be cooking their entire Thanksgiving feast in the microwave. That’s not the case. The stove and oven are still relevant and I think galleries have the same holding power.

Do you see the Net as a force for helping people be creative, or as reducing things to icons, memes, etc?

The internet is so vast and encompassing, I think that the truth holds for both. On one hand, I think the internet has fed into our collective ADHD and is made up of underdeveloped ideas and thoughts forced into 140 characters or less, memes and hashtags.

However, on the other hand, the internet has made creativity accessible to people who may not otherwise create. The app Instagram is a great example — you may not have a Hasselblad or even a plastic Holga to produce “real art,” but if you have a smart phone with this app, you have a choice of filters and suddenly you’re Ansel Adams. Maybe this inspires you go invest in a camera and produce “real art.”

I think this also helps raise the bar for quality, when you are able to look at a million amazing works of art or hear a whole library of incredibly composed songs, you have to step up your game to have your work noticed.

How was the experience of showing something inspired by the Net in a traditional gallery format? Were people receptive to the concept? How was the gallery show? How did people interact with your work?

It was really great seeing the reactions of people of all different ages with varying degrees of technophobia and technophilia. Those who were more tech savvy didn’t require much explanation and those who weren’t so knowledgeable about the internet were able to appreciate my work and humor on a different level. Though I needed to explain to them what Instagram does and what LOLcats are.

My Facebook and Crowdsourcing projects garnered the most attention from both groups, I think because they were the most accessible. I had the idea to have the full description of each piece available online with a barcode/ QR code next to the art for people to scan for access. This definitely would have made the show more interactive, but I ran out of time. Next time!

What’s your creative process like? Does your work as a webdesigner inspire what you do artistically?

Like many people, I waste a lot of time on the internet looking at funny pictures, inspiring typographical quotes, cute animals and different blogs. Not long ago, I started an Evernote account where I started saving the best and funniest of what I saw online. At the time I didn’t know why I was saving these images and clipping. Then one day I was inspired to draw a lizard I saw in a picture online holding a cane and I gave him my own caption (The result is Inquisitive Lizard).

From there I went through everything that inspired me or made me laugh and decided to make art from them. This show is only the beginning, I will definitely be exploring many facets of the internet in work to come!


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