On a more positive note than last time, I wanted to show a “post-digital pixelism” that I like: cup art. A friend of mine called Plustic started to put plastic cups in fences back in 2006. Chain link fences have a tilted grid of holes, in which the standard plastic drinking cups fit perfectly. Or almost perfectly. It’s a bit tricky to get them together, so you usually get some irregularities even if you try not to. I just noticed that the Sydney-based Andy Uprock has also used this technique, and brought it into galleries around 2008.
I like cup art because 1) it doesn’t work like pixel-grids. The tilting of the holes requires a different approach. 2) It doesn’t last. People will change it and it will be remixed by the wind. 3) It’s barely illegal!
This exploration of materials is something else than all those low res things around in streets. Making pixel-art with spray cans and stencils live, from scratch, is a demanding task. I met a guy in St Petersburg who made his own software that transformed a pixel image into 4 stencils, so that each pixel would stand out from the next. In 8-bit systems it is common that pixels are affected by their neighbours – either because of the graphic mode that limits the amount of colours in an area, or by the bleeding of the CRT-screens.
But somehow the cup art approach is even more like pixel graphics, to me. There is an effort in putting each pixel, to make it fit next to the other one, to make it stick in the fence. To work in a zoomed-in environment without knowing how it looks as a whole. To be powerless in a new way!
By now, Plustic has moved on to tape instead of cups. He once described it as a mix between vector graphics and pixel graphics. This, to me, is fundamentally different from digital art, but I can’t help to think about pixel art and it’s strange features and irregularities. What the enemies call limitations.