I recently ran into artists Leon Reid IV and Ryan Seslow installing newly cast pieces from their collaborative project Technophemera at Welling Court. Curious to learn more, I asked them a few questions about the genesis of the project.
LP: How did this collaboration come about?
LR: The collaboration came about in an organic way. Ryan reached out to me around 2012 by inviting me to speak as a guest lecturer during his “History and Emergence of Street Art & Graffiti” course at LIU Post. From there we connected on alot of conceptual levels and decided to work collaboratively in some capacity. As with many collaborations, the concept for a work isn’t finalized in the beginning of the relationship, but rather over the course of many conversations and exchanges.
LP: What are you saying about art and technology with this installation?
LR: Previous to our meeting, Ryan had already begun casting old computer hardware in concrete – suggesting a fossilization process. After seeing these, I decided to bring my installation background to the table and came up with the idea that the hardware casts should be buried in an excavation site to create the illusion of ancient history.
The central theme behind the project is that technology is invented at such a rapid pace that devices even 5 years old may as well be treated as fossils.
RS: I coined the term “technophemera” in late 2011 when I started placing casts in and around the NYC area. I leave them in public places free for people to take and/or become aware of their presence and displacement. The displacement is both obvious and also contextual. It questions they way we dispose of old technologies and hardware as well as our personal relationships to those devices and who we are becoming over time through this new consciousness. I still continue to leave various casts in and around and have also expanded to other objects like old aerosol cans – this gets a bit more specific, as it speaks directly to graffiti artists, how everything changes and evolves, with us or without us. We must choose who we are in relationship to those changes to maintain authenticity.
It was back in early 2007 when I first laid eyes on Leon Reid IV (aka Darius Jones of Darius and Downey). He was giving a talk on on street art at The Pure Project and I was greatly impressed by the lengths that this unassuming guy wearing a cardigan and a bow tie was going to in order to bring his unique combination of humor, wit and artistic talent to the public. The idea that someone would have the audacity to dress up like a contractor and install his work in broad daylight was pretty crazy to me, but that was exactly what he was doing. Four years later, Reid is no longer busy outsmarting police but instead has a steady output of legal and commissioned public works as well as his first solo show “A Decade of Public Art” opening at Pandemic Gallery in Williamsburg, Brooklyn on Saturday night.
The show is a real insight into the artist’s process, exhibiting many of his sketches, models, and photographs dating back to his graffiti days as VERBS and of his installations from around the world. And be sure to look up before entering the gallery – otherwise you might miss his site specific installation for Pandemic Gallery!
As big fans of Leon Reid IV’s public art (see previous posts on his work here), the Street Spot couldn’t be more excited about his latest, most ambitious project … all the more so because it brings him back to Brooklyn. We can’t go into any details just yet as Leon is still in the process of raising the necessary funds and support to make this happen, but we promise it will be project of landmark proportions. Intrigued? Visit A Spider Lurks in Brooklyn to see what others have to say. And while you’re at it, be sure to check out Leon’s new and improved website.
Thanks to some outraged citizens who took matters in their own, very capable hands, the illegal billboard that had briefly covered this beautiful Conor Harrington mural in Manhattan’s Meatpacking District was swiftly removed. Although the newly opened High Line Park brought about the predictable whitewashing of all graffiti on adjacent buildings, I was very pleased to see that not yet all vistas are given over to corporate sponsorship.