Transience

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One DLD tradition are the talks between the curator Hans Ulbricht Obrist and selected artists. During the first of these on Day 2 of DLD16, Obrist spoke to Michael Craig-Martin, who currently has an exhibition at the Serpentine Gallery in London.

Born in Dublin, Craig-Martin was raised and educated in the US. He stumbled upon modern art when he was around twelve in the 50s, a time at which modern art was still a secret. “I decided to be an artist then”.

Many decades into his career, his exhibition at the Serpentine Gallery focuses on the transience of objects and their relation to technology. “People will look at my painting of an iPhone in ten years time and say, what’s that?” Craig-Martin comments the imminent obsoleteness of most things.

Craig-Martin came to record the change from analog to digital, which his work traces, almost by accident. He had been drawing objects around him. And gradually those objects changed.

So too did his method of painting. He now draws with a mouse. Initially, he bought himself a computer to cut and paste text. When he realized he used the same process in his work, and that he could do this much faster if he used a computer, he made the switch. Now, there is no paper original of his pieces. “It’s as though the computer had been invented with me in mind and I’d like to thank all of those responsible,” Craig-Martin said with a smile.

In the works he produces, Craig-Martin strives to create objects that do not look personal. Rather, they should appear like real mass produced objects do and have that peculiar character of apparent sameness and actual individuality.

Speaking on creativity – a big topic at DLD16 – Craig-Martin said what had been discussed until now was mainly design. Creativity in design is invention, said Craig-Martin. “Creativity in art is observation.”

Because of the way he paints, using lines, which do not actually exist in nature but rather are invented to represent an edge or a change of plane, the language available to him is limited. Were he to draw a comb, for instance, the product would be too boring.

One project he would like to still realize, however, is to work with an architect to create a building based entirely on imagery.