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About the 'Friend or Faux' series

Taken from an interview by Sue-Lyn Moyle, originally posted on lapetitegalerie.com.au

Q: You are well known for your oil paintings, what lead you to deviate from your previous works to construct the mosaics in Friend or Faux?

A: Oil painting is my usual medium, but I do occasionally work with other materials. The concept always comes first, and I choose the material or method that will best convey the idea.

I’ve always been interested in optical illusions and double images. Lately I’ve been intrigued by QR-codes ­– seeing shapes and images within them, much like when you can look at a cloud and imagine a shape within that. The mosaics were an obvious medium to recreate the black and white matrix of pixels. The screen-print versions came later, as I was looking for a method to reproduce the concept more easily than the mosaics.

Q: How are the mosaics made? Do you copy from a drawing and how are they pieced together?

A: The Friend or Faux images start in Photoshop as super-low resolution pixel drawings. The challenge is to be able to retain detail in a 25- or 50-pixel-wide image.

The digital version is then recreated by arranging the single glass tiles in a grid. This is transferred and glued onto MDF, then grouted etc. It’s quite an involved process.

Q: Why do the screen-prints appeal to you?

A: They are simply a quicker and easier way of reproducing the images. They also gave me a chance to work with paint again. Even though there are multiples of the same designs, each piece in each edition has a different hand-painted background, so the colours vary as well. I was hoping to make these more affordable too… with economics of mass production and all that.

Q: How did you choose those particular characters in your mosaics and who are the people behind the names?

A: ‘Friend or Faux’ follows on from a series of screen-prints I did a few years ago called ‘Facespace’, where I used friends Facebook profile pics as a starting point. I was thinking about how people present themselves on online social networks like Facebook – and how closely the online personality people cultivate matches the real-world person. (See the Facespace series here: www.stevenmakse.com/art/facespace.html )

So ‘Friend or Faux’ ties in with that. The QR-code graphic gives me a visual framework for creating the images, but also refers to the notion of people’s online ‘brand’.

The characters pictured are quite arbitrary; I just needed faces to work with so I used the models that are most easily accessible… my family.

The icons like the crow, cat, skull etc are a bit of fun really, again thinking peoples’ varied perception of the same objects – how we see – or don’t see things… Friend or Faux, good or bad, real or fake.

Q: Does your artwork actually function as scan-able barcode?

A: Unfortunately not… I haven’t figured that part out yet. QRs are easy to generate online – you just put in your URL, press a button and you get barcode. I haven’t found anything that enables you to go the other way… yet.

Friend or Faux – Ella
Screenprint acrylic on canvas, 20 x 20cm 
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