Whilst some believe that true art should be restricted and vaulted away in galleries, I, an obviously more refined individual, do not. What we need is a revolution in the way art is conceptualized. Art is coming for the people, art is raining down all around us, art is constantly coming, and we are being showered in the warm, gooey loving embrace of art, even as I type this. The internet is a freeing and wonderful resource opening up whole new realms of possibility and opportunity, many an intrepid artist has already taken to this medium to share their work. I have sifted through the best and the worst of those, offering to you a selection of the more interesting pieces.
Art should teach you something about yourself, highlight some inner light or shadow within you that not only helps you understand the piece and yourself, but unlocks an understanding that you can apply to the world at large. Jason Bowles is just such an artist, using his work to cast a spotlight on the viewer themselves. After the success of my previous art review, we were offered the world exclusive rights to his latest video ‘Emetic’ which we present to you now.
Now this video is obviously meant to make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up, that slowly creeping dread and revulsion you feel as you watch the picture morph and transmute in front of you are the desired effect. Enhanced by the soundtrack (provided by Dazz Warr) which is equally chilling, the two combine to force your mind down the roads normally closed to it. That creeping paranoia helps you access a super critical part of your brain, it is that whispering voice that you normally manage to drown out with the plentiful distractions offered by television, iPods and the internet. We never have to spend time dancing around in our own heads anymore, which is something we are now uncomfortable doing, imagine being told “tomorrow you have to sit in silence for a couple of hours and just think about stuff” and meeting that information with anything less than absolute terror. Mr Bowles manages to sneak through our erected defenses and attack at our psyche’s where they live, like any good artist he challenges you to consider things more carefully. This video is like the creepy tunnel scene from the original Charlie & The Chocolate Factory, the part where Gene Wilder just lets loose and somehow manages to get everyone on the boat to take hallucinogens and freak the fuck out, it brings you outside of the reality you have constructed and manages to wake you up enough that you can realize just how sick and weird it all really is.
Before we move on, something should be said about the effortless way Jason Bowles has managed to let his art exist on the internet, whilst what you are seeing is clearly ‘just’ a youtube video, that piece also exists in real life, as ‘real’ art. Something to be hung on a wall or in a gallery, keeping it far away from the prying eyes of the unwashed masses. Not content with such a life for his creations, Bowles has infused his pieces with a new energy letting them run rampant upon the unprepared and unwary eyes of the internet. It is interesting how the piece can evolve in a video as well, the animation really frees the piece allowing it to truly come alive and stalk through your waking nightmares, molesting those false notions you may have previously held.
What Bowles does is impressive in it’s execution, his surrealism becomes hyper realism, the faces he paints or draws are stylistically impressive, but at the same time heinous and creepy. This is his statement, that life is both disgusting and wonderful. With ‘Emetic‘ in particular you can see this come to the forefront, a thinly veiled metaphor for the human condition, the faces coming together as one in a message that I take to be one of unity and comradery, stating that we as a species are above the sum of our parts, horrible but precious little pieces in a global jigsaw, if only one of us were to go missing the whole thing would be pointless, and in a fit of rage whatever cosmic entity is carefully slotting us into place would angrily smash his fists down upon the table sending all those previously contently placed pieces flying into obscurity and doom. However in reality this sentiment becomes warped and melted, just as it does in the video, with too many of us perverting the course of true community with our sick base needs and desires, we actively destroy the puzzle ourselves, and we seem to be going unpunished, there is no justice, no karma, everything is futile. Those spastic, flapping, licking tongues embody this perversion perfectly and highlight the crass way we all hope to exploit each other for personal gain, they are Bowles middle finger to the established hierarchy of our exploitative existence.
When we see something we desire we instantly crave to defile it, when viewing Bowles already defiled work there is an urge within the viewer to somehow ‘fix’ it, to take the piece and restore it’s lacking standardized image of beauty. This duality is one that is repeated in all of Bowles work and I believe it to be a cry out against the consumer based society we live in. Why should he pretty up his pictures to make it easier for you to swallow? Reality isn’t always aesthetically pleasing and this jarring juxtaposition is part of what makes Jasons Haggard Faces a blog you should all be following. In an older video ‘Hang On Hold‘ Bowles highlights our deadly reliance on a system that literally just doesn’t give a shit.
What Bowles manages to do so well, is effectively vomit sparkly brilliance onto an easel, then draw an outline around that vomit and say, “look we are but stupid, crappy humans, who vomit and shit and stuff, what the fuck are you getting all high and mighty for?”, which is true, it almost makes me ashamed to try and review his work in any capacity, as what the hell do I or the work itself even mean? No one knows, this life is a mystery filled with creepy, ugly faces, but maybe if you choose to look at those faces in your free time, you’ll recognize and be able to avoid them in the real world, or even better, avoid donning that mask yourself.
Words by Cuthbert Cunningham