Unreachable photographic print on metallic paper, 83 x 24”, 2013
skin d.e.e.p. – digital ephemeral epidermal patterns 2014
//benitez_vogl – the artist duo Margarita Benitez and Markus Vogl – redefine what it means to be an artist today. Their efforts point to new potentials of creative endeavors while linking areas of inquiry that might once have been seen as independent paths. They employ a rigorous practice of combining highly innovative materials and methods toward unexpected and varied ends. Featured here are three of their many projects, as described by the artists.
skin d.e.e.p. – digital ephemeral epidermal patterns
Temporary biomimetic skin patterns via wearable 3D printed exoskeletons. The aim is to mimic the patterns and textures of snakeskin via ephemeral impressions onto human skin. Taking inspiration from shedding snakeskin, we shed the outer layer by removing the superficial prosthesis. The epidermis retains the negative imprint of the prosthesis mimicking the look of serpent skin. The dermis reestablishes the smooth form of the human skin as it heals itself within the hour, erasing the ephemeral imprint, symbolically representing rebirth and renewal.
versus 0:02 [gridiron]
VS:0.02 [gridiron] interprets the game data of all 50 Professional Football Championship Games visually in sculptural form, from the years 1967 – 2016. The sculptures analyze the game play by play and visualize the distance the ball traveled regardless of type of play. Our 3D software then builds arcs based on the distance the ball travels. In order to keep the flow of the game recognizable, the teams are assigned a side.
i<3 (i heart)
i<3 is a site specific interactive installation that behaviorally changes based on twitter hashtags that have been published. The hearts light up based on the amount of human current and flow. Each 1/2 of a heart lights up once a certain number of tweets has been reached. i<3 can be adapted to any hashtag chosen and can therefore continue to be shown at different venues. This particular documentation of the installation counted the number of Ingenuityfest tweets based on the hashtag #ingenuityfest as it was installed at the 2011 Ingenuityfest in Cleveland.
Margarita Benitez is the Fashion Technologist and an Associate Professor at The Fashion School at Kent State University. She received her MFA in Art + Technology Studies through a Trustee Scholarship from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. In addition to working with fashion technology and e-textiles, her current research explores digital fabrication in an art and design context. Her work has been exhibited nationally, internationally and is part of museum and private collections.
Markus Vogl is an Associate Professor in Graphic Design at the Myers School of Art at the University of Akron and a NE Ohio based multimedia artist experimenting in multiple sensory experiences combining sound, environments and interactive installation. He holds a Masters of Fine Art degree in New Media from Donau Universitaet Krems/transart institute and has 25 years of experience in the field.
Oil Rig Doily screenprint on textile, 2014
The work of Nanette Yannuzzi explores several different directions, all of which display a keen sense of awareness regarding the state of contemporary society. She creates work in video, drawing, textiles, installation and performance, and also works collaboratively with a group known as Home Affairs, focusing on creative projects that address a range of issues impacting women’s lives. The social consciousness and sense of responsibility that drives her work is conveyed in various series, one example being The Whistleblower Napkin Series (an extension of a larger body of work called Textiles Redux). This work is an effort to highlight individuals who risk great personal consequences when speaking out about government or corporate wrongdoing. Figures such as Chelsea Manning, Edward Snowden and Anita Hill are featured.
Yannuzzi describes the Textiles Redux series:
This series began in 2014 during an art residency at the Women’s Studio Workshop in New York. Cochlea with Spider and Oil Rig Doily comment on the enormous environmental challenges we face, challenges that have become significantly more acute in the few short years since this series began. The cochlea is a tiny sensory organ located inside the ear. It absorbs sound vibrations which are sent to the brain to be interpreted. It’s also important in our ability to balance. I find it to be a beautiful and mysterious shape and am using it as a metaphor for the dire ecological precipice standing before us and our struggle to comprehend how to effect change when so much of what is happening seems out of our control.
Even when Yannuzzi’s art draws from more traditional aspects of esthetics and form, as in many of her lesser known works on paper, it does so in a way that remains contemporary and displays at least a residue of thought regarding social realities. Often these concerns are the primary focus.
Nanette Yannuzzi was born in El Paso, Texas and currently lives and works in Oberlin, Ohio. She received a BFA degree from Cooper Union in NYC and an MFA from University of California at San Diego, and has been Professor of Art at Oberlin College since 1993. In 2017 she participated in projects at Blackwood Gallery, University of Toronto; Women’s Studio Workshop, Rosendale, NY; Kent State Downtown Gallery; SPACES Gallery (Cleveland); and Zygote Press (Cleveland). In 2016 she participated in the Feminist Art Festival in Amsterdam, Netherlands. Other recent projects have taken place in venues including EFA Project Space, NYC; Institute of Contemporary Art, University of Pennsylvania; Art Produce Gallery, San Diego, CA; ODTU Kultur ve Kongre Merkezi, Ankara, Turkey; among many others. She is the recipient of a number of artist grants including the Individual Artist Fellowship from the Ohio Arts Council.
i<3 (i heart) 2011
Anita Hill Embroidered sceenprint on textile, 2017
The work of Omid Tavakoli touches on aspects of commercial and fashion photography but ultimately serves as a collection of meaningful statements in the realm of fine art; maybe a distinction need not be made. Through a creative, skillful and knowledgeable handling of his medium, he explores issues of traditional gender roles and contemporary views of societal norms. ‘Birds of Paradise’ is a series that features woman in elaborate dress and makeup, and employs a long-exposure technique. The resulting images capture ghostlike evidence of movement and display. A delicate balance is struck here between the effort to create beautiful photographs and the impulse to comment on the way in which women are viewed and often objectified in our society. As Tavakoli delves into his subjects he fully commits to exploring, through many striking examples, both the formal construction and the complex content of the images.
Another major body of work -- the Dress Series -- is described by Tavakoli:
The dress is a symbolic rite of passage for women. Its feminine form marks significant events throughout a woman’s life. From communion at age of seven, to school dances like Homecoming and Prom, to formal engagements, all the way to the ultimate white dress, the dress is omnipresent. The dress itself signifies gender, femininity, sexuality and maternity. Women are conditioned to present themselves as masquerade, a performative display. Women have been subordinated throughout many cultures throughout time. The “damsel in distress” may evoke our empathy, both men and woman feel consumed but we are socially constructed to make women feel even more confined.
I photographed the female subjects in dazzling dresses. I then deconstruct the dress by photographing it in sections, manually manipulating the fabric. I then digitally reconstruct the dress using Photoshop to transform it into provocative forms. The color evokes a visceral sensation. The resulting effect suggests being trapped, suffocated, limited, insignificant, and invisible in our patriarchal society.
Omid Tavakoli, born in Atlanta, Georgia, is currently a graduate student in the Kent State University Master of Fine Art Print Media program, with a focus on photography. He graduated from Cleveland State University with a major in art history and did post-baccalaureate work at the Cleveland Institute of Art. He has received numerous grants for community work, particularly in connection with the Waterloo Sculpture Garden, in Cleveland’s Collinwood neighborhood, which he operates. He is also director of PopEye Gallery in Cleveland. His own work has been shown regionally at the Sandusky Cultural Center, The Cleveland Print Room, Cleveland State University, The Valley Art Center, Lakeland Community College, Harris Stanton Gallery, and the Slavic Village Rooms to Let installation series, among others.
Plenty of Sharks photographic print on metallic paper, 44 x 44”
Cochlea with Spider screenprint on linen placemat, 2014
versus 0:02 [gridiron] 2016
Atomic photographic print on metallic paper, 44 x 44”, 2014