Catalog design, communication concept, poster design
Continuing our ongoing relationship with Valand Academy, we were involved early on in the conceptualization of the project, holding workshops and codesign sessions to create a deeper communication for the MFA degree show and the individual artists’ practices. We raised a critical dialogue about who the audiences were, and if our design work could better impact those specific audiences – creating a conceptual base for the design and communication work to come. The process resulted in creating communication for the physical space at Göteborgs Konsthall (wall texts, large outdoor banner, posters), social media imagery, communication material for the exhibition web site, and a series of individual publications published in conjunction with the exhibition.
For the publications, we created individual ones in order for each artist to freely explore how their practice communicated with the audience of the exhibition and their own audiences beyond the academy and the venue. A guiding design system was set up to give a stable ground in representing text and image use, so the artists could focus on creating the content. The design system was also flexible enough to cope with diverse needs and demands of each individual artist. We encouraged that the publications should work as meta-material, adding new meaning to the work the artists intended to exhibit rather than simply explaining the work; functioning as a way of extending the life span of the publications and extending the after-life of the work, from student to graduated professional artist.
Art direction, web design, print design, brand identity, photography
Brand identity and packaging for experimental brewery Essent.
We worked on a conceptual level on almost every aspect of the brand communication, including tone of voice in writing, product naming, imagery, brand identity, product sizing and appearance, etc. From there on we created assets for the brand identity, produced images for brand and product communication, designed and developed a website, designed packaging and on to marketing materials—everything conceptualized and created from the strategies developed early in our collaboration to assure sync between context, product and communication. At the core of the communication strategy is a combination of strict modernism with Scandinavian nature, as well as contemporary high-end cuisine combined with experimental craft beer.
Communication design, Content editing, Graphic design, Photography, Publication design, Poster design, Web design, Web development
Performing Resistance is a research project by artist Annika Lundgren in the borderlands between political resistance, performance art and academic research based. The project is based on a series of seminars, artworks and the interwoven Archive for Resistance Strategies. We worked in close collaboration with Lundgren to combine conceptual development and communication design, helping the project communicate more clearly and its events to be more productive. We worked with the development of a wide range of elements, from the thematic core of the project to public events and visual communication. Our work has resulted in a large quantity of public materials, including the project website, a yearbook, and event communication for several events.
Design concept, Image production, Publication design
Valand Academy asked us to conceptualize and design a publication to accompany and extend the MFA exhibition Totally Sick! at the Medical History Museum in Göteborg. As the exhibition aims to explore subjects such as mental health, plastic surgery and quarantine we created a concept which would combine the clinical aspects of the pharmaceutical and medical industries with the fleshy grittiness of the faltering human body. The layout was created to blend clinical order with human error, and the typography takes inspiration from several familiar aesthetics related to medical care and institutional spaces. The cover was created using a generative design with 300 unique covers from combinations of micro and macro views of the body, as well as graphics relating to medical care. The cover also featured a metallic sticker with information regarding the publication, including a 16-character unique ID number.
Back-end web development, Design system, Front-end web development
Only Framework is a framework built around Sass and Gulp that provides 1) a responsive, modular, high-performance, secure boilerplate and scaffold together with 2) a styleguide that supports development from a foundational ground towards clear visual deliveries and 3) a simple Component Designer that encourages object-based composition of elements for total separation of design and development. The mantra behind Only Framework has been to make it super easy for designers, developers and stakeholders/clients alike to always have access to the current state of development through fast, fun, no-bullshit design and development.
Civil Protection Unit
Music and video
2009-2012, remastered mixtape 2016
Civil Protection Unit was an experimental electronic band formed by myself and long-time friend and collaborator Thom Kiraly. Using the posing and machismo of rock music with the repetitiveness and chanting of pop, mixed with a fair dose of retro-meets-future-dystopian-fascism, our goal was to create a kind of semi-ironic take on ideological rock music in an age of rising xenophobia, racism and right-wing leanings. Right about at the end of the project, however, things were really getting out of hand and CPU seemed like a too raw deal when reality became more and more like our fiction every day.
The videos (using instrumental tracks) seen here are from the live visuals used as concert background videos.
Listen to the 27-track Final Solution / DNA Mashup Mixtape released in February 2016 below.
People and Other Hells I-II
By viewing the action of photographing — both of documenting miserable conditions and the active disengagement of such a photographic gaze — from the sidelines, a mild twist of Jean-Paul Sartre's often misinterpreted quote that "Hell is other people" is here used as a way of reminding us that perhaps people are always a part of constructing a perpetual variety of Hells for each other.
The original print of this diptych was donated to a support auction for funding Ship to Gaza in 2015.
Research on "scapes"
Artistic research through photography, writing and video
2013 - 2015
This work was part of a greater transitional artistic research undertaking which I began with Notscapes in 2012, and then through Physique in 2013. It forms part of a large body of work together with the research I have done the last few years into "new" types of spaces that are neither landscapes nor public cityscapes. These works will begin forming during 2016 and onwards. My goal has been to understand and investigate a push into a new world that is far beyond the human scale, where monumental scales and ambitions confront very human behaviors, like flocking, trends and movements: Collective behaviors in spaces that defy traditional humanism. I have also wanted to picture ideologies and visions that are neither apocalyptic nor utopian, but instead strange, beautiful... even haunting.
'A Drift' in Mexico City, fall 2016
Inaugural, public performance of 'A Drift' at w00t Copenhagen Play Festival, 1 June 2014
MP 3 players, headphones and ambient soundtrack
Collaboration between Mikael Vesavuori, Thom Kiraly and Niklas Persson
The project arose from a number of ideas we, the project collaborators, had found interesting in areas as diverse as aesthetic affect theory, trance, movement in physical space, multisensory reception and Situationist concepts around public space usage.
The usually 90-minute long performance is based on a group of people donning headphones and MP3 players with an ambient soundtrack, and then proceeding to attentively explore the city to (or whatever area the group is located in) together, by using a simple set of hand commands—no vocal communication is allowed during the performance. One person leads the group into moving and interacting, and when the person has completed the action, initative can be taken by any other group member. Actions are encouraged to be replicated or shared in one's own way and time, so great focus is stressed on both collective as well as personal levels of interaction. Increasingly, the group tends to become enmeshed in ever more fine-grained interactions. Participants often note that A Drift gives the small, minute interactions and details normally hidden in the city much greater emotional value by this self-chosen encapsulation into music, movement and subtle group dynamics.
A Drift has been performed at various locations around the world and also in expanded, 24-hour versions. Read more at the A Drift project website.
Academy of Free Art
Photograph, black balloons, fresh flowers
Valand Academy (previously Valand School of Fine Arts)—where I received my art training—has a long and illustrious history of educating students in the field of "fine art", which in Swedish is "fri konst": free art. In the current political-educational context there is the demand for the school to professionalize the artist: your job will be to be "like an artist", thus you are "artisting", rather than it being about honing a skill, a mindset or a viewpoint. Society expects a neverending wave of cultural activities and therefore produces a small number of actants every year to satisfy this need with petty, meager means. While all of this is happening the individual artist faces the debt of student loans as well as the indebtedness to society overall. Now artists are the highest educated, but among the lowest paid labor groups in Sweden.
The classic image of the artist is that of the individual who is free to think, act and interpret various materials and circumstances. In the word "free" we see that there is included the freedom of acting by one's own volition, but also that of doing so for free—gratis, from the latin—and also, possibly, then also with "guilt" or indebtedness, in the moral as well as economic senses. Art is to be made for, be paid for, and has to be morally defensible, best used as a tool of extortion in meeting the disenfranchised: art is now fully institutionalized. The question being asked here then, what is the price of "free" art and who, in every sense of the word, is to pay for its freedom.
Installed in Malmö Konsthall, June-July 2013.
Children of Zen
Fluorescent light tubes, lighting armature, foldable chairs
In zen buddhism the reading of koans is central to the practice. Here one reads what seems like impossible statements, taking a great deal of time delving into deep introspection in order to understand them. With this spiritual practice in mind I have created a work for our linguistic predicament: where not even the encouragement to stop disbelieving can be entirely separated from actually still believing in its opposite and the substructure that enables the disbelief. Every sentence and meaning veils its origin, as does the chameleon; everything solid melts into air; a ballad becomes an ideological directive, and a secular place takes on a quasireligious tone.
Installed at Galleri Rotor, Göteborg, May 2013. Images courtesy of Hendrik Zeitler.
A Question of Definition
Plaster in replica-based silicone cast, vegetable fiber reinforcement, spray paint, vinyl wall text
The M4 type rifle (derived from the AR series of rifles, first actively used in the Vietnam war) is one of the most common and typically known assault rifles on the planet, after the mythical AK47. An American design, it has been at the core of Western/US arms manufacturing for some time—it is now an industrial design export of considerable merit.
Recently, a bank robber was killed by Swedish police after fleeing, while carrying an automatic rifle. Only later was it discovered it was a replica. While making these models I was under suspicion and some minor investigation. Not even as a “free” artist, the symbol could be distanced from reality.
Installed at Göteborgs Konsthall, Göteborg, May 2013. Image courtesy of Hendrik Zeitler.
Every Last Meal
Metal shelving units, dented metal cans, spoon, can opener
Humanitarianism is usually coupled with the acutely poor: a status that is systematically bracketed and named. While researching food as a token of power, Vesavuori discovered an abject middle-ground between contemporary, mainly Western, money-fueled survivalism – preempting, sheltering, stockpiling – and the politics of sustaining a collective fear of an impending or yet unnamed, already-existing crisis. In anticipating or undergoing the biological reshaping it entails to severely restrict one's diet, one encounters the meal as a promise for continued existence, yet also as a singular, depleting, and finally terminal experience. Every Last Meal tries to visualize where these concerns become hardened beyond clear policy or agenda.
Image courtesy of Hendrik Zeitler.
Chair for Democracy
Chair, wood saw
Chairs are one of the most fundamental, simple designs humans have created. They are as much symbols of craftsmanship as they are of our drive to make life dignified and livable. In almost cutting the chair in half, I hoped to question the nature of the individual's actions on the world, and to let an art object have a sense of possible interaction. What is a chair split in half: is it possible to share in excess of what is not to be given, without breaking something in the process?
Installation shot of eastern (westward-facing) symbol, September 2013 during Gothenburg International Biennial for Contemporary Art.
West East Quarter-Mile Sprint (Performance Symbol)
Symbol (spray painted), interaction
For Gothenburg International Biennial for Contemporary Art and their 2013 edition focusing on play and radical imagination, I made two works exploring vectors and geographic separation. One of these was West East Quarter-Mile Sprint (Performance Symbol).
In the industrial suburbs of many cities, entire complexes of roads and architecture lay hidden out of sight from disinterested commuters and car owners. During the 1980s and 1990s, illegal street racing became one of the true heirs of these discarded areas and their peripheral motorways, sparking the intense subsequent heightening of police patrols and speed cameras. The standard race stretch is 400 meters long, an American quarter-mile, straight down an empty street. Another culture that prevailed in these sidelined places are the graffiti artists, using everything between elaborate painting to crude tags to make territorial claims through their marks.
Using a contemporary design language, these "performance symbols" are spray painted with the same guerrilla tactics as the politicized graffiti artists, pointing at the ritualistic demarcation of place as being for something highly specific and concrete. Using the trendy activity of running as the employed mode of interaction, I hope that the abject beauty of these places can be playfully and physically experienced with the help of the symbol-marks. West and east are the straight 90 degree vectors: nonhumanly scaled milieux used as the equally ritualized performances of the olympic athletes.
It's All Fun and Games Until Someone Blows Their Brains Out
It's All Fun and Games Until Someone Blows Their Brains Out explores how various interfaces to our daily lives affect different forms of violence: structural, mental and actual. The manifestation is done through four pieces, all consisting of videogames installed in environments that replicate a real place and situation. In the exhibition pieces, focus is affixed to how our tools of coping with and negotiating lived life changes possibility spaces and our ways of understanding the possibility of alternate approaches. The world that comes in the packaging, so to speak, must then be understood as an implicitly ideological device. No interface is ever fully neutral, especially when forcefully coupled to a situational context.
Philosopher Martin Heidegger wrote about the concept of "ready-to-hand", how we perceive and naturalize the everyday tools we use to do things in the world. In this spirit, interfaces — my chosen type of tool — are here examined in regard to the problematics emerging in the diatancing/merging of the player as a virtual construct (the "avatar") and the player behind the interface by way of these devices. Our consensual agreements on the demarcation of reality are products of our everyday "interfaces to reality": what they entail and what they make possible, what one may become and what one may represent.
Oh Glory was made as a commissioned work for Backa Teater/Dataspelsakademin for the premiere of Simona Semenič's play, 5Boys.com. The game is loosely based on the manuscript, but where the play is about children playing with roles and violence, Oh Glory uses classical Atari-era gaming as a parodic metaphor for the running of the "perfect family" where everyone has strict and set roles. The player is tasked to make the family perform at its very best by nagging and sheer brute force.
Freedomination the doing of freedom.
To freedom to act out freedom.
Free domination to be master of something or someone without reciprocal action or reaction.
Political performances embody many both overt and subtle levels of rhetoric, power and staging.
Who’s in on the joke, who is outside of it? By what means does an internal joke—itself a customary or private affair—become “grand” and omnipresent? What changes with a leader delivering one, rather than someone further down the ladder? How is power present within the untold but present joke?
Quite possibly, the joke might be the greatest potential field for political persuasion or dialogue, though as of yet almost entirely unexplored.
In June 2001, Gothenburg hosted the G8 summit, leading to large demonstrations of which some infamously led to violent action against corporations and banks, especially around the Avenyn area. This was pointed as being acted-out by those in the “black block”: a loose grouping of anarchists et al. The breaking of windows has been a symbol used frequently by like-minded individuals and groups as well as by media outlets in their portrayal.
Looking for freedom - in whichever form it may take.
No game genre embodies the sense of mobility and freedom as well as racing games. In newer hybrid types, vast terrains are made available, with the allure of endless discovery always there. But what constitutes this so-called “freedom”?
Autonomy is a series of machinima art videos about the concept of freedom and autonomy in racing video games.
Music and video
Immersional Trauma is a video exploring how immersion – to become fully present in something or wholly covered in something, like water – can be engaged as a sort of traumatic experience or shock.
Grids on the Skyline
An instrumental electronic music album taking urban and technological environments as its basis for composition and soundscapes.
Custom computer software created in Processing
Counts the number of seconds passed since I was born.
Screenshot from the computer performance on December 4, 2011 at the north end of Flogenvägen, Brännö, Göteborg archipelago.
Custom computer software created in Max MSP, running on laptop located at scenic site
Performance takes approximately 40 minutes, from clean image to heavily distorted
Using the classical naturalist motif of the open landscape, Vistas concerns the opposition between mediated pictorial images and the physical experience of a site itself. A computer program, featuring a live video feed at the site, dissolves and exposes its very own process of translating data into human-understandable signals, through distorted video and distinct soundscapes. The post-processing (enhancement?) of the location is immediately present—a definitive feature of our always-present mobile image technologies. Over time a degree of error is introduced and accumulated to mark the artificiality with which it works, slowly and erratically revealing the underlying system that controls the so-called enhancement.