Thursday, March 12, 2009

waxing aesthetic

We find, day to day, that the constraints of communication forms often lead us to utilize or discover new methods, supplementing our verbal communication with written, body, gestural and visual languages. Borrowing from Marshall McLuhan, the medium ultimately becomes our message as the form of the medium impacts how the message is received and the meaning assigned. For Granville, Ohio-based artist Christian Faur, the medium - wax crayons - and message are decidedly one. McLuhan would say that Faur's medium is a form without content, a limitation Faur has broken through the creation of a visual, crayon language he uses to embed his pieces with secret codes and phrases.

Christian Faur had experimented with painting with wax, but wasn't satisfied with the results his technique produced. Still interested in wax as a medium, Faur had an epiphany at Christmas in 2005, when his daughter opened a box of 120 Crayola crayons he'd bought her. The artist decided to create art out of the crayons themselves, using thousands of hand-molded crayons framed in wooden boxes to create pixilated-looking, texturized relief sculptures. Faur creates his pieces through a pixilation process - first, he scans a photograph into his computer, reducing the image down into individual pixel color blocks. Next, he creates a map with a grid to code where each crayon goes. Because the crayons create large, 3D "pixels", the message and experience of viewing the pieces changes dramatically depending on orientation to the piece, at a distance creating a portrait or other photographic-looking composition.

Faur's Forgotten Children series

The codes and phrases woven into Faur's pieces are crafted from his own "crayon alphabet", where each letter of the alphabet is represented by a different crayon color. In his Forgotten Children series, Faur uses bright colors among monochromatic crayons to spell out kid's names. Faur has applied his crayon alphabet to other media, as well. Take his Mating Jacket, which when read vertically contains cheesy pick-up lines like "I think I could fall madly in bed with you" and "Grab your jacket, you've scored." The Mating Jacket reminds me of Tom Robbins' Skinny Legs and All (a personal top-5 favorite), where one of the main characters, Randolph "Boomer" Petway, creates a trenchcoat with a bunch of secret, hidden pockets sewn into it. In each pocket is a piece of paper with a different code of the artist's own devising, and each coded message reads affectionately to his wife: "Randolph Petway III loves Ellen Cherry Charles." A MUST read.

Christian Faur's Mating Jacket

Faur's work incorporates a variety of media - though his specialization lies in sculpture, painting and new media. Having earned his Masters of Fine Arts from the Austrian University of Danube Transart Institute, Faur originally earned his BS in physics and a minor in mathematics, which seems to intuitively translate through his use of codes and patterns. Faur currently serves as the Director of Collaborative Technologies in the Arts at Denison University.

No comments: