Information overload is all too common with today’s readily accessible images, text, and video. Even language reveals our dependence on the Internet, with the word google not only referring to a company but also being used as a verb in lieu of search. The Internet and social media have become ubiquitous in our daily routines. Need an image of a dog? A cat? Or how about a dog holding a cat? You will probably find what you’re looking for. As a matter of fact, you will probably find over 1 million images and more.
Ask artists Sam Fuchs and Adam Gray— commonly known by their moniker, Hella More Funner—about this deluge of images. The art duo has incorporated this constant stream of communication, imaging searching, indexing and everything we feed the Internet as fodder, inspiration and the basis for their large-scale collages. The resulting artwork looks at the current generation and how it’s inundated by data, immediacy, gratification and a voyeuristic obsession of viewing ourselves and others.
Since 2007, Hella More Funner has created works based on re-appropriated imagery of culture. When asked about their studio practice and creative process behind their artworks, they noted, “Obsessiveness is the key; we are connoisseurs of Google Image search, aficionados of Flickr and buffs of Wikimedia Commons. We copy and cut and compose images by the thousands without concerning ourselves with trivialities such as the subject’s historical origins, owner attribution, or a perfect and direct connection to the theme of the piece. And it’s not just us. Our process reflects our peers. … We start with an idea, decide on categories of images that relate to that theme, and build an archive. The archive serves as a trail of breadcrumbs for us and building blocks for the collage.”
As visual archaeologists, they showcase our relationship to popular culture through large-scale works such as “Cielo” or “Beachy Head,” which entice the viewer with bright and audacious colors. Standing in front of one their works, it is easy to find one familiar image after another. Even with unfamiliar images, the massive collection of photos meshes and blurs together to create what looks like a mythical creature, being, or landscape. Much like our own experiences in sifting through email messages or virtually stumbling and clicking on morning headlines, Hella More Funner has taken familiar behavior and created collections for the viewer. The longer we look, the more we realize the amount of information we take in, and it may lead to a sense of anxiety and angst. Either way, the work provokes the viewer to perceive far more than the tiny images that make up the whole.
Whether the work appears as a meditation or effrontery to the senses, Fuchs and Gray show what they have coined as a “garbage culture.” The collective defines this particular phrase as “anything that serves to distract or delay any real and unmediated experience—a connection with another person, for example. It is in everything that promises happiness and youth, every product that promises the bikini babe, every ripped athlete selling a cheeseburger. Garbage! You know it when you see it.”
However, is the viewer able to give up looking at some point? Hella More Funner’s phenomenal, meticulous, and labor-intensive compositions aim to make contemporary art, well, hella more funner. At first glance, the works may be more than you can visually handle but, let’s face it, you know you want the cute kittens, the six-pack abs, the beautiful women, football players dancing in clouds, dolphins midflight, rain-soaked flowers, and angels fighting demons, because it’s all present and ready for consumption. It’s all there for you and your viewing pleasure.
Originally published and posted to Asterisk SF Magazine, please click here