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Art Watch : Shai Langen

Shai Langen is in focus for our Art Watch for today. This section is brought to you by Art From Us and Divvya Nirula. The Artists we spotlight here can be from any field, across any discipline, and using a variety of media. We share here why we think they are important and worth watching. Be it genius creators of eras gone by. Or the upcoming contemporary artist who is yet to have their first show. All come under the purview of Art Watch.

This Amsterdam based material designer and visual artist has challenged the boundaries of art. Interacting with elements of art and introducing photography to create unique visuals. One of the most important aspects of art is to create a reaction in the viewer. And then there is the process of creation and a voice which is particular to the artist.

This voice, interestingly can come from the artist, the subject, the art work or perhaps all three. In Langen’s case it would be all three. He was trained at the HKU Utretch School of the Arts. Since then he has been preoccupied with fabric creation. He has perfected the interaction of material and form. Also, he has studied the organic and strong holds to biology. Many of the fabrics that he has created resemble cellular structures, the smallest formations like mold, and fungi.

Why Shai Langen?

Langen cleverly merges movement with his creations. He also uses performances, and the motion of body and his fluid materials to create haunting abstract visual narratives. He records and captures these on film – in both forms, moving and still.

His Chimera project is an ongoing exploration into the themes of the human body – its genesis, creation and destruction. He does this whilst posing questions of what the human body CAN look like, as well as MAY look like. The main substance he uses for there experiments/explorations is liquid latex.

His work visualizes speculative visions of a post-humanistic world. Showing future scenarios where human bodies are grown and cultivated, transformed into material entities that can be programmed and designed.

Understanding the movement of the human body and the interaction with material is an essential part of his art.  So the animation of the material created by him is maximised on film and through photography. His creations closely approximate mutated matter. This is a organic product of his process. It melds beautifully into the concept of the reshaping of the body and the very process of creation.  

The fabric is used to reshape and fit around the body in a performative way. The stretchiness is testing the plasticity of the human form, pushing it to perform to its limits. It can be best understood through the maxim –“transforming semiotics to communicate concepts that are currently prominent within science, socio-politics and philosophy”. These space age bodies act as future guides through an age where new technologies redefine the human form.

Exploring the Human Body & Identity

In his own words : “I try to give a face to these technologies, and translate these abstract concepts into a more tangible and emotional experience, in order to challenge our idea of ‘the self’ and to explore the question of what it means to be human.”

The dripping paint in his ‘Jo Goes’ ensures that even a slight movement of the form immediately has a reaction. And it causes an alteration from the original design thus forming various compositions in each frame. Langen taps into the inherent liquid property of his matter which then creates a spectacular vision. The appearance is of moving paint, which is alive and moving of its own accord. It creates an unprecedented but still impressive compositions! Langen has thoroughly enjoyed toying with the form, texture and ever-changing dripping properties of non-mingling paint to create a breath taking video.

According to Shai Langen, “The human body is a central theme to my work, wherein I’m more often looking for a state between liquid and solid. Where the body loses its archaic form and is able to transform into new ones. The dichotomy between the synthetic and the organic plays together with this idea.”

For more Artists handpicked by Divvya Nirula – explore the ART WATCH archive.

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