Electroboutique Present A Twisted Take On Consumerism And Technology
Re-appropriating the vernacular of the digital world and twisting it so it becomes a distorted, grotesque funhouse mirror reflection of both function and aesthetic is exactly what Russian artists Alexei Shulgin and Aristarkh Chernyshev (aka Electroboutique) aim to do. Their current pop-up exhibition at the Science Museum in London (on view till 14th February 2012) features beautifully crafted electrical products that, at first blush, seem all too familiar—iProducts, LED displays, flat screen TVs—but there’s something wrong with them. They’ve become enlarged, deformed, bent out of shape, melted like Dalí’s clocks or broken by an unseen hand.
These custom-made electronic products, created with live data and bespoke software, not only look like misshapen, skewed versions of the products we all know and love, many of them are interactive too, playing with ideas about technology and design, consumerism, capitalism, media control, and corporate social responsibility. So, in a light sculpture called 3G International Electroboutique take the iPhone and redesign it using the aesthetics of Russian Constructivism, the phone becoming a spiraling tower mimicking the unbuilt Tatlin’s Tower. The piece becomes a riff on how art in the early 20th century used to subvert consumerism with avant-garde design, but now in the 21st century, avant-garde design has given way to consumerist products that are regarded as art.
The serpentine Urgently! parodies how we ingest and frivolously dispose of constant feeds of information, with an LED display snaking out of a waste bin, displaying live RSS feeds from news channels that make the snake’s digital skin crawl. Viewers can select different news channels to update this electronic beast.
In wowPod visitors can plug in their iPods to what the pair call “an artistic interface,” which channels all your music and photos through the mischievous minds of the artists. And in Commercial Protest viewers have a dynamic portrait appearing on a TV as a mosaic of multinational corporate logos, while the TV itself sits in a shopping trolley. Although the piece was created before the summer riots in Brixton, where actual TVs were being looted using trolleys, our present post-riot context allows for even more layers of meaning to be piled on top
Take a look at the beautifully crafted, subversive artworks on show below.
Out of Control
Images: Alexei Shulgin and Aristarkh Chernyshev