Anthropo = anthropomorphous
Technikon = technological order

Within the “A-T” series, my creative exploration pivots towards the crafting of a modern industrial and technological age mythology, a tapestry interweaving anthropomorphic figures with contemporary allegorical themes. This recent artistic direction marks a departure from my prior inquiries, which were grounded in a pseudo-realistic treatment of recognizable corporate, industrial, and technological symbols, such as military weaponry, colossal pill capsules, and corporate logos, lending themselves to a form of artistic realism and cultural commentary. In contrast, the recent body of work delves deeper, venturing into a metaphysical realm by inventing and appropriating mythological subjects and allegories emblematic of the technological age, rooted in pivotal historical events that have etched indelible marks on our collective psyche and existence since the aftermath of World War II. These historical events encompass the Space Race and exploration, the Cold War era, the Chernobyl disaster, the Gulf War, and genetic research, to name a few salient examples.

Interwoven with this contextual layer of historical periods and events is a stratum of meaning that appropriates religious, mythological, and pop-culture themes and archetypes, culled from biblical narratives, science-fiction illustration art, and literature. An exemplar is the painting “Baby Wormwood,” which serves as both a commentary on the tragic human genetic mutations resulting from the Chernobyl catastrophe and a reinterpretation of the biblical “Wormwood” prophecy found in Revelation 8:10, signifying the potential fulfillment of apocalyptic “end-times” foretelling. Notably, “Chernobyl” translates to “Wormwood.”

In other works, such as “Eliminator” and “The Martian Princess,” I appropriate imagery reminiscent of 1950s B-movie poster illustrations and science-fiction magazine cover art. “Eliminator” symbolically represents war, embodied as a menacing military mutant-cyborg monster in a confrontational stance. This figure alludes to historical mythological archetypes such as the Roman deity Mars and the Mayan deity Ah Chuy Kak, both embodiments of power, fear, and destruction. Its counterpart, “The Martian Princess,” metaphorically encapsulates the Space Race era, exuding the allure and mystique of a burgeoning technological age. A striking female figure, depicted in a dynamic pose within an otherworldly landscape, symbolizes the promise of a brave new world. Notably, the painting includes the iconic Sputnik satellite affixed to the “Martian Princess’s” whip, inviting viewers to draw their own allegorical conclusions. Here, I intended to portray the “Martian Princess” as an icon of American scientific and technological prowess, while the presence of Sputnik represents the unmistakable iconography of Soviet scientific and societal advancement.

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A subset of the “A-T” series is based on literary sources, iconic figures, and events that have cast dark legacies on our world since the conclusion of World War II. Included in this group are graphic examples such as “The Shroud of Morgo,” “Dr. Oppenheimer with Mask,” “Little Kid Nevada,” and “The GeoEngineer.” The imagery in these works draws inspiration from key historical players, events, and subjects related to the “Manhattan Project,” the nuclear bomb tests in Nevada during the 1950s, and the transformation of the planet through petrochemical engineering.

The concept of anthropomorphizing natural phenomena and elements has a rich history, evident in cultures across the globe, both tribal and civilized. Our own North American culture has acclimated us to the ‘Disney’ paradigm of transforming familiar animals into anthropomorphic characters, simplifying complex human characteristics into candy-coated cartoons, typically intended for children. In contrast, the imagery and themes presented in the “Anthropo-Technikon” series convey a stark departure from viewer-friendly portrayals, given the nature and interpretation of the subject matter. The imagery is populated by figures transformed and mutated due to radiation contamination, genetic mutations, or apocalyptic supernatural forces, emblematic of an aesthetic and conceptual approach that seeks to capture the essence of the ills, perils, and consequences brought about by a technologically-obsessed, addicted, and potentially perilous culture.

 

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Pierre Duranleau – December, 2010

Anthropo-Technikon gallery

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