Dark digital fantasies

ABOUT A BRO - Ralph Mendoza (The Philippine Star) - December 28, 2013 - 12:00am

It was an evening replete with spider-legged skulls and a goat-headed cadaver as Philippine STAR’s very own columnist and illustrator Igan D’Bayan presented three of his latest art works in rare digital form as part of Samsung’s latest art advocacy.

Held last Dec. 9 at the Ayala Museum, Samsung’s digital art gallery installation “Masterpieces” featured contributed artworks by 25 established and emerging artists in digital forms such as graphics, photographs, and videos—all created with the new Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1. The digital art gallery is actually the fleshing out of Samsung’s newest advocacy called “Samsung Supports the Arts,” an initiative made possible by the merging of the Masterpieces application—a classic gallery type of interface that simulates the reality of visiting your local art gallery or museum—and the tasteful curation of Singapore-based critic and independent curator Lola Lenzi.

“Well, I’m actually a technophobe,” admits Lenzi as I pulled her aside for a 45-second chat, “So curating ‘Masterpieces’ really took me out of my comfort zone.” Trained as a lawyer, Lenzi is also interested in politics and society, and for her, the art show was definitely a way to get more relevant work out there. “I’m very happy with the response in the Philippines,” adds Lenzi, “There’s a huge variety of work and all the artists have had original ideas on how to use their work in the community using the devices of Samsung. So it’s been a rich experience for everyone.”

Speaking of experience, D’Bayan’s works were actually the stuff of nightmares, the vivid kind you don’t mind re-dreaming of—and in this very case, browsing on a tablet, then staring at. Amid the dare of the scare, D’Bayan’s art is a dark trip that begs no abundance of analysis, only an open mind that is not only capable of acknowledging notions of hell and mortality but appreciating them beyond surface level. Here, we single him out to see what exactly keeps him treading these dark waters.

PHILIPPINE STAR: Congratulations on this exhibit! What do you think inspired your contribution?

IGAN D’BAYAN: The first two pieces with the skull was inspired by The Cure’s song Lullaby because of the  lyrics of  Spider-man. For the last piece with the goat’s head, I was inspired by the movie The Omen because it was a harbinger of doom.

Your art’s got this classic dark touch. Is there a reason behind it?

Because it’s fascinating! I guess when you look at a corpse, there’s still beauty in its form. That’s what I appreciate. The traditional flowers and fields bore me. I really like dark (things).

So you mean something different. You can see beauty in dark places as well.

Yes, as Edgar Allan Poe said, “There is beauty in deformity.” When I was growing up that’s what I took up. Beauty and deformity.

Have you always been like that?

Yes, I was always the weird kid in class.

The goth look?

IGAN: In high school I wasn’t really into goth yet, but in college, I got into dark things. All black outfits. I was always the misunderstood student in class.

And I assume you liked similar things in music, literature, and art.

Yes, all of it. David Lynch, David Cronenberg.

I wonder what your room looks like. 

(Laughs) I have a medieval cage with a skeleton in the middle. I also had a human skull but I had to give it up because I was having nightmares. It really was a  skull from a cemetery. I had to give it up also because my girlfriend was complaining. It was really cold in that area every time she passed the skull. She was like, “Oooo!” The skull had a chop in the head, too, and my girlfriend was saying that the guy was probably murdered.

Where’d that skull even come from?

Bought it for P300. It was that cheap. Because unkept graves have many of those. But I had series of nightmares like I said, so I had to get rid of it.

Tell me about your third piece.

It’s supposed to be a goat’s head combined with a human figure. Harbinger of doom.

And you used the Samsung tablet to come up with it?

 Yes, it was very easy. I started out with drawings then I imported it to the app and then I drew over the drawings and deleted the original. My goal was to let the app do the artwork.

I still feel that you are going back to your original method of creating art, am I right?

It’s different to paint with your hand and to have the scent of paint. But for this one, it becomes really accessible for people who want to access your work online. That’s the thing with today’s times. Everything’s going online, even the articles you and I write are online. Everything’s easy this way.

* * *

Aside from the Igan D’Bayan, the “Masterpieces” exhibit also included the likes of Alwin Reamillo, Claro J. Ramirez, Costantino Zicarelli, Dex Fernandez, Don Salubayba, Ernest Concepcion, Imelda Cajipe-Endaya, Jason Montinola, Jose John Santos III, Josephine Turalba, Mariano Ching, Mark Salvatus, Mideo Cruz, Nikki Luna, Norberto Roldan, Pam Yan-Santos, Poklong Anading, Pow Martinez, Romeo Lee, Victor Balanon, and Alfredo and Isabel Aquilizan. The Masterpieces application is available exclusively on Samsung Apps and Google Play, optimised for a range of Samsung devices such as the Galaxy Note 10.1, Galaxy Note 8.0 and Galaxy Tab (10.1), also exclusively available in Samsung Smart TV. 


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