Lilla LoCurto / Bill Outcault till we have faces
Our culture shapes how we perceive the normal events in our lives as well as the ways in which we try to interpret life’s mysteries. Increasingly reliant on quantitative analysis in arriving at our worldview, we now arrive at conclusions and assumptions that, in the past, would have been explained by myths, fables and superstitions.
Understanding the function of myths in a social structure serves to clarify various stages in the history of human thought and also helps us to better understand contemporary life. Mythological stories reflect the vulnerabilities of human existence through the manipulations of superhuman beings. Our work explores this notion of frailty by building on examples from past societies where myth supplied models for human behavior. Lilla LoCurto and Bill Outcault begin working with a story from mythology and remove its narrative, producing an animation that becomes a visual cacophony of moving imagery, totally abstracting the original story while still reflecting its content.
By using a digital whole body scanner, the artists are able to place three-dimensional photographically recorded figures, generally their own, into a computer to work with as 3d objects. With these scans and the use of custom software, the artists create animations exploring the human body. It becomes distorted and grotesque, altering the way we visualize the figure. The scanner’s cameras used in our current work only record external information. Subsequently the figures are hollow three-dimensional objects and in sectioning them they become ribbons of flesh. These calligraphic shards of sliced figures are meant to emphasize our vulnerability. They become painterly abstractions, at times like brushstrokes, of varying weights and intensities. The hollowness of the whole figures contributes to a sense of de-realization or the feeling that nothing is real while the shredding of the figures also makes them seem both anonymous and universal.
Looking at legends through contemporary eyes, we are better able to understand how we continue to be as manipulated by our culture now as we were in the past. Many of these myths, ostensibly lovely, romantic stories, are quite brutal. till we have faces was formatted like an opera, loosely based on the mythical love story of Cupid and Psyche. It is about the failed perception of love and the dysfunctional nature of a family unit. It expresses human conflicts and connections between those distressed and suffering. The tension, in an abstracted way, creates a thin line between the grotesque and the beauty of human life.
Collaborating since 1991, Lilla LoCurto and Bill Outcault are artists whose work concerns itself with the frailty of the human body. In 1999, using a whole body scanner in collaboration with anthropologists, cartographers and a computer scientist the artists produced three-dimensional, photographic maps of their bodies. With custom software, written in collaboration with mathematicians, they were able to deconstruct and remap the scanned figure generating choreographed imagery that was made into video animations. Currently, with an art and technology residency at the Wexner Center and in collaboration with OSU’s departments of dance and theater and ACCAD, they are venturing into a new body of work that is moving away from animation as their sole footage source. The work will again include the use of a whole body scanner but will also incorporate video and motion capture of actors and dancers to create a collage of sorts to blend with the animation.
Exhibitions include a widely traveled solo exhibition selfportrait.map, which originated at the List Visual Art Center at MIT. They also have had solo exhibitions at the Frederieke Taylor Gallery in New York, Fundacio Joan Miro, Barcelona, Spain and Carpenter Center at Harvard University. Their work has been included in such group exhibitions as New Art. New York: Reflections on the Human Condition in Traun, Austria, Digital: Printmaking Now at the Brooklyn Museum of Art, and Contemporaneou.s. in Cornwall and Sunderland, UK. They have also contributed chapters and articles about their work to such publications as The Meaning of Photography, Clark Institute; Mapping in the Age of Digital Media, Yale University, and the journal Cartographic Perspectives. Published essays on their work include Lilla LoCurto and William Outcault: Self-Portraits for a New Milennium by Helaine Posner for Art Journal, spring 2006 and [un]moving pictures by Patricia Phillips in 2006 for a ten year survey exhibition at the Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art at SUNY New Paltz. They have held residencies at Maryland Institute College of Art, Colorado State University, Harvard University and the Wexner Center for the Arts, Columbus, Ohio.