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Beauty #Y0u

Museum Link:

Source Link:

Date Minted: January 13, 2020

Artist Description: Why, oh, you?  

CohentheWriter’s Commentary:

Gauging from his Superrare bio, artist Lovearthate —Stefan Stignei— is a complex character. Self-styled as having been “Professionally certified with psychosis bipolar manic depressive schizophrenia thought broadcasting syndrome,” it’s easy to see the artist’s multiplied personalities displayed in his work. Work that utilizes a glitch style to perhaps its most expressive possible effect. Unlike, say, the glitch work of XCOPY and the way its constant movement and flashing lights communicate an internet-affected anxiety, Lovearthate’s glitch often coincides with actual evolutionary movement within the image. Like here in Beauty #Y0u, where the glitchy, photomosh styling coincides with the constantly-rearranging image of a woman’s face. We see this motif of the woman’s face time and time again in Lovearthate’s oeuvre, so much so we could perhaps refer to this woman as the artist’s avatar, she with many different facial expressions and facial angles and even accessories. Lovearthate’s work didn’t always focus on the human face. In the beginning, most of it was abstract, the glitch style applied to landscape or tessellated patterns or just abstract shapes. Combining it with character proves to be the artist’s greatest coup, however, as what Lovearthate has achieved in Beauty #Y0u, and throughout his femme-faced works, is perhaps the purist possible reflection of the artist’s perspective. We are shown the fullness of Lovearthate’s expression, the many personalities and the pain and the joy and the twitchy momentary changeling life. 

And all of that in a mere three second loop! But with all the visual information packed into this loop, perhaps that surprise is unwarranted. In Beauty #Y0u, a woman’s face is shown to us in about two-to-three dozen different ways, overcast by a congruent number of photomosh filters, and placed in a congruent number of positions. While always looking out at us, the observer, from within the frame, the woman’s face is presented from every possible position as it swivels from one side to another: She looks at us from dead-on, from out her right periphery, back through center, and out to her left. On and on, and yet her gaze is never trained away from us. Even when her face is undergoing momentarily manic metamorphoses, she never looks away, though whether this is a pleasant or penitent experience is not readily clear from the visual information. The various images of her face all seem to be hand-drawn, perhaps even pencil-shaded, and show slight differences in eye composition, in the way hair falls, and even whether she’s wearing glasses or not. Under thrall of some of the filters, her face seems to appear momentarily monstrous, stretched out and blown up, although it’s hard to tell exactly how because everything changes so fast; we can hardly catch our bearings at any point, see this woman for who she is; we only ever see versions.

Perhaps Lovearthate is suggesting that versions of people are all there ever are. We’re never shown a, shall we say, unblemished version of this woman. We are only ever shown her through the lens of these filters, filters which affix her with color and with skin effects, with varying dimensions and with varying expression. There is only an artificial character here, never seen truly organically but always with some screen in the way. We can never therefore truly know her or see her, but merely see representations of her. She changes constantly, but always behind that screen, too quickly for us to gauge, and always just beyond our ability to adequately perceive. When we make determinations about expression or emotion, what we’re really doing is isolating a specific version of this character and comparing it to all the other characters which radiate around her. There’s an omnipresent tension between who she is in each individually millisecond and who she is in all the other encapsulated milliseconds. How can we ever keep her straight, when the “her” in any given moment is so quickly consumed by the totality of all the other things she is?

We haven’t really touched yet on the possible connotations of mental illness here, which I will say up front are not explicitly presented within the piece itself. As for an Artist Description, all Lovearthate presents us with is the phrase, “Why, oh, you?” The phrase itself seems frenetic and uncertain, overusing punctuation. But the artist’s own splintered personality —either for medical reasons or for social ones, harkening back to XCOPY— is demonstrated so adequately within the piece’s internal framework that it’s hard to turn away from this reading. Beauty #Y0u is just such a gifted illustration of the multiple minds that seem to be at work simultaneously for those with mental illness, the many internal voices warring at any given time. But perhaps more important than that point is this one: Beauty #Y0u presents mental illness in a completely objective light. It neither declares the thing to be weakness nor strength, positive or negative. It is presented very matter-of-factly. The woman herself is delicately composed to display no emotion. Not a smile, not a frown. We are seeing her simply as she is, the truth of her one could say, in all these different positions, encompassing all the various personalities she assumes throughout a day/life. 

Perhaps we’re not so different, her and I, Lovearthate and I, Lovearthate and us, you and me…and all the people we are. 

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