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chemical fragmentation

Museum Link:

Source Link:

Date Minted: April 26, 2020

Artist Description: Laocoön and His Sons

CohentheWriter’s Commentary:

I won’t lie: Arc4g is one of my favorite artists. I am always astounded by their pieces, by their ability to create such realistic and awesome textures while showcasing objects, structures, and sequences that are so, so, so bizarre and highly-imaginative. A 3D-sculptor and renderer by trade, Arc4g’s pieces almost uniformly demonstrate some kind of movement. Things —spheres, cylinders, cones— rush in and out of other things, fall into holes and tubes, spring back out and fly through the air. Digitized screens swivel and shake and spin. Seemingly-solid objects suddenly combust or disintegrate or, as in the case of chemical fragmentation, break down into hundreds of broken segments. What we’re seeing when we stumble upon an Arc4g piece is a complete disregard for the chemical/structural rules of nature and an absolute fascination with aesthetics. Show me a surface that shines more realistically! Show me a shape that seems more prepared to roll out of the screen and crash down upon your keyboard. You may find someone Arc4g’s equal, but I’d be hard-pressed to believe you’ll find their superior. 

But let’s discuss chemical fragmentation, because for me this is an ideal encapsulation of not only what Arc4g does but what they are capable of. Take the colors, for instance. This is a piece with an intense interest in color. Herein, an electric pink slowly darkens into a sensual, nebular violet, is snaked over by indigo cracks the color of rich grape candy, before collapsing into a thousand chunks of rich, shimmering, reflective-textured gold that look so damn good I want to pop them in my mouth and crunch down. That’s not likely an accident. Colors this rich don’t really exist in the real world outside of convenience store consumables. I find myself thinking of fine pastries. I find myself thinking of bubblegum and Twix wrappers. Barbie’s Dream House, or shining, shimmering Tiffany jewelry. 

The central object in this piece is a facsimile of Classical-Greco-Roman-Sculpture’s potential paragon, Laocoön and his Sons, a piece constructed by Rhodian sculptors Agesander, Athenodoros and Polydorus, now housed in the Vatican, and which was called by Roman scholar Pliny the Elder, "a work to be preferred to all that the arts of painting and sculpture have produced.” High praise. Obviously, the ancient Laocoön is not embossed in the kitschy pink texture which it is here. And I presume (though cannot confirm) that if we were to smash the original Laocoön with a hammer, let it crack and splinter and disintegrate, there would be no brightly-brilliant sheen of gold within. In a way, what Arc4g has created is the marriage between ancient technical artistic brilliance and Apple Watch aesthetics. Chemical Fragmentation seems to revel in demonstrating the physical degradation of what some believe is the absolute ideal of art in general. This marks a powerful example of crypto art’s underlying notion: Nothing is sacred, except for maybe this, but just for the time being, so enjoy while you can…everything falls to pieces eventually. 

There is beauty, both aesthetically and symbolically, in the piece’s depicted destruction. Physically, yes, Laocoön hides its most covetous colors and materials within itself, freed only when crumbling, when destroyed. Both the texture and luminosity of the now-exposed gold are alluring. That, and how this newly-revealed surface juxtaposes in color and texture with the waxy sheen of the pink exterior, still visible in various spots, the interplay with the gold now spread out upon the ground. There’s a (dare I say) sensuality, even an eroticism, in all that fully-realized texture. In the same way that diamonds are sexy, that melted chocolate is sexy, and that lace is sexy, chemical fragmentation is pretty damn sexy. Something about the shine, the socially-conditioned attraction to gold, the suggestibility of all that pink. Perhaps that’s all that needs be said on the subject.

Social conditioning is important to keep in mind, methinks, as we unravel chemical fragmentation’s underlying commentary. Consumerism may not initially come to mind when thinking about Classical Greco-Roman ideals of art and beauty, but it’s Consumerism that leaks out of this piece’s pores, so to speak. The textures and colors here are beautiful, of course, but they present themselves more like candy wrappers than coastal sunsets: capturing attention is the priority and the achievement. 

This piece wouldn’t necessarily need to wrap Laocoön in bubblegum pink in order to be a successful statement on crypto art’s abdication of classical artistic values, if that truly were its intent. Instead, Arc4g seems to be juxtaposing the so-widespread-as-to-be-banal precision of Ancient Greco-Roman art with the so-widespread-as-to-be-banal textural brilliance of modern packaging. Ever been to the MET in New York City? Or the Louvre? One can only take so much marble before all the sculptures of Zeus begin to blend together. It’s the same principle at CVS, with all the most brilliant colors you’ve ever seen splayed out below the register, sugary and purchasable for hardly a buck.99. And there chemical fragmentation sits, right at the intersection, brilliant as bubblegum and masculine as marble. The piece falls into shards, and Arc4g lets us watch it for a while, as rubble comes to rest, as pieces of ancient feet lie prone on the ground, so we can enjoy the result as much as Arc4g so clearly, ebulliently does too.

colborn.eth and ARC have reacted to this post.

Thank you so much for this wonderful write up

colborn.eth and CohentheWriter have reacted to this post.
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