Meet the artist who live-streamed Earth in the middle of Manhattan
He’d already built furniture that transforms into magical sculptures. He’s turned Silicon Valley’s finest – such as Mark Zuckerberg, Steve Jobs and Jeff Bezos – into ironic classical sculptures. Now, his most recent adventure into the world of awesomeness was live-streaming Earth from a NASA satellite in space to a 20ft sculpture in the middle of Manhattan.
“It’s a reminder of our miraculously fragile existence”, he wrote on his Instagram.
A New York-based Chilean, Sebastian Errazuriz has been experimenting with art and design for quite a while now. In fact, he’s received international acclaim for just that: groundbreaking and provocative works on a variety of areas and disciplines.
He believes that designer and artist are complementary nouns. Thus, merging the two professions assigned to his name, he creates “functional art”.
Playing with purpose and taking art to the extreme, Sebastian makes pieces that are unimaginable to the average man. A duck-lamp. A closet-kaleidoscope. A 20ft artwork that live-streams Earth from space.
Here’s what Sebastian has to say.
Some people believe art and design are opposites. Others say they complete each other. What do you think?
Art and design are completely different disciplines. And for a long time they have been divided and understood as separate things, separate entities. The reality is that the line between art and design is a gradient. Going from black to white almost like pantones.
Having said that, is design a mean to bring the industry closer to art?
That’s an interesting point. Good design can definitely add value to products and have the potential of offering a functional object additional components that would normally be restricted to the arts. Nevertheless there are still very few designers that are doing this. The reason is quite simple: to be able to add art components to a design you must be both an artist and a designer. If the designer simply has some knowledge of art he/she can only add a couple of anecdotal artistic elements to a product, but not really change the essence of its communication with the user. Think of it like when a person can speak a few phrases in French. Its cute and a nice surprise, but not enough to establish a basic conversation in French, let alone have the ability to tap into those core elements that represent the French idiosyncrasy and culture at its nest.
What's the function of design in a world obsessed with mass production and consumerism?
Design adds value to a product or brand but design is much more than that. Design is the act of thinking about a problem and constructing a solution. A good design is consequently always a well-thought-out solution to a problem, represented in the form of a product or service.
And how does your work fit into the world of today?
Well, hopefully it rattles the mental cages a little bit. Helps people wake up and inspires them to try some other things.
Hundreds of brands have been collaborating with artists and designers in recent years. One can easily see how that works pretty well for brands, as they have unique and affordable products for their consumers. But how does it work for designers? What is the impact on art?
Designers generally create on commission for a company or brand that hires them to do something. For them there is no problem, they are not supposed to work for themselves. Artists, on the other hand, are supposed to create work for themselves and be accountable only to their own ethos.
As an artist designer I create designs only for a few clients or companies that I believe in and only from a perspective I feel I can be held accountable. The rest of the work I do for myself and I work with a series of galleries that then find collectors who are interested in purchasing the work.
Most artists that work for companies risk devaluing their work and creating something that they cannot be held accountable for. It's generally easy money, but something that also undermines their credibility and cheapens the perception of their work as it pumps enormous quantities of low quality work into the internet that will later compete with their good quality work and create a lesser impression of them for anyone who searches for their work.
You say that part of your job is to invite people to look again at realities often hidden in front of our very own eyes.
An artist or a designer in the end of the day is a little bit like a comedian. The comedian is normally extremely funny because he presents you this situation that we all already know in an incredible eloquent way. In such a simple manner, he illustrates what we haven't been able to completely see. And when we see it through his eyes is suddenly funny. It really creates this reaction in us, were we identify with a situation and cannot but laugh. As a visual artist or designer, when you get to people to look again at a situation known and passed by through during a day, when he sees something that was always there, that triggers something and that connects.
Is that the core that keeps you moving forward?
I see, I imagine. Therefore I am. And that's what tranquilizes me, that's what makes me happy. If time is going to pass and I don't have much control over that, at least I wanna know that my eyes are fully open all the way through.