St. Louis– The Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis (CAM) presents Berlin-based artist Oliver Laric’s video 2000 Cliparts (2010) for Street Views, projected on the museum façade from dusk to midnight every evening, January 18 through April 21, 2019.
For the video Laric animated a sequence of 2,000 examples of copyright-free clipart taken from various sources depicting human figures in different positions. The three minute animation speeds through a range of stock characters such as martial artist, tennis player, and knight. Laric organized the images based on the form, pose, and action of the figure in relation to the image that comes before and after. The result is a spectacular, morphing portrait of human culture and cultural stereotypes. This work, a reinterpretation of his earlier 787 Cliparts (2006), anticipates our readiness to express ourselves through found images––a key component of meme and emoji culture. 2000 Cliparts is available for download on the artist’s website––its accessibility and free distribution being integral to the work. When Laric posted the earlier video on his website, it quickly went viral. He says of that experience, “I think my proudest moment is having a video on the first page of YouTube and having a million people see it. That’s just as real as showing it in a museum.”
Laric’s use of pre-fabricated images invites us to reconsider originality as an aesthetic criteria for art-making. Laric touches on the ease with which people accept emoji as a form of communication, symbols that serve as an emotional shorthand devoid of individual personality. The artist does not offer this as a critique, however, but a recognition of how technology has shifted ideas of originality, preciousness, and creativity, not only in art but in everyday life. Copying, repetition—these are not only artistic endeavors, but human ones.