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Acid Pizza Party
The work of Adam Meyer and Michael Vaughn Green
By Dan Swartz
Fort Wayne Reader
Artist collectives have been active and have had a strong role in the development of Fort Wayne’s art scene in many ways over the last few decades. The onset of past collective groups (E4 and Soma come to mind) were mostly generated by a lack of opportunities to exhibit the kinds of work the artists in the collectives were interested in producing and consuming. Recently, Fort Wayne has seen a new view of collectives — namely quick, temporary collective structures for exhibitions — which allow the artists to retain individual sanctity while continuing to make art together and exhibit both together. The process of creating collective art is a very interesting one, which many times includes a degree of anonymity, the need for compromise between those creating it and an exploration of new ideas that none of the participants can fully understand.
Adam Meyer and Michael Vaughn Green’s exhibition “Acid Pizza,” hosted at Wunderkammer Company during the Fort Wayne Fringe Festival, is the birth of the Acid Pizza Collective, a new media art collective featuring collaborative pieces from local digital artists, pulling inspiration from 90’s counter-culture, virtual reality, the early days of the internet, and neon landscapes. The collective’s works are a blend of both digital craft and chaotic psychedelic abstraction, which has many visual references to the neo-conceptualists of the 1980’s, and the string of artists between the 90’s and early 2000’s that has paved the way for what most media based artists today would know as “internet art” and digital art in general.
Meyer and Green’s project may only be a one-off for this exhibition, or it may lead to many experimentations, but either way, art was created by this collective and that will continue under the collective’s name. This Acid Pizza art will potentially be quite rare, and has the ability to easily take on radically different forms, breaking with the individual artists norms and regular constraints, allowing them to stretch their aesthetic underpinnings and reach for new concepts. In many ways, these collective structures allow the artists within them a little bit of crop rotation with their artistic practices, allowing them the space to then move into even stronger personal work after their collaborations.
Meyer and Green’s work itself is especially eclectic in Acid Pizza, making the tracking of each artist and their collective work somewhat difficult. Pieces like “Spring Trip” and “VRGRL” by Green, and “Shout out to Bob W.” and “Untitled” by Meyer are excellent in showing the artist’s wide range of imagery, but also leave the viewer wondering just how many artists are part of this collective. “Spring Trip” — one of this writer’s favorite pieces of local art in quite some time — is a montage of pupil-less melting Simpsons cast members floating in a yellow void which matches the usual character skin tone. This curious pieces seems rather point blank at first, but the viewer discovers a series of small additions to each character including a dripping of their face at the chin and neck, for no apparent reason, and the pupil-less eyes are in some characters bugging out of their heads and in others rather docile and half closed. The focus on the eyes and the behavior in which they display as well as the irrational melting heads would suggest that “Spring Trip” is referencing drug induced reality warping, which paired with the Simpsons becomes interestingly humorous.
“VRGRL,” on the other hand is what looks like a digitally drawn somewhat cartoonish aqua color haired woman wearing a set of goggles and being blown away by what she sees. The title of this piece, “VRGRL” is much more descriptive of the imagery and helps the viewer understand that Green is exploring altered states of reality in his works, and this one being VR or virtual reality. In VRGRL, Green shows a beautiful combination of both paring down his imagery with abundant space to rest, but not being minimal, and as with the rest of his work, he shows his experience with design.
Meyer’s pieces in Acid Pizza tend to follow some of his prior work, but still push further into the core concepts seen in recent exhibitions. Pieces like “Untitled” are further explorations of his abstract digital compositions using multiple patterns and design elements to create something akin to an Arshile Gorky painting from the mid-20th century with a technological flair. “Untitled” reminds this writer of the T-2000 liquid metal robots from the Terminator Series interpreting a Henry Moore or Constantin Brancusi sculpture. Meyer’s other works, like “Shout Out to Bob W.” are interesting photographic abstractions that tend toward the color-field paintings of the 1970’s. These images are produced in the same way a “liquid light show” is manufactured, usually with tap water, mineral oil, and food coloring or other dyes and inks. The image that Meyer captured evokes both internal and external space, either being internal structures of the body or a dreamscape of the mind, or some sort of outer space structure.
Throughout all of this work, Adam Meyer, Michael Vaughn Green, and the Acid Pizza Collective have created an excellent body of work exploring collaborative within the creative process, and the many altered states of consciousness and perceived realities which the viewer has access to thanks to contemporary culture and its reliance on media and drugs. Without being heavy handed, Acid Pizza seems to be a consistent critique of the way that we perceive our individual and collective realities, and the role of culture in that process.
For More Info:
Acid Pizza: Adam Meyer and Michael Vaughn Green
A part of the Fort Wayne Fringe Festival