Touchscreen Abstract Expressionist KENTA COBAYASHI

“I’ve lived in various share houses around Shibuya, and a majority of my photographs depict scenes from these spaces in the center of the city,” photographer Kenta Cobayashi explains, “Other work stems from travel around Japan and abroad, as well as experiences shared with my girlfriend – in short, they are images from everyday life. Basically, I want to approach photography in a similar vein to all those people the world over who now document life on their iPhones.”

In a photograph by Kenta Cobayashi, a boy stands with his cheek in his palm. Under his baseball cap, his face stretches and melts around the surface of his smartphone, as though the motions of his fingers on the screen are altering his own being in real time. It is an image that brings us directly to the main lesson of Cobayashi’s book Everything_1: In a moment where games like Pokémon Go have us questioning the implications of “augmented reality,” we discover that reality itself is already quite complicated.

“I think that photography is like a GUI [Graphical User Interface],” explains the Tokyo-based photographer, “The abstract concept of ‘reality’ has traditionally been too complex for human understanding. But by processing reality graphically as images, it allows us to gain some new degree of understanding of our existence.” Comprised of snapshots of friends and landscapes in Tokyo’s Shibuya district, Cobayashi’s blog-turned-book appears as a diary bathed in digital slime. Computer-generated swipe-marks serve as the guide on this safari, at times resembling painterly brushstrokes, and at other times meandering across surfaces in winding gestures of boredom. In one, the yellow light of a neon sign is dragged across the photo in a sloppy figure-eight. In another, a young man holding a book is exed-out by smudges over and over, as if the photographer were mashing Command-Z. Yet these elements of post-production find their analogue mirror in an everyday landscape punctuated by jumbled wires and bent Venetian blinds. In one picture, a girl’s face is overlayed by a barrier of violently scratched plexiglass as she presses herself against the interior of a phone booth, smiling.

Sixty  years since the death of Jackson Pollock, the swipe has gone from being the foundation of Abstract Expressionism to being the core gesture of mainstream telecommunication. A swipe turns computation into a process of autographing, opening up a language much more powerful and emotional than a keyboard punch.  Given the right operating system, a swipe can delete an email, sign an e-vite, and turn down a sexual advance in one motion. In this mode, the techno-sensual zone of the touchscreen serves as the interface between reality and its digital representation. This is the surface that Cobayashi’s photography occupies, capturing a world that looks perpetually more editable and made of liquid crystal.

kenta cobayashi
tokyo

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Issue #32 — Summer 2017"US vs. THEM"

Issue # 32 — Summer 2017

Issue #32 – Summer 2017: “US vs. THEM”

How do you find truth in an age without facts? The answer: wake up and stick together. In this issue’s dossier “US vs. THEM,” creative director RICHARD TURLEY explores how the Global Right Wing’s blatant disregard for reality has given us all a license to become Nonsense Warriors. Turning away from “them” and towards “us,” CATHERINE OPIE, NICOLAS GHESQUIÈRE, and STEFANO PILATI take us into their inner circles of friends, while COLLIER SCHORR turns BELLA HADID into Lisa Lyon. We revisit the work of MICHAEL SCHMIDT, and how his community workshops turned Berlin into a cauldron of contemporary photography. JACKIE NICKERSON shows us what Robert Longo looks like with a faster Internet connection, while CARSTEN HÖLLER takes us into his kitchen to explore the post-digital nature of food. We speak with VIRGIL ABLOH as he plots a fashion industry coup d’état and follow JASON DILL on a skate odyssey to hell and back to Fucking Awesome. And, last but not least, we make a pilgrimage to Santo Sospir, the villa on the Riviera where JEAN COCTEAU created his greatest Gesamtkunstwerk.

Also included with the issue, our “HEAT UP HADID” TRANSFER KIT which allows you to create your own t-shirt emblazoned with this issue’s BELLA HADID cover.

Learn more about the issue below:

Nothing makes sense. Nothing ever will again. The year 2016 marked a total rupture in the theater of politics. Even if the damaging effects of Donald Trump’s election somehow prove to be short-lived, his rise indicates a crisis wherein digital acceleration has led to political regression. In our dossier “US vs. THEM,” creative director RICHARD TURLEY creates a handbook for our new political paradigm. Its central hypothesis: Only within the chaos of this media overload will we discover what is real again.

“I am not sure if the sculptures were even subjects for her photographs …” For her first ever magazine editorial, “Heroines: Paris/Los Angeles,” artist CATHERINE OPIEteamed up with artistic director NICOLAS GHESQUIÈRE to create a study on the power of classicism and ambiguity. The exploration begins on the beige stone of the Louvre’s sculpture garden and continues to Opie’s studio in Los Angeles, documenting a sprawling circle of friends and acquaintances.

On a surrealist journey into the past, Martin Mosebach visits the summer retreat of JEAN COCTEAU. At the Villa Santo Sospir, the artist spent a decade’s worth of summers smoking opium and creating his largest total artwork.

Back with a vengeance for her third 032c cover story, COLLIER SCHORR teams up with fashion director Mel Ottenberg for “Smith & Wesson Blues,” a shoot with BELLA HADID, inspired by the body builder and Robert Mapplethorpe muse Lisa Lyon.

“Duchamp is my lawyer.” From his fortress of irony, designer VIRGIL ABLOH is set on turning fashion into the industrial arm of the art world. In conversation with 032c’s managing editor Thom Bettridge, he explains how streetwear is not just a fad, but a logic inspired by Dada and destined to dominate the digital age.

Accompanied by a re-print of MICHAEL SCHMIDT’s 2002 story for 032c, Kolja Reichert explores how the photographer’s community workshops from 1976 to 1986 create a style born out of the “Gray Island” of Berlin.

For the story “Energy Crisis,” photographer LUKAS WASSMANN and designer STEFANO PILATI shoot an editorial inside Michael Sailstorfer’s exhibition “Hitzefrei” at St. Agnes. As his first for a magazine editorial, Pilati’s styling includes garments from his own personal wardrobe.

“It’s an exhausting reality,” laughs JASON DILL. In an odyssey documented with drawings and pictures from his personal archive, the skate legend takes us to hell and back to Fucking Awesome.

In “Push Me Shove You Oh Yeah Says Who,” photographer JACKIE NICKERSON, along with fashion editor Marc Goehring and 032c apparel creative director Maria Koch, presents a yogic meditation on a white collar dystopia.

“I’m very bad at killing, in general.” As an antidote to postmodern culinary mediocrity, artist CARSTEN HÖLLER takes us to his concrete perch on the seaside of Ghana and guides us through the 11 points of his “Brutalist Kitchen Manifesto.”

In the “SSENSE Files,” we bring you scenes of cross-platform madness, including interviews with RICARDO BOFILL, PLAYBOI CARTI, CHITOSE ABE, CHRIS KRAUS, HENRY STAMBLER, AMINA BLUE, and 69.

In our second-ever “BERLIN REVIEW” section, we speak with JEFF KOONS about Plato, retrace MARTIN MARGIELA’s reign at Hermès, dive to the underwater tombs of PHARAOHS, and explore our favorite books of the season.

All this and more on 296 pages!