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 #31 — Winter 2016/2017HELMUT LANG

Issue # 31 — Winter 2016/2017

From 1986 to 2005, Helmut Lang systematically deconstructed every assumption about clothing and the way it is worn and communicated. As he himself once said, “I kept all the traditions and shades that were good — and then re-thought it all.” The Austrian designer’s lists of “firsts” is so long it could double as conceptual art. Lang was one of the first designers to collaborate with visual artists. The first to show clothing for men and women in a single presentation. The first to pioneer backstage photography as we know it today with Juergen Teller. The first to move a fashion house across the Atlantic … and the list goes on. In a 48-page dossier, 032c Issue 31 explores THE HELMUT LANG LEGACY and how his abrupt exit from the industry in 2005 has been felt like phantom limb in the world of fashion. The comprehensive study features essays by Ingeborg Harms and Ulf Poschardt, a roundtable with Tim Blanks, Olivier Saillard, and Neville Wakefield, an interview with Lang himself, as well as rare material from the Helmut Lang archive.

Is Calabasas the new Abu Dhabi? Are the Californian suburbs the perfect place for new energy experiments in modern apparel? In an editorial shot by MERT & MARCUS and conceptualized by KANYE WEST, 032c travels to the Los Angeles exurb of Calabasas to bathe in the dust of the Wests’ under-construction home designed by Axel Vervoordt. The shoot features cameos by KIM KARDASHIAN WEST, KHLOÉ KARDASHIAN, AMINA BLUE, TRAVIS SCOTT, and others.

“At the time we started collaborating, everything in the world of art and fashion was polished. Everything was smooth, so we felt that Prada must be rough.” For the past decade, a windowless concrete hall at the PRADA headquarters has become an architectural gymnasium for REM KOOLHAAS and his firm OMA/AMO. Traveling from Rotterdam to Milan, architecture critic Jack Self examines the phenomenon of the firm’s catwalks for the Italian mega-house, exploring how Prada and OMA/AMO have teamed up to create the foundation of a new corporate aesthetic.

“You fuck. Or you don’t fuck. You can’t fuck a little.” In a 2012 reportage, writer Alexander Gorkow and photographer Andreas Mühe followed RAMMSTEIN on their tour of America. Since then, our private obsession with this document has become a matter of political urgency. What was once the anti-capitalist spectacle of an East German rock band in 2012, now reads like a seismograph for the right-wing political landscape of 2016. Here, we witness ideology’s opposite: raw energy unhinged from the burden of truth.

As our contemporary economy grows to demand CREATIVITY from all of its citizens, it has become increasingly unclear exactly what “creativity” is. In a double-feature illustrated by the Japanese photographer Kenta Cobayashi, Joachim Bessing speaks with Wolfgang Ullrich and Lars Vollmer on how society’s idea of a creative ethos has transformed within the digital revolution.

“People say this is vandalism.” 032c’s Bianca Heuser and photographer Nadine Fraczkowski take us inside ANNE IMHOF’s Angst, a grand and opaque artwork that has drifted across the world like a low-pressure system. Furnished with smoke machines, sleeping bags, razors, and bongs, the three-act immersive opera is a training camp for the denizens of hyper-capitalism.

Founded as sneaker blogs in 2005, HYPEBEAST and HIGHSNOBIETY have grown into large and disruptive forces in fashion. Simultaneously fuelling and gorging on a new generation’s appetite for content, they have set a rabid pace that has multinational brands following suit. Travelling up the feed and towards “the heart of content,” 032c’s Thom Bettridge and photographer Lukas Wassmann visit the companies’ respective HQs in Hong Kong and Berlin to suss out what this revolution spells for the landscape of media at large.

In the “SSENSE Files,” we present scenes of cross-platform madness from our work at ssense.com. The section features seven interviews with a range of cultural producers from rappers LIL YACHTY and SCHOOLBOY Q to jewelry designer GAIA REPOSSI, stylist ANDREW RICHARDSON, author NATASHA STAGG, artist SIMON DENNY, and artist/musician FATIMA AL QADIRI.

In our fashion section, WILLY VANDERPERRE and OLIVIER RIZZO shoot Clara 3000 in the editorial “Don’t Dream It’s Over.” GOSHA RUBCHINSKIY and 032c fashion director Mel Ottenberg team up for the ultimate study on Seinfeld-chic, while PIERRE DEBUSSCHERE and 032c fashion editor Marc Goehring vaporize Flemish baroque into a warped digital reality.

This issue, we also proudly introduce our “BERLIN REVIEW,” a section dedicated to our favorite printed matter of the season.

All this and more on 296 pages!