Product worship gets surreal through the Dutch artist's unconventional lens
The slick sheen of commercialism is all over Wyne Veen's work. The Dutch artist, who's teamed up with Rolex, Ikea and Wallpaper* in the past, is no stranger to the glossy world of the hard sell in photography. Using materialism and its products as a platform for questions on why things exist is nothing new but Veen's imagery manages to carve out a niche in the world of cosumer meets conceptual art. Her emphasis on other peoples' creations is not derivative, but philosophical. She sees everything that is overly constructed as the perfect combination of human strength and weakness – bringing together optimum human performance with the object-worship of consumer culture.
While she dabbles in the irreverent (her cat gifs are a must-see) Veen also focusses a lot of her work on the principle that through taking things out of context our preconceptions are displaced and we're faced with something alien. In the process of isolating the materials she chooses, she reshapes their meaning; it's often hard to recognise what they are made of or what purpose they serve, so they become abstract and sculptural artworks instead. These results are often unnerving and absurd, but they consistently remain aesthetically seductive. Dazed caught up with Veen to hear more.
What message are you trying to communicate?
Wyne Veen: I think my fantasy is far from the way we're taught to perceive things. When these two perspectives are combined surprising new outcomes arise that question general perception. By isolating objects I give people the option to reinterpret and look at things in a more open way. Presenting objects in my created non-environment I try to show things as they really are, stripped from any pre-contextual connotations. It's the worship and the necessity of production that makes people live their lives far from constructively.
I find the notion of 'manufactured lives' and the fact that we're 'endlessly drawn to all steps of the production process' really interesting can you tell me more about these ideas.
Wyne Veen: Money driven decisions can lead to very weird product outcomes, whose existence simply makes no sense at all. Raw natural materials are transformed into many very similar things, like for example paint: There is a slightly different kind for each market you can think of: the beauty industry, car industry, housing, furniture, fashion, technology etc etc. An uplifting example on the other hand would be lightweight paint for airplanes; this is particularly useful and smart in many ways. There is general tragic unawareness about production processes. But all of the inventions produced are also very fascinating because it is human performance in an optimum form. There is also a strange disconnect in what we think is good for us and what actually would be 'good' for us. These developments tend to be dystopian to me. On a larger scale a city like Dubai represents it all in one for me. A city so disconnected from nature is very scary. Everything is based on the superlative degree. The most powerful people are blind – that's sad.
Some of your images use unappealing objects and make them look new and shiny. Do you think anything can be sellable if it is marketed right?
Wyne Veen: Easily. This is something I found out as a kid. I could be mesmerised for hours on end by pure visual joy. The right combination of aesthetics can have such an impact that it pushes further thought completely to the background. When I notice this process intruding into my own perception I can still be shocked by it. Making things look better than they are is a partially unfortunate and confusing skill I have, but I try to use it well. There are so many incredibly simple tricks to present something as it is not. We all want to be deceived for the better, but this ‘better’ does not even exist therefore disappointment is guaranteed.
Does living in Amsterdam affect your work?
Wyne Veen: Yes, definitely. I can be very down-to-earth here and that's why I need to get out of this extremely cosy city on a regular basis. People here tend to never go crazy, which is disturbing creativity-wise, but there's a certain comfort in it as well. You know what to expect. A very Dutch statement is: ‘act normal, it's crazy enough’ – awful.
What upcoming projects are you particularly excited about?
Wyne Veen: I've happily decided to expand my medium, which comes with a magnitude of new lovely options such as I am making a 3d animation about cat tails, I'm going to work with ceramics to make a Christmas bauble and I'm making a book.
What's your dream project if you could do or create anything you wanted?
I think I'd want to combine volcanoes, tsunamis, thunder and minerals and waterfalls and geysers to create the ultimate moving sculpture. I'd have equipment and a lot of people to help me with this. Everybody could see my creation once and they would know it was real and not some kind of vision and it would change their lives immediately and forever to nirvana. It would be better than the universe. Something like that. On a smaller scale I would like to make a hologram soon.