Every experience has a visual and experiential representation through photography, illustration, product, video, digital, and physical environments. THE FIRST PROOF is another look at the formation of these experiences, focusing equally on creation and creator. It serves as an analysis of the creative inputs and outputs, and its influence.

Observations on fashion, art, design, and creativity. 

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Editorial Excellence: Weekend Warriors Hunger Magazine

Part Mad Max, part raver, part comic book character, all very futurist. Hunger Magazine's November editorial "Weekend Warrior" is styling genius. With every detail, the team of Arved Colvin-SmithKim HowellsAndrew Gallimore, Keko Hainswheeler & Marian Newman create portraits filled with individuality. We hope to run into this gang on a Saturday night.

Weekend Warrioirs
Publication: Hunger Magazine
Photographer: Arved Colvin-Smith
Fashion Editor: Kim Howells

Must-See: Richard Prince Ripple Paintings at Gladstone Gallery

This is a classic Richard Prince repurposed process, and one that makes him so great. Distortions come in a new way of working with the selected mediums own process of development. In this exhibit, he turns his focus on the classic Playboy Magazine illustrations by Doug Sneyd - the small place of humor from the magazine. Some references: 

From Gladstone Gallery, written by Joan Katz, a journalist who has known Richard Prince since 1989. In 1990 Prince and Katz formed a band called Black Bra when they were both living in Rome.
“The cartoons that were submitted to the magazine were watercolors. That’s what was handed in, delivered to the art director. It was how they were made. Gouache on illustration board. Sketch, wash, and punch line. I bought the magazines on e-bay. I bought thirty-six issues. I flipped thru the magazine and tore my favorite “toons” out of the magazine, put the torn page on the floor, and poured more watercolor on the cartoon. Water on water. My red watercolor on their yellow cartoon. Fifty/fifty. My contribution? My psychotic breakdown of my psychic connection. Also a contrasting color. My red water on their yellow water. I would come back the next morning and my red would dry in its own way. It had personality. Travel, leak, pool, stains and puddles. And on the way to drying, the dry would ripple the paper. The pour would do its thing. A secret ‘cover’. The drying stayed up all night. Land of a thousand dances. The spread of my watercolor really didn’t have to do with me. It was independent. The form had a life of its own, a mind of its own, and each morning after ‘the evaporation’… I got
a surprise.”
Richard Prince: Ripple Paintings
November 3 - December 22, 2017
515 West 24th Street
New York, NY 10011 USA



Follow This: Shawn Huckins

"If George could comment today, would he click the ‘like’ button, or post ‘wtf?’ and then go check his Miley Cyrus tweet?"
That is one of the questions artist Shawn Huckins asks with his painting series Athenaeum. Much like Richard Prince, Mr. Huckins references other forms of art or communication - portraits by artists such as Gilbert Stuart, Julian Vannerson, George Caleb Bingham, and John Singleton Copley. But unlike Mr. Prince, items are not repurposed but precisely recreated. Mr. Huckins points out that his work is not developed via photoshop.
Through the combination of text and paintings, he makes statements on communication and technology. More on his Athenaeum series: 
"Robert Hine and John Mack Faragher define The American Frontier as “a tale of conquest, but also one of survival, persistence, and the merging of peoples and cultures that gave birth and continuing life to America.”
With the recent additions of pop culture slang words, such as ‘twerk’ and ‘selfie,’ to the Oxford Dictionary, was this the vision our early ancestors and frontier explorers had in mind as we continue the ‘conquest?’
Athenaeum series explores 18th and 19th-century American painting and photography in the context of 21st-century lexicons - Facebook status updates, tweets, texting acronyms - that permeate today’s popular culture. The process is a methodical replication of the original work, each painted by hand followed by the superimposition of large white letters, also painted, of social media jargon.
The American Revolution and The American Frontier were conceived through an exchange of a few well-formed ideas communicated in person and by handwritten letters. Imagine what Lewis & Clark could have done with the internet while exploring the American West.
Technology influences how much we know and what we believe, as well as how quickly and intelligently we convey our ideas. But does how we communicate govern the value of what we communicate? The physical act of typing very fast on small devices has undeniably impacted spelling, grammar, and punctuation, encouraging a degree of illiteracy that has become the new social norm. As goes our grammatical literacy, do our social and cultural literacies follow? Are we in a continuing state of the debasement of language?"
These themes are further explored in two other series The American __tier and The American Revolution Revolution.
Read More: Shawn Huckins 
Instagram: @shawn_huckins 

Art, Virtual Reality & Kerry James Marshall 

While fashion increasingly embraces augmented/virtual reality (both W Magazine and Self Service included enhanced experiences with recent issues), the art world is starting to look for ways to leverage the technology.
Imagine if art enthusiasts could view an exhibition of the Whitney Biennial in New York, the Dior show in Paris or visit the Yayoi Kusama Museum in Tokyo from anywhere in the world. Launching this week, VR't Ventures was created to document and bring art to a broader audience. The idea of taking advantage of augmented reality came to innovator Jacob Koo for the following reasons:
  • "There are too many wonderful art exhibitions around the world in any calendar year, and it is logistically or financially impossible or improbable to see all of them."
  • "Curators can spend over 5 years preparing an exhibition that we will be shown for no longer than 4 months and then it's gone forever. These approximately 80 works will never be together again.  And in the past, all that would be left of a great museum exhibition is a book commemorating the event."
  • "Museum exhibitions are like music albums; music albums are not just a random collection of songs. The artist is telling a story, just as an incredible museum exhibition has a narrative to share."
  • "Bring a simple solution for the art community to a problem that has never been addressed - deliver an understanding of art to many demographics that previously perceived art as frivolous or intimidating." 
  • "There is a strong and specific community of people who are passionate about art so this is a compelling reason for us to own virtual reality goggles."
In short the goal is to create an international virtual gallery that gives entrance to anyone across the globe, and when they achieve their goals they would be the most visited gallery anywhere.
Mr. Koo has a background is in contemporary art, design, as well as mobile technology. Of the technology Mr. Koo says “I believe that most people today have the wrong perception of virtual reality. They think of movies like the Keanu Reeves film The Matrix or more recently, HBO's series Westworld. That is way way too in the future for me. My partner and I had to come up with an application that was not just interesting but useful to a certain group of people. In our small circle of friends and contacts, virtual reality was nothing more than an interesting thought and had absolutely zero impact on everyday life.  Furthermore, there was absolutely nothing in virtual reality that we had heard of that was compelling enough for us to buy the goggles. So we decided to move forward with our idea of turning celebrated museum exhibitions into virtual reality experiences.” 
With that, the team went into development January ’17 and launched this month with the Kerry James Marshall exhibition which was and was first at the Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) Chicago, then The Met Breuer in New York City, and then ended on July 3, 2017 at the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) Los Angeles where Mr. Koo and his team captured it before it disappeared. 
Mr. Koo describes the experience as not a mere 360 degree video, but a recreation of the desired effect that is required for an art show. "We did everything that we could to make the experience just like visiting the museum in reality but just in virtual reality” said Mr. Koo. Helen Molesworth, Chief Curator of MOCA, provides narration through the experience going into detail on how the room is divided and each theme. The narration was done beautifully by the Ms. Molesworth, her knowledge of the artist is quite engaging. The effect is a private tour with the curator, both entertaining and highly informative, an interaction with a curator that most may not access at a gallery show. The virtual reality experience allows a closer view to the art and lets them take their time absorbing the information in a close replication of the the actual gallery space. There are no waiting for crowds to move, the viewer can move at their own pace - and return to the exhibit in the future.
As to why launch the technology with Kerry James Marshall (one of The First Proof’s favorite artists):
  • "It's an incredible story: a young black boy realizes that he has a gift for making pictures, notices pretty clearly that black people are never ever represented in museums although the technology of painting is over 600 years old, single-handedly tries to change that narrative and 35 years later has actually succeeded."
  • "He is not just a black painter, but he is one of the finest figurative painters of this generation.  His work at auction has already commanded over US $2 million which probably makes him one of the top 0.00001% of artists in the world."
  • "His work in this exhibition is mainly figurative painting which makes it easier to explain certain ideas and concepts vs. abstract art in our VR experience, therefore truly helping to educate everyone."
  • "This exhibition is one of the best reviewed exhibitions over the past decade.  The New York Times, The New Yorker, The Los Angeles Times, etc. reviewed this exhibition so glowingly that this exhibition undoubtedly appeals to both the establishment (the currently existing art community) as well as the other demographics that we are trying to reach."
  • "Kerry James Marshall was one of Time Magazine's 100 most influential people list for 2017.”
Of the initiative Helen Molesworth says "No artificial visit to something real will ever replace the actual experience, but a VR version of a museum exhibition can allow someone who could never see the actual show to have the closest possible experience of being at the museum. We’ve seen visual technology improve exponentially over the last decade. Streaming technology and high-resolution flatscreen development is improving by the week. One can only imagine what we’ll be seeing and hearing as all this develops. I think VR may give us new archival possibilities of recording the special qualities of space, time, and movement. We could be leaving a record of what it felt like to be in the space (since traditional wide-angle installation photos tend to flatten and distort space). I also think VR may extend the longevity of the exhibition past its original appearance in the museum."

While the maximum effect can only be achieved with Samsung VR Goggles, there is a free desktop download. It is quite simple to use with only key controls for sound, resolution, narration autoplay. We can see why the VR't team pursued this initiative. Mr. Marshall now has a gallery that will live on past any physical show and the world will continue to appreciate his talents. Imagine a future where one can access a library shows that can be revisited anywhere at any time. In a few years this experience may just achieve being the ambition as the most visited gallery globally and we are looking forward to our next visit.
Read More:



Must-See: Zanele Muholi at Yancey Richardson 

Comprising two bodies of work, Brave Beauties, on show in New York for the first time, and Somnyama Ngonyama (‘Hail, the Dark Lioness’), the exhibition brings together two integral elements within Muholi’s practice: intimate studies of queer life in her native South Africa and self portraiture.

Begun in 2014, Brave Beauties is a series of portraits depicting transwomen in South Africa, and as such represents an overt challenge to a culture that continues to violently discriminate against the LGBTQI community. In a similar vein to the ongoing project Faces and Phases, Muholi creates celebratory photographs of empowered individuals who assert their identities through their confident poses, taking ownership of the spaces they inhabit.

Turning the camera on herself for the Somnyama Ngonyama series, Muholi explores the concepts of self-representation and self-definition by experimenting with different characters and archetypes.

In both bodies of work, Muholi uses portraiture as a form of exposure to disrupt the dominant images of black women in the media today and to bear witness to both the brutality and the joy of black, queer, lesbian, and transgendered individuals in South Africa. In a recent article in The Guardian, Muholi states: “This is about our lives, and if queer history, trans history, if politics of blackness and self-representation are so key in our lives, we just cannot sit down and not document and bring it forth.” In 2009 Muholi founded Inkanyiso, a non-profit organization dedicated to visual art, media advocacy, and visual literacy training for South Africa’s LGBTQI community.

From The New York Times: "Muholi feels that turning the camera on herself will force this introspection. ‘‘This is why the self-­portraits are so major to me. We get caught up in other people’s worlds, and you never ask yourself how you became.’’

Somnyama Ngonyama

Brave Beauties

Read More:

Yancey Richardson Gallery November 9 - December 9

525 West 22nd Street NYC, NY

NYT: Zanele Muholi's Transformations

Zanele Muholi's Inkanyiso


Editorial Excellence: Undercover Vogue Italia October '17

How do you get timeless women like Sofia Loren, Elizabeth Taylor, Catherine Deneuve, and Lady Diana to appear in one editorial in 2017? Just use your covers from the archives. So simple, so clever. The issue is definitely one for the collectiors.

Publication: Vogue Italia October 2017

Photographer: Nacho Alegre

Fashion Editor: Enrica Ponzellini

Creative Director: Giovanni Bianco

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