EYES ON CULTURE #016
24 May 2023
The Last Shirt You’ll Ever Need
EYES ON: MSCHF X
Mschf, the art collective/ brand known for creating an extraordinary roster of inventive and witty products (famously the big red boots), never makes the same thing twice. Their inexhaustive creativity is almost as striking as how often they get things right. With an unflinching finger on the pulse of all things fashion, art and internet culture, each mschf drop is as thoughtful and daring as the next.
One particularly amusing drop was MSCHF X, a drop which explored what they term the “Collaborative Continuum” or the ubiquity of brand collaborations in today’s world of fashion. So common are collaborations, the project describes, that gradually, we move into a world in which they don’t matter. Streetwear brands lose their sovereignty and merge into one uber-brand, with ”interchangeable names and use cases.”
To prove their point, MSCHF X does just that. It boils down a long list of brands into one single t-shirt collab, one with a laughable amount of “X’s”. The product — a t-shirt built from patch-worked labels — materialises what they humorously call the “ouroboros of usage rights.”
WHY WE’RE WATCHING:
“The platonic ideal of 2020 streetwear in its entirety.”
“This is the last shirt you’ll ever need.”
Clever phrasing aside, MSCHF X’s t-shirts put its cultural criticism into practice. Each t-shirt is a random combination of 10 brands, all at once. But this creates a garment that’s almost shockingly not that unfamiliar.
Logos, usually pasted on chests and intended to emit an individual brand identity, are churned up, mashed together and placed everywhere on the t-shirt. All at once, weakened and illegible en masse, the logos are exposed as meaningless by each other.
EYES ON: Michael Samyn’s Compassie: A Pietà in Virtual Reality
The Pietà — the scene in which Jesus’ dead body is removed from the cross and laid on Mary’s, his mother’s, lap — is one of the most depicted scenes in Western art (maybe most famously by Michelangelo). The scene is heart-wrenching. It encourages an extreme feeling of compassion for Mary as a mother; one that has been drawn on in art to deepen a viewer’s Christian faith for many centuries.
In Samyn’s version, “Compassie humbly attempts to follow and continue that tradition” by putting you in Mary’s position via VR:
“Earth, saved by the sacrifice of your son. You are his mother. Nothing can erase your sorrow. You gaze into the abyss and weep forever.”
Through his virtual Pietà, built in a fitting ‘BC environment’, Samyn’s experience uses a perspective-adopting technology, VR, to do what artists for many years have aimed to do: encourage a faith-strengthening empathy in their viewers.
WHY WE’RE WATCHING:
One of the most interesting things about this project is its sincerity.
Samyn writes “The biggest challenge for me as a contemporary artist was to create a traditional scene without adding a modern twist. I wanted this piece to be sincere and respectful. I wanted it to become part of tradition, rather than breaking with it. That turned out to be much harder for me than making a joke about conventional themes, or contrast them with pop culture aesthetics, or adding critical notes.”
Depicting Christian symbols through digital technologies in a non-ironic way is not easy. Firstly, it goes against our preconceived conceptions of the modern medium. Compassie doesn’t look like anything we’ve seen in VR before. Perhaps a product of the period in time in which VR art has been made, using VR to depict such a historical, spiritual scene seems like it is bound to be in jest. But in fact, Samyn finds a perfect fit for a Pietà. His approach leans into the central functionality of the technology; he uses it to offer a very genuine and raw experience of grief through someone else’s eyes.
EYES ON: Éamonn Freel’s body perspectives
An artist, self-taught in 3D animation, motion capture, and VFX, Freel has created and directed work for multiple brands which often delves into “fantasy dream worlds, pop culture parodies, and abstract social commentary.” Most compelling, maybe, is his fresh and gross exploration of body modification and how it correlates with fashion.
Take a look at the images from Underneath the fashion: an exploration into fashion and body shapes by Éamonn Freel & Vanessa Reid for Re-edition magazine. Traditional high fashion editorial photos transform into grotesque and unsightly generated images in which the models keep their silhouettes, which are now carved out of skin.
WHY WE’RE WATCHING:
These images are so engrossing because of how abject they are. They’re abject because they sculpt flesh in unnatural ways. But they’re also abject because they reveal something very true and distasteful about the extent to which we are willing to transform ourselves for the contemporary cool. Those mutated bodies make us feel icky partly because they expose just how far we can take dressing up ourselves.
3D VIEWS ON EVERY OPENSEA GARMENT
With a link to view in 3D in every garment description on OpenSea, an entirely new and dynamic experience of our collection is made available to everyone.
The garments transform into optical sculptures when viewed in this way.
Try it out for yourself!