Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The Converse Weapon - art or fashion?

A lot of folks have asked me to post this obsession that I have for toys. I'm not talking about the G.I. Joes or Elmo dolls. I'm talking about Vinyl and anything toy that I find interesting and this could range from Kid Robot, Medicom, to a character done by Takashim Murakami.

Out of all my toy moments one has stuck out, its gotta be the Converse Weapon Advance Action Suit Prototype 2.2 By Limited Resource Design. I was in High-Five in Williamsburg Brooklyn one day when Toy tokyo decided to open a new branch in Brooklyn around summer 2006, so I had to check it out. I ran into Camo Feet Pete who managed the shop and I asked him if I can take a look at this artwork.

Within seconds I had to cop it. Never have I seen this before and it was interesting to see the artist who had a vision from a Converse shoe and converting it to a Figure.
I had to find out who the artist was, so I contacted him.
The artist's name is Oscar Lopez from Brooklyn. Oscar at the time was planning to reemphasize the connection between style & hip-hop culture - which is currently becoming a measure for all that is mainstream.
When hip-hop started, there was a strong emphasis on what shoe a person wore on the block.
It was the shoe that measured how mainstream a person was and was able to show an individual their style by what they wore to match the shoes and how fly they could match or clash. It was determined by the street on how cool they were, or how 'whack' they were. Oscar is placing the Weapon back into the hip-hop mainstream culture and since then the sneaker culture has taken on another level where individuals in NYC from Union Square down to Chinatown you see a lot of folks wearing different styles of sneakers to express themselves individually. The sneakers for men have become a form of style just like purses have for women.
While most artists are used to working on their mediums - such as metal, canvas, sculptures, or walls. Using the shoe as a neo-canvas, Oscar was forced then to think outside the box. How many different directions can the art go?
How does an artist interpret its form and layout and use it in conjunction with their own designs to create art? That was the question that came to my mind when I saw this piece. Oscar has tried to push the envelope with the Converse Weapon, Aerosol Warfare hopes to successfully conceive an entirely different form of art that would have otherwise never been born and bring this style to new audience with a higher level of visibility. The last time I spoke to Oscar he was planning making a tank out of a couple of Nike Blazers donated from some of his friends.

He's not the only artist that is doing this, there's also a Vancouver artist named Brian Jungen who had a show in the New Museum back when it was on Broadway and had a show of his collection of Air Jordans. He had completed Prototypes for New Understanding 1998-2005, a series of 23 Northwest Coast Aboroginal masks made from Nike Air Jordans.

So what do you think? Is it art or is it fashion? I'll let you decide.

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