Super-Modified: The Behance Book of Creative Work searches for originality in the saturated art world of the Internet age. The ambitious title draws from fine art, illustration, fashion, photography, web design, and digital art shared on Behance, an online portfolio platform and “part of the Adobe family.” Selections are chosen by Behance’s Chief Curator, the Spanish illustrator Oscar Ramos Orozco and organized into eighteen chapters with themes ranging from “Digitally Modified Realities” to “Low Poly” to “Off the Grid.” Accompanied by text and interviews by Jocelyn K. Glei of 99U, an award-winning motivational blog and yet another arm of the Behance network, Super-Modified offers a holistic look into what is happening now.
The handsome title was recently published in March of 2015 by Gestalten, a climate-neutral company based in Berlin. Minimalist in presentation, the hard-cover is gray with black type in Euclid Flex. Inside, each page of content is illustrated with full-color, matte images and printed on FSC-certified paper. The low-key design lets the artwork itself take the spotlight.
Many of the images in Super-Modified have much to communicate. The far-reaching book includes controversial work that touches on issues such as war, slavery, and mining. Sometimes the approach is critical, and other times it merely appropriates.
Perhaps it should come as no surprise that three political works are found in the “Digitally Modified Realities” chapter. The first of the group is “Faces” by the Norwegian artist Ashkan Honarvar. A series of contemporary, altered images, “Faces” echoes photographs from WWI, which, Glei explains, document soldiers’ facial wounds. Honarvar, however, takes pictures of young men today and sweetens the gore with pieces of candy and neon frosting in his uncanny interpretation. The second especially loaded image is “Daft Punk for Lemon Magazine” by Dimitri Daniloff. In this tweaked photoshoot, a naked black female cyborg fixes the helmets of two fully clothed figures, the white male musicians Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo and Thomas Bangalter. The racial and sexual slave fantasy is at once futurist and derivative of archaic symbolism. By contrast, Dillon Marsh’s “For What It’s Worth” demonstrates a more progressive worldview. The artist inserts CGI orbs into natural landscapes, representing the amount of copper removed from mines in his home country of South Africa.
Other images focus on materiality more than content. Such seems to be the case in the realistic but digitized “Stone Structures” by the German graphic designer Nicolas Schäffer, the wooden busts by Levi van Veluw of the Netherlands, and “Splash Calendar 2014” by the Dubai-based photographer Tejal Patni. For each of these images, the artists play with traditional concepts such as lighting, texture, and shape to create something pleasing and new.
Integrated with the images are eleven interviews with creative people based in Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Spain, the UK, and the USA. In these brief conversations, readers meet figures such as Julia Galdo and Cody Cloud of the California-based JUCO Photo and the Japanese slow crafter Hiné Mizushima. The dialogue is sharp, and, perhaps most important for the casual reader, is paired with several images that hint at the artist’s signature style.
In all, Super-Modified: The Behance Book of Creative Work serves as a smart and fast-paced introduction to some of the latest and most popular artwork to hit the web. The book lets readers hold the best of Behance in their hands and connects the visuals on the page to that online. Every image is accompanied by a printed link to the artist’s Behance profile, so it is easy to look up more when art-lovers inevitably find someone they want to follow. Thus, in a dialogue between print and digital publication, the cycle of inspiration continues.
Super-Modified: The Behance Book of Creative Work
Gestalten, March 2015
Full color, hardcover, 288 pages $55