Opinion by Richard Baird Posted 23 September 2020
160 Faces is a new publication from Swedish artist Daniel Götesson working under the name Ekta, designed by Lundgren+Lindqvist and distributed under the studio’s publishing arm ll’Editions. The book collates 160 drawings made by the artist in 2019, and sequenced, rather than in logical pairs and with a curated rhythm, but by using an algorithm developed by the studio. Applied using modern print technologies, each book becomes a unique experience of unexpected outcomes. The viewer is thus involved in formulating meaning between human faces that were algorithmically paired, and outside of the hands of the artist. This intersection of machine generated results, a very human image and artistic expression, continues in the typesetting of title pages and colophon. Here, Lundgren+Lindqvist designed a basic framework for the artist, who wrote all the necessary text with the same crayon he used when creating the drawings.
“Within the lines of these broken circles, a playground unfolds, in which the artist allowed himself to work freely and without a clear destination. Suddenly, a curved line is transformed into a mouth and an oblong circle into an eerie eye. An incidental spot left as the crayon frantically moves across the paper becomes a newly shed tear, resting close to what resembles a cheekbone. With the fervour of a starving pigeon feeding on a loaf of bread, Ekta made one drawing after the other, before ripping them in halves and puzzling them back together in new, unexpected combinations. Apparently, there is comfort to be found both in destruction and restoration. Gloomy, surprised, angry, giggly and anxious – 160 faces look back at the artist from the floor of his studio. Does each of the collaged drawings represent an individual character, or is the series an attempt at showing the full register of emotions a human face is capable of conveying? On closer inspection, the artist’s motifs seem to be rooted in the urge to push his visual vocabulary to its absolute limits, more than in exploring a range of facial expressions.”
In the bisection and then pairing of two separate faces, and binding these into a book, the collected works become an exquisite corpse of nuance facial expressions. The artist amplifies the potential range of expressions, far beyond his own capacity to recognise and reproduce these by hand. It is an incredibly involving piece of work to look at. The human face, rendered in graphic form, an expression set in time, is a surface to be interpreted.
The work is notable, not just for its artistic expression, but in the way technology develops meaning and involves the viewer further through unique sequencing of art works. Serendipity played a crucial role in the creation of the book just as it did in the artworks. In some ways, the variations of the book express the potential of artistic outcome, rarely predefined. The book becomes an extension of and further manifestation of the art project. In this way, each book is a section of a bigger picture. This is expanded upon through a series of 16 limited edition books in which a blank page was randomly placed into the sequence, and an original sketch by the artist finally completing it. More work by Lundgren+Lindqvist on BP&O.