Art + Tech: Fabian Williams
How the “Occasional Superstar” is using tech to push his artwork
Everything is going digital, including art. One creative embracing the shift is Fabian “Occasional Superstar” Williams, a classically trained painter from Atlanta (by way of Fayetteville, NC) who is pushing his art into new places by incorporating tech into his process. Williams’s often-political work hangs in homes, galleries and museums throughout the Southeast. His over-sized murals dot the Atlanta cityscape. Recently he has taken to creating “living memes”, interactive mixed-media pieces that incorporate traditional technique with modern tools such as lasers and black lights. The results are unlike anything you’ve ever seen.
For our inaugural Art + Tech profile, The Bridge sat down with Williams to talk how tech has changed his creative process and enhanced the scope of art as a whole.
What does the phrase "art tech" mean to you?
It's using technology outside of the obvious forms of visual expression when dealing with physical visual arts. It's an interesting space: The film and music industry both employ technology … constantly upgrading cameras, editing devices and software. Likewise, with music and instruments … keyboards are always gaining new sounds and ways of producing. I use the same sort of research and experimentation when I apply it to painting. I use technology to intensify my expression and enhance the concepts I whip up. It's a natural progression.
Would you consider any of your recent projects as "art tech"?
My latest show uses everything from smoke machines, lasers, phosphorus paint, white board paint, and black light to critique social media culture. I've created what I call “living memes”. Instead of in your phone, they exist in real space, and you must interact with them. I'm having fun.
What new software and hardware is merging the worlds of art and technology?
Adobe has a suite of programs I use in my productions like Premiere, After Effects, Photoshop, and Illustrator but there's some new hardware that I'm interested in. There's 3D Printing Pen that allows you to draw in 3D. 3D printing in general has me interested in where sculpture is going. I haven't had a chance to play with it properly, but I have plans. I'm always on the lookout for new types of lasers and light devices. I'm interested in magnetism and all things related. There's also the Georgia Tech Robotics department that has all manner of weird funkiness that inspires me, and I plan on working with some of those folks over there eventually. So many things to stick ones hands into.
Was there ever a moment that you wished you knew more technology for the use of your art?
Everyday. I have a curious soul, and the more technology you have, the more creative avenues there are to explore.
What is the future of technology in the art world?
Art is going to three paths: virtual, physical and emotional. Virtual because of the emerging Oculus Rift, which I have mixed emotions about. Physical because that's the reality we exist in. Emotional because, in my opinion, that's the creator's language. You always remember how someone or something made you feel. I feel we're losing feeling and in the future, emotions will almost be a fetish.
What would you say to art purists who don't believe in using technology?
That's the past. Don't live there. Follow us into the future. The lessons are in the past. The solutions are waiting for us tomorrow.