KASSEUS – The glossy dystopia of post-singularity world
Words: Natascha Zo
October 28, 2023
Imagine pulling down one of the party posters off a wall in Ibiza town. Beneath that you’ll find the layer that was there last year: different style, different trends, different epoch. As you keep on pulling off year after year some odd pieces of posters would stick, others would allow you to go many layers deep, eventually revealing the original texture of the wall, or some graffiti art underneath the posters. A peculiar collage, blending styles, mediums and concepts into one captivating piece, reminding us how every finished artwork we look at today carries footprints of artists and styles that came before and asks what will take its place in the future.
Now take a look at the fusion canvas by Kasseus – mixed media artist concealing his identity behind a porcelain mask taken from Stanley Kubrick’s Eyes Wide Shut. His stunning models are dressed up in layers that the artist borrows from different epochs and media styles. Elements of fashion and portrait photography blends with street art culture, some spray paint merges with acrylics, 3D modelling gives the piece depth and light projection brings up new angles.
„ I’ve constructed this character – KASSEUS – shares the artist. “I am not inclined to attach my authentic self directly to the art, as I believe it does not aid the artwork itself. When hiding my face behind the mask I make room for your imagination to go into play and fill in the gaps. Imagination always creates pictures more beautiful and intriguing than reality, much like the way a novel often surpasses its cinematic adaptation.“
Kasseus sees everything, his own identity included, as a medium of creation, a way to construct a new reality on a canvas, but most importantly in the spectator’s imagination. At his live performance, like the one at Hangar 8289, Pikes Hotel and W hotel in Ibiza, Kasseus would DJ a set of minimal techno, while also creating a live canvas from a prior photoshoot of one of the models present in the audience (without her knowing before the piece is revealed). He invites spectators to look at the college of humanity’s culture through a sci-fi lens: in visuals and music, blending digital and physical techniques.
„ Work on a new series starts by photographing the models. I capture different angles, to construct a 3D representation of their heads. I then texture these 3D models with the real-life photographs, creating a hybrid of real life portrait photography and 3D Modelling. From there, I develop digital collages, utilising my extensive library of street photography and magazine scans—an archive that has grown over the years. Once I am satisfied with the digital concept, I translate it into the physical realm. This involves extensive printing: different techniques and types of paper. I also scavenge weathered and distressed illegal advertising posters from the streets of London, incorporating them into the colleges along with acrylic or spray paint elements. When the canvas is complete, I employ projection mapping to create light art onto the canvas and then accompanying sound collage art. In terms of sound collage, I chop and sample movie scores, blend them with synth soundscape music, and intertwine past and present pop culture tunes. This fusion, combined with sound design of futuristic Tokyo metropolis streets.“
The latest series of Kasseus invites us into a fictional world – a dystopian future where artificial intelligence achieves general intelligence, leading to the singularity moment. The concept is highly talked about with the rise of AI. What happens beyond the point of artificial intelligence surpassing the abilities of humans? Kasseus paints a narrative of humanity enslaved, trapped within webs of data cables and preserved in vats connected to the matrix.
Rather than the repulsive world of “The Matrix” Kasseus summons a captivating post-singularity world that carries remains of beauty created by generations of the human race. Lavish gold details remind of the times of abundance. Elements of nature like a flower from a flourishing garden or shiny fish from a pond tell us that nature isn’t all lost in this new world of non-human intelligence. His stunning models with their polished skin and perfect collar bones stand out from the dark, gloomy surroundings.
„ To juxtapose this dark and ominous scenario, that I don’t necessarily believe in myself, I intentionally incorporate elements of hope and resilience. There is optimism in the enduring spirit of organic life, signifying that amidst the encroaching dominance of artificial intelligence, the vitality of nature and its ability to adapt will persist.“
Kasseus pulls off the layers of culture, art, music, digital and physical technique or rather piles them up one on top the other asking what a singularity moment would mean for all the layers of human history and culture. And in between the layers he leaves a space for wondering, a space for imagination – which always paints a picture more intriguing than reality.