Five years ago, Paper magazine released a cover of Kim Kardashian shot by photographer Jean Paul Gaude. Chances are you'll remember it: the reality star is posing nearly nude behind the caption "break the internet", her oiled and glossy bare arse fully exposed. The image immediately went viral.
Today, a quick Google image search for "Kim K ass" brings up over 2 million results – but for the real arse heads there's a slicker alternative to the millions of low-res jpegs ripped from paparazzi sites. Created by net art duo Ida Jonsson and Simon Saarinen – the pair who hid a permanent ASCII penis on the blockchain – a true-to-size rendering of Kim Kardashian's iconic backside is now a digital work of art that can be found at seethebum.com. You can even print off your own version to keep forever if you have access to a 3D printer and are the sort of person who wants a print-out of a stranger's butt in their home.
I spoke to Ida and Simon about how they recreated Kim K's booty and why they're obsessed with creating rude art.
VICE: So, what made you want to digitally recreate Kim Kardashian’s butt?
Ida: [_Laughs_] Honestly, we're really fascinated by celebs, especially Insta-celebs. Instagram is such an important part of our infrastructure and offers so many possibilities. Kim K's ass is obviously the crown jewel of the gram, thanks to its massive size. But even though there are thousands of pics of it, no one really seems to know how big it actually is.
Yeah, the 1:1 version doesn't fit on my laptop screen. How did you even make it?
Simon: So, for the past year, we have basically looked through a thousand different pictures of her cake. We found some "leaked" measurements on different sites and then sort of put together two and two to get the scale right. There are also some pretty detailed paparazzi photos that we tried to make as much sense of as possible, using them as reference for things like skin colour and birthmarks.
When we'd figured out the look and dimensions, we reached out to a 3D artist specialised in photorealistic 3D rendering. After going through all of our material, he made rendering her bum his full time for a couple of weeks. Finally, we had to decide what underwear she should wear and went for a classic Yeezy-esque all beige thong.
Has Kim seen it? How do you reckon she'd react if she did?
Ida: Not that we know of! But we hope that she will see it as a tribute. I saw that she said in an interview with Vogue that she wished people would focus less on her behind and more on her skills. But for us, her famous ass is a testament that you can build a strong brand based on anything. Which, in our eyes, is a really impressive skill.
Simon: That said, she might get extremely offended, call us out on national TV, sue us with her new legal skills and make us leave the country. Let's hope not.
In an interview with Motherboard about your previous work, you mentioned your collaborative manifesto against being an adult. With this, do you think it’s important for people to not take art too seriously?
Simon: One-hundred percent. Art can be so fucking boring. We want real people to be entertained by our work and understand it, rather than making it "interesting" for art critics or people who studied one art history class at university.
Do you think incorporating celeb culture and humour into art makes it more accessible?
Ida: For sure. In the end, we want to create art that feels understandable and relatable for the many. Since most people understand humour and have a relation to celebs, they become good lenses to portray our time through. But there are of course more ways.
What about meme culture – do you think that will affect the future of digital art?
Simon: It's really everything. Today, memes are so deeply rooted into our culture that it's not just a way of sharing funny content, but rather a language of itself. A universal language expressed through the sneakers you are wearing, to the music you are listening to, and the single most important force behind all culture. Art becomes memes and memes become art.
Ida: Man, that’s some deep shit.
Simon: Yeah, but it's facts.
Agreed. Any hints on what you’ll be working on next?
Ida: Sure! We're currently looking into setting up our first exhibition. We still want to embrace some traditional aspects of art exhibitions, but we also want it to lean more into being an experience than a White Cube show.
Simon: We're more in the conceptual phase at the moment.
Great, see you there.