With a white harness bandaged like a bikini around her body, a Digital Artifacts model dips toe-first into a pool of molten wax until all but her head remains above the water line. To an outsider, the process looks odd, even torturous; to Bart Hess, the artist behind it all, it's merely the birth of one his living sculptures. Hess describes the creation of one of his works of futuristic fashion, “like a 3D printer drawing directly onto the skin," continuing with the following poetic play-by-play: "slowly the body emerges, encased in a dripping wet readymade prosthetic. It is a physical glitch, a manifestation of corrupt data in motion, a digital artifact.”
In their inaugural edition, Digital Artifacts hung above the Lisbon Architecture Triennale's exhibition space on hooks, like an uplit row of future fossils. “I was interested in using wax in water because it becomes an echo of movement, a solid trace of some invisible force or action,” explained Hess in an interview with Post Matter. “If you press a body part through liquid wax on water, as your body goes in deeper and deeper the shape stays, and it becomes a history of your movement.” In their solidified forms, the molds retain a semblance of the human figure yet also appear alien in their ghostly hue and coral-like in their topographies.
Presented initially as an installation on “cyborg couture” at the 2013 triennale, the artist’s artifacts have since emerged as live performances at a subsequent festival, and been subjected to an in-depth investigation on virtual archaeology by Post Matter. See Hess's film of his artifacts in action as well as a few more beautiful stills, below.
Find more of Bart Hess's incredible works on his website.