The dirty little secret behind a new series of Steve Jobs inspired art is far more trashy than anyone would imagine.
Los Angeles artist Jeff Hamilton, who creates under the moniker XVALA — spent four months trash-stalking homes of well known Silicon Valley luminaries, collecting their personal garbage that he would eventually search, filter and rank in order to create opportunistic hunks of Post-PC art.
XVALA's controversial Steve Jobs action figure was created by blending a plastic porcelain along with recycled resin made up from multiple pieces of trash Hamilton snatched himself in the middle of the day from Steve Jobs' residential home last summer.
It's no mistake that the release of his mass-produced sculptures conveniently coincide with the one year anniversary of Jobs' untimely death — neatly pairing capitalism with exploitation in order to produce a steaming pile of art for profit. "Designed in China and made in California."
"We live in a time now where anything can be searched, even your garbage," XVALA told iPhone Savior in a phone interview. "It seems absurd because its never been done before." Admitting that sometimes he's even hauled off with an entire trash can from some of his dives — using Google search on mobile devices to locate the homes of his targets.
The commentary driving XVALA's invasive work challenges the way we think about giving away personal information in an internet obsessed culture, where trashing data on a desktop computer does not mean it's truly disposed of. A theme underscored by his infamous "Fear Google" sticker.
"I wanted to take pieces from him and reuse them in an innovative way," XVALA explained as he recalled his two visits to Jobs' family residence in Palo Alto.
"We found some pretty interesting things in Steve's Trash. I grabbed a couple of sacks which included packaging from laundry detergent, yogurt and some medical waste."Ironically, one of the items recycled into his work from Steve's garbage was a box of Band-Aid brand bandages featuring Pixar Toy Story characters. But XVALA was passionate about quickly diverting attention away from the trash itself — directing the focus back onto his art and message that's intended to expose a growing inability in our culture to disconnect from the Internet.
"All that stuff gets away from the sculpture. Like I explained, I want to focus on art." XVALA added.
"We really want people to talk about why the artist did it rather than about the process of the art itself." said Cory Allen, owner and publicist of (CACA) Cory Allen Contemporary Art gallery in Los Angeles. "We are the Michael Moore of art — it's satire mocking the culture."
The official unveiling of XVALA's Steve Jobs will take place at the CACA gallery as part of a "Think Different" themed show. The action figures are monochrome sculptures fabricated from the M.I.C. Gadget statue of Jobs that was discontinued after Apple issued a cease and desist order back in 2010. XVALA's trash-infused version of the original attempts to make it into something better, or at least something different priced at a whopping $200 each.
The gallery will feature a limited edition run of 300 action figures in Apple Black — commemorating the recent deaths of Foxconn factory workers who were killed in riots and ongoing suicides at locations where Apple products are produced in China.
XVALA will also produce un untold number of figures in Apple White — which will be sold alongside the black limited edition version. Each 9-inch sculpture will come with a hand screen printed circuit board signed by XVALA, along with an official letter of authenticity from XVALA Data and one Fear Google sticker included. Sales are expected to continue until Allen is legally forced by proper authorities to cease operation.
"The production of this sculpture will continue with or without Apple’s approval," Cory Allen said in a press release.
This recent work is not the first time XVALA has gone dumpster diving for art designed to fuel publicity. His coat hanger art lampooning Mark Zuckerberg and the "Slammed and Dunked" piece from Kim Kardashian both garnered robust media attention. I would expect his mass production of a Steve Jobs action figure will draw more significant fervor.
"I'm using technology the way it should be used," said XVALA. "I filter the most important parts, then use the input to create the output."
XVALA spoke candidly about some A-list celebrities that not only follow his work, but have sought out the artist in order to offer unofficial access to their trashy parts — in hopes that Hamilton would draw inspiration from their dumpster data. That's a gray area this Post-PC artist is not very fond of.
"Someone's trash is the most real information you can learn about a person," XVALA said. "I always wanted to get into the geek community, not hangout with celebrities. They're just so vapid." he added.
So allow me to modernize the words of Picasso — Bad artists copy. Great artists steal trash from Steve Jobs. Or do they?
Think Different debuts on October 13th, 2012 at 8:00 PM in the Brewery Arts Complex at 642 Moulton Avenue in Los Angeles, California. @XVALA