Craig van den Bosch’s intricate, futuristic, 2.5-D collages burst from the walls like imagined stills from the upcoming movie Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
Like many Sci-Fi movies, van den Bosch has created a fantastic alternate universe (Nanoverse) of dystopian and utopian imagery. Stretching the boundaries of mixed media collage, van den Bosch’s world features geometrically shaped Nano Systems comprised of densely layered found images assembled in asymmetrical mandala forms resembling orbiting planet surfaces that move through the larger Nanoverse. On the Nano System surface, narratives unfold to tell Stories from the Nanoverse as well as other Nano System details such as augmented body parts, manufactured viruses made of Chroma material, miniature cast resin robots (nanobots) and even an electronic music soundtrack of collaged sounds.
The effect is all encompassing and serves to illuminate van den Bosch’s large-than life theme: the evolutionary dynamics of biology and technology intersections.
“Technology pursues perfection, but our cultural and personal stories come from humanity’s imperfections, van den Bosch observes. “As we evolve, can the balance between technology and biology be achieved without losing what makes us human?”
Commenting on the warp speed of technologies such as computerization, robotics and bionics melding with our lives, van den Bosch says his work poses a number of theoretical and ethical questions. “Technology can challenge how humanity interprets and interacts with reality,” he explains. “Will technology offer a new utopian paradigm? Will technology unshackle social Sisyphean behaviorism? Will humanity transcend the limits of body, mind and spirit? Or alternatively, he says, will civilization be overwhelmed by too many technologies advancing too quickly.
Van den Bosch’s influences in creating his multi-dimensional Nanoverse are many, including Picasso’s cubist paintings, Carl Jung’s study of mandalas, comic book superheroes, the concepts of quantum physics and the work of theoretical physicist and cosmologist Stephen Hawking, computer scientist and futurist Ray Kurzweil and media theorist and cultural theorist Neil Postman.
Van den Bosch’s own mind and personal aesthetics were headed toward outer space since his boyhood, which was consumed with the futuristic and cosmic–science fiction literature, comics and films such as the Star Wars trilogy. His fascination with technology, a close parallel, was fed by his family’s possession of the earliest models of personal computers. And he was thinking about the meshing of technology and biology in the early stages of his art career when creating visual narratives collaged with “technology augmentations portraying enhanced human concepts.”
Presently, Van den Bosch is collaging in many directions. Incorporated in his multi-media work as an individual artist , as part of a three-person collage collective The Collagemonauts with Marty Gordon and Tim Manthey who are currently at work on a collage-based graphic novel or when composing found sound imagery, audio and props for choreographer K arin Stevens. No matter where his next projects lead
him, they are bound to draw from his exploration of technology’s effect on mankind, whether perverse or for the greater good.
By Cynthia Hibbard