The future feels familiar with the cheeky cyber-collages of Lordess Foudre
Each one is a bouquet of classic art emblems, vintage '90s-era GeoCities nostalgia and the sort of idealistic future fantasies our moms' mom incorrectly imagined about life in the new millennium. The culmination is a scene where time drops its linear song-and-dance becomes fractalized; half-present with contemporary symbolism and half-distant with features we can dream of, but will probably never see. In the mix are themes of sex, technology, isolation and time travel and your dad; all presented neatly with cheeky, meme-like text that gives her images social currency.
If that sounds obscure, that's because it is. Or, at least it is verbally, a problem which Foudre uses her art to address.
"I've been chasing after ways to express obscure emotions for a long time," she tells me. "This type of art is a way for me to communicate ideas and feelings that would be almost impossible to bring up naturally in conversation."
To make each piece, Foudre starts with the text.
"It's usually a product of whatever social exchanges, arguments, or experiences are going on in my life at the moment," she says. "The sillier, more absurdist ideas are typically just a reaction to social media at large."
Then, she uses a combination of iPhone photos, collage, texture and good ol' fashioned country hand drawings to create an image, which she edits extensively with programs that "weren't designed for what I use them to do, so I end up with slightly off kilter or skewed results."
Enchanted by the way Foudre's work makes the future feel like it just happened yesterday, and how she so adeptly pokes at the psychological wounds social media has subjected us to, we sought her out and chatted her up about the embarrassing pseudo-cool of the early internet, what all this has to do with time travel, and what the future holds for humankind.
Let's start with the why. What makes you create this kind of art? What keeps you interested and motivated?
It's a compulsion at this point. I think that once I realized I was good at actually conveying the thoughts or feelings I was attempting to get across through an artwork; it became a necessary form of expression for me.
I consume information like a fiend. I'll be working on artwork and listening to rigorous intellectual conversations or outright debates, FBI interrogations, long form arguments and criticisms, audiobooks and podcasts; etc and so on. I always have around 6 artworks in progress at all times and several arguments being formed in my brain. I naturally seek out vituperative, melodramatic, and abjectly ridiculous content. I'm inspired and motivated by extremes.
I'm also interested in how the internet (especially in the old days) erased identity and provided social anonymity, and then people became obsessed with the minutia of their personal identities partly as a result of having to explain who they are to everyone. Its the natural extension of "A/S/L" on a grand scale. I like the idea of making disposable, corporate art look like it has withstood the test of time. As if someone in the year 3000 inherited my ridiculous artwork as an heirloom.
Much of your work seems to focus on both the feeling and aesthetics of how technology can simultaneously connect and isolate us. What are your feelings about that? How has tech impacted how you interact with society personally?
I didn't coin this term, but I think a lot of our isolation can be explained by 'the narcissism of small differences.' We are objectively more connected than ever, and we can clearly see how very similar we all are, so we look for anything that can separate ourselves from the herd. 'I must be an individual, right?' Our supposed isolation is somewhat self-imposed, I think. It may also be partly illusory or a self deception to spare us from the pain of being so ordinary.
I enjoy solitude when I can have it because I believe in the notion of social obligation. Alone, I can do what I like and create what I like. If I go out, I expect to jump into the pool and get wet. I don't expect the pool to become me, and I don't pee in the pool if I don't like the temperature.
Misunderstandings about sex and relationships also seem to be a thing. What aspect of modern love and sex impact you most?
I think sex is hysterical. Hysterically emotional and hysterically funny. Dating is boring; I've never used a dating app or website. Though, I must admit that if I'm in a relationship, I take it very seriously; probably to a fault. I worry quite a bit, watching what I say so that it never poisons how we feel about each other. Basically, I make a fool out of myself. I think the internet has altered people's sexual preferences, including me of course; which is a source of great comedy.
You are really adept at creating these dystopian settings which are half historical and half futuristic. I almost imagine it to be what someone from the '30s thought the future would be like today. It feels a lot like time travel, like if your time travel machine shorted out and launched you into a space where all time is one as opposed to one long string of periods and eras. Am I crazy?
For some reason, time travel has always struck a particularly emotional chord in me. I sometimes feel like certain concepts that end up in my art are coming from a future version of myself. I can remember moments in my life where I stopped and thought, "I know when, where, and how this train is going to crash" and yet I got onboard anyway. I try to incorporate that obscure feeling into my art. The 'out of time' elements you've pointed out are meant to give a timeless weight to an immaterial piece of art. It's vapor. You can't touch it but you can breathe it in. You can't carry it but it can become a part of you.
A lot of your imagery old-web, GeoCities-style aesthetics which arouses a lot of nostalgia — what's behind your fascination with the pre-pubescent web?
I think we are in a generation that can look back on the early days of the internet and romanticize it. The early days of mass internet culture, with its chat rooms, games, MIDI music, animated GIFs, and GeoCities websites; it elt so cool but also very embarrassing at the same time. Even back then, when music videos or TV shows tried to incorporate 'internet culture,' it was always pure cringe. It's interesting, now that time has passed and the internet is the dominant form of cultural exchange, that we can look back on those early days with love instead of total shame. It's like watching an old home video of your child doing something embarrassing. It's endearing.
Since you have such a unique ability to foresee the future through your work — or at least many of your pieces feel futuristic — what features and stylings do you think the near future hold for us?
In the future, everyone will have to wear a screen around their necks. And on those screens, the number of Instagram followers a person has will be displayed in Comic Sans font. And it will be legal for you to do whatever you want to anyone who has a lower number than you.
Anything else you'd like to say to the world at large?
I only go where I'm invited, I don't want to push my nonsense on anyone! I'm sure I will show my work in a public space at some point, though nothing is concrete. I do have some interesting plans for when that day comes. Also, one time I got an empty envelope in the mail, and hand written on the back were the words: 'You (sic) going to be cyber famous.'
All artwork courtesy of artist.