Casey Kaufmann scours the internet for gold and puts it to good use. It is undeniable that her work is super charged with ideas of internet and celebrity culture and some may argue that it is thanks to her upbringing in the valley, just outside of LA. Her posts are silly, but she isn’t afraid to get political. One of my favorites is of Trump and Steve Bannon’s heads floating in a sea of pustules, zits and cysts. To be fair, that was probably a one off. Her work is usually filled with rainbows, famous people, puppies and ponies. Things most human beings can’t resist. And somewhat reminiscent to my generation’s beloved Lisa Frank.
Where in California do you live? How has it had an impact on your aesthetic? Have you ever been to Burning Man?
I’m from the San Fernando Valley in Los Angeles which is what the SF refers to in @uncannysfvalley. I currently live on the Eastside of LA but my entire family is in the Valley still and I see them at least once a week for family dinners. The sun drenched streets, turquoise pools, and neon strip malls of the Valley have had an undeniable influence on my aesthetic, but its my family that influences me more than anything else. I’m the youngest of four girls, my mother is a pageant queen from the valley and my father is a former hippie who made Barbie commercials for 30 years. Being from Los Angeles and growing up with such strong female influences has shaped my approach to feminism. I embrace plastic and the artiface; I’m attracted to subject matter that presents itself as being frivolous or superficial but reveals much deeper emotional implications. I identify as having a valley girl aesthetic with an emphasis on cultural accessibility.
LOL I’ve never been to Burning Man! So many people tell me to go and I’m sure there’s parts of it that I would love, but anyone who knows me well would agree that Burning Man is a panic attack waiting to happen (for me). I’m what you might call an introverted extrovert, I’m really loud and outgoing but I also hate crowds. There’s maybe nothing I love more than being alone which is why I became what I now call a social media artist. I wanted to circumvent the networking aspects of trying to make a name for myself in the art world by engaging viewers in Los Angeles and the world at large through instagram. I’m so grateful to have a platform that allows me to connect with so many people and find like minded makers. I think any success I’ve had reaching people reveals the democratizing potential of social media. I just wish they would go back to the old algorithm!
How instrumental is your phone to your process - can you walk us through what it is like to make one of your collages or paintings?
My phone is the only instrument, every collage on my account was created on it. I consider my phone to be my mobile studio and my photos to be my materials. This work costs me nothing to make until I decide to physically manifest it. Anyone can use this process if they have a smart phone. Again, accessibility means everything to me. My older collages were made with an app called cyberFM but now I use Photolayers.
There are two things that inspire me to make collages: either I’ve stumbled upon internet gold or I’m emotional and I have something to say. My work is autobiographical and my feed serves as a cryptic archive of my experience. I have close to 4,000 photos on my phone and I use most of them in my collages. I scour tumblr, instagram, and google for compelling images. I upload those images to photolayers, cut them out, and arrange them. I organize images for compositional harmony or thematic purpose. I try to create a sense of depth through variation in size and opacity of the images I’m using. I want to fill the space as much as possible in a way that draws the viewer's eyes throughout the final collage.
THAT FEELING WHEN YOU ARE CRIPPLED WITH FEAR AND ANXIETY AND EXCITEMENT AND YOURE NOT SURE U FIT IN THE PLACE YOU WANNA BE AND OUGHT TO HAVE DONE YER BOOK LEARNIN WHILE YOU COULD BUT YOU DIDNT BUT PEOPLE STILL THINK YOU ARE SMART BUT MAYBE YOU ARE TRICKING THEM AND YOURSELF AND YOURE NOT SMART AT ALL BUT WHATS THE DIFFERENCE AMIRIGHT?!?! aaaaHAHAHAAHA AAAAAAAGGGGGGHHHHHHH 😎#tfw #didmeafrighten #doggo #intoodeep #chillaf
What kind of phone do you have? Do you use a pop socket or have a fancy case or charms?
I have a gold iphone 6 plus with 128 gigs of storage and I call him “big sexy” cause he’s my boyfriend. He’s got a gold sparkly case that I decorated with rad stickers from @officialseanpenn that have been on there for like three years. No pop socket, but I can tell you I’ve never cracked any of my phone screens they are far too precious to me.
Do you believe in horoscopes?
I dunno I can’t help but believe in the zodiac because I totally identify with pretty much every description of a Pisces that I’ve ever read. I think there is some validity to horoscopes, but I it’s really hard to find a trustworthy, reliable source for that. I mostly think they are ambiguous relatable statements that can be applied to anyone’s life. If that provides people with a sense of peace and purpose who really cares if they are “real”?
What other mediums do you use to make art?
Alongside my digital practice I make drawings and paintings of women from reality television as well as art history. I mostly use charcoal to make highly realistic drawings with an emphasis on drama. I collect images of women unapologetically expressing heightened, often theatrical emotion. Women openly expressing anger or sexuality are engaging in acts of subversion and resistance. Compassion and sensitivity are not weaknesses. Anger is useful. My compulsion to express my own fury is my greatest motivator. In both of these bodies of work I want to show that a willingness to be vulnerable is an expression of power, not weakness or manipulation.
Where can we see more of your work?
Instagram is definitely the best place to find my work. I have a few shows coming up in Los Angeles where you can check out how I physically manifest the digital experience of @uncannysfvalley irl. I have a diptych in a show which is traveling the country right now called American Fine Arts. The show gets bigger and adds artists with every city and is definitely worth checking out if you’re in Houston, Oklahoma City, Tulsa, Kansas City, Minneapolis, Omaha, St. Louis, Cincinnati, Indianapolis, Chicago, and finally New York. You can find them on instagram at @bbqla.afa.
Images courtesy of CASEY KAUFFMANN
interview ASHLEY MUNNS
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