Kevin Hayes: iPhone Artist
Kevin Hayes is a photographer, a philosopher, and a wit. His taste for the obscure, absurd, and socially distorted has lead him to the wonderful world of digital collage. From the never ending stream of effluvia that makes for Instagram’s success, Hayes peruses and considers images for maximum effect. A photographer in his own right, he is a collector and commentator as well, and once he made these images he sent them off by text to a list of one hundred friends.
Hayes’ Instagram images became an inside joke between artists from all walks of life: photographer, painters, musicians, people dotting the east and west coasts with their own brand of art. The result was a sequence of images that were at once low-brow enough to become comments of the low brow aesthetic itself, our willful conversion into a world filled with disposable memes, stock photos, and celebrity worship. Hayes states, “Day to day things blow me away, like that photograph of Bobby Brown. If that’s not fine art, I want nothing to do with fine art. That means so much to me.”
Hayes goes on Instagram and searches for images of things that lie deep in his heart, things like #IronMike and #DynamiteKid and #VanessaDelRio and #PeopleEatingBananas and #Kittens and #Tupac. “You have to think like an eBay seller who might not know what they have,” Hayes observes, so he intentionally misspells words in order to find that golden needle in a haystack.
For Hayes, the search is half the fun. He would take breaks while working, whip open an app, and search for #PhatAzz and #Biggie and #Puppies. And from the collection that he curates, he would appropriate the images into something new, something familiar yet foreign, something we know but do not know at all by placing incongruent images next to each other in provocative and seemingly nonsensical ways. Yet, despite the absurdity of these images, Hayes holds to his own brand of intellectual ideals.
“In my opinion art is subjective because we are placing meaning on these things. Objectively, this is a photograph of Steve Urkel, but sentimentally, it’s deep,” Hayes observes. “In viewing things somewhat philosophically I've learned that I believe it's not about what's art or none art or art to fine art for if you engender something that doesn't need to exist besides the fact that you wanted it to—I love it.”
Even the concept would blow my mind, that’s why I want to engender this world. It’s not whether this is fine art or not; it’s where the passion lies. If you’ve created something, I love it because it does not need to exist.”
It is just those things that do not need to exist that turn Hayes’ head. It is the small pleasure in life, the charm of cute critters, the thrill of porn stars, the drama of Hip Hop. These photographs become a continuum upon which Hayes can share his own aestheticism. Mike Tyson is preferred over Einstein or Malcolm X. Puppies are American vernacular. Vanessa Del Rio is the gift that keeps on giving.
It is here, in the space where unrelated images meet that Hayes finds an abstract yet iconoclastic way to talk about the world in which we live. A world that is at once serious and facetious, ironic and earnest, and most of all—driven by the need to communicate with others through image, music, and text, through handheld devices, and through the sharing of a constant stream of digital information. “So much of my stuff is on someone’s phones,” Hayes casually mentions, in the way that so much of all of our lives are being recorded by handheld devices these days. “Occupy phones,” he adds, with just the right touch of sincerity.
One night exhibition of photographs by Hayes & colleagues
Gallery Bar, New York. USA
November 30, 2012, opening at 8pm.