This Friday, our favorite punster and local artist, Hanksy, offers up a virtual reality version of his Surplus Candy L.A. exhibit at 359 Grand St. The show in L.A. was a large scale artist takeover of an abandoned mansion in the downtown area (Hanksy organized his first one-night only takeover in an NYC tenement in 2014) – artists secretly come together from all over the country to paint, tag and create artwork to show off in a transitory “exhibition,” and then paint over everything the next day.
We checked in with Hanksy about the upcoming show, what he’s been working on lately and his famous “Dump Across America” campaign:
What was your inspiration for this show?
For the last few years I’ve been consistently focused on transitory events and art. Throwing together completely immersive environments that disappear as quickly as they appear. There one day, gone the next. Although lately both the activity high and budget seem to fade faster and faster. So when I started planning an L.A. version of Surplus Candy, the building takeover I first put together in the East Village a few years back, I wanted to figure out how to extend the exhibition.
70+ artists spent five days painting the interior of this abandoned mansion in Downtown L.A. I then revealed the location and just under 3,000 people walked through in few hours. The next day we painted everything over. It was a blast and it was hot as hell inside, but it was all over so quickly. Which can always be a significant buzzkill. How do we extend the exhibition while still keeping the hyper-transitory origins intact?
Our solution was to go from room to room and document everything in virtual reality. So that’s what we did. Myself and ME (another artist from the neighborhood) built and constructed a 3D rig from rubber bands and six knock-off GoPros.
It’s basically a “choose your own adventure” art show that allows users to go from room to room and see artwork that only existed for a very small window of time. Without the paint fumes.
What highlights should people look for?
It’s a pretty stripped down exhibition with the main component being encased within personal smart phones. But in addition to the multiple VR headsets available for use, we’ve been able transform a raw space with various ‘relics’ from the 2015 Los Angeles house. Including mural fragments and the DIY 360 camera rig we filmed everything on.
I really enjoy putting on unique exhibitions and this one’s no different. It’ll be worth the trip out on a Friday night.
Is virtual reality our future?
Every ten years or so we’ll hear that it’s the next big thing or that it’s here to stay. The idea bubbles up and quickly pops. This time might be different though. The technology is readily available and it’s in the hands of creatives. Which usually pushes things forward.
I know it’ll only be a couple decades until we are all overweight and bedridden with sores whilst escaping via virtual headsets, but until then how cool would it be to be a kid in the Midwest taking a virtual tour of the most recent Met exhibition or scroll through an archive of past MoMa shows?
I’m actually pretty shocked major institutions haven’t utilized the technology yet. It’s a simple way to give indefinite life to short-lived exhibits. The VR experience I built is the first of its kind.
You’ve been expanding your reach and materials beyond puns and street art…What’s been the most rewarding stuff to work on most recently?
I’ve always loved putting art in the streets and playing with topical, eye-roll inducing humor. But everything has a shelf life and I’d like to expand my weird little reach as far as I can before it all turns sour. So I’m just doing a lot of random projects. Skate decks, shoes, t-shirts. And I’ll have a rather large solo-exhibition this Spring. I’m really looking forward to that. Still light-hearted and immature, but a little more grown up.
We noticed you paused your “Dump Across America” campaign…can you tell us about that experience?
My fight against Trump was a good effort, but I didn’t want to be known as the “Dump Trump” dude, so I backed off a bit. Because even though my anti-Trump (bowel) movement was humorous and good-natured, politics will always be negative and I’m a fairly positive guy. Good thing about low-hanging fruit is that everyone can usually grab it. Every week there’s another artist going against Trump. It’s their fight now.
My image is out there. I see it on CNN, I see it at protests. It’s being sold on bootleg t-shirts in Chinatown. It’s really quite something.
Surplus Candy L.A. in VR opens on Friday, Oct. 14, from 8pm – 10pm and will run through the weekend, on Sat. and Sun., from 12pm – 6pm-ish.