This post is from a series of deeper dives into the work of artists contributing to #TezQuakeAid. For more information on how you can support the relief efforts, click here.
Stu Sontier (@stusontier) is an experimental photographer from New Zealand, Aotearoa in Māori. He works to push the boundaries of photography in his art with choices of subject matter and examining how images are created in his works of post-photography. Stu has a background in engineering electronics and was inspired to hone his art after discovering Dada and other anti-establishment art that questions the values and direction of society. He imbues this perspective in his black and white photography of protests and activism in Aotearoa, and by prioritizing lower environmental impact spaces to display his visual art. The latter led to him finding the Tezos community. Today Stu mints on Teia (alt account), Versum and occasionally on 8bidou.
Inspiration from Looking at the Whole Picture
For Stu, examining the process of producing the image in visual art coincides with documenting and developing a concern for natural and social systems:
“The work is created from an environmental awareness that infuses its creation. My art has developed through a sense of justice, ethics, and the increasing assault on our small, but important, ecosystems. An open attitude to visual experience and of 'what happens if...', of coincidental and random outcomes are drivers.”
Post-Photography: Beyond the Camera
Stu relays that the genre of post-photography is focused on how the interplay between the wide range of visual information permeating digital culture and its role in society informs their developing output. Stu is drawn to this because he enjoys experimenting with how the subject and process can work together. This often requires deploying a variety of methods depending on the questions the work poses.
Recently, a focus on the theme of reuse has led to one project examining imagery from satellite mapping platforms, like Google Earth, and another where waste ink from inkjet printers infuses waste photographic paper. Post-photography also invites Stu to draw from his background in electronics engineering, where he has used failing inkjet printers to produce digitally decomposed images and then take the serial outputs of these decomposed images to builds gifs. The combination creates both subtle shifts and disinhibited movements. He jokes that occasionally, he will use a camera in his art practice.
Community With a Cause
In 2021 Stu was looking for online spaces to show work and had started experimenting with NFT platforms. The same week he had minted his first piece on OpenSea, he then read from Memo Atken about the environmental costs associated with Proof of Work. During the immediate search for alternatives, Hic et Nunc (HEN) was recommended by French artist Joanie Lemercier. By serendipity, the first objkt4objkt happened the same week as Stu was starting with HEN. Excited and encouraged by seeing all the new work and meeting new artists, Stu decided to focus on and commit to Tezos as his art-based blockchain of choice.
When HEN was discontinued in November 2021, Stu joined with others such as @TheBadLament, Mumu and Merchant Coppola in the discussions leading to Teia.art. Stu has been involved with most of the HEN and Teia fundraisers, including #SoSColombia, #Tez4Iran, fundraisers for flood aid in Malaysia and the Philippines, and now #TezQuakeAid.
Both of Stu's works for #TezQuakeAid highlight how mapping systems, especially those of Google, present a fictionalized version of reality where removal and recreation of data is often invisible. The project used Google Earth to investigate how clouds are algorithimcally shown and removed, and the processes of stitching and preparing maps to be available for display.
Both pieces are donating 100% of sales to the fundraiser. "untitled zoomorphic map form with partially removed clouds" is an edition of 31, with 10 copies still available at a price point of 2 XTZ each. "for many there is no notion of a calm after the storm" is a 1/1 item priced at 160 XTZ, still available on primary.
We'd like to thank Stu for creating such thought provoking and compelling art, in addition to being such a huge help when it comes to facilitating the showcases of #TezQuakeAid art. He's been a fantastic help to us all and we appreciate his efforts.