Drawing usually involves making dark marks on
light paper. His papercuts entail using lots of X-Acto blades to slice the light parts out of the image and leave webs of the dark lines and shapes. The extra effort of this indirect approach, the delicate handcraft of carving around his images rather than drawing them directly, invigorates the work.
Over the past several years, Ruin says he has begun to question the limitations of activist art. “I decided that I’m not very good at this stuff so I’m just going to focus on making my art,” he says. “I’m also interested in what art can do when it’s not trying to be so useful.”
At Machines With Magnets, his oppositions of Heaven versus Hell and abundance versus scarcity, can feel predictable. It’s too easy to read them as equations where you already know the answers, rather than stopping you and opening paths for fresh contemplation. But the projected images of pastoral landscapes and devastation, angels and demons, are badass. Ruin allows you to shift the images on the overhead projectors to form new combinations. He wants you to walk around and have your shadow mix into his visions.
One of the questions Ruin is mulling is, “What does it mean to leave behind your sorrows?” With his pictures glowing in the darkness, he’s aiming for a bit of transcendence: “I wanted something that literally felt like being in a different world.”
Follow Greg Cook on Twitter @Aestheticresear.