Jacob C. Hammes

Jacob C. Hammes is an interdisciplinary artist from living and working in Chicago. Jacob grew up in rural Iowa and received his BFA at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2004. Hammes’ work is a broad exploration of the ambiguous distinction between perception and belief and the physical and psychological conditions that inform the experience of space and sensory perception. Hammes has exhibited and performed throughout the US and internationally, including New Capitol Gallery in Chicago, the Grunwald Museum at Indiana University and Te Tuhi Centre for the Arts in Auckland, NZ. Hammes’ work and various projects have been reviewed in publications such as Art Papers, Proximity Magazine, and the Leonardo Music journal. Hammes currently works as Media Technician at the Hyde Park Art Center in Chicago. Jacob completed a summer residency at ACRE this year. Later on, we will catch up with him about his practice, process and residency experience.

“The inevitable pull towards consumption of new media suggests a well-established, powerful desire to be more completely immersed in the simulacra of sound and moving image. But as each new technology begins with a certain aura of luxury, the progress of technology goes only towards obsolescence.  For many of us who grew up in the 80s and 90s, the ever-present glow of television in the home made the VCR and VHS tape essential to our development. Video itself provided an escape, empowering us to watch, and before we knew how to negotiate our desires, we found ourselves submitting to the alluring trance of video, and watched it establish itself as a dominant force: entertainer, educator, and status symbol. The concerns of older generations who saw the popularity of video like a drug informing our desires was never greater than during this period, but as the development of digital media has overthrown the dominant class of magnetic tape, VHS passed the gauntlet to its more attractive, technologically superior offspring.

Like the child whose bicycle transforms into a motorcycle using a playing card, the simple act of pretending signals a temporary transcendence. In this new body of work, Hammes explores the division between newness and obsolescence as an analog to questions of optimism versus pessimism. Stacks of modified VCRs scream with the atonal sound of metal on metal, a mechanical drone that suggests a violent breaking down of the mechanism. A disassembled fan spins clock radios flashing 12:00 at a speed that blurs the red LED display and makes telling time impossible. The neon glow of the familiar Harley-Davidson logo spins on a motor at 1000 RPMs, visually transformed into a colorful flashing mandala. Using light, sound, and kinetics, the work in 21 Motorcycles exploits the still functioning mechanical properties of consumer technologies, often putting them to use in even more primitive functions. The intense volume and motion of Hammes’ new series suggests an emotional release of aggression of a flawed technology unwanted by its user. Within these modifications the machine transcends its failures by confronting the transient cultural status of its own obsolescence.”

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  1. […] Previously featured on Make Space, Jacob C. Hammes discusses his studio practice and experiences with artist residencies, specifically his most recent one at ACRE Residency. Make sure to check out his work in person at Roxaboxen Exhibitions this weekend. […]