We owe our visions of the future to the relatively unknown artist and engineer Syd Mead. Menna Aden photographs personal spaces from a lightbulb’s perspective. Cai Guo Qiang’s explosions rival the accidental Fourth of July fireball unleashed by the city of San Diego. Ken Solomon immortalizes the Facebook pages of other guys named Ken Solomon. A student activist lights up a cigar at the president of Columbia University’s desk.
When she was twelve years old, Panni Malekzadeh found her father’s stash of Playboy magazines buried in the closet. The experience fueled her sensual portrait paintings of young Persian women.
You see a Facebook profile page, results from a Google Image search, or a YouTube video reel. Ken Solomon sees a work of art.
In a recent op-ed piece for the New York Times, writer Charles McGrath attempts to unpack the question of whether bad people can create good art. Obviously evil deeds don’t prevent a person from making something awesome. McGrath goes further, arguing that the traits of bad people facilitate artistic genius.