Jamie Marshall, known on Instagram as K_E_R_B, (@k_e_r_b_) is a digital artist who draws upon a wide range of inspiration in his works. Looking at his Instagram page, these numerous influences become evident in the variety of subject matter and meaning that emerges. nature, popular culture and contemporary political events all appear throughout Marshall’s works.
Images such as ‘Old Man with Fire Inside’ and ‘Bad Decisions’ both use classical sculptures as their base, however, they undergo a digital transformation that imbues the inanimate material with movement and life. Colour and dynamism make these familiar forms into something brand new, emphasising both the persistence of art’s history but also the way in which contemporary art is manifesting in the digital world.
A series of images titled ‘Crypto Punk’ use a portrait as their main foundation. The male shoulders and head are decorated with typical punk associations such as brightly coloured spiked hair, black and white clown-like makeup and a scattering of tattoos. However, these tattoos read ‘Crypto punk’, drawing a connection, again between the past, the present, and the future. Harking back to the punk era of the 1970s, Marshall reimagines the typicalities of the style with the new influence of our increasingly web-based existence. These images convey age-old notions of rejecting the mainstream, alternativism and being a step ahead in terms of what will come next.
Marshall engages with the realities of our current world and our relationship to it in a number of works that deal with the environment and political events. In ‘This House is Burning Down’ he reflects upon the effects of carbon dioxide in the earth’s atmosphere and its impact on global warming. Setting the confrontational title against a background of flickering flames, the intensity and importance of the message is perfectly conveyed. The danger of climate change is not disguised or made more digestible but rather depicted harshly and impactfully. His recent work ‘Steps’ is the artist's response to the storming of the United States Capitol in January this year. Using an image of police in riot gear surrounded by colourful graffiti-inspired script conveys the sense of extreme public unrest that flooded the United States as a result of the actions of the supporters of Donald Trump against the United States Congress. The image is flooded with a sense of chaos and civilian panic, conveying the realities of the situation itself. Marshall avoids using any identifying markers that situate this scene specifically in the United States, suggesting that such scenes are in fact universal and are a worldly reality rather than succumbing to national restrictions.
Jamie Marshall examines key points of contemporary existence, in both the good and the bad through the potential of digital art. The medium itself plays a significant role in the presentation of the current world in which we live and the instability of the future to come. Through Instagram, a survey of modern existence in all its manifestations is explored in complex, intricate, and intriguing ways.
Follow Gabriella on her Instagram @gabsyloo_