Cloth figures faceless, uncanny and anonymous. Their angular anatomy and human-likeness is reminiscent of primitive representation of humans, or, rather, of the android human-like robots that are soon to populate the earth. In either case, the robots are shaped in the likes of their maker. In creating robots, Rad Hourani redefines humanity and identity, as in to reach consciousness, creating his limitless reality rather than letting himself be created by society. The robots challenge us to question ourselves as to whether we are individually programmed or living by our own free will...

 

Through color symbolism, the viewer may be tempted to attribute fabricated traits to the figures: the yellow one is playful. The purple one is a girl. The black one is mysterious. These thoughts are the fruit of our own programmation: the robots are identical blank slates, devoid of any real signifiers, reflections of our own robotic state. We are therefore marionettes to societal constructs, and letting these control every will and decision we could make, beyond our comprehension or reach. As we begin to understand this and as our perception shift in favor of the robots, we begin to ponder whether these blank beings, unprogrammed after all as they are filled with foam and not wires, capable of being modeled into any identity, may be more liberated, and superior to our own pre-set psyche.

 

Scaled to Rad Hourani’s height, the robots relate the viewer to their own humanity, facing them as equals. Their offsprings, half-sized replicas of the the full-size figures, nest in their arms, wrapped around themselves and each other in pastiche of a human child’s stuffed toy, as if to probe the viewer into questioning the legitimacy of having children, little robots that bear their likeness, that they will get to program in their turn. Above the maker, larger than the artist, it embodies the soul and essence of its kin. These cloth sculptures contextualize our own humanity in relation to The Other, the familiarity of their plush bodies contrasting with the dooming reality of Artificial Intelligence.

 

 

 

 

This series of portraits taps into the collective conscious of portraiture as a means of control and propaganda. Political and religious leaders have, and continue to distribute their image and display their wealth and power through carefully curated official portraits, their likeness in painting keeping a watchful eye on the people in the ruler’s physical absence, even long after their reign had passed. In this series, Rad Hourani presents his 7 figures, effectively rendered in full-length grandiose majesty of Baroque portraits.

 

Upon closer examination, we begin to notice that what we assumed, from afar, was the unequivocal stroke of a brush against coarse canvas, is actually photo manipulation, and is, more likely, the result of the stroke of a cursor against a digitalized document. Rad Hourani introduces these manipulated, hybrid photo-paintings into the artistic narrative of historical portraiture as contemporary, technology-enabled forms of Impressionism.

 

The digital paintings also raises a concern as to what it means to be human in our computerized times, and how humanity is valued now that robots and programs can imitate human talent. In our era, both the artist and the sitter are artificial, and as such, the way we interact with art is affected. Timeless and anachronistic, the viewer may be enticed to feel as though they are gazing upon Royal portraits of times gone by, or, perhaps, at prophetic omens of a time that has not yet come.

 

 

 

Rad Hourani’s gowns probes into the complex relationship between dress, power and identity. The clothing we wear is a direct reflection of who we are, and where we stand in society. Spanning centuries, royalty have set a dressing standard for their subjects to adhere to, and an unattainable standard to set themselves above others. Different cuts and textiles served, and continue to serve as socio-political markers, setting women and men, rich and poor apart. Rad Hourani creates an assortment of 7 neutral sculptures to render his vision of a world lead by a united conscious structure.

 

Although clothing is what allows for categorization, whether it is class or gender, Rad Hourani’s vision is one of neutrality. By using noble materials such as fine silks, velvet, or textile adorned with sequins, all made out of 30 meters of said fine materials each, the garments appear as ceremonial vestments, both alien and familiar, ancient artifact converging with architectural form, intimidating by their splendor. Not unlike the royal gowns of yore, Rad Hourani’s neutral ensembles instills a sense of intrigue and respect amongst the viewers.

 

Nonetheless, his vision introduces a neutral ruling class, secular and unidentifiable: the sculptures are created in his signature genderless anatomy that erases and encompass both genders, accessorized with masks that conceals the identity of the wearer. By veiling all human identifiers, the ensembles present themselves as cryptic entities, powerful and transcendent. It is the lack of identity that makes the pieces all the more powerful: fear of the unknown and the incomprehensible, what is beyond human, is the mightiest tool of control.

 

 

 

 

 

In presenting flags made out of the leftover scraps of the same materials as his neutral gowns sculptures, Rad Hourani introduces revolutionary fervor into his ideal. Crafted from the once noble textiles, the flags stand for the masses taking back what should belong to all, the class responsible for the production of the very same textiles. Not unlike the iconic red flag, emblem of uprising against the ruling class, Rad Hourani’s flags appropriate the symbol of those in power to magnify the oppressed. Quilted into a banner rather than sewn into majestic habits, the flags seem as though they were created by a fictional united class, to brandish as their nation’s emblem. Under these banners, every individual ascends as their own ruler.

 

The flags are also born from Rad Hourani’s environmental concerns: they ensure that no waste resulted from his creations. All scraps are thus utilized to create sustainable artworks. The patterns created within the banners are, as well, reminiscent of data graphs, bars of computerized personal information that register the contemporary state of being. It is in taking back ownership of our collected data for our own liberation rather than as a means of manipulation, and raising against environmental waste, that the human of the age of the computer can truly recover free will and uncover a new definition of luxury: consciousness.