Boy, did you dudes and dudettes enjoy Eli Morgan Gesner’s souvenirs in the Ricky Oyola post below… As “too much Eli Morgan Gesner” is not an expression that’s part of my vocable, here’s some more -this time commenting the three Illuminati decks we got from Adam Schatz to exhibit at last year’s show in Paris, Public Domaine…
Eli Morgan Gesner: “Even before we started Zoo York in 1993, Rodney Smith, Adam Schatz, and myself, Eli Morgan Gesner, had always had a fascination with the idea of secret societies, the Masonic Orders, the Illuminati, et al. The fascination was not with the ritual or the fraternity of it all, but with the idea of power and the manipulation of the masses.
Adam Schatz actually holds an MA in Media Ecology from NYU. ‘Practice Truth. Fear Nothing’ was the mantra of Zoo York. But despite this idealistic slogan, all of us knew very well that ‘Power Defines Truth’. And this is what we wanted to address with Illuminati.
As a side note, during the 1990’s our downstairs neighbor at Zoo York was the studio of the artist Matthew Barney, who, now that I think about, uses Masonic symbolism heavily in his work. Strange to think the two of us were independently exploring these themes at precisely the same time and place.”
1. Illuminati Logo deck
“As a teenager, working freelance at a large design firm, I happened upon a dusty file cabinet. Inside were dozens and dozens of antique Stock Certificates. The art on them was amazing and inspirational. So I helped myself to a few. This one I always loved. The Goddess reviewing her data with the Earth by her side. Perfect for Illuminati. Next, and most important, was the message; the point of the company.
As a rule, I never like to spell things out for people. I want them to invest some thought into my work, and in doing so, take ownership of it. Also, the cryptic nature of the ‘Illuminati’ lent itself to mystery. So, in the ‘mission statement’ for Illuminati I stated what it was we were doing, but not what the exact product was. What is the most valuable commodity on earth? I wanted the sharper members of the skate community to ponder this. Or even discuss. Lastly, trying to address the value the Masonic orders give to materials, I wanted the actual wood of the board to be apparent and glorified. I wanted to use Birdseye Maple for the bottom veneer and then polish it, like fine furniture in an executives office. But this is the best we could do at the time.
All and all I am very pleased with this piece. It achieved exactly what it was created for. And was definitely a step in a smarter direction for skateboarding than Flame Boy and Wet Willie.”
2. Illuminati Anaesthesia
“When religion just can’t ease the pain”. I love this graphic. It’s humorous, obvious, and much deeper than what it seems. Clearly I’m addressing the saturation of media and it’s manipulation of the masses.
By hand I made this collage of magazine clippings, focused around this modern, blond Adonis version of Jesus. This was inspired by my Uncle, Clark Gesner’s book ‘Stuff etc.’ which uses collage to address how media devalues the power of the message; how it desensitizes us. Also, Adam Schatz’s professor Neil Postman’s book ‘Amusing Ourselves To Death’ was a key influence on this. And that is all very clear. The TV in the center, with the Illuminati Eye forever watching. This is all clearly a statement on how Media has replaced Religion as the opiate of the masses.
This is a key theme (ironically) in all the work I did for Illuminati. The subtext of this piece is, to me, hilarious, and kind of comforting. I became aware of a theory that the true power of television is not in the escapism, but in the abstracted attention the television gives the viewer. That TV in effect nurtures the viewers narcissistic tendencies. The show is not the issue, it’s that the show is there for you, the viewer. That by simply watching TV the viewer is being addressed as an entity. It validates their existence. And comforts them. So, in that sense, I am showing the Illuminati Eye as the loving care taker, not the suspicious and invasive Big Brother. ‘The world’s most popular anesthetic”
3. Illuminati Ricky Oyola “Akhenaten”
“Ricky Oyola’s Illuminati Pro Model -all about the strange and mysterious Egyptian Pharaoh Akhenaten. There’s a lot of text on this piece and I think it explains a lot about Akhenaten and the reason for his importance, especially to Secret Societies.
Graphicaly speaking, this piece took a back seat to the dense wordage. But I like that. The skateboard deck as an artistic medium is always regulated to images. But why not text? This was something that I wanted to get deeper into with Illuminati. I was actually developing a series of boards that were just essays. And I loved that idea. The idea of disseminating information to key individuals, who would read it, set the baord up, and then through the act of skating, destory the message like a secret agent. Rick loved Illuminati, as did we all.
Unfortunatly, we had to stop the company, as Sporting Goods and Games fall into the same category in the US and the famous Playing Card game ‘Illuminati’ contested. C’est la vie.”