The iPorn Art of Michael Seri

by Karen LeBlanc

Miami Art Week 2019 Meet the Artist: Experience the Art Series

The Artist: Michael Seri

The Idea: Social Commentary on Our Addiction to Smart Devices and Social Media

The Art: iPorn Dress

Miami Art Week blurs the lines between art, design and fashion for new creative expressions that start conversations, precisely the point of provocative art. Perhaps nowhere was it more evident than in the works of artist Michael Seri and his iPorn dress on view at Art Basel Miami Beach that raises questions about our addiction to technology and social media. Michael designed and fabricated the art installation out of clear plastic embellished with broken iPhone screens and Sim cards with iPorn written in LED lights across the chest. I found Michael in an aisle at Art Basel where he was drawing a crowd with America’s Next Top Model contestant Keenyah Hill who was posing for pictures in the iPorn dress. In this marquee fair known for its blue-chip and high brow art, Michael Seri’s iPorn dress was a refreshing dose of originality and creative edge. I asked him about the big idea behind his art.

Artist Michael Seri and America’s Next Top Model Cycle 4 Keenyah Hill and The Design Tourist, aka Karen LeBlanc at Art Basel Miami

Artists hold a mirror up to society.  I’m commenting on what I see around me. This dress is not about pornography at all. It’s about being addicted to our iPhone, Michael says.  He wants the iPorn dress to be a conversation starter about how we are addicted to social media and manipulate it for our own self-serving purposes. The shattered iPhone screens that embellish the dress are emblematic of our self-absorbed culture. 

“Society is too wrapped up in social media and this need to become famous. People are willing to do anything, no matter how cheesy it is, to sell their soul for the attention, the likes, the followers. That not art. It’s not creative,” Michael says. His gallery, Detritus Designs LLC, based in  Brooklyn (Dumbo), New York features idiosyncratic objects that reflect his life experiences and Dada philosophy merging art, design, and fashion in an ironic platform that is both vernacular and open to interpretation. 

He deconstructs and re-interprets found objects to represent the cycle of death and re-birth. His art reveals the history of the original object yet places it in a cultural context that is both vernacular and 21st century. “My art creates a distinct but unresolved dialogue that is ironic and open to interpretation,” Michael says.

Art that goes beyond an aesthetic appeal to make a statement, provoke a thought or pose a question is what captures my imagination and challenges my intellect. It’s that type of art that I’m most drawn to at a time when I believe introspection is urgent and necessary. Art forces the question, the thought, the self-examination. Michael’s iPorn dress is both social commentary and ironically Instagrammable porn, drawing countless selfies and smart device videos at Art Basel. At some point the crowds were so thick around the model, Michael commented that he might get thrown out of Art Basel for creating such a disruption. But then again, isn’t that a fundamental purpose of art? Disruption—calling attention and creating a buzz to challenge the status quo.

For more on the artist and highlights from Art Basel Miami Beach, stay tuned for new episodes of The Design Tourist filmed during Miami Art Week. 

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