Giant baby head masks? Yeah, we talk about that and more with artist Landon Meier
Last week, the Internetz finally caught wind of Denver-based artist Landon Meier's exceptionally creepy Hyperflesh masks, most notably with a 2009 video of a creepy family walking down the 16th Street Mall with baby heads on. Meier's masks have got a bit more traction recently with a perfect storm of accidental publicity, from a Mets game to a performance piece on Youtube and a quick shot on Mythbusters. Meier sells the masks for $250 a piece on his website, but it's not going to stop with just the babies. We caught up with him to talk about the masks, the videos and more.
Westword: So, I guess let's just start with how the masks came to be.
Landon Meier: I've always been interested in the horror genre and special effects. About fifteen years ago I traveled up to Distortions in Greeley and that kind of sparked my interest in creating latex masks as a viable way to make art. It lets me entertain my love for the horror genre and special effects.
But more than that, it's about the surreal -- whether it's Salvador Dali, Francis Bacon or H.R. Geiger -- I like the concept of taking life and mixing it up. Quite literally -- taking a baby head and putting it on an adult. I want to take my art beyond the stigma of a latex Halloween mask. I like the idea of people wearing these to the supermarket on a random day and terrifying other people. The idea of unwilling audience members getting a shock -- invasive art, I guess.
WW : What was it like actually filming that video on the mall?
LM: It was a blast. I got two of my friends and convinced everybody to do it -- it was the Taste of Colorado -- and we knew the mall was going to be packed. I had them walk from one end to the other and filmed it. But two weeks ago there was only 20,000 hits on it (ed: There are 438,343 now).
WW: Then it just kind of blew up on blogs everywhere out of nowhere.
LM: Yeah, it was kind of a perfect storm, there is a video called "I Am Your Grandma" where this artist woman uses it. Then another customer wore it to a Mets game and it got rained out. So he was one of the only ones left there and he's right behind home plate and the camera can't really pan anywhere except at this god-awful baby head.
WW: How did the mask end up Mythbusters?
LM: You know, on a whim I thought, "This is something that Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman would like." So, I sent one of them to M5 Studios and about a month later Jamie Hyneman send me a letter and ordered the other two. They were on a couple different episodes last season.
WW: So what's next?
LM: Man, there is a lot I want to do -- but I definitely want to expand my celebrity series of masks. I guess I'll always be looking for the "Charlie Sheen" of right now. I think if they're done real enough they can throw people who don't know -- if they see someone walking down the street and they see this, they're like, "Oh my God is that Charlie Sheen? But his head's too big." It's that out-of-body surreal experience.
WW : How long does it take to make one of these?
LM: The Cry Baby, ironically, took me nine months to sculpt -- not literally, of course. But to get the expression right.
It depends on the process; the baby heads were liquid latex, and I used mold-and-casting. The Charlie Sheen was silicon and more complicated process, but it's kind of the latest and greatest technology. The celebrity ones take lots of research on Google Images or if I can find a good video clip of the expression I want.
It's a challenge -- it's one thing to draw some in two dimensions, but the translation to 3D is tough. A lot of it is just trial and error until it feels right.
Speaking of feeling right, here's a video of Grandma taking the baby out to play on a clitoris slide.
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