As an avid musician and fine arts major at Tulane University, Ben Moon immersed himself in the diverse artistic culture of New Orleans, participating in numerous art shows and performing regularly around town, most recently at Miami’s Art Basel.
On the first night of Art Basel, Moon gave a live performance on the rooftop at Dream Hotel South Beach, along with an interactive digital art experience in which guests were able to take part.
Inspired by Andy Warhol’s Factory Parties and the Art Happenings of the late 1960′s, Moon employs a combination of projected visuals, interactive social media, as well as live and prerecorded music to create a world where art and life come together in a radical new experience, “The World of Ben Moon.”
His multimedia experiences swallow up attendees, engulfing them in a sea of captivating sonics and visuals. From London to New York to Beijing and back, Moon has traveled all over sharing his talents with the world, leaving an unforgettable impression on his audience.
Grit Daily spoke with Moon about his most recent work.
Grit Daily: When did you begin DJing?
Ben Moon: Of the many things I’m thankful to my parents for, one of them is definitely exposing my brothers and I to great music.
As early as I can remember, my mother would always have something from her awesome record collection playing as we went about our day. I heard everything from classic rock, folk, to soul and more. So music was always a big part of our lives.
As I got older I started playing the guitar and singing while my brothers played keyboard and drums. We had a great little band. Dj’ing was also something I experimented with but only for a while, as I soon became more interested in using the tools of the dj (i.e. looping and mixing material from various sources) to create “Visuals” which matched the rhythm of the music and could be projected onto different surfaces.
This was the beginning of my lifelong interest in combining visual and sonic elements together, which has continued to this day in my work.
GD: When did you begin creating physical works of art?
BM: Even before the music, my first true love was drawing. It seems hard to fathom now, but my mother was always a bit of a hippie at heart, and was usually reluctant to jump on board with the latest technological trends until we bugged her to the point where she would grudgingly have to give in.
For this reason, I spent my early childhood without a home video game system, or even a computer. I guess you could say I had to use my imagination to create my own fun…which I did by spending countless hours drawing and painting imaginary worlds and characters to amuse myself. I guess in a way, I never really stopped.
GD: What influence has New Orleans had on your artwork?
BM: When I first arrived as a freshmen at Tulane University, I was blown away by the amazing creative diversity of the city of New Orleans. What struck me immediately was the amazing cast of characters who inhabited this unique place.
Due to its geographic location as the only city where “alternative lifestyles” were accepted in a vast area of the deep south, it tended to attract anyone who was “different” and had trouble fitting into their home towns which tended to be extremely conservative. I took great pleasure in exploring the French Quarter, where you could listen to almost any style of live music every night of the week.
I was also inspired by the visual aesthetic of the city which was a unique mixture of African, French, Spanish and Caribbean influences due to its unique history. Like the religion of “Voodoo” which was prevalent throughout the city, the style of the art was like a big “mash- up”, combining disparate elements from a diverse array of sources, into new, previously unthought of configurations.
This idea would become tremendously influential in my own work.
GD: When did you begin incorporating multimedia, immersive works of art into your performances?
BM: It was right around this same time in college that I began exploring the possibilities of introducing multimedia elements into my work in an attempt to add more layers of meaning. I had a great painting professor who had us create a large portfolio and any time we came across something in our daily lives which we found visually stimulating, or just interesting, we had to collect it.
Eventually this portfolio became an autobiographical cross section of things which emotionally impacted our lives. I always loved that idea and continued collecting and incorporating these “found” objects from life into my art.
GD: What was your first Miami Art Week like?
BM: I remember it as extremely exciting, but very hectic. My buddy Francesco and I were awarded a free booth at SCOPE as “Emerging Artists” thanks to independent curator Koan Jeff Baysa, to whom I owe a huge debt of gratitude for helping to get my “foot in the proverbial art world door” during those early days.
This was before Scope moved to the beach and was still being held at The Townhouse Hotel. We drove down from NYC in a van with all our stuff and had no idea what to expect. All in all it was an amazing experience that I’ll never forget. This was where my Basel journey began.
Art Basel 2019
GD: How was Miami Art Week 2019 for you?
BM: I’ve got a few Art Basel’s under my belt at this point and had a little bit of a better idea what to expect. This year things definitely came full circle.
Once again I found myself driving down to Miami; this time in a 20 foot truck full of large paintings, projectors and music equipment, heading for Dream Hotel South Beach where I would be presenting my latest multimedia series “Harder We Fall” in the lobby throughout the week, as well as a live event on their rooftop lounge “HighBar” on Thursday December 5th.
Although the scope of this multimedia presentation was much more expansive than anything I had done up to this point, I felt much better prepared, as every element had been discussed in detail during months of negotiations between my team and Dream Hotel which had been going on since this past summer.
Reflecting on the countless solitary hours spent in the studio completing the artwork, as well as the original musical compositions which go with each painting, to working with the huge team of engineers, management, P.R. etc at Dream Hotels to bring this project to fruition was an incredible experience. It truly made me realize how far I had come.
GD: What was your experience like working with the Dream Hotel in Miami Beach?
At the risk of sounding cliche, the experience of working with DREAM definitely lived up to its name. Everyone from the management level down were not only experts in their given arenas, but truly seemed to appreciate the aesthetic qualities of what the artwork added to the hotel lobby and rooftop during the entire Basel week.
GD: What do you have planned for the future?
BM: The “Harder We Fall” series is indicative of the direction I plan to continue pursuing in the near future with my work. It marks the culmination of a lifelong journey to combine my various areas of artistic interest into a single cohesive presentation.
I like to describe it by using the metaphor of an “iceberg”, as I see each painting as the portion of a multidimensional object which extends into the physical world, while the rest exists within an “augmented reality” which can be accessed online by clicking “Experience the Art.”
Right now this consists of music and written poetry to add additional layers of meaning to the physical work, but I see this merely as the jumping off point. I am fascinated by the endless multimedia possibilities which arise through this approach, particularly those presented by virtual reality which will eventually allow one to immerse themselves within the “world” of each painting. It’s a very exciting time to be creating art and I feel so blessed to have the opportunity to see how far I can take these ideas.
For those who missed out on Moon’s work at Art Basel, you can experience all his art and music by clicking here.