Fugazi consists of visually stunning 5 x 5 ft prints created from digital scans of cubic zirconia, relatively inexpensive but high-quality imitations of diamonds (“Fugazi” is a slang term used in mafia films for counterfeit diamonds). The images are captured at a high level of detail and enlarged 15,000 percent to a scale that renders the gems’ internal appearance mesmerizingly random, distorted, and fractured, while the effects of digital image loss and artifacting emerge to aid in their visual transformation. The patterns and reflected colours appear kaleidoscopic and at times groundless, an aesthetic that Evan Lee manipulates further by constructing geometric backgrounds in response to the resulting visual space.
Lee’s project reflects on his earlier works, such as the Dollar Store Still Life series (2006), which also examined the economic and cultural values of fake and artificial consumer goods. Fugazi also continues Lee’s take on representations of psychedelia, illusio,n and optics, as explored in such earlier works as Every Part from a Contaflex Camera… (2006) and the Stain (2003) and Phoropter (2012) series. Lee’s practice has always been positioned both alongside and against the grain of photography, and Fugazi continues the artist’s image production in the avant-garde reaches of the post-photographic or camera-less digital realm.