While Chuck Close's tool of choice was the pencil, artist Seung Mo Park makes his marks with a very different medium: Stainless steel mesh.
While Chuck Close's tool of choice was the pencil, artist Seung Mo Park makes his marks with a very different medium: Stainless steel mesh.
On July 22nd, 2011, Norway suffered two horrific back-to-back attacks on civilians. A lone extremist killed eight people with a car bomb and injured 209 in Oslo; within hours he'd then opened fire at a summer camp at Utøya island, killing 69 and wounding 110. The attacks were particularly personal in relatively tiny Norway, where a reported one out of every four Norwegians knew at least one of the victims.
KORO/Public Art Norway, the government's arm for public art and the largest art producer in the country, subsequently held a design competition to erect a memorial to honor the victims. The recently-announced winner, by unanimous jury vote, was artist Jonas Dahlberg and his beautiful two-part concept seen here. The first part of the memorial, called "Memory Wound," is to be sited on a tiny peninsula of land at the village of Sørbråten, near Utøya island. Explains Dahlberg:
My concept for the Memorial Sørbråten proposes a wound or a cut within nature itself. It reproduces the physical experience of taking away, reflecting the abrupt and permanent loss of those who died. The cut will be a three-and-a-half-meters-wide excavation. It slices from the top of the headland at the Sørbråten site, to below the water line and extends to each side. This void in the landscape makes it impossible to reach the end of the headland.
Visitors begin their experience guided along a wooden pathway through the forest. This creates a five to ten minute contemplative journey leading to the cut. Then the pathway will flow briefly into a tunnel. This tunnel leads visitors inside of the landscape and to the dramatic edge of the cut itself.
Now that the digital era is upon us, the trope of mechanical reproduction has become a condition of contemporary culture, and machines in themselves are embedded at an even deeper level. Meanwhile, artists and designers increasingly incorporate maker/hacker/DIY approaches into their multi-disciplinary practice; together, these trends point to generative design as the logical progression of production. If digital fabrication offers a horizon of possiibilities beyond art-school experimentation—we've seen at least a couple of permutational projects of late—so too do everyday machines hold a kind of primitive potential of their own. From an alarm clock to a electric razor to a Walkman, Echo Yang's 2013 Thesis Project, "Autonomous Machines," at the Design Academy Eindhoven explored the creative capacity of commonplace household items.
When working with digital tools, the value of generative design is in its ability to deal with complexity; as with analog tools, the value will be in an object or a behavior possessing internal algorithm itself. It does not deal with complexity because its internal algorithm has already handled it.
I see the mechanical system inside the machines as a unique language. Machines are produced, as they are demanded and required in particular circumstance or era, they act as a witness to history. By making use of the specific mechanical movement of particular machine, I attempt to transform them into a drawing machines in the simplest way. Base on this process, only few machines can work really well and produce beautiful outcomes.
This design proposal is not meant for creating a new tool to achieve a particular purpose. Instead, by showing how machines speak in their own language, based on their internal logics, the proposal is about bringing more awareness to the algorithm inside the ordinary objects around us. It is an inspirational way that helps broaden the notion of information design.
In other words, even the simplest machine contains an internal logic that can be expressed visually, even if its signature is abstracted from its mechanism. It's something like a cross between Rickard Dahlstrand's 3D-printer tunes and Eske Rex's Drawingmachine: The process is systematic only to the degree that the motors generate cyclical movements, but the results vary greatly.
Over the last five years brain research has rapidly developed technologies for influencing and changing our thoughts, perceptions and feelings. The new field of optogenetics, for example, has proven that light delivered via fiber optics into the brain can change the behavior of individual neurons and may one day help those suffering from Parkinson's, depression or other brain disorders. And most recently, researchers have used brain stimulation to increase one's appreciation and enjoyment of art.
Neuroscientists at the University of Milano-Bicocca in Italy had subjects study and rate 70 abstract paintings and drawings, and 80 realistic paintings and photographs. Then they received transcranial direct-current stimulation to specific parts of their brain. This technique sends small electrical impulses to the brain via electrodes placed on top of the head (no drilling needed!) I know it sounds medieval but it's quite modern, non-invasive and delivers zero feeling, no pain, no tickle, nothing. In fact the subjects had no awareness of the electrical impulses. Scientists aimed the current at what is called the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, a brain area responsible for emotional processing.
There are two things that Ben Foster most certainly knows how to do well—create gorgeous industrial versions of animal silhouettes and compose a damn good photo. It's not just luck or coincidence, either. There's a reason his work looks so fantastic nestled among the lush New Zealand scenery. His website explains:
Ben Foster draws upon the physical landscape of home with his static, stylised figurative works mirroring the dramatic forms of the mountains which are his backdrop. Similarly, his kinetic abstract sculptures echo the restless coastal waters and winds which swiftly reshape the stony shores. His artistic practice serves as a vehicle through which he explores human interaction with the land and the animals with which we share our lives and spaces.
It's shocking how far communication has come since, let's say, the 1800's. What is now a quick text (or even more succinct emoji) was once a painstakingly designed piece of paper that relied on analog means to delight the receiver. Calling cards were the media of choice for Victorians looking to make an impression. When arriving in a new town, leaving for a trip, searching for a daughter's suitor or simply introducing themselves to someone from a distance, these elaborately decorated cards not only conveyed information but also signified class—especially if you shelled out the extra dough for some border fringe). From hidden sayings and intricately placed names to "Victorian scraps," check out some of these crazy-detailed artifacts of communication from yesteryear:
Part performance piece and part product abuse, California-based artist Evan Holm's "Submerged Turntables" installation does, well, what it says on the tin. Holm built a sort of woodland-themed installation in his studio, complete with trees and a small body of water, then broke everything down to truck it over to the SFMOMA's atrium, where he was invited to re-install it and perform.
This first video isn't of the SFMOMA atrium, but does reveal what a record sounds like when played underwater:
Try doing that with an iPod.
In the You Really Can Draw With Anything Department, we've seen Red Hong draw with coffee cup stains, and Takayo Kiyota draw with sushi; now we've caught wind of Tokyo-based artist Yukino Ohmura, whose renditions of cityscapes at nighttime—something like a Japanese version of Michael Mann's Collateral--are created using adhesive stationery dots.
"These stickers that I have used in my artwork are very popular in Japan, and almost everyone has used them during elementary school," Ohmura told The Verge. "Also, stickers are inexpensive, which I feel creates an interesting contrast by expressing the glamour of the nighttime city through cheap material."
Inflatable animals are great—if you don't mind inhaling the vaguely carcinogenic whiff of freshly processed plastic as you re-inflate your chosen shape five minutes. These ceramic dinosaur sculptures by Brett Kern and Justin Rothshank might be perfect for young-at-heart decorators. At very least, they're probably better for your health.
Much like Jeff Koons' balloon animal art, Kern and Rothshank's cartoonish dinos are sculptural versions of the novelties we so coveted as kids. Where Koons deals in finish-fetish stainless steel, these tabletop 'saurs are metaphorical mirrors of our childhood dreams, ephemeral mylar fossilized, in a manner of speaking, as ceramic.
For over a decade I taught martial arts, and one of the hardest things is communicating to a novice how to correctly move a particular body part through 3D space. What I always dreamt of was to cover them in sensors, like that guy who played Gollum, so that they could "draw" glowing lines in space with their joints, providing a visible basis for corrections.
Teaching kung fu via hologram is probably a ways off, but performance artist Heather Hansen is doing something that reminded me of the concept: "Emptied Gestures," as she calls it.
Using her body, charcoal, and a large sheet of paper, Hansen "draws" beautiful, Rorschach-like shapes by performing a series of yoga- and calisthenics-like movements while dragging the charcoal across the paper, tracing the exact position of her hands. As the lines are built up, the other parts of her body that come into contact with the loose charcoal powder provide incidental shading and gradations.
Mural from Samurai Shodown 3 / All images from the Video Game Art Archive Tumblr
It wasn't until somewhat recently that video games started popping up in conversations centered around art and design. MoMA kicked the debate off by buying 14 video games for their permanent collection in 2012—including Pac-Man, Tetris and the more recent Portal. Since then, the "controversy" has raged on in regards to whether or not we should reference our favorite digital games in the same proverbial breath as Monet or Van Gogh. (Pixels, brushstrokes—same thing?)
Two pieces of art from Donkey Kong 64
All deliberations and opinions aside, a savvy Tumblr user out there has put their formidable search and
destroy distribute skills to use, collect a colorful collection of pixelated pieces for all to enjoy. We're not talking about the beautiful screenshots of your latest build on Minecraft—these are the very paintings and murals that show up on the walls of your digital world.
Mural from Avoid the Noid
A cityscape piece from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II (NES/Dos)
Maybe it's just that time of year, we're all stuck inside and those of us with incredible talent spend large amounts of time making tiny works of art. If you're slow on the Internet draw, you might have missed this miniature workshop that blew up on Reddit. If you've already seen it, look again anyway—maybe it'll give you garage organization ideas. Or just make you wish all of your aunties were this cool.
As dollhouse design goes, I'm floored by how accurate the tools are, and how realistic the configuration of the space is. I mean, look at that neatly laid out yet well-used bench! If my workbench were this tiny I'd probably have an easier time keeping it clean too. It's all particularly impressive, knowing that many of the materials are repurposed from careers as other household items.
For those of you seeking a bespoke sweater the size of a thumb drive, look no further than the work of Althea Crome. Althea was a contributing artist for sweet knitwear in the stop-motion flick Coraline, which featured a couple of her glamorous and well-fitting sweaters. One glance through her adorable but incomprehensibly tiny line of work and it's clear why she was picked to be a high-profile puppet clothier. Her work with miniatures requires the already taxing skillset of a talented knitter and ramps up the difficulty to the point that she sometimes needs knitting needles near the width of a human hair.
And these aren't your standard squint-and-they-look-believable-I-guess Barbie style doll clothes. Her knitting is on par with more conceptual sweater designs at full scale, to say nothing of the competition at 1:12 scale (because there isn't any). Despite the glaring oddness of knitting with homemade needles the size of pins, much of her work features ornate patterning, intricate designs, and fine materials like Japanese silk or cashmere thread. Oh, and let's up the artsy ante by throwing in some fine art reproductions and face cards.
Hayao Miyazaki is leaving us, and there's a new (old) reason to be upset. Socially speaking, it is common law that you must enjoy Miyazaki. This is not optional. Doesn't matter if you're "just not into anime" or "can't stand two dimensional characters" or were "born without any sense of joy or wonder." Still required. This is the man who brought us the high-quality weirdness of Spirited Away and Nausicaa, innumerable excruciatingly beautiful nature scenes, and the gigantic pillowy monster that is Totoro. While we're obviously grateful and can probably all agree that the man has earned his retirement, I've just learned that two of my all-time-favorite magical childhood worlds could have been woven into one beautiful whole but weren't: Hayao Miyazaki wanted to do an animated version of Pippi Longstocking, called Pippi Longstocking: Strongest Girl In the World. Given his proclivity towards badass animal-loving ladies with slightly impossible hair, the absurdity of the Pippi stories, and the bucolic loveliness of the Swedish countryside, I'm positive it would have been a great fit. If you're not familiar with the original Pippi character, get thee to the internet and then imagine the childish glee we were all denied.
Johnson Tsang takes the common bowl or cup to the next level. His ceramic housewares constantly bring deeper meaning to dining receptacles, far past simply housing your tea and soup. He's even managed to make a spitting face look surprisingly appetizing.
Tsang—who lives and creates in Hong Kong—has a whole portfolio full of captivating faces and figures. His website serves as an ongoing chronicle of works-in-progress, a sequence of shots from first coils to finished products like these:
It might look like a snowy version of a meticulously planned crop circle, but really it's just a guy going out for a long, winter stroll. Simon Beck, a British artist makes the snow a better place for all of us, thanks to his geometric snow designs. He doesn't use a single tool (other than his won two feet) to create these—he simply keeps walking.
Self-reference in art takes... delicacy. Turn the gaze around and you can quickly wind up with work that feels like endless MFA show self-portraits of the young artist as a young artist. Rising to the challenge, Canadian photographer Michel Campeau has documented the declining use of darkrooms in our increasingly digital world for over a decade. More than a nostalgic look at methods fading from fashion, Campeau's work highlights the notion of obsolescence and the role of technology in changing the meaning and function of art.
These photos capture a clear sense of decay and a startling variety in working environments. Their weight comes from the our historical remove as viewers: Despite photography's ubiquity, the writing has been on the wall long enough that we've cleaned it up and moved on. The darkroom as a space for creating is no longer necessary. As fitting evidence, Campeau's own work is almost entirely done with a digital point and shoot.
To explore the importance of this changing landscape, Campeau draws heavily on Walter Benjamin's seminal essay "The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction" (it is unofficially mandatory to refer to this essay as "seminal"—negligence on this point may lead to expulsion from the Frankfurt School). And you should too, if you're interested in the power of pop culture or the foreboding commentary of a social critic who predicted the dangerously successful use of mass media by the Fascists.
Clockwise from left to right: Steve McCarthy's view of Grand Canal Dock, Fuchsia Macaree's view of Dublin Port and Steve Simpson's view of Old Dublin
Dublin has sent three artists to the streets (and rooftops) to capture some of the town's best views. Even better, they compiled timelapse videos of the finished products.
Given just one day to complete their masterpiece, the three participating illustrators—Steve Simpson, Steve McCarthy and Fuchsia Macaree—had their work cut out for them. The challenge is a part of the #LoveDublin initiative—an effort by Visit Dublin to bring all of the city's much-loved landmarks to light.
Check out the timelapse videos from all three vantage points:
Sipho Mabona does beautiful things with paper. Not only does he have an awesome job title—Professional Origami Artist—he also has big plans for his hobby-turned-profession. Using a 2,500 sq. ft. sheet of paper, Mabona is looking to create a life-size origami pachyderm, cleverly known as the "White Elephant."
And he'll even record himself doing it, for those of you video-or-it-didn't-happen skeptics—two cameras will be streaming a live feed of the project in progress. The entire project will be completed in a room at the Art Museum in Beromünster, Switzerland with help from three assistants. The team will take on treacherous creases and potential for some major paper cuts to craft an elephant that stands over ten feet tall (with the help of a support structure and white acrylic sealant). Mabona explains:
With dual degrees from RISD in both Fine Arts and Architecture, Phillip K. Smith has a good grasp of both expression and structure. Along with technical acumen in lighting design, these skills served him well for his "Lucid Stead" project, whereby he transformed a 70-year-old Joshua Tree homestead from weatherbeaten shack to web-friendly spectacle.
By replacing every other siding board and all of the building's apertures with mirrored glass, Smith has created a brilliantly striking structure that blends into the desert without disappearing or denying its true roots. (For you fans of '80s X-Men comics, it looks like something the character Forge would have built.)
And "Lucid Stead" fits in with the desert in more ways than one. Deserts offer more contrast that your average environment, what with blazing hot days and freezing cold nights. And as the sun goes down on Smith's structure, so too does the building shift into something entirely different: A semi-transparent structure where LEDs within reveal cracks and seams, allowing one to glimpse the cross-bracing within.
It went live on Friday, and quite deservedly went viral over the weekend: "Limitless," a brilliantly-shot-and-edited video from filmmaker Selina Miles, decides to have some fun with a warehouse in Brisbane that's on the demolition list. Street artists Sofles, Fintan Magee, Treas and Quench were given what appears to be an unlimited amount of Ironlak paint and set loose on the structure's interior. Despite the painters' talents this could easily have been boring, but under Miles' expert shooting, directing and editing techniques, it's pretty riveting:
You can see more of Adelaide-based Miles' work here.
And for us non-Aussies that have never heard of Ironlak, it's an Australian company started in '02 that produces spraypaint, graphic markers and even nozzles for "writers," i.e. graffiti artists. I'm digging their package design.
The "Weird Faces Vending Machine" doesn't muck around with commentary on the nature of the work of art, commodification of "culture," or unpacking the universal human condition. This small installation is by Matthias Dorfelt, or Mokafolio. It charges your credit card $3, tells you that it "[LIKES] THE WAY YOU WAIT" among other digital burbles, and eventually produces a unique print of computer generated faces, which would appear to be hand drawn and which are in fact adorable. In short, it does a tidy job questioning the value of the work of art and the commodification of cultural artifacts. (The universal human condition may be hinted at vis a vis the array of odd faces? Jury's out.)
Many of us don't think of the dollar bill as more than a means of getting the things we want. Mark Wagner has the same thought, but he wants to make beautiful pieces of art out of of them. His collages, made completely out of dollar bills, are a more complicated take on the currency we toss around every day.
The video below from Avant Garde Diaries explores some of his creations and the reputation cutting up money has given him:
Beijing-based artists/married couple Song Dong and Yin Xiuzhen have embarked on a his-and-hers exhibition that truly sets them apart. With insight from their 11-year-old daughter, Song ErRui, the installation The Way of Chopsticks pulls the differences of their artless childhood memories in Communist China to their daughter's contemporary upbringing.
By taking everyday households items and splitting them in half—literally—Dong and Xiuzhen each take a side and adorn it with inspiration from their childhood memories and today's world. A refrigerator becomes half-covered in salvaged windows and half-draped in pantyhose and concrete powder. A bathroom is transformed into a gender-fueled art exhibit.
Dong's take on the bathroom.
I've been a fan of sculptor Do Ho Suh since I saw his work at a 2011 solo exhibition at Lehmann Maupin; curious to learn more, I arrived at the profile of the Korean artist, who is currently based in New York and London, on PBS's Art21. The son of a well-known painter, Suh traveled to the States to study at RISD and Yale, where he earned an MFA in Sculpture a decade after he completed a masters in Oriental Painting at Seoul National University (the hiatus was due to compulsory military service).
Suh's work generally addresses his sense of displacement, rife with cultural references to his native Korea, including sentimental notions of home and community, as well as identity, independence and conformity. Yet his work is consistently beautiful and is broadly concerned with space—architectural, public, private, shared, personal—whether it's a formal study executed in unconventional materials or a playful visual pun, or (as is often the case) both.
His forthcoming solo show at Lehmann Maupin's Hong Kong gallery features a new series of his iconic translucent polyester sculptures: "specimens" of household appliances and fixtures (no permalink but it's listed in the 'Upcoming' section of the Exhibitions page). By 'rendering' full-size replicas of entirely banal objects in gauzy drapery, Suh elevates the mundane into the magical, transcending kitsch by faithfully reproducing details such as crisper drawers, the heating coils of the stove, the innards of the toilet tank, and all variety of detail on the radiator.
In January, Chinese artist Ai Weiwei stacked 760 bicycles at the Galleria Continua in Italy. His most recent installation, on display until October 27 in Toronto's Nathan Phillips Square, tops his previous one with 3,144 bikes, illuminated by blue and pink lights. A similar exhibit (with the same name, but using 1,200 bikes without the lights) was shown at the Taipei Fine Arts Museum in early 2012.
The lights reflect the bikes' chrome, giving it an eerie, almost blurry look. Weiwei is known for his social design and this sentiment isn't lost on this project. The sound variation of "Forever Bikes" was created as a labyrinth-like monument to the rapid social change China—and the rest of the world—is constantly experiencing. Never before has a pile of chrome looked so good.
The installation was an exhibit at Toronto's Scotiabank Nuit Blanche, which took place on October 5th. Scotiabank Nuit Blanche is a one-night contemporary arts and culture festival that features artists from around the world.
Hat tip to Design Taxi