When it comes to street art, it doesn’t get much cuter than Stik. The British graffiti artist based in London paints mouthless and noseless stick figure characters on walls, doors, water towers, and more, that despite their minimalistic quality exude warmth and charm. Sometimes in groups holding hands (see the two water towers we’re acquainted with in the East Village and Bushwick), and other times alone, these not-so-little guys are usually painted in black and white against solid bright colored backgrounds. In addition to his unauthorized work, the somewhat private Stik, who has been homeless at times, works with many charitable and human rights organizations. See? That good heartedness shines through in his art. Stik’s work can be seen in Europe, NYC, and even the Middle East and Japan. We are fortunate to have two of his works right in our neighborhood.
You can see more of his work here and an interview below:
All images courtesy of Stik except bottom left: Geof Hargadon via Brooklyn Street Art, and bottom right: Paul Whitehouse via Huffington Post London.
At first glance, the winning design for a 100-meter-tall observation and broadcast tower set to be built in the city of Canakkale—on the northern part of the Aegean coast of Turkey—looks like the latest in cutting edge amusement park rides. Upon a closer look, the strikingly dramatic sweeping structure is a clever solution to the challenges of combining technological requirements of a broadcasting tower with recreational ones of a public space. The two Rotterdam-based architecture firms that formed the winning team, Inter.National.Design (IND) and Powerhouse Company, united all the functions and requirements in a single strong structure. Made of Cor-Ten steel, the looping design offers close-up panoramic views on all sides of both the city and forest as well as a visitor center that hovers above the trees before shooting off into the sky into antenna-mode. A future iconic landmark for sure.
I get a particular thrill out of exploring and discovering things on my own, by chance. I’m not a big fan of GPS and forever get annoyed at the level of detail on Mapquest or Google maps when trying to get directions. For me, part of the fun is making the effort to figure it out myself and the mistakes I may make in doing so are part of the adventure. So it’s not surprising that I like the concept behind Watershed’s Playable City Award in Bristol. In their second year, The Playable City Award aims at getting people to use technology to capture that element of surprise/fun and adventure instead of using it to solely engineer our lives. They invite entrants from all over the world to submit ideas that use technology to create playful interactions connecting the people of the city and helping them engage with their surroundings in unexpected ways.
This year’s award of 30,000 pounds was presented to New York-based interactive designer Jonathan Chomko and Treviso-based architect/designer Matthew Rosier for their interactive light installation titled Shadowing. Using infrared tracking and triggered projections, the shadow of a previous passerby will be replayed to the next person who walks under a modified streetlight. The creators are hoping for a playful experience, though there is potential for a little creepiness, too, but they are working on ideas to avoid that as well as many more features before Shadowing is unveiled to the public on September 10, 2014.
I suppose you could say that by posting this I’ve spoiled the element of discovery and surprise, and you’d probably be correct. Sorry. Quick…stop reading! But, if your memory is as bad as mine, even if you happen to be one of the few people reading this who will be in Bristol come September, the odds of remembering this as you pass under a streetlight are quite slim.
If you’re not one to care about spoilers, you can see Chomko and Rosier’s animated prototype below.
The German street art trio Mentalgassi (previously here) joined forces with Mundano in São Paulo, Brazil, to create this clever series of characters donning their customized trash backpacks for Pimp My Carroça, an environmental and cultural group that aims to add a little color and humor to the importance of recycling and not littering. The message is particularly on point with the hoards of tourists in town for the World Cup, leaving a trail of garbage behind.
Inspired by the half-timbered houses and architecture of Orleans, France, French artist Sambre (previously here) whose signature style involves using recovered wood in a variety of impressive installations, is in the process of building his latest work titled Escalier de Secours (Fire Escape in English) in the center of the Church of St. Peter the Puellier in Mairie d’Orleans. The exhibit officially opened at the end of May, though the enormous staircase was not yet completed, this completely intentional, inviting guests to experience the process. Sambre’s majestic and almost disproportionately large staircase offers discovery through ascension; new perspectives on the Church’s space and architecture. The artist doesn’t impose a single path, but invites visitors to make a choice among multiple possible routes, like the path of life chosen by man.
This intervention comes only two months after his last piece along the Seine in Paris (see bottom two photos), once again utilizing discarded materials instead of spray paint to create his sculptural street art. And shortly before that piece, he collaborated with Teurk and Run on OKube (see two photos on middle right side) for the Inuit Festival in Cergy.
So far, 2014 has been a very prolific year. I look forward to seeing what he comes up with this second half. Escalier de Secours will be up through July 13, 2014, if you happen to be in France this summer… lucky you.
It’s been a couple of years, but it comes as no surprise that OK Go’s latest music video for their new single “The Writing’s on the Wall” is amazing. It may even top all the others, if that’s possible. With one tricky optical illusion after another, the clip includes the anamorphic effects and styles of artists such as Felice Varini, Vik Muniz, Bela Borsodi, and one of our favorites, Boa Mistura. The project took roughly three weeks (looks like it would have taken even longer!) and fifty takes before wrapping. The last scene revealing the crew is terrific, adding yet another dimension, and the sense of joy at having completed the impressive project shines through. In addition, the playing with perspective (more than one way to see things) goes hand-in-hand with the somewhat sad lyrics, despite the upbeat tune.
Watch the video below. OK Go’s new album Hungry Ghosts, which includes this song, is due out in October.
via colossal and rollingstone
It was a spectacular day this past Saturday here in NYC, ideal for strolling through Chelsea and taking in a lot of art. To my delight most galleries still had great shows up and hadn’t yet reverted to their quieter summer group shows. Over at Pace, the amazing Tara Donovan (previously here) had two new large-scale sculptures. For over a decade, the NYC-born and based Donovan has taken volumes of everyday materials and turned them into impressive works. Whether toothpicks, drinking straws, paper plates, styrofoam cups, or pieces of mylar, Donovan, a MacArthur Genius Award recipient, layers, piles, or clusters these items with a precise repetition until these products assume forms that evoke natural systems. These two sculptures currently at Pace are no exception. The first room in the gallery welcomes you with what seem to be a group of conical rock formations, possibly of a volcanic sort but, upon closer inspection, the millions of 3″ x 5″ index cards stacked and glued become evident, proving, once again, her ability to create amazing effects through the accumulation of identical objects. The second room contains what looks to be an almost fluffy or furry sculpture, but in fact is made of thousands of acrylic rods of different lengths, quite the opposite of soft or fluffy. These “bursts” are interconnected much in the way coral appears to be. Donovan has experimented with these rods before, but this work is her largest of the series. Tara Donovan’s sculptures will be on exhibit at Pace Gallery through
June 28, 2014 extended through August 15th!
New York based artist Jenny Holzer (previously here) recently unveiled her newest typographic LED installation in Sydney. I Stay (Ngaya ngalawa), as the permanent site-specific installation is titled, takes over all four sides of one of the 19-meter steel columns beneath 8 Chifley Square. Globally recognized for a body of work that is responsive to history and place through language that speaks to the community, Holzer has chosen texts by numerous Indigenous authors. They span the past century and represent a broad range of sources. Some are poems, some are songs, and some much longer texts. This site-specific work enlivens what was essentially a concrete wind-tunnel, providing a human, emotional, and political focus to the corporate building and neighborhood through the use of blue, green & red diodes vertically streaming its words.
Last weekend we headed over to Bushwick Open Studios. Always a bit difficult to navigate due to the number of artists and studios that participate, as well as the sprawling nature of it, we were fortunate to find Hyperallergic’s Concise Guide and managed to hit a good amount of studios with interesting work. One of these was Rodney Allen Trice’s, an artist and designer who moved to NYC 25 years ago and needed to furnish his apartment on a budget, ultimately using found objects and “refitting” them into furniture. What might look like an old garden hose to the naked eye becomes an ottoman or a funky fashionable hat in Trice’s world. His tire rocker, having sat in one myself, couldn’t be more comfortable, and the crutches table, though maybe not my personal aesthetic, is definitely eye-catching and incredibly clever. But the designer doesn’t stop there, no siree. His company T.O.M.T. has been repurposing trashed and forgotten objects for years with the mission of object recovery and reassignment. He likes to call it “object career counseling” rather than waste-handling and he’s spreading his philosophy and technique not only through his work but via classes in his studio as well.
Googling around for something else I came across this nice looking pedestrian bridge.
Iranian photographer Shadi Ghadirian lives and works in Tehran. Her photographs, though at first glance somewhat humorous, reflect what she sees as “the duality and contradiction of life.” After her marriage, inspired by her wedding gifts, Ghadirian photographed her series Like Every Day in which each of these photographs depicts a figure draped in patterned fabric in place of the typical Iranian chador. Instead of a face, each figure has a common household item such as an iron, a tea cup, a broom, or a pan, depicting the daily routine of many of the women that surround her yet, despite its focus on Muslim women, its relevance extends to women in other parts of the world as well. An earlier series titled Qajar (bottom two photos) is equally smart, reimagining the traditional Iranian portraiture of the late 19th century, but the veiled women carry boomboxes and other modern-day items.
Identical twins Trevor and Ryan Oakes engage in probing studies of visual perception and light through material investigations, discovering new methods in the representation of visual reality through their optical obsession. The duo have constructed a concave easel that avoids the distortions that occur when an image is traced onto a flat canvas. Their low-tech method, as I understand it, involves crossing their eyes until an object doubles next to the paper’s edge, floating over the subject matter transparently, which allows them to “trace” it much in the way some painters used camera obscuras with mirrors and pinhole projections during the Renaissance to trace their subjects. But the Oakes’ variation includes the curvature which is consistent with their findings that human vision is spherical. This optical doubling only has an expanse of 2.5″, so they slice their paper in pieces of that width, which are then joined together when finished to present the final drawing/painting. The plaster helmet attached to the easel is movable, but helps keep the head in one spot for extended periods of time.
Presently, the Oakes Twins have an exhibit of their work titled Compounding Visions at MoMath in NYC which runs through July 21, 2014. In the meantime, you might spot them in the vicinity with their easel tracing the Flatiron Building. In the video below, the twins explain their technique directly, which, if you have 5 minutes, is probably the best way to understand it.
The past few weeks I’ve spent quite a bit of time in the West Village and occasionally found myself on streets I hadn’t visited in a while. One of these was Leroy Street over by Washington where I came across three typographic murals, or, more accurately, concrete poetry, on the exterior of Gavin Brown’s Enterprise Gallery. It’s hard to explain the happy feeling playful or stylish or clever typography instills in me. That might be because it’s not really logical, it’s just an emotion. It goes as far back as my childhood when the IBM logo or the Design Research logo (and store in general) had a similar effect on me. Even the subway graffiti, not the black tags all over the interior of the cars that created a gloomy feel, but the occasional spectacular tag on the outside of a train car, large, colorful, and with dimension, would inspire me to run home and title my French homework “FRENCH” in block letters or bubble type, much to the dismay of my teacher who probably could have done without the header altogether but, at a minimum, I’m sure would have preferred it read “FRANCAIS”.
Anyway, back to the Concrete Poetry. Defined as “poetry in which the typographical arrangement of words is as important in conveying the intended effect as the conventional elements of the poem, such as meaning of words, rhythm, rhyme and so on,” another term for it is Visual Poetry. After a little research I discovered that these street pieces were created by Swedish artist Karl Holmqvist who is known for his text-based works, poetry, and readings. I don’t claim to know what these mean, but I enjoyed them and the surprise of turning a corner and seeing them there. Make of them what you will.
“No one will be there on a Friday at 4pm in the pouring rain,” she said confidently. Wrong. You would think, after close to a lifetime in NYC, at some point it would kick in that nothing is ever empty, especially an event the likes of Kara Walker‘s monumental Sphinx-like sculpture/installation at the soon-to-be-demolished Domino Sugar Factory. Of course there was a line! One filled with soggy, windblown New Yorkers though, fortunately, it moved quickly with only the waiver-signing process causing a minimal delay. Once inside, it was easy to see why the line advanced swiftly; the space is so vast (90,000 square feet is what I’ve read) that even the biggest of crowds becomes minimized in appearance. All the more reason to be impressed by Walker’s 75 foot long and 35 foot high sculpture whose presence is still quite imposing despite the enormity of the factory. The official title of the work is long, but pretty much spells it all out: A Subtlety or the Marvelous Sugar Baby an Homage to the unpaid and overworked Artisans who have refined our Sweet tastes from the cane fields to the Kitchens of the New World on the Occasion of the demolition of the Domino Sugar Refining Plant.
Apart from the white sugar-covered (4 tons of sugar were used) sphinx with the Mammy-inspired head, there are fifteen large-scale black figurines based on ceramic racial tchotchkes that Walker came across online, of brown-skinned boys carrying baskets. These 5-foot tall sculptures are made of molasses-colored candy, much of which is slowly melting (can’t wait to see what these look like in the heat of late June) and in some cases are more red in color than brown, making it difficult not to associate with blood and the horror of beaten slaves, or of the workers who lost their limbs and lives in the dangerous process of feeding the cane into large mills. Blood sugar. There was an interesting interview with the artist on NPR last week in which Walker pointed out another curious parallel: sugar is originally a brown substance that is considered more valuable as it is “refined” and turned into a white crystal.
Walker has given us lots to think about here. In addition, I should point out that the factory itself is worth the visit. What an amazing space. Every direction makes for a great photo-op filled with rusty textures and machinery.
A Subtlety will be up Fridays through Sundays until July 6th at the Domino Sugar Factory on Wythe and South 2nd Streets in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. And it’s free! Be sure to check out the geometric street art by Rubin415 outside along the fencing while you’re there (bottom photo).
Chilean artist/designer Sebastian Errazuriz (previously here, here, & here) has taken the birthday piñata of his youth and put a spin on it for this year’s NYCxDesign Festival. His monumental Golden Calf, or Cash Cow, will provocatively serve multiple purposes: a symbol of celebration; a symbol of capitalism; and as a symbol of “anti-capitalistic” greed. At the end of the festival, guests will be invited to smash the symbol of capitalism to smithereens. The oversized piñata will be filled with over 1000 dollar bills that will tumble out once the beating is successful. The irony that Errazuriz anticipates is the moment when the anti-capitalist rage in the piñata bashers turns into greed as the very same crowd ends up running for the cash themselves, stuffing their pockets with the bills. “I’d like to see people rolling on the ground and fighting for dollars,” he said. Wouldn’t it be nice if he were wrong.
Errazuriz’s golden calf will be on view at Industry City in Sunset Park, Brooklyn until May 20th at which point mayhem should ensue at 5pm.
Top photo: NY Daily News. All others: courtesy of the artist.