It’s a cool glow-in-the-dark playground. No, it’s an art installation. Well, actually, husband-and-wife team Eric Höweler + Meejin Yoon of the Boston-based Höweler + Yoon Architecture were striving for both. The temporary installation titled Swing Time, located in a public park space next to the Boston Convention Center in South Boston, consists of 20 glowing oval swings that encase LED lights which activate with the swings’ movement. When forces are static and the swings are not in use, they emit a soft, white light that illuminates the area. When the swings are in motion, the micro-controller switches the light from white to purple, creating a more colorful glowing effect. Swing Time is part of an initiative to create the first interactive public space in the city, with the goal to entice people of all ages to play. If you’re in Boston, you might want to check it out.
You wouldn’t necessarily associate Moishe’s Moving with art and architecture, but you would be wrong not to. Moishe Mana, founder of the moving company, and his right-hand man Eugene Lemay have converted 150,000 square feet of the 1.5 million industrial space they own in Jersey City into the impressive Mana Contemporary, a center that houses over 250 artists’ studios, numerous art galleries, Richard Meier’s Model Museum, Gary Lichtenstein’s Editions printing studio and shop, in addition to dance studios, an art book shop, a bistro, designer studios, a recently completed spectacular column-free 50,000-square-foot separate glass gallery, and who knows what else? I visited last spring during an open studios event and was blown away by the facilities as well as the quality of the art (there are some impressive names on the doors such as Michal Rovner and others.) The Richard Meier Model Museum is a must-see, and there are special exhibits in many of the art galleries. The trip from NYC is relatively quick on the Path train but, as was the case when I visited in May, this Sunday, September 14th there will be free shuttle buses running from the Meatpacking District every half hour, making the excursion irresistible.
Photos: collabcubed and mana
Glasgow-based artist Richard Wright creates impermanent site-specific interventions that engage in temporality and the built environment. His latest, closing this Saturday for The Modern Institute in Glasgow, consists of four leaded glass skylights in the ceiling at Aird’s Lane. Wright incorporated handmade, blown glass and leading in an intricate design placed within four existing rectangular skylights resulting in a dramatic—almost three dimensional—effect within the room. The textured glass interferes with the natural light reflecting it and causing a shift in the viewer’s perspective. Much in the way Wright’s paintings are of a transient nature, so are the patterns on the walls and floors created by the light through these complex glass pieces.
The exhibit will be up through 9/6/14. Catch it if you can.
This looks fun and since we’ll be attending festivities in Maryland this weekend, maybe we’ll be able to squeeze in a quick jaunt to the National Building Museum in Washington D.C. before the maze comes tumbling (well, maybe not tumbling) down on Monday, September 1, 2014. Danish architecture firm Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) (previously here and here) has created a concave wooden labyrinth in the middle of the museum’s main hall. Constructed with maple plywood, the structure rewards your efforts by revealing a 360-degree view of the maze once you reach the center, the point where the 18 ft tall walls are clearly a lot shorter. Of course, there’s always the option to get a different—and more complete— perspective/view from the second and third floor balconies without doing all the work, but then, what fun would that be?
Can’t say that any electrical pylons I’ve seen are particularly attractive with all those cables protruding from their metallic structures, but at least this design by Jin Choi and Thomas Shine of Choi+Shine Architects in Boston injects a little humor and personality into these massive forms. Known for their innovative and creative designs and experimentation, Choi+Shine submitted a proposal for a High-Voltage Pylon competition in Iceland—put forth by Landsnet, a national power transmission company requesting that careful consideration be given to the appearance of the towers—converting the existing steel-framed tower designs into iconic pylon-figures with minor alterations. The result would transform the Icelandic landscape, adding expression and fun, varying the forms and styles while keeping the cost low through repetition in production and simple assembly. These 150 foot tall giants across the land would silently transport electricity 24/7. Might be a little creepy coming across them on the road at night, but a fun alternative to the norm, nonetheless.
Look up New York! The Water Tank Project has started to roll out…or maybe “wrap around” would be more accurate. I first learned of Word Above the Street’s project roughly one year ago, but was happy to hear yesterday, via an interview on wnyc, that this is actually taking place right now. Filmmaker Mary Jordan, the creative and driving force behind the project, was working on a documentary in Ethiopia in 2007 when she fell gravely ill due to contaminated water. It was the women in the village she was in who nursed her back to health. In return, they asked that she let people know of the global water crisis when she returned to the U.S. Jordan founded Word Above the Street and set out to fulfill her promise through a citywide exhibit on the very icons that proudly contain our own fortunate and excellent water supply. Over 100 water tanks will be wrapped with art by acclaimed artists (such as John Baldessari, Jeff Koons, Maya Lin, Andy Goldsworthy), street artists (including Icy & Sot, Barry McGee, and Fab 5 Freddy), emerging artists, and even NYC public school students. The first one, by Laurie Simmons (top photo), went up two weeks ago on 29th Street near the High Line, and another one (I couldn’t find the artist, but third photo down) on West 25th Street.
Tanks in all five boroughs will be included and, in addition to the art above, action will be taken on the ground through educational programs, tours, and a symposium dedicated to global water issues. So, keep your head up and eyes peeled for the next 3 months if in NYC. Or, if not, you can always follow them on twitter or instagram for the latest updates. Water above all!
Photos & images courtesy of The Water Tank Project
The Flederhaus—a pun off the word fledermaus which means ‘bat’ in German—is a fun structure in Vienna designed by architects Heri & Salli explicitly for hanging around and relaxing. The open building, situated in the Museum Quarter of the city, houses 28 hammocks on 5 floors that offer great views to one and all at no cost. The inviting hammocks are arranged to allow for meeting and interacting with neighbors. A fun public space for sure.
Photos by Mischa Erben courtesy of the architects.
Swiss accessories luxury brand Bally has launched a year-long initiative expanding their commitment to art and design with their project titled Form Scratch presented during Art Basel last month. The project has three parts to it: the restoration of one of architect Jean Prouvé’s signature prefab nomadic structures; a collection of furniture by Swiss architect Pierre Jeanneret; and, lastly, a commission by French artists Benjamin Moreau and Samuel Boutruche of Kolkoz. That last part mentioned is the one this post is about. Drawing from their background working in video games and 3D digital imaging, the Kolkoz duo recreated the house’s elements as a flat wooden panel, much in the style of the model kits from my youth (and likely still today… it’s been a while since I’ve put together a toy model.) Being that the Jean Prouvé house is meant to be built by two people in a day, the artists flattened it out and playfully made it an oversized toy object. The installation is both fun as well as a document of the structure’s elements. Suspending it over the river Rhine makes it all the more humorous and eye-catching.
Here’s the event in all its fabulousness:
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.
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. It is also an invitation to come see, hear, and touch the work that is being built.
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.
Photos courtesy of Sambre & The Mouarf
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.
Photos: Brett Boardman
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.
One could certainly say there’s an MC Escher quality to the dramatic staircase designed by Zecc Architecten for the transformation of the Sint Jansklooster Watertower in the Netherlands into a watchtower. The Dutch architects converted the water tower situated in the middle of a nature preserve, into a “route architecturale” (architectural route) leading up to a spectacular 360 degree view of De Wieden. The repurposed tank still contains the original steel staircase that intertwines with the new and functional wooden one. The newer steep, angular staircase contrasts nicely with the smooth cylindrical walls, and the warmth of the wood with the coolness of the concrete. Visitors are rewarded for their long trek upstairs with a spectacular view which has been enhanced by the addition of four large windows.
Photos by Stijn Poelstra
A recent project at the University of Isthmus in Panama City by one of my favorite Spanish art collectives, Boa Mistura (previously), engaged the architecture and industrial design students. Invited to give a two-week workshop, the artists worked with the students to create a design using their signature anamorphic style which was then executed by the students. Seeing the university as a Ciudad del Saber (City of Knowledge) they created a type mural on the side of one of the campus buildings that reads pensar (think) from one angle, and sentir (feel) from another; two key elements in obtaining knowledge.
All images courtesy of BoaMistura
Based in North Carolina, Patrick Dougherty has become noted for his amazing work with saplings and sticks which he uses to create fantastical, quasi-architectural structures that seem to evoke another time, place, or fantasy realm altogether. Individual sapling branches and sticks are woven together in windswept fashion, fitting in as if part of the natural landscape. Combining his carpentry skills with his love of nature, the artist began to learn more about primitive techniques of building and to experiment with tree saplings as construction material. These works have evolved into largescale environmental pieces, requiring saplings and twigs by the truckload. Almost seems like a Hobbit should be peering out the door of some of these.
You can see Dougherty at work in the trailer for the film Bending Sticks, below, which documents his stickwork.
via Nashville Arts
Believe it or not, Belgium-born Henk van Rensbergen is an airline pilot; a job which takes him to many locations around the world. But it is the urge to explore eerie abandoned sites which he’s possessed since childhood, that has led him to take this stunning series of photographs (and books) titled Abandoned Places. Van Rensbergen captures the ghost-like atmosphere that exists within these spaces, whether they be homes, offices, amusement parks or hair salons. The presence of those who once inhabited these locations is almost palpable. The stories (or the stories we decide to create in our minds) are there to be told via his amazing images. These few are just the tip of the iceberg. You can see so many more over here. I think it’s safe to say, flying might be Mr. Rensbergen’s official profession, but photography is clearly his passion.
Dutch visual artist Martijn Sandberg creates Image Messages in public spaces as well as in paintings and sculpture. He explores the tension between text and image, legibility and illegibility, public and private domain. In his site-specific public artworks throughout The Netherlands, Sandberg plays with the material bearing the image which in turn camouflages the message from certain angles, and exposes it from others. “Image is message is image.” Whether created using bricks on a building facade, tiles on a floor surface, concrete staircases, or a wooden fence, there’s a trickiness to all of Sandberg’s work that both challenges and amuses the viewer. And as if that weren’t enough, the messages themselves are often chuckle-worthy, such as in the third photo down in what looks to be brass strips: “U Heeft Tien Bewaarde Berichten” which translates as “You Have Ten Saved Messages.”