Lately, each consecutive summer in NYC seems to top the last in offerings of outdoor film screenings. Locations range from parks, to restaurant backyards, to rooftops and even beaches. And now, the concept is extending into the fall with an additional twist: a drive-in. Not just your usual run-of-the-mill drive-in, which in itself would be cool and intriguing enough, but Empire Drive-In is a junk car drive-in, upcycling wrecked cars rescued from junkyards and repurposing them as seats for audience members to climb into, and onto, while watching films projected on a 40-foot screen made of salvaged wood. The masterminds behind the project—which will be held outside the New York Hall of Science in Corona Park, Queens, starting October 4th and running though the 20th—are Jeff Stark (whose name seems to be associated with many an interesting NYC event) and Todd Chandler. The two Brooklyn-based artists have previously created other Empire Drive-Ins, most recently last year at the Abandon Normal Devices Festival in Manchester, UK. Stark and Chandler, along with a team of other artists and craftspeople have set out, in this age of consumerism, to create a sense of possibility by focusing on re-use, designing something new and special while salvaging and repurposing waste. In cleaning up the cars, which will have stereo audio transmitted via radio directly to each car, the crew found all kinds of interesting personal artifacts from car deodorizers to letters, which they have chosen to keep in the cars to “create a story”. The audience is urged to explore.
Opening night promises to be fun with a 30-Pianists-on-Casio-keyboards performance, in addition to a stellar line-up of films from Buster Keaton, Charlie Chaplin, and Oliver Hardy, to Jim Jarmusch’s Night On Earth. You can see the rest of the schedule here.
We’re taking a little summer blogging break this month. To keep you entertained, we’ve put together easy access links to some of our more popular posts in the past months but, of course, feel free to peruse instead by category using the drop-down menu in the right sidebar, or click on the ‘random post’ icon also in the sidebar. There’s always our facebook page, as well, with links to all of our posts. And for those of you in NYC, please check out our recently launched site Culture on the Cheap offering daily suggestions of free and cheap events in New York City.
Montreal-based graphic design and strategic marketing firm Paprika (previously here) never disappoints. Checking in to their site for a boost of inspiration I came across their currently exhibited art installation for Aires Libres—an artistic event on St. Catherine Street in Montreal. Trous de mémoire (Memory Gaps) invites visitors to take a walk down memory lane, but there are tricks and humorous discoveries to be made, indicating that what is forgotten is not always lost. By day or by night, pedestrians can slip between the panels and uncover their secrets from up close or from a distance, deciphering them from all angles and even climb through them.
For those of us not near Montreal, the experience is nicely captured in the videos below, the second one being a timelapse version of the installation process (with a lovely song by Black Water.)
Memory Gaps (Trous de mémoire) is on view through September 2, 2013.
As part of this year’s Summer Streets in NYC — an annual celebration of the city’s most valuable public space: its streets! — for three consecutive Saturdays in August, nearly seven miles from the Brooklyn Bridge to Central Park are closed to traffic and opened for people to play, walk, bike, and enjoy. This year, as part of this event the Park Avenue Tunnel which runs from 33rd to 40th Streets, will be transformed into an interactive sound and light installation, Voice Tunnel, by Mexican artist Rafael Lozano-Hemmer (previously here and here.) This rare opportunity to stroll the tunnel will invite participants to walk to a midpoint in the tunnel and deliver short messages into an intercom. The words/sounds will then reverberate out in waves of sound and arching light until they disappear. The intensity of the light will be determined by the pitch and volume of the person’s voice.
Voice Tunnel will be taken down after each of the three Saturdays before car traffic resumes, and will be set up again the following week. Other, smaller, interactive installations include Chat Travieso‘s CoolStop at Foley Square, a water mister that connects to fire hydrants made with recycled PVC piping. The 10′ installation resembles a large splash that participants will be able to stand under for a small reprieve from the heat. Also, The Course of Emotions: a mini-golf experience by Risa Puno, that translates everyday feelings into 9 holes of playable fun. Players putt through a range of emotional obstacles, like the seesaw platform of Insecurity and the par-40 Frustration maze.
Summer Streets will take place on the first three Saturdays of August (3rd, 10th & 17th) from 7am to 1pm.
Colorado-based artist/architect Jenn Lewin creates large, immersive, interactive art pieces for the public. From interactive sound and light sculptures that inspire people into play, to woven fiber video curtains that reflect movement, or giant, robotic, ethereal moths that dance based on human touch. In her interactive light installation titled The Pool, Lewin put together 106 interactive circular platforms in giant concentric circles that communicate wirelessly. Each pad is independent and simultaneously interacts and listens to its environment based on user feedback. Together, the 106 pads create complex, surprising, and unpredictable color arrays with their user participants. Each pad in The Pool senses a person’s movements. User inputs such as foot location, foot pressure, and speed are sensed by the pad surface. As a person moves, light ripples out to the surrounding pads. For example, by leaning left, a ripple of varying intensity starts in that direction. A stronger more deliberate lean could cause a ripple to jump rings and fill the entire Pool. Each person’s ripple is unique. The more people that participate the more of a cacophony is created.
The Pool can be as small as 35ft x 35ft or, if spread out, as large as 70ft x 70ft. It’s powered via a normal household outlet and can be placed indoors or out.
UK-based architectural designer and artist, Dan Dodds, has proposed an installation for Burning Man 2013 titled Near Unison that visualizes the harmonic relationship between two people using a pair of pendulum swings. A prototype of Near Unison, sans the elegant and striking exterior structure, was exhibited at this year’s Kinetic Art Fair. The installation specifically explores the harmonograph — a machine that became popular as a 19th century capable of producing beautiful drawings by mapping the relationship between two swinging pendulums. The oscillation frequency of the pendulums can be changed by modifying their lengths. Near Unison acts as a large-scale interactive harmonograph, allowing people to take the place of the pendulum weights, swinging back and forth, creating patterns in the sand that are ‘near unison’ a 1:1 ratio when the people occupying the swings are of similar weight. You can see the prototype in action below and keep your eyes peeled for the even larger version at the next Burning Man Festival in Black Rock Desert this August. Should be fun.
Recent graduate, Melbourne-based graphic designer Vanessa Vanselow created a installation to visualize her thesis on Originality vs Authenticity. It’s probably best to quote Vanessa directly on her thesis statement and explanation:
Redefining the term ‘originality’ into the more relevant term ‘authenticity’ is essential in the growth and development of the design community. Authenticity entails taking ideas and using them in a way that is unique and different. It is more about the way you are influenced by what is around you, and the way you apply your ideas to your work. It relates to how you are inspired, what elements affect you personally and how you translate this into a solution.
In creating a visual outcome, I have focused on the concept of an authentic experience that is ever changing by creating an imprint made by each viewer onto a structure, whilst projecting images and colours onto it that relate to them on a personal level. This therefore becomes a genuine and authentic experience, influenced solely by the viewer that evolves and changes through time. The ever-changing nature captures an ephemeral imprint of each user, tailoring the experience to become authentic and personal to each individual.
Here’s the stop motion animation that documents the installation in use and illustrates Vanselow’s thesis quite well.
Mexican-born artist Rafael Lozano-Hemmer (previously here) is an electronic artist who develops interactive installations that are at the intersection of architecture and performance art. His main interest is in creating platforms for public participation using technologies such as robotics, computerized surveillance and telematic networks. In his installation Pulse Index Lozano-Hemmer invites participants to place their finger into a custom-made sensor equipped with a 220x digital microscope and a heart rate sensor. The piece displays data for the last 765 and over participants in a stepped display that creates a horizon line of skin. The fingerprint immediately appears on the largest cell of the display, pulsating to the person’s heart beat. As more people try the piece one’s own recording travels upwards until it disappears altogether.
Reading Lozano-Hemmer’s website I learned that he has a mysterious public art piece scheduled for NYC next month (August) so we’ll have to keep an eye out for that.
Dutch duo Front404 create interactive installations with humor that aim to surprise and offer a different perspective on the world. On June 25th, in honor of George Orwell’s 110th birthday, the two, Thomas voor ‘t Hekke and Bas van Oerle, placed party hats on surveillance cameras throughout the city of Utrecht. Not just a celebratory gesture, but a great way of drawing attention to the inconspicuous cameras that observe our every move and we so readily ignore. Every day, just that much closer to an Orwellian surveillance state.
The experimental design collective Oh.No.Sumo started as a creative outlet for four friends graduating from the architecture school at the University of Auckland and soon transformed into a design collective exploring many avenues of design, pushing the boundaries and allowing for uninhibited design freedoms through creative thinking and active participation. Their third and most recent major installation is Stairway Cinema at a corner in Auckland where there’s not much community interaction. By creating a mini movie theater in the stairway of a building, Oh.No.Sumo have in effect countered this issue, creating a communal and social environment that engages passers-by.
The structure was created with a timber truss covered in fabric with a waterproof exterior. Matching red cushions were added to the steps for softer seating while video content is projected onto the cantilevered end of the canopy. Very fun.
I’ve come across artist Richard Woods’ work over the years, but I don’t think I ever quite put it all together until now. The London-based Woods likes to substitute colorful faux cartoon-y textures for the real ones. Beginning about a dozen years ago replacing wooden floor slats in a house with their colorful cartoon counterparts, Woods has since made aluminum siding homes look like tudors, revamped brick homes with larger cartoon-like faux brick exteriors, and now, at the Orangery in Wakefield, Yorkshire, he’s created a maze titled A Maze for Yorkshire in shades of pinks and reds in what he describes as a ‘cartoon Yorkshire dry stone wall.’ The temporary labyrinth measures 10 meters square with an intimate performance space at its center. The maze has an accompanying soundscape as well.
A Maze for Yorkshire will be up at The Orangery through September 29, 2013.
Photos of maze by Jonty Wilde. Other photos courtesy of the artist.
Sonos Playground Deconstructed, an immersive and interactive installation by Red Paper Heart (previously here) — currently at the Museum of Moving Image here in NYC in conjunction with Spectacle: The Music Video exhibition — brings minimalist art to life using five detached walls suspended above a reflective floor. Each of the walls has been painted with 27 1-inch wide white lines and 26 2-inch wide black lines. By mapping the white lines set between black lines the studio was able to create a more immersive and surreal environment. Visitors are able to select any song from an iPad and watch a visualization of the music projected onto the surrounding walls. Through motion-capture technology, they can interact with and manipulate the animation through movement.
Take a look at it in motion in the video below:
Sonos Playground Deconstructed (deconstructed because it was originally installed in a 250 sq. ft shed at the Sonos Studio at the 2013 SXSW festival) is on view at the Museum of Moving Image until June 16, 2013.
I’m not a twitter person. I usually dash in and out to tweet about the latest post on this blog and while there I’ll peruse the 20 or so latest tweets streaming in that minute. I find it a little overwhelming. But every once in a while I hit something in that very moment that I’m happy to have found out about and Miranda July’s latest project, We Think Alone, is a prime example. The quirky, funny, incredibly appealing writer/performance artist/filmmaker/actress has created the email-inbox-only project as part of a Swedish exhibit titled “On the Tip of My Tongue”. A collection of private emails from celebrities and public figures (some friends of July) that include Lena Dunham, Kirsten Dunst, and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar will be sent out every Monday between July 1st and November 1st to anyone who signs up to receive them. The previously written emails from the sent folders of these people will deal with the subject-of-the-week selected by the artist. July’s first subject is “Money” and those emails will arrive on July 1st. It sounds a bit conceptual, definitely odd and, of course, voyeuristic but, based on Miranda July’s past projects, I have faith that it will be interesting and subscribed last Friday.
If you’d like to read more about the project and/or sign up to receive the emails yourself, you can do that here. If you’re not familiar with Miranda July’s work, you might enjoy this website, or just look through the many projects on her main site.
I first saw Boston-based artist Anne Lilly’s beautiful interactive kinetic stainless steel sculptures at Scope NY a few months back and thought they were among the best pieces at the show. More recently, I saw more of them at the very intimate Beth Swanström Gallery where the artist herself was present. She spoke enthusiastically about her switch, years ago, from architecture to sculpture and the thrill she got the first time she entered a metal workshop surrounded by all the lathes and other tools.
Lilly’s sculptures have a fluidity and elegance that rival that of the most graceful dancer. The cool, mechanical, minimalist steel pieces (many of which remind me of some of my favorite Blomus housewares) need only a slight push and off they go in an incredibly smooth movement where collision seems inevitable, yet never occurs. Trust me, it’s worth watching the videos below to get the full effect, or as much of a full effect that one can get online.
The folks of Boamistura (previously here & here) were at it again, doing what they do so well: fostering pride and community in impoverished neighborhoods with their street art interventions. Their latest participatory urban art project Somos Luz (We are Light) took place this past March in Panama City. Invited by the Panama Art Biennial and as part of their own Crossroads project, Boamistura enlisted the help of the inhabitants of the Begonia I building in El Chorrillo to paint the phrase “Somos Luz” on the façade of their building. Each apartment (50 total) was responsible for painting their own home including corridors and stairways. The concept was based on a color grid that, when seen from up close, looks like abstract shapes but, from a distance, spells out their proud bright message. It’s win-win all around. The building got a much needed coat of paint (see ‘before’ in third photo down from top.) The community, down to the young children, were included in the project. And a sense of well-deserved pride was instilled in all who live in the Begonia I building. Nice work as usual Boamistura!
This delightfully colorful tape installation designed by Koji Iyama took place in Sendai, Japan, as a promotion for mt masking tape. Iyama and his team set out to show the multiple/alternate uses of the bright and patterned rolls by covering the walls and floors—as well as other objects they came across—of a huge old garage and then hanging thousands of rolls from the ceiling. The visitors could walk through the space and peruse the tape selections on the tables as well. You can see a time-lapse video of the installation process below:
It’s been a weekend of wall-to-wall art and design here in NYC with art fairs small and large, from Pulse, to Nada, to Collective, to Frieze and, of course, the opening of Rain Room at MoMA, the interactive and immersive installation by rAndom International that first debuted at the Barbican Centre in London last October. I will be featuring some of the highlights, for me, from these events in the next few days but here, for starters, is the amazing Rain Room.
Rain Room is a large-scale environment (in the case of MoMA, it’s a separate entity outside the museum on 54th Street) with a field of pouring rain whose flow is suspended detecting the presence of bodies, allowing visitors to wander around the room amidst the beautifully highlighted drops, without getting wet. Injection moulded tiles, solenoid valves, pressure regulators, 3D tracking cameras, custom software and steel beams are involved in the production of the installation. Definitely fun and cool, making for some stunning photographs (better ones if you opt for camera over phone) and lots of kids running fast trying (and mostly succeeding) to get wet.
But, as with all fun and cool NYC activities, there are long lines. If you’re a museum member the wait is slightly shorter, but even early on the first day, while there were probably many still unaware of the exhibit, the wait was about an hour and a half. So, go prepared and avoid peak hours. There are early morning members-only hours from 9:30 to 10:30am but getting there by 9am is likely to be a good idea.
Rain Room is part of EXPO 1: New York and will be on view through July 28, 2013.
Photos: Joe Holmes; rAndom International; and collabcubed
Free & Cheap things to do in NYC this weekend (5/10/13 to 5/12/13). It’s an especially good weekend for fans of art and design…
1. DESIGN/ART: Fri 5/10 & Sat 5/11 – Collective Design Fair at Pier 57 – will present a cohesive, curated selection of contemporary design and historical pieces from galleries around the world. $25 Fri 11am to 9pm; Sat 11am to 5pm. Register in advance.
5. DESIGN/ARCHITECTURE/TALKS/ART: All weekend & through 5/21 – NYCxDESIGN inaugural citywide event to showcase and promote design of all disciplines. Events will be staged across all five boroughs,from convention facilities and galleries to design schools and public parks. Most events FREE
6. ART: All weekend – NADA NYC: creatively reinventing the experience and presentation of art in a fair enviornment. at Basketball City at Pier 36 on the East River. See hours FREE.
8. DESIGN/ART: All weekend – Brooklyn Designs annual exhibit of local designers work in furnishings, lighting, and accessories made or designed in Brooklyn. Fri open to Trade. Sat 10 to 7pm, Sun 11am to 6pm. $15 to $20.
12. ART/PARTICIPATORY: Sun 5/12 through 7/28 – The very cool installation that doesn’t get you wet: The Rain Room opens at MoMA $25 admission. FREE Friday evenings and first 100 visitors on Tuesdays in May.