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.
Category Archives: Just Plain Cool
Nick Georgiou: Hermès Windows NYC
I’m not sure if it’s because it’s Fashion Week here in NYC, or because the fall season has begun bringing with it a new crop of looks, or maybe I just hadn’t strolled down Madison Avenue in a while but, when I did yesterday afternoon I was really struck by all the store windows, both in their content and their display design. Barney’s had a series of rotating photos by Bruce Weber titled L.A. Stories; another store whose name escapes me was setting up neon signage along with what seemed to be an outdoor runway, but the windows that stopped me in my tracks were those of Hermès. The mannequin heads were these spectacular sculptures which at first glance looked like blocks of painted wood, but as I got closer I realized that they were actually books. Books! Rolled, fanned, stacked, bent, not only were the mannequin heads stunning (possibly the most fabulous part of the general fabulosity), but the backdrops as well were intricate tableaus created using the edges of books, painted in colors and stripes, in some cases just as multicolor striped motif backdrop while in others 2-dimensional mythical gods. I went in to ask who the artist was and should have recognized the name right away, having posted NYC-born and based artist Nick Georgiou’s work before. Seeing them in person, however, is even more impressive. Kudos to whoever thought to give the job to Georgiou, and of course kudos to the artist himself for making an impressive splash on Upper Mad, specifically at the corner of 62nd Street.
Photos collabcubed and Nick Georgiou
21st Precinct: Street Art & Graffiti Art Show
I stopped by the opening of Outlaw Arts’ graffiti and street art show 21st Precinct last Saturday evening. The 1863 NYPD building will be demolished in the coming months and a condominium will take its place, so, as has become recently popular in NYC and abroad, the four-story space was handed over to street artists who covered every wall, door, floor, ceiling, bathroom, and other nooks and crannies throughout with their art. The irony of graffiti in a police station was not lost on many of the artists who themed their work accordingly: there were excerpts from the Miranda Rights sprayed in beautiful type graffiti; there was a bathroom that looked like a murder scene with a blood-filled sink; a machine gun vending machine; Pacino’s Scarface above writing in white powder simulating cocaine on the floor, and much more. Each artist was apparently given a room or hallway or stairway to go to town on, and go to town they did. Some of my personal favorites included Rae-BK, Alice Mizrachi, Yok and Sheryo, Mr. Toll, and of course others who I was not able to identify, such as the bottom photo. (Update: it’s Erasmo.)
It’s interesting to see how street art is increasingly making its way indoors and with that so is the sense of a downtown gallery scene. There were even iPads displaying additional works in some of the rooms and business cards abound. And why not? Just as with any art, there are some truly exceptional artists among many of the more mundane, and I, for one, would be thrilled to have any one of a number of these artists’ works on my walls.
Many of the featured artists were wandering around the opening, blending in with everyone else, except for the rare case of red spandex pants that far from blended, but that seemed to be the point. If you missed the event last weekend, don’t despair, the 21st Precinct at 327 East 22nd St. will be open to the public again this coming weekend 8/23 and 8/24 from 1 to 6pm. If you can’t make it live, you can see many more (and better) photos here and here.
Jello Brick Wall: Hein & Seng
Artists Bob Seng and Lisa Hein have created their Jello Brick Wall sculptures on more than one occasion. Their most recent was at the Seattle Center in, well, Seattle. The jiggly installation consisted of 500 lbs. of Jell-O made into loaf-size bricks of varying flavors (raspberry, orange, cherry, lime, and more) and colors held in place with gypsum mortar. The artists cook the Jell-O on a hot plate and cool it in molds in a fridge. The final wall measured roughly 5 feet in height and 12 feet in length. And then there’s the melting/deteriorating aspect. Hein and Seng like the temporary nature of the work. Each brick apparently has the approximate lifespan of cut flowers, eventually melting or crumbling leaving just the mortar. The work is part performance, part installation. You can see more in the video below:
Form Scratch: Kolkoz
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:
Matt Reilly of Japanther: Skateboard Painting
A couple of months back I made the trip out to Mana Contemporary (a surprising cultural hub in Jersey City) and witnessed Matt Reilly of Japanther—a band established by Reilly and Ian Vanek while students at Pratt and described by art reviewers as “art-rock installation paratroopers” —skateboard paint. Somewhere between Jackson Pollock’s drips and Aaron Young’s multi-motorcycle performance art piece Greeting Card, lies Reilly’s skate-painting. By adding paint to the wheels of his board with sponges and then showing off his skating skills, Reilly is able to create large, abstract paintings while putting on a mesmerizing show. The results are nicer than I would have imagined, and the process was fun to watch. You can see him in action below:
Top two photos: collabcubed. All the rest: Japanther
João Onofre: Box Sized Die
This isn’t the first time artist João Onofre displays his art installation titled Box Sized Die, nor is it likely to be the last. It is, however, the first time the installation has gone to London. Consisting of a large soundproof steel cube, the Portuguese artist invites a local Death Metal band to play inside the cramped space both with the door open, and then with it closed, limiting the performance length to how long the band can last before the oxygen runs out. Placed in the heart of the business district for this summer’s Sculpture in the City festival, Box Sized Die, according to Onofre, is meant to symbolize the office buildings that surround it filled with cubicles and impossible to know what’s going on inside from the exterior. Spectators put their ears to the box to hear the band Unfathomable Ruination play their self-proclaimed “unrelenting brutal death metal” to no avail, but the band seems to be embracing the challenge wholeheartedly having lasted between 19 and 25 minutes in the sealed box so far.
If you’re in London, the band will be performing Wednesday to Friday through August 1, 2014.
via the guardian
Shadowing: Jonathan Chomko & Matthew Rosier
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.
Sambre: Escalier de Secours & More
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
OK Go: The Writing’s on the Wall
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
Tara Donovan: Index Cards & Acrylic Rods
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!
Jenny Holzer: I Stay
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
Ryan & Trevor Oakes: Concave Easel
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.
Photos courtesy of the Oakes, except top image by Aymann Ismail for AnimalNY.
Kara Walker: A Subtlety at The Domino Factory
“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).
Watertower Sint Jansklooster: Zecc Architecten
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
Cash Cow Piñata at NYCxDesign: Sebastian Errazuriz
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.
Patrick Dougherty: Stickwork
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
Miguel Chevalier: Magic Carpets 2014
French transmedia artist Miguel Chevalier presented Magic Carpets 2014 in Morocco at the beginning of the month. The spectacular lighting installation turned the massive floor of the Sacré Coeur church in Casablanca into a joyful interactive experience. From a sea of vibrantly colored spirals to pixels that gave way to cellular-inspired patterns, the contemporary animated projections moved along nicely complemented by Michel Redolfi’s music. See it in action in the video below. I could see this working very nicely at our own Park Avenue Armory here in NYC…hint, hint.