Jessica Stockholder’s work first caught my eye when I saw images of her Color Jam, a word play on “traffic jam,” installed in a downtown intersection in Chicago in 2012. The installation included sidewalks, streets, buildings, windows and doors. It was a three-dimensional painting, of sorts, incorporating color and texture. Beyond that though, the comings and goings of Chicago’s inhabitants, yellow taxicabs, blue buses etc. augmented the effects of the work.
Stockholder seeks to undermine the preciousness of art. By occupying public spaces she forces interaction and engagement with the work. Visitors, whether they want to or not, become a part of the process and installation. For another work, Flooded Chambers Maid, 2009-10, Stockholder re-imagined a portion of Madison Square Park. Enthused park visitors, environment and weather all interacted with the installation, giving life to an otherwise static work.
Artist James Turrell, pioneer of using light as an art medium, once said “Seeing is a very sensuous act“. Charles Matson Lume follows Turrell’s influential path, adding his own sculptural, material and architectural elements to his light works. Though the two have distinct differences, Lume’s idea that “Light is seemingly capable of releasing a kind of secret from the ordinary” holds many similarities to Turrell’s artistic philosophy.
The Twin Cities-based Lume spoke with Beautiful/Decay on the eve of being named to the ArtPrize Shortlist for 3D Works for his piece, The World’s An Untranslatable Language II (for Charles Wright) (pictured above). Using pedestals of plastic warning tapes, as well as neon duct tape, mirrored paper reflects light onto the gallery’s walls, creating the alluring forms and patterns which are the spirit of Lume’s work. The artist adds, “Yes, the light is elemental in my work. However, the materials hold meaning. For me, the pas du deux of light and materials mirrors my experience in the world.”
This relationship between the materials and the light itself is interesting, as it is the artist’s main medium, yet is given more conceptual heft with the importance placed in the ephemeral materials used to support the light works themselves. Many of Lume’s ideas are broadened (and also named after) his interest in contemporary poetry, but the artist quickly adds, “I am interested in visual pleasure, the sensual, and experiential. I am also interested in what distracts us (Is there anything in our culture that isn’t vying for our attention?) What gets in the way of really living a full life? Art allows me to find gestures in which I can sometimes access a kind of authenticity that is true.”
Berlin-based artist Sebastian Bieniek‘s double-faced girl portraits are a little humorous, but they also provoke a more menacing or unsettling feeling. With an eye pencil and lipstick, Bieniek draws a face onto each side of the model’s face, using one real eye for each face. After her hair has been strategically placed around her face, Bieniek photographs this subject in the context of daily routines, thoughtfully using objects that appear in everyday environments. For this series as well as his other work, Bieniek enjoys creating a narrative that contains absurd elements and surprises viewers. Junk Culture notes, ”Bieniek first came up with the idea one morning while playing in the bathroom with his son. He explains, ‘Wet hair covered one of his eyes, soap covered his ear, he looked in the mirror and said, dad look my face moved!’” This creates a manufactured or mannequin like image, with a hint of humanity evoked with one eye.
Bieniek enjoys engaging and provoking responses from his viewers, something his Facebook page of 54,000 fans attests to. He notes, ”Art will be consumed differently, the market is constantly changing. Nearly every day, I make an artwork and post it on Facebook. You no longer have to see art in a gallery or see the original.” (via design boom)
The human relationship with the natural world is a complex one that doesn’t seem to untangle anytime soon. With animal life increasingly being abused and habitats encroached upon anxiety is understandably mounting. Artist Chris Musina address these issues in painting and also sculpture. Musina depicts the uglier side of the human/animal relationship. Rather than highlight idyllic scenes of nature, he draws gruesome imagery of animal mistreatment to the forefront. Animal carcasses are often kept as trophies, dead souvenirs of a once living creature. Painting’s tradition of depicting killed animals is extensive – the fox hunt alone, for example, an entire genre. Appropriately, then, Musina’s animal carcasses are not there to be admired but act as animals condemning the viewer. They seem to be holding an accounting for their present condition in the painting as well as in a larger abstract sense. They act as a tool to deconstruct disassociation. Musina further explains his use of painting in addressing ecological and animal issues:
“Dealing directly with our increasingly volatile and uneasy relationship to the natural world, I draw from contemporary animal thought and a deep phylogeny of cultural cues. My work dismantles how we look at animals via “nature morte” painters, philosophy, hunting, museum dioramas, and the like. Manifested in life size compositions full of dark humor and bright color, I am addressing the animal as neither symbol nor object, but as subject, a subject aware of his or her own powerful symbolic nature. Painting represents the bulk of my practice precisely due to its place in the forefront of a history of representing animals. My paintings are populated with animal protagonists who stare back at the viewer in an uneasy gaze; aware of that place in our cultural history– asking for compassion, mercy, or simply to be put out of their misery.”
Zim & Zou are a French design studio created by Thibault Zimmermann and Lucie Thomas. In addition to paper sculptures, they also explore graphic design, illustration, and installation work. Rather than use a computer, the duo prefer to use paper to design and sculpt many of their images before photographing them. From a series entitled “Back to Basics,” these brightly sculpted electronic devices represent 80s and 90s nostalgia and employ color schemes that remind me of the Nickelodeon shows I grew up watching. Each item is meticulously sculpted to real-life size and shape dimensions and includes thoughtful details that give the appearance of full functionality. The use of paper to recreate outdated technological objects also confronts the current modern tension between print and digital media.
The duo told Don’t Panic, ”…[A]t first sight it’s a tribute to vintage technologies which marked the technological evolution of the last years, and all the nostalgia of the memories that each have with them. By bringing those ‘dead’ objects back to life, we tried to highlight the very fast evolution of our everyday objects. The devices we use nowadays will, in a few years, be considered as relics too. We wanted to ask a question as well: where will this evolution lead us to?
What inspired us personally for this project are the original objects themselves. Every day we use some of those objects, such as the Polaroid camera and we often play Tetris on the original grey Gameboy.”
Their website has a gallery full of other paper sculpture designs, including paper birds, food, spaceships, and a Higgs Boson. You can watch a time-lapse video of their construction process here. (via unknown editors)
Visual artist Jennifer Davis is well-known on the internet for her whimsical and imaginative drawings and paintings (previously here). But in one of her latest series, Davis takes her trademark renderings and has paired them with an unlikely match, paper shooting targets.
In a conversation with Beautiful/Decay, the Minneapolis-based artist explains the history of the series, starting with inspiration for a printed target seen in an architecture/lifestyle magazine. “…I learned that I could get enormous packs of different colored targets from a gun shop for under $20. I started off thinking more about the symbolism of guns/violence/innocent victims/”badguys”/etc. (one of the first targets I made was called “Riddled”- I cut an intricate pattern of tiny holes all over the target.)” Davis then began using the colored paper targets as a base, decorating them with hand-drawn and painted intricately unique characters.The series evolved as Davis began taking commissions and painting other people’s ideas and applying them to the targets. “I started doing a lot of commissions, which morphed the way I was thinking about them. It is a fun exercise for me to paint someone else’s vision- it has stretched the way I think about the targets. I no longer relate them only to violence. I think about each one differently and it is interesting for me to play with adding whimsy or beauty to such a symbol. I am transforming them into something new.”
Chilean born, New York based artist and designer Sebastian Errazuriz is only 28 years old, but already his work has been auctioned at Sotheby’s Important Twentieth Century Design. He was selected as one of I.D. Magazine’s top emerging international designers, he received the title of Chilean Designer of the year in 2010, and his work has been exhibited at the many institutions such as the Cooper Hewitt, the National Museum of Design in New York, The Corning Glass Museum and in 2014 he will show at the Carnegie Museum of Art.
There is a humor to Errazuriz’s work that combines wit with a sense of irreverence. Opera d’ Inferno (Fireplace), for example, is a fireplace turned into a miniature theater set. Or Duck Lamp, which consists of a taxidermy bird whose head has been replaced with a lamp. Personal Registration of Time Passing are a series of previously owned wind up watches that have the hour and minute hands taken out. Rather than indicating the time, they indicate that time is passing, so carpe diem and whatnot.
Errazuriz’s public works of art maintain the same sense of profane humor, but many of them also possess a semi-political tone. Wall Street City, for instance, involved turning median markers into dollar signs. American Kills is a mural, of sorts, depicting side by side the number of American soldiers killed in combat and those who died committing suicide in 2009. In one of his more ambitions projects, Errazuriz rescued a cow from its inevitable death at a slaughterhouse and moved it to a recreated farm on the top of a 10-story building in Santiago, Chile. The Cow became a rural icon existing in an urban environment.
As the most universally impactful works usually are, the affect of Errazuriz’s use of symbols and imagery is generally straightforward, but surprisingly efficient. Blurring the lines between art and design with most of his work, mere objects become thought provoking and insightful. It is exciting to see what an artist so young will do next.
Transforming the two dimensional into three dimensions has obsessed artists for centuries. Benjamin Muzzin takes an interesting approach to this familiar challenge. Working in conjunction with the University of Art and Design, Lausanne, Switzerland (ECAL) created the video Full Turn. The piece seems to begin with a simple LCD screen television. Soon the screen is spinning quickly and the illuminated design seems to take on a certain depth. Due to the speed of the spinning screen the light blurs and nearly seems to produce a floating light sculpture.
The television screen embodies the two dimensional image, perhaps similarly to the way paintings had for previous centuries. Using a digital screen to “carve out” a sculpture of light is a challenge Muzzin was intentionally sought. He goes on to explain:
“With this project I wanted to explore the notion of the third dimension, with the desire to try to get out of the usual frame of a flat screen. For this, my work mainly consisted in exploring and experimenting a different device for displaying images, trying to give animations volume in space. The resulting machine works with the rotation of two screens placed back to back, creating a three-dimensional animated sequence that can be seen at 360 degrees. Due to the persistence of vision, the shapes that appear on the screen turn into kinetic light sculptures.”