About Leslie Tane

Leslie Tane is a curator, designer, educator, and writer living in Western Massachusetts. After 20 years of design practice, she received her MFA in Graphic Design from Vermont College of Fine Arts in October 2013. http://www.leslietane.com

Nendo Reimagines Boring Office Supplies Like Rubber Bands, Paperclips And Rulers Into Inspiring Works Of Design

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In one of those rare meetings of form and function, Nendo’s stationery and office supplies looks great and works well. The cubic rubber bands are one example. According to the company, “The geometrical shapes make the bands easy to find in a drawer and easy to pick up.” The Tokyo and Milan-based design firm created the blue, charcoal, and white three-dimensions bands for their brand ‘by | n’. They’re a part of the eleven item collection, which also includes a flip pen, contrast ruler, circle tags, paper clips, outline tray, cross pen-stand, peel pen-case, hard cover memo-pad, edge note, and dot envelope.

The contrast ruler is another success. Simple, but considered, the design has the ruler markings fade from white to black on either edge, making the ruler easy to read against all color backgrounds. Smart, too, are the paper clips that are made out of recyclable paper.

The minimalist collection sells itself, but the clever illustrations explaining the functionality of the various pieces are a whimsical touch, adding a softer element to the crisp, clean-lined, designs.

Nendo’s philosophy is clearly evident with this collection. The website states:

Giving people a small ” ! ” moment.
There are so many small ” ! ” moments hidden in our everyday.

But we don’t recognize them.
and even when we do recognize them, we tend to unconsciously reset our
minds and forget what we’ve seen.

But we believe these small ” ! ” moments are what make our days so
interesting, so rich.

That’s why we want to reconstitute the everyday by collecting and
reshaping them into something that’s easy to understand.

We’d like the people who’ve encountered nendo’s designs to feel these
small ” ! ” moments intuitively.

That’s nendo’s job.

Photos by Akihiro Yoshida. via Spoon & Tamago

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Wolfgang Laib Makes Art With Yellow Pollen Fields

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German conceptual artist Wolfgang Laib creates his installations from natural materials displayed in very unnatural ways. In “Pollen from Hazelnut,” Laib collected pollen from the area around his studio for over 23 years. In the gallery, he carefully sifted the rich yellow powder into a saturated rectangular field. He says,

“I wanted to have this very intense, concentrated experience … with the pollen. So, the meadow with flowers where I collect the pollen is something very different from how you see it here, a real concentrated experience without any distractions, nothing else.” (Source)

Traditionally, conceptual art is primarily concerned with ideas—aesthetics are mainly disregarded. Laib’s pollen fields are unusual in that they have a strong conceptual basis, yet they’re also lovely and striking. The geometric shapes, as large as 380 square feet, have been described as a “vast luminous field of color” and “a blanket of pure pigment.”

Interestingly it is in the collection of the pollen and the amassed pollen itself where Laib finds the most meaning. The sifting onto the floor is almost irrelevant to him. This exchange is from an interview in The Journal of Contemporary Art

Ottmann [interviewer]: Your pollen pieces are for sale. If a collector wants to own one how exactly does that work?

Laib: He buys three jars of pollen and it’s his choice of keeping it in the jar or to get rid of his furniture and spread it out on the floor.

Ottmann: Would you go to his home and do that?

Laib: Yes, but of course I would be even happier if he would do it himself.

Some critics of the work are concerned with Laib’s “waste” of natural materials. This is not a concern for Laib, who, although he works with natural materials, does not consider himself a naturalist. It’s important to remember that the pollen is gathered by hand over a long period of time, not mass harvested, denuding the environment in one obscene swoop. From concept to exhibition, every aspect of Laib’s work displays patience, precision, and peace.

Read more about Wolfgang Laib on PBS’s wonderful Art21 website and look out for his episode airing soon!

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Bryan Lewis Saunders Creates Self-Portraits On Different Drugs

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Absinthe

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Adderall

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In 1995, artist Bryan Lewis Saunders decided to create a unique self-portrait every day for the rest of his life. In 2001 he committed to taking a different drug or intoxicant every day before making his daily portrait, calling this sub-series “Under the Influence.” From absinthe and cocaine to cough syrup and computer duster he sniffed, swallowed and smoked his way through interesting art and into mild, but reversible, brain damage.

Though these are only a small fraction of the collection of over 8,600 self-portraits, they have received the most attention, resurfacing in the media over and over throughout the years. Saunders has mixed feelings about this, telling Fast Company:

“To be honest I’m not proud to be on any drugs in any pictures. I think drugs make me look really ugly. And I’m really a six trick pony, but the world only likes one of my tricks. Each year 500,000 kids around the world discover drugs and so the virus never dies.”

The portraits themselves are fascinating. Is it possible that one day of a psychotropic medicine would have such a clear effect? Are some of these images influenced by Saunders perception of the drug, and not the actual effect of the drug itself? Does it even matter?

“For hundreds of years, artists have been putting themselves into representations of the world around them. I am doing the exact opposite. I put the world around me into representations of myself as I find this more true to my Central Nervous System.”

This is art, not a science experiment. If the idea of the drugs has more of an effect on the art than the drugs themselves, that’s Saunders’ artistic prerogative. The work is provocative and often more than a little bit haunting. The brain spilling Saunders on Abilify and the dark, isolated, limbless Saunders on Nitrous Oxide/Valium represent disturbing and disturbed states of mind. Though he no longer takes drugs in the pursuit of art, the self-portrait series continues, and continues to fascinate.

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Jenine Shereos’ Creates Beautifully Intricate Spiderwebs Out Of Lace

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Boston-based artist Jenine Shereos who we’ve featured in the past for her amazing series of leaves made from human hair.  her amazing series of leaf forms made from human hair. Her more recent work revisits the idea of human-manipulated nature with “De/constructed Lace,” a site-specific installation series of knit-lace that mimics spiderwebs.

In Marnay-Sur-Seine, France she draped the knit threads in windows and doorways, looking like massive, delicate spiderwebs, echoing the white lace curtains in many local homes. The works are not perfect, Charlotte’s Web creations, but looser, more organic forms. Shereos says on her website:

“This installation of knit-lace is suspended in a state of unraveling. The process of its making and unmaking are one and the same.”

In Boston, she worked with black thread and crystals, allowing her web-like art to cast filigreed shadows on the wall amid flickering rainbows from the hanging crystal. The webs are more ominous in black, connecting to walls and windows and floor with fine strands.

“Some of these site-specific works are installed for a period of weeks for viewers to interact with, and others function as a sort of ephemeral, private performance existing afterwards in documentation. Oftentimes, collaborations intended or unintended arise within the environment; a spider spins its delicate webs from the white strands of thread suspended in an unraveling knit curtain, fibrous fragments of seaweed become embedded within a structure of knit fibers, or an array of rainbows flicker amidst white walls and black curtains.”

By co-opting the aesthetics of the natural world, Shereos creates a conscious interaction with the structure of the landscape or the architecture surrounding her art, uniting real and surreal, natural and constructed, fluidity and stillness.

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Storefront for Art and Architecture’s Bright Pink Multi-Sensory Installation

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Walking past the Storefront for Art and Architecture in New York City, you might catch a glimpse of a bright pink, floor-to-ceiling, perforated, amoeba-like shape. Don’t be alarmed. “Situation Room”, a collaborative project, is a self-supported interactive structure by architect Marc Fornes / TheVeryMany paired with Oslo-based artist Jana Winderen’s engineered sounds. Visitors are invited to move within the installation, triggering the responsive sound. The passageways, apertures and tunnels are composed of 2000 parts designed by Fornes and fabricated by bengal.fierro. Patterns punched in the structure create patterns of shadow and light in the darkened room. Access to additional storefront projects is available through provided tablets.

“Reflecting on the contemporary conditions emerging between the digital and the physical realms, the collaboration of Winderen and Fornes collapses sound, light and form in an object with intrinsic sensorial behaviors, inviting visitors to question the properties of matter and the built environment surrounding us.”(Source)

This site-specific work is immersive, enveloping visitors in a multi-sensory experience that enhances the tie between physical space and sound. The idea that human presence affects built environments is made clear by the integration of responsive audio. Winderen’s website explains, “She is concerned with finding and revealing sounds from hidden sources, both inaudible for the human senses and sounds from places and creatures difficult to access.”

“The installation is a vibrating sound experiment that aims to transform the architecture into animated sensible form. Conceived as a sound object that absorbs and contrasts the site specificity of the Storefront Gallery with abstract, spatial, formal and acoustic variations and compositions, Situation NY raises questions about context, sensorial readings, estrangement and the uncanny tangentially resonating with contemporary debates around the ontology of objects.” (Source)

The “Situation Room” was created with the support of Robert Rauschenberg Foundation and is on display through November 1, 2014.Photos by Miguel de Guzmán. (via Hi-Fructose)

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Controversial Exhibit Of Religious Barbie Dolls Cancelled Due To Death Threats

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For a plastic doll, Barbie can be polarizing. Emiliano Paolini and Marianela Perelli discovered this recently when their exhibit “Barbie: The Plastic Religion” at POPA gallery in Buenos Aires was cancelled. “Given repeated anonymous threats concerning the event, the artists decided not to exhibit his work, fearing for the physical safety of visitors,” a notice on the gallery’s website announced.

The 33 pieces in the controversial collection are each one-of-a-kind, and they include Barbie dolls as the Virgin Mary; Joan of Arc; Kali, the Hindu goddess of destruction; and the Virgin of Guadalupe, patron saint of Mexico. Ken becomes Christ on the cross, Buddha, Moses, St. Sebastian and the Sacred Heart of Jesus. The sculptures represent figures from Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Argentine folk religion. The Muslim prophet Muhammad is not included in the series—the artists told Reuters that since Islam prohibits the creation of his image they omitted him out of respect.

Questions of taste and faith have been raised by Argentine Catholic Priests, Italian Bishops, and Hindu Clerics, much to the surprise of the artists. “We have a sanctuary in the kitchen that has more saints than the Vatican,” Paolini told the Associated Press. Some have accused the artists of grandstanding—disrespecting religion in order to gain notoriety. They disagree.

“The true message of our work was mutilated by magazines and television. That’s a shame. The media is killing our art.” (Source)

The sculpted dolls are additional portrayals in the canon of religious iconography, weighted down with the 55-year legacy of a plastic girl and her boyfriend.

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Guido Mocafico’s Mesmerizing Snake Photos Will Get You lost In A Swirl Of Venomous Pattern

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If you’re Ophidiophobic, Guido Mocafico’s photo series “Serpens” (1-4) is not for you. Slithering, scaly, sinuous—snakes are one of the most widely reviled creatures on Earth. And yet Mocafico’s still-life photos of snakes in a box, including vipers and cobras, are absorbingly beautiful, full of color and pattern and twisting, supple shapes. In the collected photos of Serpens, which has also been published as a book by the same name, the snakes are like nature’s art swatches, rectangular and saturated.

“The first time I photographed a snake up close, I nearly fainted. I’d always found them terrifying, but also fascinating—an attraction-repulsion I think most people experience when they encounter beautiful animals that creep or crawl. My goal with this series is to explore that intersection of human emotions.”

“Serpens”, “Aranea” (Spiders), and “Medusa” (Jellyfish) comprise the trilogy “Venenum”, all shot on black backgrounds from above, all terrifyingly exquisite. Mocafico worked on these long-term personal projects, published in books and shown as gallery exhibitions, alongside his commercial and advertising activities.

“Each photography session takes about 45 minutes. The expert corrals the snakes into a cloth-lined, clear plastic-sided box. Then I stand two feet away, pull back the top, point my camera—I still prefer the look of film—and wait for patterns and curves to emerge.

This series has been good therapy and education for me: I can handle snakes now and have learned a lot about different species. But I’ve learned most by watching people react to these images. Their fear and desire reveals something primal about our species.”

Looking at these images, there is nothing inherently scary about these reptiles. On the contrary, they are gorgeous—their hues and markings lush and complex. By elevating snakes into art, Guido Mocafico makes us look, really look, at the mesmerizing source of our fear. (Via Juxtapoz. Artist quotes via National Geographic)

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Scott Chasserot Uses Art And Science To Find People’s Ideal Image Of Themselves

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Original Ideal from Scott Chasserot on Vimeo.

In his project Original/Ideal, British photographer Scott Chasserot tries to answer the question “What would we change about ourselves if no one were looking?” Using photography, image manipulation software, and an Emotiv EEG brain scanner, Chasserot’s project attempts to discover each individual’s ideal self-image without having the subject utter a word. It’s an interesting combination of art, science, and perception.

The first step of the process is to remove or reduce accessories and enhancements from the subject being photographed. Makeup is removed, hair is pulled back, clothes are adjusted so as not to appear in the frame—the goal is neutrality. The photograph is taken, then manipulated into 50 versions, each with tweaks to facial features, head shape, coloring, and more. The subjects are then hooked up to the Emotive scanner which records brain activity while they are shown the altered images. The scans are examined for signs of “engagement”—particular mental focus which Chasserot interprets to be a positive reaction. The image that produces the most positive brain reaction is thought to be the subject’s ideal version of his- or herself.

“What do we find instinctively beautiful in the human face, and how does this translate to self-image?”

It’s interesting that Chasserot equates an unvoiced preference to instinct. After all, even though the person’s reaction to his or her images is ungoverned, societal influences, cultural ideals, and pre-existing ideas about attractiveness are all learned, not instinctive.

“The methodology is still in pilot study phase,” Chasserot told The Creators Project. “There is plenty to be improved upon. The ‘Ideal’ image is simply the one with the greatest positive reaction immediately after presentation and that cannot be distinguished from any theoretical, specific ‘ideal self’ reaction.”

In the photos below, the original image is on the left and the chosen “ideal” version on the right.

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