Architectural artist Alex Chinneck has turned heads this week in Covent Garden by making it look as if the top part of the Market Building in the piazza is floating in mid air. From all angles it seems as if the building is hovering above it’s foundations, not joined to any part of the base. Not only is it an impressive optical illusion, but also a display of amazing technical ability. Taking over 8 months to plan and involving at least 50 people, this project has been a logistical feat. The actual materials used in the replication includes digitally carved polystyrene that has been distressed by scenic artists and attached to hidden beams. Chinneck’s technical team worked over 4 days to help install the trickery, cladding plaster around structures to look like stone columns and inspecting the finish on the paintwork.
Playfully titled Take My Lightning But Don’t Steal My Thunder, Chinneck makes sense of the installation in this way:
“there are things which always come together but are always slightly apart….the shape of the crack was reminiscent of the lightning bolt. It’s a very cataclysmic scene.” (Source)
Known for his gravity-defying architectural projects, Chinneck also created an awe-inspiring installation last October in Margate. Called From The Knees Of My Nose To The Belly Of My Toes, that project involved a brick facade that appeared to separate from it’s roof and slide down into the garden in front of the apartment block. He has also “flipped” old livery stables in Southwark – recreating the windows and door frames, but around the wrong way. Chinneck seems addicted to talking on these overwhelmingly complex projects, but thinks of them in quite a different way:
“The idea itself is actually quite simple. I don’t get too bogged down in concept or meaning or message. It is what it is. It’s playful and fun.” (Source)
At the intersection of art and technology Austria-based Ars Electronica Futurelab has developed a method for making responsive light art in the sky. “Spaxels (a portmanteau word from space pixels) are LED-equipped quadcopters. They make up a swarm of drones that can ‘draw’ three-dimensional figures in midair.” A cross between fireworks and a screensaver, the quadcopters move in precision routines to make 3d light sculptures in the sky.
Flying through the air, the Spaxels look like UFOs, strange glowing objects in the sky. Because they’re controlled, though, they are capable of creating endless permutations. In London, they drew the Star Trek logo near the Tower Bridge. 50 quadcopters performed “The Cloud in the Web” in Linz. The Emirate of Sharjah saw multiple formation flights in “Clusters of Light,” part of a celebration of the start of its term as Islamic Capital of Culture.
“Clusters of Light’ gives an account of the life of the Prophet Mohammed and the early history of Islam. While the cast acted out the narrative on stage, the LED-studded spaxels visualized it in the sky above. In this role, the spaxels formed visual elements such as an arc spanning the amphitheater and the words of God falling from the heavens like drops of rain.” (Source)
Gracefully swooping and swarming, guided by gesture, the Spaxels mimic nature while pushing the boundaries of technology. (via Juxtapoz)
The Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago is hosting a massive exhibition about the one and only, David Bowie. A titan glam rocker and all-around swoonage daydream, Bowie is one of the most influential musicians to date. Running from September 23rd to January 5th, 2015, this exhibition, titled “David Bowie Is,” includes installations, outfits, artwork, album art, and much more. The exhibition unfolds chronologically, starting from Bowie’s teenage years and running up until his retirement from touring in the 2000′s.
“David Bowie Is presents the first retrospective of the extraordinary career of David Bowie—one of the most pioneering and influential performers of our time. More than 400 objects, most from the David Bowie Archive—including handwritten lyrics, original costumes, photography, set designs, album artwork, and rare performance material from the past five decades—are brought together for the first time.
Bowie’s work has both influenced and been influenced by wider movements in art, design, theater, and contemporary culture, and the exhibition subsequently focuses on his creative processes, shifting style, and collaborative work with diverse designers in the fields of fashion, sound, graphics, theater, and film. Multimedia installations incorporating advanced sound technology produced by Sennheiser, original animations, continuous audio accompaniment, and video installations immerse visitors in the sights and sounds of Bowie’s artistic life. David Bowie Is was organized by the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, and has embarked on an international tour with the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago as the only US venue.” (Excerpt from Source)
Charles Avery‘s artistic practice is centered around a fictional island. Everything he creates has some connection to either the history of this place, or specimens and relics that are found there. Since 2004 Avery has been building the story of this place through intricately detailed drawings, sculptures, installations, and texts.
The gateway to the Island is the town of Onomatopoeia – once the stepping off point of the pioneers who first came to the place, turned colonial outpost, turned boom town, bustling metropolis, depression ravaged slum, to regenerated city of culture and tourist destination. (Source)
Avery builds on his own personal history as a starting point to this Island. Born on the Isle of Mull off the West Coast of Scotland, it seems as if he is commenting on the influence the British Monarchy has had over his home country, and also on numerous other countries and islands. His oeuvre is concerned with the progress of a nation – from rags to riches, and back again. The retelling of this folklore is a complex one. His work includes samples of the flora and fauna found there (different types of tree branches and birds), the fashions worn (a lot of different headpieces) and also studies of the local’s behavior. He creates a full anthropological study.
His past projects include “The Island” – concerned with the same place, just with the information organized differently. His attention to detail is so great, he even shows us the type of creature that we would encounter in the Island’s pantheon: a strange hybrid of dogs joined at the head, engaged in battle. Judging from these animals and the frenzied activity he depicts in his studies of the town square, this Island is definitely one I am glad to visit theoretically. (Via HiFructose)
Austrian/Croatian Design Collective numen/for use has created many varying types of “social sculptures” over the years. Their latest effort is formed from interwoven nets, sandbags and wires and acts as a walkable structure. Housed in the OK Center For Contemporary Art in Linz (Austria), visitors can walk, lie in, grab onto and pull themselves through the nets. This sculpture stands in for the staircase normally used in the exhibition space. The nets are strung up from the ceiling and stretched out with the help of sandbags at their bases, creating different forms, shapes and pathways ready to explore.
These images show just how surreal the experience is – as if you are walking through mid air without enough support, unaided by any hard surfaces. We can see just how immersive this course is, with the nets stretching out in very organic ways around the people walking. As the gallery goers make their way through the course, traversing along the tunnels and scaling heights, one is reminded of the contour lines on a topographical map. It feels as if we are seeing images of people in some new virtual reality – or a glimpse of the future environments that will one day surround us. Perhaps this is the new ergonomic way of walking?
This architectural technique numen/for use has created is similar to Tomás Saraceno‘s exhibition Cloud Cities. He choose to create inflatable spheres and other large structures which visitors accessed with ladders. Just like in “Net Linz”, people could lie on and move around within these forms. Saraceno has also enlisted the help of nets in the past to create a similar feeling for his guests; one of weightlessness and the defiance of gravity. Perhaps we will all get to experience this in the near future? Perhaps nets will eventually replace escalators, elevators and even the humble staircase…. (Via Designboom)
Artist duo Christian and Rob Clayton, who exhibit as The Clayton Brothers, found their muse at Sun Thrift, inspiring their latest show “Open to the Public.” Three to four years in the making, the artists visited the shop almost every other day to browse and people watch. Rob Clayton says:
“There are two aspects to this show: one side of it is the store itself and the employees that run it, and more importantly, the other side is the people that go there to get things they need.” (Source)
A third aspect could be said to be the pieces that the brothers purchased and brought into their studio, and sometimes into their finished works. Drawn to the handmade and personal the artists speculate on the embedded stories the objects can’t tell. They see the store itself as a curated collection of sorts, where the employees determine the exhibition by making connections and creating categories. Christian and Rob, inspired by this method of organization, say it inspired the way they worked for this show.
When creating, the brothers have an interesting method of collaboration. They work simultaneously in the same studio, leaving unfinished pieces out for the other to be inspired by and often to add to.
Rob elaborates, “At the studio we don’t say, ‘This is mine, that’s yours.’ We refer to the drawings that haven’t made it into the process yet as carcasses. If a painting sits around for a while, one of us will usually grab it all of a sudden and change it in some way. It’s a constant give and take.” Christian adds, “When do get into a heated spot with a piece, we know each other well enough to let things stew.” (Source)
Their different approaches and techniques are evident in this collection, and it is particularly apt. The varied stylistic choices — assemblage, drawing, collage—speak to the patchwork merchandise in the store as well as to the diverse shoppers.
“The characters that inhabit Open to the Public are overall a sweet bunch. They might look disjointed and fractured, or some might say disturbing, but our overall intent with these drawings was to gain an honest understanding of ourselves as humans. The objects that are discarded or donated to the thrift store become a direct reflection on us as people. We look at the objects like archaeologists, and there is narration attached to all of it. The stories of peoples lives, creative heartfelt moments, messages left for loved ones, forgotten memories… this is what has been driving our characters.” (Source)
Joris Kuipers‘ installations are meant to be experienced viscerally. Inspired by bodily cross-sections from MRI scans, CT scans, and even botany, Kuipers’ artwork is alien yet immediately familiar. We are intimately familiar with the vascular bends and twists of his pieces, as well as the palette of reds and purples and blues.
Blown up to the size of huge wall reliefs, these biological artforms are also a little unsettling, particularly because they’ve been deconstructed, unmade, and re-formed into startling configurations. Organic deconstruction, after all, is just a hop skip away from decomposition. Of these twin concepts, Kuipers says: “Loveliness and morbidity; both Eros and Thanatos flow through my red lines.”
In some collections, Kuipers steps away from the blatantly macabre. “Letting Go” contains a brightly colored installation that looks like dreamy clouds or floating alien flowers. Other pieces in the collection involve splashes of color amidst a staid black background and plays with light, flashing and blinking at the touch of a switch. This too recalls the cathode ray tubes and autopsy scans of Kuipers’ other work, but from a subtler angle.
Subtler or not, Kuipers work is, as always, intended to be evocative. “I hope that my work will initially be experienced ‘from the abdomen’,” Kuipers says in an artist’s statement, “to gradually make itself felt in the mind of the visitor.”
Opening tomorrow, September 27, is Chinese artist and activist Ai Weiwei’s exhibition @Large in the former San Francisco Bay prison, Alcatraz Island. The sculpture, sound, and mixed media installations are staged in four locations throughout the space: the New Industries Building; a group of cells in A Block; the Hospital; and the Dining Hall. Ai’s work inside creates a dialogue about how we define liberty, justice, and individual rights.
In 2011, Ai was secretly detained by Chinese authorities for 81 days, and is still not permitted to travel outside of the country. He was unable to visit Alcatraz during the planning of the show and was developed in his studio with the help of the FOR-SITE Foundation.
There are a variety of pieces in @Large, including Trace, which is 176 portraits of political prisoners and exiles made from LEGO blocks. The impressive works began at Ai’s studio in Beijing and were completed in San Francisco by a team of 90 volunteers. Cheryl Haines, the exhibition’s curator told the San Francisco Chronicle, “I’m overwhelmed by how remarkable it looks. This is the face of the individual in the fight for freedom, but it’s also a collective statement and to see the density and quantity of people that are incorporated in this work, I find deeply moving.”
In addition to Trace, there are six other themes: With Wind, a giant traditional Chinese dragon kite; Refraction, stunning metal wings; Stay Tuned, sound installation that occupies 12 cells; Illumination, the sounds of Tibetan Buddhist and Native American chants; Blossom, fragile floral bouquets; and Yours Truly, where visitors can write postcards to prisoners. (Via FOR-SITE and Artnet)