The Unknown Fields Division is a traveling design research studio (directed by Liam Young and Kate Davies) that has sculpted traditional Ming vases out of mud taken from a radioactive lake in Inner Mongolia. This “lake” is a noxious swamp made of debris created in the production of some of our most desired (and idealized) technology items. In an effort to explore the transnational origin of these items — and, indeed, explore the dark underbelly of their creation — Unknown Fields has made each vase proportionate to the amount of waste produced by the following objects: “a smartphone, a featherweight laptop, and the cell of a smart car battery” (Source). The result is a trio of apocalyptic-like earthenware vessels. Their grim, blackened surfaces are covered in a glistening “glaze” that was created when heavy metals contained in the mud melted in the pottery kiln. The vase materials were so toxic that the sculptors had to wear full-body protection at each stage of production, from on-site collection to creation in their London workshop.
These vases are part of Unknown Fields’ greater project to follow an international supply chain of “rare earth” elements (which are used in the creation of electronics) back to their place of origin: the toxic lake in Mongolia. Kate Davies explains the metaphorical purpose of the vases in this investigative journey:
“The vases are a way to talk about ideas around luxury and desire. How both are culturally constructed collective sets of values that are fleeting and particular to our time. These three ‘rare earthenware’ vessels are the physical embodiment of a contemporary global supply network that displaces earth and weaves matter across the planet.” (Source)
When we hold our cellphones and laptops in our hands, we rarely think about their origins. As Liam Young insightfully points out, “terms like ‘cloud’ of ‘Macbook Air’ imply that our gadgets are just ephemeral objects — and this is the story we all want to believe” (Source). We must not forget that such technologies, despite their polish and glamor, derive from earthly materials processed in factories and shipped across the world. Just as Ming vases were once subjected to an international demand based on their beauty and associations with wealth, Unknown Fields’ creations remind us of how such systems of consumer culture are continuing. “The three vases are presented as objects of desire, but their elevated radiation levels and toxicity make them objects we would not want to possess,” Davies explained. “They represent the undesirable consequences of our materials desires” (Source).
The vases will be on display at the Victoria and Albert Museum “What is Luxury?” exhibition, which runs April 25th to September 27th. Accompanying the exhibition is a film by Toby Smith, which documents Unknown Fields’ journey from container ships to factories to the radioactive lake (the trailer can be viewed above). Visit the Unknown Feilds’ website for more explorations of remote landscapes with surprising (and unsettling) intersections with our daily lives. (Via Fast Co.Create)
In the midst of all of this, a tumblr page by the name of Pride Propaganda, takes a different and quieter yet effective approach to all the protests. In efforts to adhere to the pro-LGBT agenda, PP transforms vintage Soviet posters into brightly colored displays of men, women and children waiving and wearing rainbow flags. The familiar images of Young Pioneers, working men and loyal mothers (all symbolism for the confining ways of Soviet Russia) take on entirely new meanings when cloaked in the vibrant rainbow flags that we’ve come to associate with the global pride movement.
Participate in the protest by hastagging your tweets #PridePropaganda. (via HuffPost)
New video by Jon Clark and Spencer Longo for Los Angeles band LA Vampires’ (in collab with Matrix Metals) catchy number “So Unreal” combines all the things I love most about 80s/90s video aesthetics: head wraps, odd mystic paraphernalia, soft glows, and of course a healthy helping of neon. Jon and Spencer sacrificed their living room to set up this dark lair for a whole month! Spencer Longo currently has an installation up at the Pacific Design Center as a part of MAN, SUCH AS WE KNOW HIM, IS A COMPUTER. Jon is currently working on completing a 30 minute short called ‘Spectrum Hunter’. Watch the full video after the jump.
Philadelphia-based Armando Veve‘s impressive body of work shows his ability, and eagerness, to explore several different drawing methods, from the naive to the refined. In doing so, he leaves no doubt to the viewer that he makes a choice, and executes that choice with clear intent. He doesn’t seem to have many limitations. He also dabbles in ceramics, curation, and digital abstractions. At this pace, his work will only get better and better, and endless gifts will be bestowed upon us just for looking.
Jan Fabre is an innovative visual artist whose works explore the realms of psychology, anatomy, and metamorphosis. Throughout his career, Fabre has been particularly fascinated by the human brain—the seat of cognition, and arguably, the spirit—and the way neurobiology intersects with the heart. He studied the brain for over ten years, working in dialogue with neurobiologist Giacomo Rizzolatti. Wondering about the brain’s role in the experience of emotion and empathy, Fabre asks himself and his viewers, “Do we feel with our brains and think with our heart?”
Featured here is a series of Fabre’s Carrara marble brain sculptures, each one bearing surprising elements; insects crawl across the veined surfaces, and scissors and corkscrews protrude in a macabre flare of the surgeon’s table. Fabre experienced being in a coma twice in his life, which caused him to explore the brain as an eerie, post-mortem state (Source). As a result, death is present throughout these works; the brains stand as white monuments not only to our mortality, but to our statuses as both individuals and interconnected human beings. Following this theme, Fabre has also sculpted marble bodies resting on tombs, similarly adorned with insects, which represent the transmutation of the physical and spiritual, life and decay.
Fabre’s work will be exhibited at the Deweer Gallery in Otegem, Belgium, from November 4th–December 20th, 2015. Titled 30 Years / 7 Rooms, the show features Fabre’s decades-long collaboration with Mark Deweer. (Via Hi-Fructose)
Falk Gernegross’s paintings are executed in the style of Magic Realism, calling forth the likes of such great artists as George Tooker, Alex Colville and Tony Phillips. His figures are often depicted nude with bodies that are polished and sculpted like marble. Soft, contrasted shadows envelop his subjects against a simple, bright hue of color; other times the painting’s surroundings are full of wooded forests, sunny beaches, and lakes. His work is painted in a way that is flat yet realistic, and projects a fluid exchange of feelings that range between awkwardness and eroticism.
Catherine Jacobi takes everyday materials such as bike tire tubing (pictured above), discarded newspapers, roof shingles and other debris and creates sculptures that use the histories of the materials they are built with as a conceptual and narrative starting point.
Ted Tucker’s paintings are magnificent homages to drunk frat boys, cheerleaders, trophies, and friday night keg parties with a dash of cheesy tv show from the CW network thrown in. Not only are Ted’s paintings fantastic but he also has made the package complete with his choose your own adventure website for the series. Make sure to select the Flash option and let the good times roll!