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Chiharu Shiota’s Mesmerizingly Tangled Installation Of Woven Yarn And Keys Explores Global Forms Of Memory And Connection

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A mesmerizing, surreal experience awaits anyone entering the Japan Pavilion at this year’s Venice Art Biennale. In a stunning installation called “The Key in the Hand,” artist Chiharu Shiota has filled a room with webs of red yarn. Suspended from the ceiling, the yarn is tied together so densely that it filters out the lights above. Hanging from the mass are over 50,000 keys collected from people all over the world. Like dark, frozen drops of rain, they appear to spill from the stringy red “clouds” into two weathered boats below, creating a dual sense of breathtaking movement and suspended time.

Despite their seemingly simple utility, keys are intimate objects that we all carry to keep ourselves—and the things we love—safe. Invested with our deep trust and passed between hands over time, keys symbolically bind us together. The Curator’s Statement for “The Key in the Hand” eloquently describes this further:

In our daily lives, keys protect valuable things like our houses, assets, and personal safety, and we use them while embracing them in the warmth of our hands. By coming into contact with people’s warmth on a daily basis, the keys accumulate countless, multilayered memories that dwell within us. Then at a certain point we entrust the keys, packed with memories, to others who we trust to look after the things that are important to us. (Source)

The keys represent a collection of human feelings, while the yarn visualizes their immaterial connections across time and space. Furthermore, while far removed from their international owners and original purposes, the keys also embody emotions and memories on a transcultural, transnational scale, as they are webbed together without perceptible distinctions of race, class, gender, or nation. As all the keys fall perpetually into the same ancient boats (which are described as “two hands catching a rain of memories”), Shiota’s installation beautifully visualizes a global form of connection spanning borders and generations. (Source). As the Curator’s Statement movingly concludes:

I look forward to watching as The Key in the Hand, an installation that forges a link between a space made up of keys, yarn, and two boats, and photographs and videos of children, transcends national, cultural, linguistic, and political contexts, and emotionally arouses countless visitors from all over the world. (Source)

Born in Japan, Shiota has been based in Berlin for the last two decades. Visit her website to see more fascinating large-scale installations. (Via Colossal)

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Woods Davy

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For over 25 years, Woods Davy has worked with natural materials (primarily stone) as his medium of choice. In an incredible balancing act, he places the stones in fascinating formations that intrigue the mind. With his work with stones, he became one of the first “green” Postmodern artists. Even artists go green! You can catch Woods Davy’s exhibit at the Craig Krull Gallery in Bergamot Station, Santa Monica, CA until October 9th.

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Miraculously Ruined Polaroids Made With A Broken Vintage Camera

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For Ruined Polaroids, William Miller uses a broken polaroid SX-70 that he stumbled upon at a yard sale; quickly discovering that its decades-old gears mangled the film and transformed the exposure, the artist submitted the the whims of the photographic relic, allowing it to form blurred and unpredictably patterned abstractions from his shots.

Within the “ruined” images, we find a surprising emotionality, with the faulty chemical process producing expressionistic renderings of a less literal kind of photographic memory. Cataloging the accidentally lovely results of mechanical happenstance, each shot enters a richly moody realm evocative of the work of mid-century abstract expressionists like Jackson Pollock or Mark Rothko. As the spastic movements of gears, chemicals, and fingers become the subject of the work, the artistic process overrides a predetermined result. Rather than serving as a record of a particular instant, Ruined Polaroids poignantly archives the accidental deterioration of a camera past its time.

Ultimately, the conceptual work also serves to refute contemporary understanding of the photograph. In her seminal work On Photography, published in 1977 at the height of polaroid popularity, Susan Sontag discusses the illusion of a photographic truth, theorizing that the photographer, unlike all other artists, is capable of disguising subjectivity for objective fact. Miller’s work expertly challenges this assumed power of the photographic medium, acutely presenting each image as evidence of its failures. The immediacy of the polaroid image only accelerates this process; printed instantly and held against some imagined reality, the bleeding lights and darks veer jarringly from what we expect from the camera. Take a look. (via Lost at E Minor and This Is Paper)

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Spinning Screen Transforms Flat Images Into Light Sculptures

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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.”

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Sam Burford’s Sculptures Made From Star Wars and Blade Runner Time-Lapse Photographs

Sam Burford lives and works in London. Inspired by such films as Star Wars and Blade Runner he creates photographic work in multiple media that encapsulate entire films within them. Take for example his sculpture made out of jesmonite that consists of a time-lapse photograph of Star Wars IV transformed into a surface relief. The film is condensed into an abstract pattern and presented as a three dimensional sculpture. In another piece a time-lapse photographic detail from Blade Runner is highlighted on hand printed film and allowed to curl for a dimensional effect. With his work he serves to reveal the optical patterns inherent in the moving image that can be captured with modern technology.

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The Wonderfully Weird World of Bawbee

The drawings and paintings of Portland, Oregon based BAWBEE are littered with miscellaneous ligaments, freaked out faces, animals bones, and molting organisms.

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Jason Middlebrook’s Wood Paintings

Jason Middlebrook‘s work incorporates lines onto wood planks found in New York State, as the artist forms abstract ‘landscape’ painting that play with colour. The artist’s painterly abstracted forms create a hypnotic quality to the work, as the ordered lines subvert patterns of trees to seek a re-engagement in our relationship with nature itself.

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To Live and Die in LA…B/D Witnesses Fugitive vs. Police Standoff!

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What you’re lookin at is our Arts District neighborhood, home to B/D offices…..barricaded due to police activity. Apparently, our block doesn’t just house contemporary art magazine-makers and cigarette-smoking hipsters, but Jason Bourne-style, America’s Most Wanted fugitives!

What?!

To recap, we here at the offices had an extremely bizarre day. The loud snores of Ziggy, our office mascot, were replaced with the even more thunderous and more obnoxious drone of helicopters, circling the sky in pursuit of well-known fugitive Brian Alexik!  After a day-long standoff between Alexic and an entire swat team of police authorities, the suspect was finally arrested this afternoon. His crimes run a laundry list of wrong-doing, from the relatively minor offenses of drug-dealing, illegal weapon possession and counterfeiting money, to the grave offense of being photographed with U2’s Bono!

Let’s just say popping off to pick up a refreshing iced latte down the street was out of the question….the entire neighborhood was blocked off, leaving us here at Beautiful/Decay gawking out of our office windows at the armored cars and bike police, held hostage in our own office for most of the day! Read what the Huffington Post has to say about the matter here.

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