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)
Andy Freeberg takes photographs of the women who watch over the artwork at Russian Art Museums. Often the women seem to emulate the artwork themselves. Whether this is controlled by Freeberg for his portraits or a natural phenomenon is unclear, but it adds an extra layer of poetry to the photographs. In one, a woman sits beside a case of heads, and her own expression mimics that of the 2nd century mummies beside her. In another, the blue of the woman’s shirt is identical to the patter in the painting above her. The women speak about their attachments to the paintings they guard, and whether it is conscious or not, it would appear the artwork has a deep impact on them.
Freeberg explains his interest in the women:
In the art museums of Russia, women sit in the galleries and guard the collections. When you look at the paintings and sculptures, the presence of the women becomes an inherent part of viewing the artwork itself. I found the guards as intriguing to observe as the pieces they watch over. In conversation they told me how much they like being among Russia’s great art. A woman in Moscow’s State Tretyakov Gallery Museum said she often returns there on her day off to sit in front of a painting that reminds her of her childhood home. Another guard travels three hours each day to work, since at home she would just sit on her porch and complain about her illnesses, “as old women do.” She would rather be at the museum enjoying the people watching, surrounded by the history of her country.
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)
Laurie Hogin, a painter based in Illinois, is setting up to open a show at Littlejohn Contemporary from October 9th through November 8th. This show, titled “Amygdala,” features colorful paintings of a vast array of animals.
“The title of the exhibition refers to an almond-shaped mass located deep within the mammalian brain, although other species, including certain reptiles, appear to have structures with similar function.(1) It is involved in motivation, emotion, and emotional behavior, and is activated by all sensory experiences.(2) It is widely accepted that the amygdala plays a critical role in acquisition and consolidation of emotionally charged memories. Research suggests that emotional memories are formed, in part, through associative learning, (3) wherein a creature’s or person’s emotions and behaviors are influenced by sensory experiences that cause associations with earlier experiences, even if the current environment is different.
Hogin is interested in how emotionally charged memories become language, symbols and metaphors, and how sensory inputs like color, sound, scent, physical pain, pleasure, or social and emotional context develop latent meanings through naming, categorization, and narrative.”
Hogin describes her aesthetics as such:
“As a painter, I value the visual, tactile and poetic pleasures of what paint can do and what it’s for: It’s formal and material qualities, it’s plasticity, and it’s usefulness in appropriating languages from the history of its use to certain semiotic purposes. My color palette has acquired the Day-Glo intensity of contemporary media landscapes; I revel in its visuality and vulgar seductiveness as much as cast a critical eye. My animals remain allegories of culture as much as avatars of my own psyche, whose expressions engage with the emotionality of daily fears, joys, pleasures, desires and outrages, and whose furs and skins are both tactile and toxic.” (Excerpt from Source and Source)
Pop culture and classic, fine art mashups aren’t anything new, but they nevertheless provided an interesting juxtaposition between the visual culture of then and now. Philippines-based multimedia producer Eisen Bernardo has created a series that places the covers of contemporary magazines like Vogue, Rolling Stone, and Vanity Fair. It’s appropriately titled Mag+Art.
Bernardo told Buzzfeed that he began the project because he felt that magazine covers were inspired by classical paintings. This is his way of comparing the aesthetics of the long ago as well as the present. What kind of clothing, hairstyles, poses, etc. are popular now? How has beauty changed or stayed the same. He poses the question, “Do we still see a naked woman as an object of art/beauty? Can the celebrities and models on magazine cover be considered as muses of the contemporary masters?” And, he hopes that these covers can be considered classic art. (Via The Huffington Post and Buzzfeed)
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)
Pastel-hued and delicate, the body part collages in the series “Anatomy” are part of Hong Kong artist Kayan Kwok’s daily art project “A poster per day for 365 days. ” The scope of her project is impressive—one fully realized piece of art every day for a year. Along with “Anatomy” the categories for the one-a-day posters are “Banana”, “Birdman”, “Blow”, “Dot”, “Hand”, “Letter”, “Loner”, and “Lost.Found”. Each grouping has a specific aesthetic and point of view although all are inspired by vintage graphics and American advertisements from 1920–1960.
In “Anatomy”, Kwok combines tinted anatomical drawings with mostly black and white figural images, incorporating other elements including scissors, flowers, and animals. She says:
“Collage has a surrealism background, but other than that, it also act[s] like Alchemy. Because you are putting stuff together from different places and times, the result is clearly unpredictable and this is what makes collage so fascinat[ing].”
One of the things that make this work captivating is the shifts in scale between body part and inhabitant. The small figures are nestled in, reclining on a heart chamber and a brain cavity. The integration of disparate parts into a cohesive whole makes these pieces deceptively simple. In fact, the blending of content and styles is technically accomplished, somewhat subversive, and really quite lovely.