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Michael Craig-Martin’s Wall Paintings Transform Everyday Objects Into The Extraordinary

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Michael Craig-Martin has been creating art since the 1960s. His wall painting installations from the 1990s and 2000s feel current with their bright colors and flat appearance, but some of the items in the paintings, ubiquitous at the time they were captured, are now relics. Among the shoes and pails rendered in black tape outlines are Nokia style cell phones and milk bottles. That doesn’t diminish the charm of these installations. Craig-Martin’s intent was to make these works in a generic style, even attempting to erase his personality from the works by using tape as outlines instead of pencil drawings. It didn’t work. The purposeful non-style of painted mass-produced items executed meticulously in a vibrant palette at enlarged scale has become one of Craig-Martin’s signatures. The choice of everyday objects for his wall installations was a purposeful one.

“I thought the objects we value least because they were ubiquitous were actually the most extraordinary. … I wanted people to realise how extraordinary everyday objects are, and think about what image-making is. The impulse was never nostalgia, kitsch or a critique of consumerism.” (Source)

Photos of the installations can only capture part of their impact. Walking around a corner only to be confronted with an enormous pink desk lamp is part of the experience, as are the shifting views of eyeglasses and belts through the arches of a candy-colored room. Only when standing next to a seven-foot extinguisher can the scale of the articles be truly appreciated.

Though he is often called a conceptual artist, Craig-Martin prefers to be called radical. It’s not just about the concept for him—the making that comes from the idea is equally important. “Throughout his career, through work in many different media, he has explored the expressive potential of commonplace objects and images.”

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Jewelry Collection Featuring Dust Particles Disintegrates And Decays Over Time

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A jewelry collection by Icelandic designer Ágústa Sveinsdóttir explores the transience of all earthly pursuits by incorporating one unusual material, dust. Her metallic wearables allow their owners to experience the transformation and disintegration as the jewelry changes and decays over time.

“In this world everything existing is linked to the process of birth, decay and disappearance. That is the way of life, the way of nature. Inspired by the tradition of the symbolic Vanitas paintings, the Dust collection is a reminder of the transience of all earthly pursuits and how it can be a motive for design.”

Designer wanted to break the traditions of material use and employ materials that have been considered worthless. She chose dust as the ultimate result of disintegration: “It’s everywhere and ever-present <…> It is everything and yet metaphorically the embodiment of nothingness.” Sveinsdóttir questions the material worth by juxtaposing jewelry, a sign of beauty and wealth, and dust, an inconvenient mundane matter that people always try to get rid off. 

The dust was collected from abandoned Icelandic farms. Designer pursued to find dust at its purest form, thus derelict places where time has stopped, man has left and nature has taken over were perfect. Using a biodegradable adhesive, dust particles were transformed into a jewel coating and used to cover the metallic bangles and rings. With time, the dust fades away unveiling the manmade skeleton of the object. (via designboom)

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Kevin Corrado’s Human Limbs DippedIn Paint Cleverly Play With Landscapes

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In the photographic works by Kevin Corrado, human limbs and objects intersect with the landscape. They are painted over, dipped, and blend in the with the horizon line. The series entitled Transfer best showcases this idea as different hands are encased in varying colors of paint. Corrado talks about how this is not only a connection made design-wise, but our notions about the things we see. He writes:

The project began as a playful idea of the ocean being a giant sea of blue paint rather than water. The idea of a blue sea is so engraved into our minds, even though in most cases, water is not actually blue. In all three pieces, a hand becomes covered in paint by touching a landscape of that color. In its entirety, the project speaks about our intense connection between common landscapes and their assigned colors. Possibly something that was instilled in us during our elementary days. The project also addresses my role as an artist, and what color I will choose for my landscapes, even though my tool of choice is a camera (a tad bit ironic). A painter is given the task to paint a tree, but that painter must choose to use green paint.

The quietly compelling images play with our sense of scale; hands are huge, looking like giants and whose veins appear large enough to line up with the choppy waves. (Via Slow Art Day)

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An Interactive Building That Changes Colors Depending On Your Perspective And Time Of Day

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Founder of Los Angeles-based architecture and design studio Urbana, Rob Ley has yet made another venture into the world of interactive architectural installations. This time large-scale. His project “May-September” features a field of 7,000 angled multi-color metal panels constructed onto the facade of Eskenazi Hospital in Indianapolis.

According to Ley, the project began when he started wondering about the typical notion of the parking structure. Often these huge concrete constructions are unappreciated and ignored by public. Ley posed himself a challenge to turn it into a dynamic system that would interact with the viewers as they pass it by.

Together with Indianapolis Fabrications, they’ve built a huge angular aluminum and stainless steel installation (12,500 square feet) that also features an east/west color strategy (yellow and blue). The visual experience of changing colors and patterns depends on observers’ perspective and speed when they move across the hospital grounds or drive along the street. The piece also interacts with nature as every sun beam or cloud can shape the hues and saturation of colors.

As in nature, the volume and shade offered by the piece shies away from harsh, geometric patterning – instead tending towards a gentle, dappled variability in form <…> [parts of installation] work together as brush strokes to create a dynamic façade <…>.

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Nastasja Duthois’ Embroidered Silhouettes

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Artist Nastasja Duthois creates large installations and small-scale embroidered artworks that explore aspects of shadow and negative space. Though composed of thousands of straight sewn lines reminiscent of crosshatching, the final pieces are generally organic in form from the silhouettes of dogs and animals to more complex landscapes.

“My work is done ellipses, gaps and assembled fragments that attempt to re-transcribe experiences and encounters. It restores daily annotations that one way or another have caused me a surprise, empathy, an indistinct disorder, rebellion or indignation choked. I contemplated steps, stopped movements, noted the words of anonymous … I approached … I immersed myself until disappearing collecting many snapshots of collective life that my readings were converted. Cross existences are mixed with reminiscences and personal obsessions, while retaining their opacity and mystery. They reactivated real memory and imagination. What thoughts and feelings aroused places, objects and people became especially experiences of encounter with oneself. I want to watch the world with the attention of the traveler who discovers a country; I’m looking for simple and fleeting wonders.”

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Brendan Fitzpatrick’s Photographs Of X-Rayed Toys

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Australian photographer Brendan Fitzpatrick’s X-ray photographs expose the inner workings of toys. Fitzpatrick’s photographs are both whimsical and mechanical, evoking the curiosity of childhood and the desire to discover how things look and work from other perspectives. The strategic placement of wires, batteries, and screws are revealed, the complexity of the inside contrasting with the seemingly simplistic design of the outside. Fitzpatrick uses chest X-ray and mammogram machines to photograph flowers, toys, and creatures, then enhances the color in the images in order to more effectively distinguish the various parts that have been exposed. This photographs are part of series he calls “Invisible Light.” (via colossal)

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Transmormon – The Story Of A Transgender Mormon Woman

The short film “Transmormon” is the story of Eri Hayward. Born into a Mormon family and assigned male at birth, Eri struggled with her gender identity as early as five years old.

“When I was explained to myself that I was a boy, it was because God had made me that way, which didn’t make a really great relationship, as a five year old, between me and God.”

In many ways, this is what “Transmormon” is really about. Eri and her family describe her struggles growing up in a religious community in Utah where her search for identity included a time believing she was a gay man, and her pain and despair led her to try to cut off her own penis. Her family’s love eventually led to their acceptance of her as female and they supported her trip to Thailand for a sex-change operation. But though her family embraces her as a woman, her religion does not.

According to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ Handbook, as a transgender person, Eri cannot get married in the temple or raise children in the faith. Because Eri sought to align her birth-assigned sex and her internal sense of gender identity, she has been marginalized. And yet, her belief in God, so problematic when she was five, has been strengthened even as her religious community has closed to her. This hasn’t caused her to become bitter, though, although she is wistful.

“It’s hurtful to someone who wants to have a relationship with someone but also have a relationship with God and the Church. But, my personal opinion is while it might be nice of them to approach things in a way that is a little more kind, it is their church. You can go find another one. … I looked at my life and I looked at the things that were important to me and I found a way to have family in my life and have a lot of the cultural aspects of my LDS upbringing and still find a way to be happy.” (Source)

“Transmormon” takes a sincere look at gender and belief, God and acceptance, family and faith.

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Ghada Amer’s Embroidered Porn Paintings And Feminist Text

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Ghada Amer is an Egyptian-born artist who speaks assertively about feminine depiction in her paintings. In earlier work, she used soft-core pornographic reference images for her large-scale thread paintings. In an interview with Border Crossings, Amer explains her decision to use thread as her primary medium. “I didn’t invent embroidery, but I wanted to paint with embroidery. I was speaking about women in a medium for women, and it made the speaking stronger and more present.” Embroidery, weaving, and other traditionally female mediums are often categorized as craft, in many ways as a dismissal of the expression as inferior to painting, sculpture, and other ‘high art’ mediums. Amer decided to reappropriate the media, and has made a very successful career out of it. Ghada Amer: Rainbow Girls was the artist’s most recent exhibition, showcased at Cheim and Read, certainly not low-hanging fruit in the commercial art world.

Amer has branched out from pornography, originally a means for her to rebel against her family. She’s made sculptures and borrows feminist slogans like: “Women who seek to be equal with men lack ambition” in text-based work. Her colours can be sever with a black ground and an abstract explosion of thread or bright and playful, which is also reflected in her approach. Her intention is serious, but like the thread she embroiders, she is also loose and celebratory of the feminine condition.

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