Greek director, choreographer, visual artist and performer Dimitris Papaioannou has caught our attention with this strikingly simple video. Just under 4 minutes long, it is a short clip of the central segment of his longer show Nowhere (2009). Ominously lit, and eerily quiet, it is a strange experience to watch. The whole piece was performed by 26 people and is a testament to just how well Papaioannou can direct bodies to create unified, seamless actions. The arms of the performers stop looking like separate limbs belonging to humans and more like giant tentacles, or something very alien indeed. The arms are either moving on their own accord or in harmony with something unseen. It is both wondrous and unsettling to watch the action unfold.
Papaioannou is no stranger to directing large numbers of people performing synchronized movements. He has also co-ordinated the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2004 Athens Olympic Games. As we know, these shows are a finely tuned ballet of thousands of interconnected bodies and continuously changing patterns (the closing ceremony alone had more than 3500 performers).
His focus on composition and the overall harmony on stage probably owes itself to his training as a painter. Papaioannou has for a long time been interested in gestures; how the body influences mark making; or how we are able to express an emotion through the use of our skin and bones. Gradually though, he was drawn toward the immediacy of performing, and fell in love with the theatricality of the stage.
As a painter, [the Edofos Dance Theatre] was the place to create images; as a comics artist, this was where to tell my tales; and as a performer, this was the context in which to present myself. Furthermore, as I was to discover over time, this was the territory in which to inspire people, exercising my skills as a team leader. (Source)
In “Once Upon a Time, We Weren’t Stalkers,” artist Adam Mars creates all-caps slogans for the lost MTV generation. Spraypainted in boldface, each piece could be read any number of ways. Is it tragic? Judgmental? Ironic? How many different ways can you read a phrase like “Gluten Free Cunnilingus”?
In the past, Mars has taken online concerns offline, painting “000,000,001 Views” on a brick wall. The meaning there is clear: The virtual has no context in the real life. A clipped “Good Lay Bad Texter” highlights skewed priorities, and “Your Sex Tapes Need Some Sriracha” is absurdity writ large.
Mars’s latest exhibit seems to take on a different tenor. Though just as cheeky as before, there’s also an underlying nostalgia and a critical eye toward modern predilections. “I Stand By My Uninformed Opinions,” one says mockingly, starkly painted in black on white. Another pronounces, “The Last Offline Lovers” on a speckled candy orange background. In blue, almost sadly: “Longing For Your Divorce.”
Written out in so many words, Mars’s words are a declaration. He’s the man holding cardboard next to the subway, saying, “Apocalypse Tomorrow – 3 PM!” It’s also hard to argue with his sharp-eyed truth. After all, some of us were the last offline lovers.
“Once Upon a Time, We Weren’t Stalkers” is on display until December 20, 2014 at Gusford Gallery in Los Angeles.
Given his eclectic background in computing, painting, drawing, and sculpture, the work of French artist and scientist Patrick Tresset is anything but traditional.
With scientific experience and a narrowed focus on robotics, Tresset “investigates human artistic activity, computational creativity, and our relation to machines.” Although his artistic experience dates back to his childhood, Tresset unfortunately lost his ability to paint and draw in 2003. Unable to produce works by hand and forced to adapt to such a major lifestyle change, Tresset sought a new way to create.
That’s where Paul comes in.
Created in 2011, this seemingly artistically-inclined robot used a motorized eye and a mechanical arm to sketch what Tresset could not. While Paul proved to be a successful portrait artist and an effective prototype of the artist’s vision of a “computational system capable of autonomously producing artifacts that stand as artworks,” Tresset has since made improvements to his creation, resulting in Paul-IX, his newest automated bot.
Unlike portraitist Paul, Paul-IX dabbles in still life. Furthermore, in contrast to Paul,Paul-IX was not imagined merely as a helpful assistant. Instead, the newer model was created as an autonomous entity with an ability to decipher its surroundings through art.
While Paul-IX’s drawings are accurately rendered and undeniably evocative, Tresset emphatically notes that “the aim is not to invent systems that are capable of drawing precisely like a human, but for the drawing to have a certain aesthetic effect on the observer”—and, given the robot’s exciting appearance in Creative Machines, an exhibition at Goldsmiths University that “explores the twilight world of human/machine creativity in contemporary art” now through November 14, Paul-IX has made quite the impression. (Via The Creators Project)
Ai Weiwei is causing a stir once again. This time his project involves 14 outfits from 14 different designers, left over paint, a custom built pedestal, his friends, a camera and a rebellious streak. Asked by V magazine to be involved in this special collaborative series in conjunction with Comme des Garçons, Weiwei was sent a box of the designers one-off creations and was allowed free reign to create an editorial campaign for the magazine. He proceeded to dowse his friends and colleagues wearing the clothes with the paint he had accumulated from his earlier 2006/2008 Colored Vases project.
Following his anarchic philosophy and approach to art, Weiwei throws colors all over the delicate and expensive outfits with abandon, just like he did in his vase series. He continues to destroy the hierarchies we have come to accept (this time those of the fashion world, and how to represent clothing as a commodity). Not one to stick to the rules or to adhere to people’s expectations, Weiwei arguably destroys the original craftsmanship of these outfits – many of which took large teams of skilled tailors days to finish. The results have had mixed reviews. One of the designers, Shaun Samson (who had lilac paint splashed all over his plaid ensemble) shares his thoughts:
I don’t know if it’s sad or positive that he decided to do the project this way, but the outcome is beautiful. (Source)
Some may say Weiwei has destroyed others’ works of art, but the controversial artist sees it very differently:
Pouring a color on an outfit creates a new condition for the design. It creates a midpoint between two conflicting ideas. Gravity and the shape of the clothes combine to create a unique moment. Using these cultural products as ready-mades celebrates and reinterprets the intention of creativity. I think this act shows my respect toward their creativity. (Source)
Ren Ri is an artist who works with bees to make his contained beehive sculptures. He builds the plastic containers and places the wood dowels inside them to subtly guide the shape of the hive, and also rotates the sculpture every seven days to affect its form. The use of bees is especially relevant with the current affairs of suffering bee populations around the world, which could have a drastic and lasting effect on farming, but also the natural world in general.
Ri employs many strategies to work with bees. He performs with the bees, allowing them to sting his face, and has created a series of maps made of bees wax. According to Hi-Fructose, his aim in using the bees is to remove his subjectivity from the work. Although it certainly does remove a large degree of control, this is slightly problematic as he still intervenes by creating the object within which the bees form their hives, and further affects their process by rotating it. Complete objectivity seems pretty much unattainable in this scenario, as well as a false aspiration for any creative pursuit. Although there are obviously varying degrees of subjectivity, any intervention implies the influence of the author, and without the intervention Ri would be a beekeeper, not an artist. It’s interesting to experiment with degrees of control, but this is not an objective piece.
To me, the most interesting part of this project is the collaboration with the bees, as the final products are aesthetically appealing and call indirect attention to an issue of pertinence in the world today. (Via Hi-Fructose)
Quilting is a time-honored craft that uses scraps of fabric to form a pieced-together image. The designs are often geometric patterns or more complex images that have been appliqued onto the textile. Artist Ben Venom works in this well-known realm, but instead of adhering to tradition, he creates quilts that are beyond your typical subject matter. Venom takes heavy metal and motorcycle t-shirts, cuts them up, and fashions them into spectacular handmade pieces. He writes about it in a short artist statement:
I’m interested in juxtaposing traditional handmade crafts with extreme elements found on the fringes of society. My work can be described as opposing forces colliding at lightening speed. Imagery found in vintage tattoos, the occult, and motorcycle gangs are stitched together with recycled materials using techniques usually relegated to your Grandmothers sewing circle. Serious, yet attempting to take on a B movie Horror film style where ridiculousness becomes genius. The question remains… Can I play with madness? (Via Boooooom)
Size matters. Anamophic artist Jonty Hurwitz’s new sculpture series recreates the smallest human form ever at 20x80x100 microns, or roughly the scale of a human sperm. According to Hurwitz’s website, the size of these sculptures approximately equals the amount your fingernails grow every 5 or 6 hours. These tiny art works are too small to be seen by the naked eye!
We’ve previously covered Hurwitz’s warped sculptures on beautiful/decay, which also used physics to challenge human perception. These new nano sculptures, “Trust”, “Cupid and Psyche: The First Kiss”, and “Intensity”, explore the idea of science vs. legend, myth vs. reality. Created with a ground-breaking 3D printing technology, the work is ultimately created using two photon absorption—art made with Quantum Physics.
“As technology starts to evolve faster than our human perception is able to handle, the line between science and myth becomes blurred.
We live in an era where the impossible has finally come to pass. We have, in our own little way we have become demigods of creation in our physical world…. The nano works that I present to you here represent more that just a feat of science though. They represent the moment in history that we ourselves are able to create a full human form at the same scale as the sperm that creates us in order to facilitate the creation.”
Despite their microscopic size, these are detailed sculptures, with individual feathers in Cupid’s wings and tiny fingers, belly-buttons, and ears. It’s almost impossible to imagine that these realistic, emotive human figures are much smaller than an ant’s eye.
“The absolute fact is this: the human eye is unable to see these sculptures. In your hand all you see is a small mirror with … nothing on it. The only way to perceive these works is on the screen of powerful scanning electron microscope. Can you be sure of its existence if your basic senses are telling you that nothing is there?”
These sculptures were created in collaboration with The Karlsruhe Institute of Technology and the Weitzmann Institute of Science and involved over 10 people as a working team over several months.
Superheroes and toys, clever photography and computer magic, familiar figures and surreal scenes—Ottowa photographer Daniel Picard may have found the perfect recipe in his series “Figure Fantasy.” Using items from Hot Toys and Sideshow Collectibles, he sets up scenarios on location and shoots them, making the 6” to 12″ tall toys look like they are full-size.
“Seeing Superman stop a train in danger is quite common, but making him take a selfie while doing it is something new and quite silly and that’s how I try to approach my photos: I take these characters from different books and movies and mix them up and make them do things that we’ve never seen them do before because that’s the freedom I have in using these awesome poseable figures and they’ve truly become the perfect ‘actors’ for my scenes.”
The photos feel like a very well executed glimpse behind the scenes. It turns out that when the cameras are off, even Darth Vader has to pee. Batman is a snitch, the Joker is building his own LEGO Gotham, and the IG-88 Assassin Droid practices yoga on the beach. Picard’s childhood interest in comic books serves him well here. From the very first, impromptu, photo of a robot in a field holding a blue balloon, the images have been funny, sometimes scary, sometimes wistful, and always cool.
“I see places and think of photos, scenes and angles in my head, then [I] come home and sketch things out while looking at my collection to see who could be cool to use and how to pose them.” (Source)
Picard has recently teamed up with Sideshow Collectibles for some as-of-now unannounced projects, using their 12” figures as well as their statues. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook for updates and new photos!