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C’mon, Give A Sh*t – Toilets Sanitation Project Benefiting Homeless Creates Awareness With Art Toilets

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Lava Mae, a nonprofit project that seeks to provide the homeless with access to showers and toilets, commissioned artists and designers to create artsy toilets that were displayed along Market Street in San Francisco on November 21st, during the same week as World Toilet Day, for a project titled “C’mon, Give a Shit.” Though these names are snicker-worthy, this day is a UN recognized event that “aims to break the taboo around toilets and draw attention to the global sanitation challenge.” Through their public art toilet project, Lava Mae seeks to generate awareness about the sanitation problem surrounding the homeless. In May 2014, Lava Mae plans to roll out their first retro-fitted MUNI bus that will provide mobile showers and toilets to the homeless community in San Francisco.

Lava Mae founder Doniece Sandoval says, “We want to deliver dignity. We feel that if you don’t have access to hygiene you lose touch with your humanity.” Acknowledging that the mobile facilities will certainly not end homelessness, Sandoval is hopeful that the project provides a good starting point for addressing the homeless’ lack of access to basic human needs. “We’re creating a model for delivery of service that others can embrace, a forum that works like open source technology,” Sandoval says, “Our designs, our budgets, anything we can help bring to other communities.”

The art toilets are currently up for auction here, with proceeds benefiting Lava Mae. (via sfist, the bold italic, and crafting a green world)

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Bizarre Art Project Creates Human Cheese Out Of Skin And Tears

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Microbiologist Christina Agapakis and scent artist Sissel Tolaas‘ science-meets-art project “Self Made” seeks to challenge the way we think about microbes, scent, and the nature of disgust. Most cheese is made by taking milk and spoiling it with the bacteria, Lactobacillus. This bacteria transform milk sugars into acid, causing it to coagulate. The chunks are removed from the liquid and aged with specific yeast that creates specific cheeses. Lactobacillus and yeast can be found all around us, including our own skin. Agapakis and Tolaas take microbes from people’s skin – like Michael Pollan’s belly button or artist Olafur Eliasson’s tears – and add them to milk in order to create a human microbial cheese portrait (a cheese selfie?).

“The idea was to recognize, how do we get grossed out? Then to think about it and move beyond that initial idea of disgust,” Agapakis says. “Why are we more uncomfortable with bacteria on the body than we are with bacteria in cheese?”

From the artists’ statement, “Many of the stinkiest cheeses are hosts to species of bacteria closely related to the bacteria responsible for the characteristic smells of human armpits or feet. Can knowledge and tolerance of bacterial cultures in our food improve tolerance of the bacteria on our bodies? How do humans cultivate and value bacterial cultures on cheeses and fermented foods? How will synthetic biology change with a better understanding of how species of bacteria work together in nature as opposed to the pure cultures of the lab?”

“Self Made” is currently on view (and smell – the project is for thinking, not eating) at Gallery Science in Dublin until January 2014 as part of the “Grow Your Own” exhibition along with other synthetic biology projects including a mouse cloned from Elvis Presley’s DNA, a yogurt drink that yields disease-diagnosing feces, and a project that proposes a future in which humans could give birth to endangered species. (via huffington post, npr, and la times).

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yanobe kenji’s Fire Breathing Robot Sculptures

Yanobe Kenji’s incredible sculptures closely fits a modern Japanese consumer aesthetic. His pieces, often based on robots, appear to be the products of the most modern industrial design: bright colors, polished metal, articulable joints, and shiny finish. However, they betray a fear of nuclear war. Yanobe’s artwork includes brightly-colored hazmat suits and tiny action figures with built-in geiger counters.He has also constructed a steel boat in the shape of a dragon called “Lucky Dragon” which breathes fire to protect itself. These massive sculptures pose the question: Would life after a nuclear war be possible, and if it were, would it be worth living?

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Awesome Video Of The Day: zombie kitten apocalypse

I’m more of a dog person but this video by Sarah Brown had me LOLing for a few minutes. Maybe I just enjoy watching animated cats getting eaten alive by zombie kittens. I know, I know I’m sick.

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Jason Hughes’ Creates Artwork From Shredded Dollar Bills

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Now that the US government is not longer shut down (at least for the time being…), it feels like an appropriate time to visit the work of Jason Hughes. For years, he has used money as his medium, literally. Hughes obtains dollar bills previously removed from circulation and shredded by the government. He takes the bills, weaving them together or applying them to panel. With both approaches, it is staggering to think about the amount of work, attention to detail, and time that goes into each piece.

Sometimes, Hughes will take the scraps and weave them together, while other times he will arrange them to form different icons like a heart, bullseye, and eye. The imagery has ties to American culture. For instance, the star inside of the circle is reminiscent of the classic Converse All Star shoes.

The process of Hughes’ work is as important as the outcome. The act of creating a piece explores ideas of labor, value, and worth. It highlights the disparity between skilled labor and industry in the United States. Jobs that are often tedious, like working in a factory, for instance, are very low on the pay scale. But, they make things we have work and keep our homes, buildings, and society running smoothly.  Another Day, Another Dollar (directly above) reconstructs the dollar bill, which seems to say that yes, another day is another dollar, but when you consider the amount of work that went into that single dollars, it isn’t enough.

By taking this shredded money, which was otherwise worthless before, Hughes assigns a new value by changing its context. Now, composed and presented as art, he creates something that is worth much more than the sum of its parts.

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Primordial Performance Inside Of A Bubble

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The performances of Zhu Ming are filled with almost a lonely kind of pensiveness.  Covered in paint, he enters the bubble often floating on water.  The bubble is specially created for the piece and specifically designed to slowly fill with water.  Soon the paint is washed off Zhu Ming’s body as he floats quietly alone.  The bubble emphasizes the solitary nature of his performance, and underscores ideas of existential isolation.  Zhu Ming’s work unfolds silent and strange sort of dignity that is difficult to not project onto life as a whole.

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Nichole van Beek

Nichole van Beek

New York multi-media painter/sculptor Nichole van Beek’s gouache paintings are like Magic Eye images for grown-ups!

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Helmut Smits

Helmut Smits is proof that you don’t need a larger than life idea to create thought provoking and powerful work. From a kiddie pool fountain (pictured above) to a snow man carved out of carrara marble (pictured after the jump), Helmut takes everyday objects, makes a few minor tweaks, and creates iconic work that makes you think “why didn’t I think of that?”

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