Central to Doug Aitken’s “100 YRS” exhibition at 303 Gallery is a new “Sonic Fountain,” in which water drips from 5 rods suspended from the ceiling, falling into a concrete crater dug out of the gallery floor. The flow of water itself is controlled so as to create specific rhythmic patterns that will morph, collapse and overlap in shifting combinations of speed and volume, lending the physical phenomenon the variable symphonic structure of song. The water itself appears milky white, as if imbued and chemically altered by its aural properties, a basic substance turned supernatural. The amplified sound of droplets conjures the arrhythmia of breathing, and along with the pool’s primordial glow, the fountain creates its own sonic system of tracking time.
Behind a cavernous opening carved into the gallery’s west wall is “Sunset (black),” a sculptural work that resembles cast lava rock in texture and spells out the word SUNSET as it glows from behind, its letters forming a relic of the entropy and displacement inherent in the literal idea of a sunset. Viewed from and obscured behind a hole in the wall, the sculpture appears as cosmic debris, as if pulled from a parallel world where a sunset is only an idea, obfuscated by detritus of the age of post-everything, a reductionist standpoint between the modes of pop and minimalism, its glow fading into the next realm. Also on view is the mirrored sculpture “MORE (shattered pour)”. Like a time-piece, the work creates a kaleidoscope of reflections of all that surrounds it. As if it were a fragmented film, “MORE (shattered pour)” creates a literal manifestation of the present and aspirational escapism, which cannot be viewed without glimpsing a piece of one’s self within the work’s reflections. Another refraction of time is glimpsed through “Fountain (Earth Fountain)”, created from plexiglas letters spelling the word “ART”, through which a slurry of moist dirt is pumped, physical earth perpetually redoubling and standing in for itself. The word ART itself subverts the entropy of time, creating a holding pattern that organic matter cannot escape from. The flickering lightbox “not enough time in the day” completes the communicative supercurrent of shimmering malaise, its letters overlapping as if seen inebriated, somehow both more profound and less understandable. The work creates a cycle that is both hypnotic and inescapable. (via)
Amidst the violence and chaos ravaging parts of her native Lebanon, the photographer Rania Matar does not aim to make sweeping political statements about the Middle East; with her complimentary bodies of work titled Ordinary Lives and What Remains (now on display at Houston’s Bank of America Center), she hopes to capture the resilience of the human spirit. Fighting the photographic and documentary urge to re-victimize survivors of war, she offers a more nuanced picture of the lives of Lebanese women and children.
Much of Matar’s work explores global representations of femininity—in a recent monograph, she published images of adolescent girls inhabiting a space between freedom and familial responsibility, the childhood bedroom— and in Ordinary Lives, the artist’s powerful sensitivities color the otherwise bleak black and white war-torn landscape. In “Broken Mirror,” a young woman meticulously adjusts her veil before a shattered mirror, her perception of self seen as fractured by her environment but preserved within her emotional core. Similarly, “Dead Mother” captures the veiling process as a ritual connecting female youth to a monolithic photograph of the matriarch, an undercurrent of modern political and social debate serving as a relentless backdrop.
What Remains operates as an arguably less subjective series of architectural photographs, documenting the aftermath of 2006’s war between Israel and Hezbollah. The series separates itself from Ordinary Lives in its deliberate use of color; the bright blues and yellows read like surrogates for the displaced families that once inhabited the violated spaces, offering a powerful tonal continuation of the striking and complexly seen human spirit captured in Ordinary Lives. Where we once viewed children, embracing the walls in rich gray tones, we are offered a Winnie the Pooh wall hanging, daydreaming beside an empty closet. Take a look.
Believe it or not, the tiniest comic strip in history has recently been drawn onto a single stand of human hair. The comic, titled “Juana Knits the Planet,” was initially mapped by the artist Claudia Puhlfürst; later, it was burned into a plucked stand with an ion beam, which is in essence a delicate and thin version of a laser beam. The narrative follows a girl (Juana) through twelve twenty-five micrometer frames, and the artwork is a promotion for a Do-It-Yourself conference in Hamburg, Germany called the Exceptional Hardware Software Meeting.
Purfürst’s illustration is a touching wordless story about about a lonesome little girl who seems to exist within a vacuum of a blank comic book frame; that is, until a ball of yarn rolls to her feet. From the thread, she creates a paintbrush, painting trees and music into existence. Ultimately, Juana writes code and builds herself her very first friend: an adorable robot. This parable of human growth and ingenuity is made all the more delightful for being engraved onto a strand of hair; the story of technological expansion returns, ultimately, to the human head, the site of its conception.
In this video, we can discover the astounding scale of the little comic. Strands of human hair are composed of hard proteins; the outer layer, or the cuticle, contains scales that form curves and ridges, and yet the frames of “Juana Knits the Planet” are perfectly straight and meticulously rendered. It’s pretty mind-blowing; take a look. (via HuffPost and Lost at E Minor)
A ton of work must have gone into this awesome graffiti animation. BLU painstakingly shared his point of view about evolution by painting and shooting frame by frame on buildings, walls, and pipes in an urban setting. Whole apartments become sites of cosmological development, water pipes carry creatures from sea to land, and water towers launch nuclear WMDs.
Don’t we all love to hate those kitschy landscape paintings at the local thrift store? I know I do. But what if we can make them became exciting again?
Artists Chris McMahon and Thryza Segal give thrift shop paintings new life by embedding monster-like creatures. The finished product resembles a pop-surrealist version of Nickelodeon’s Aaahh! Real Monsters.
Both artist carefully blend the monsters into the original scene as if they were always there. The process can be tricky, since it can be a challenge to match the original textures and colors, but it can be said that their attempts have been a success. They are pretty awesome.
If the still above seems uncannily familiar to you- it’s because it’s from Michael Jackson’s unforgettable music video, “Thriller;” sans MJ, flesh-eating (choreographed) Zombies, or any sign of human life, for that matter. In the video “Untitled #100, (Fantasia),” artist Josh Azzarella took two years to meticulously remove everything but the murky rolling fog of a smoke machine and ominously ambient noises. The full length feature can be viewed on the humorously titled Funk of 40,000 Years. The result is a haunting look at a seeming post-apocalyptic landscape; robbed of its ghoulish face paint and kitsch, the video is a frightening look at what is left behind. The film is certainly imbued with new symbolic meaning now that the prince of pop himself has left the building, so to speak.
Josh will be showing this video at Mark Moore Gallery this Saturday, from 5-7pm. They will also be showing artist Kim Rugg (who has a similarly “systematic” practice of cutting out every single letter from newspapers and arranging them alphabetically). Shown in conjunction, an interesting dialogue regarding notions of truth and fiction within the media ensues between the two artists. If you are in LA, this exhibition is not to be missed!
Zander Olsen wraps white fabric around trees to “intervene” with the organic lines of a landscape, often blurring our sense of foreground and background to generate a jarring sense of flatness. Olsen suggests such compositions convey a new “visual relationship between tree, not-tree and the line of horizon according to the camera’s viewpoint.” As a result, the lush wonders of Wales, Surrey, and Hampshire are transformed into beautiful abstract images, with pops of white.
Architecture duo known as Gijs Van Vaerenbergh have installed 186 tons of 5mm thick steel walls in Genk, Belgium, creating a dense labyrinth for visitors to navigate their way through. The dense maze is made from walls 5 meters high and creates an impressive structure of many corridors and industrial looking alleyways. The pathways and shapes of the labyrinth aren’t only rectangular, or flat either. The pair have cut out cylindrical and spherical shapes and voids in the maze, allowing for some very strange view points. The pair describe their project a bit more:
A series of Boolean transformations create spaces and perspectives that reinterpret the traditional Labyrinth is a sculptural installation that focuses on the experience of space. These Boolean transformations convert the walk through the labyrinth into a sequence of spatial and sculptural experiences. At the same time, the cutouts function as ‘frames’ to the labyrinth. Seen from some certain perspectives, the cut-outs are fragmentary, whereas from other viewpoints the entire cut-out shape is unveiled. (Source)
The pair are known for their ambitious, eye catching public installations and like to create architecture that reacts to or compliments the environment it is placed in. The particular installation is part of the 10th anniversary celebrations at the c-mine Arts Center which now stands where a coal mine once did. Gijs Van Vaerenbergh have taken ideas of the mine shafts below the surface and transferred them into their ideas for the labyrinth. They go on to say:
Furthermore, the production and construction processes remain visible in the final design. Visitors who ascend the mine shafts nearby, can view the labyrinth as a materialised floor plan and sculptural whole – a perspective that runs against what a labyrinth should do: conceal itself. (Source)