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Doug Aitkin Transformed A Moving Train Into Kinetic Sculpture And Alternative Art Space

Doug Aitken - installation

Doug Aitken - installation

I considered Doug Aitken to be a big thinker when I read about his Song 1, a huge sound and video installation enveloping the Hirshorn Museum, or his Mirror, a video project that consists of an L.E.D screen that’s wrapped around the facade of the Seattle Art Museum.

With his latest project, Station to Station: A Nomadic Happening, Aitken has taken “installation” to a whole other levelFor three weeks this September a train decked out with L.E.D lights will travel from New York City to San Francisco making 10 stops along the way (next stop St. Paul, Minneapolis on Sept 12).  Aitken designed the train as a kind of kinetic sculpture, or studio.  At each stop artists, musicians, writers, filmmakers and other creatives will participate in site-specific happenings.

Aitken’s goal with the project is to address some big questions, such as “Who are we?  Where are we going?  And, at this moment, how can we express ourselves?”  In an effort to create this “modern cultural manifesto,” Aitkin invited individuals such as Olaf Breuning, Urs Fischer, Christian Jankowski, Lawrence Weiner, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Dan Deacon and Dave Hickey (and many others) to participate.  Everyone involved was asked to reconsider the way they create.  Ed Ruscha, for instance, thought up a cactus omelet that will be made and served to participants in Winslow, Arizona.

The project, made possible by Levi’s, will also raise funds for various cultural institutions across the country through ticket sales (yes you can get tickets if they are still available for the happening in a city near you) and donations from partners, institutions and the public.

The concept of Station to Station confronts and challenges the system whereby art is, all to often in today’s society, created solely for museums and galleries.  Station to Station embraces the key components of a 1960s happening, especially spontaneity and audience engagement, but the enormity of scale raises the stakes.  I admire Aitkin’s ambition particularly because, in the spirit of a true happening, Station to Station could go off without a hitch, or could go completely awry.  Whose to say though which would be worse?

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Women’s Vulnerability Is Studied In Karen Ann Myers’ Paintings From Up Above

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Karen Ann Myers’ latest series of paintings study the vulnerability of women. Through a series of motifs showing women lying down on beds or in different sexual acts disguised within a pattern, she examines the feminine form in its most naked form. What she offers is a voyeuristic look at womanhood. By taking the girl next door and putting her in subjective, fetal-like positions we see how the packaging of the fairer sex becomes more about mood and positioning than the actual model. The atmosphere and attire become the most important elements in her psychological study. It cleverly examines women’s submissive behavior in advertising and brings forth what society is shown as desirable.
In large sized paintings, Myers purposely places vibrantly colored rugs and sheets next to her subjects commenting on the fact that women are seen as beautiful pieces of furniture used to adorn a room. They become objectified and meld into the foreground. Her message is subtle disguised through a series of striking images that recall Alex Katz and David Hockney.
Her wallpaper drawings of various sexual positions disclose the powerful nature of women’s sexuality. Hidden from direct view in the design’s make up her project speaks to the meaning of subliminal messages. As the pattern dictates, the true nature of  women’s sexuality should remain secret as media and advertising suggests.  Her prowess as a painter and designer is only matched by her strong desire to speak about these important issues.

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Ayano Tsukimi Replaces The Dead With Doll Sculptures In Shrinking Japanese Village

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The village of Nagoro is remote location hidden in the valley of Shikoku, Japan. Its small town charm remains enchanting, but its lack of work possibilities has driven its residents to leave for big cities in search for a better life. Nagoro is slowly shrinking.

“When I was a child there was a dam here, there was a company, and hundreds of people used to live here.”

In hopes that she could bring back life to her now desolated hometown of Nagoro, Japanese artist Ayano Tsukimi comes up an unexpected solution.

Tsukimi has populated the village with dolls, each representing a former villager. Around 350 of the giant dolls now reside in and around Nagoro, replacing those that died or abandoned the village years ago.

“I don’t like making weird dolls, but people who blend into the scenery.”

In a recent documentary titled The Valley Of Dolls, director Fritz Schumann explores Tsukimi’s doll-filled world, highlighting the time and artistry that goes into making the figures, and explaining her motivations. (via The Verge)

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Invasive Jewelry That Harvests Energy From Human Body

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Blinker. Placed on the bridge of the nose and across the eyelids, it harvests energy from eye-blinking.

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Blinker. Placed on the bridge of the nose and across the eyelids, it harvests energy from eye-blinking.

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Blood Bridge. Each spike is inserted into a vein; blood stream spins the wheel and creates movement likely to be turned into electricity.

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Blood Bridge. Each spike is inserted into a vein; blood stream spins the wheel and creates movement likely to be turned into electricity.

Jerusalem-based industrial designer Naomi Kizhner created a series of sci-fi jewelry than harvest kinetic energy from a human’s body and turns it into electricity. Titled “Energy Addicts”, Kizhner’s graduation project addresses world’s forthcoming energy crisis. Her jewelry is an attempt for an existing renewable energy source that hasn’t been tested yet.

“It interested me to imagine what would the world be like once it has experienced a steep decline in energy resources and how we will feed our energy addiction. There are lots of developments of renewable energy resources, but the human body is a natural resource for energy that is constantly renewed, as long as we are alive.”

The jewelry is made from gold and 3D-printed biopolymer. Each piece contains sharp stings that neatly pierce the skin and serve as bio energy harvesting devices. The energy is generated from the body’s subconscious movements, such as blood flow or blinks of an eye. Kizhner created several designs to be worn on different body parts and to draw energy from specific physiological functions.

According to the designer, technology is not too far from turning these ideas into reality. However, she argues that the important part lies in human psychology: “<…> Will we be willing to sacrifice our bodies in order to produce more energy?” asks Kizhner. With her project, artist yearns to provoke people and spark the discussion on our possible future. (via Dezeen)

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The Dark Wintery Wonderlands Inside Walter Martin & Paloma Muñoz’s Snow Globes

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Proving that snow globes aren’t just kitschy souvenirs, artist duo Walter Martin and Paloma Muñoz create mini worlds covered by glass domes that are dark, gloomy, and slightly sinister. The scenarios they build are usually set in a stark wintery landscape and feature characters carrying out strange, ill-disposed acts on each other.

Working together since 1994, Martin and Muñoz source different figurines or model making elements, cut them up and re-assemble them as victims or criminals at a crime scene. They use plumber’s epoxy to build the base of the scenes, and cover it in a water resistant resin. Then, they fill up the globes with a water and alcohol solution, to create the authenticity of the object.

Taking inspiration from dreams, movies, and literature, the pair is happy to build on a bizarre or surreal narrative. Their scenes are very dark indeed: A man is caught in the act of dropping a boulder onto another man’s face, or we watch a woman suspiciously planting a dead tree in the snow, or two men vindictively dangling children over a deep dark well, all surrounded by the stillness of snow and winter. They see their snow globes as a celebration of that uneasy feeling you get when you are lost in a crowd, or left alone somewhere uncomfortable. Martin reflects on the environment that he grew up in and those feelings he experienced within them:

I always liked a good snowstorm, and so many of my best memories revolve around those occasions. The water is the thing in Norfolk and Virginia Beach. Everything that comes out of it, everything that you can do on it, or in it, is special. (Source)

Their globes and a number of other artist’s impressions of winter were also featured previously in a post on B/D. Click here to check out the different ideas of just what that wintery spirit is all about.

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Kristen Liu-Wong’s Bizarre Paintings Of A Humorous And Disturbing World

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Kristen Liu-Wong is a Los-Angeles artist who paints darkly humorous and bizarre scenarios—ones that often involve violence and/or human depravity. The bright colors and cartoonish figures are initially misleading; look closer into her grotesque doll house of images and you’ll see people decapitated, vomiting, and performing sexual acts. It’s a bit like the Sims on bad acid; people stand around in ordinary-looking rooms while engaging in absurd (and placidly horrific) situations. It’s all in good humor, however; Liu-Wong’s characters smile diabolically and carry on, no matter what mayhem is occurring around them. She also paints still-life-like images with the same surreal edge.

Liu-Wong draws her inspiration from a variety of styles, ranging from American folk art to Japanese paintings to 90s “lowbrow” artists. She cites Clare Rojas as a main source of inspiration (Source). Her subject matter—a figurative representation of the world and human behavior—is a product of her vivid imagination. Visit her website, Tumblr, and Instagram for more high-energy and detailed scenarios that will leave you amused and guessing. There is an interview with the artist available on Pacific Dissent. (Via Art Fucks Me)

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Interview: Huma Bhabha

Huma Bhabha is not unlike a medieval alchemist, transmuting discarded materials into works of art—morphing civilization’s dusty detritus into works of stunning beauty. They freely collapse ideological mores, the annals of history, contemporary art, yet transcend concretized fact or fiction. Instead, they resurrect their charred faces, standing as relics from a near distant future, or war-ravaged effigies to a post-apocalyptic past. This practice of temporal and physical shape-shifting seems to be both esoteric and playful at once—Bhabha notes that “turning lead into gold, or at least trying…is more interesting than just using gold.” Her visceral effigies are perhaps best described as “anti-monuments;” her works, in their materiality, do not desire permanence—rather, Bhabha formalizes their very transience through her use of ephemeral, corruptible and humble materials. 

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Eros Hoagland Documentary Photography

San Fransisco’s Eros Hoagland is lucky to have an amazing documentary photographer in their midst. He’s traveled the world to capture stunning images of civil war, drug wars, and natural disasters.

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