Since the internet, the never-ending evolution of words and phrases changes like the blink of an eye. These neon signs were created from the messy scrawl of Seattle-based artist Dylan Neuwirth. Plucking from modern day “web speak,” Dylan has made a collection of glowing emblems that mark our point in history, almost to the second. There’s nothing more attention grabbing than a neon sign, and this installation illuminates the oddities of modern day speech in a playful way. The universal appeal of this work is enhanced by the statelessness of it; words and phrases not directly from any one region or culture, but drifting out from the collective voice of the internet.
Neuwirth describes where he fits into it: “I see myself not as a regional artist or attached to any one place… I want to be everywhere. Make work that looks like it could be anywhere. To be singular and be synonymous at the same time. Like a totally underground electronic artist who infiltrates the top charts only to return to the murky depths again.”
You can’t help but think: what slang will we be using five years from now, one year from now, or even a month from now?
A mesmerizing, surreal experience awaits anyone entering the Japan Pavilion at this year’s Venice Art Biennale. In a stunning installation called “The Key in the Hand,” artist Chiharu Shiota has filled a room with webs of red yarn. Suspended from the ceiling, the yarn is tied together so densely that it filters out the lights above. Hanging from the mass are over 50,000 keys collected from people all over the world. Like dark, frozen drops of rain, they appear to spill from the stringy red “clouds” into two weathered boats below, creating a dual sense of breathtaking movement and suspended time.
Despite their seemingly simple utility, keys are intimate objects that we all carry to keep ourselves—and the things we love—safe. Invested with our deep trust and passed between hands over time, keys symbolically bind us together. The Curator’s Statement for “The Key in the Hand” eloquently describes this further:
In our daily lives, keys protect valuable things like our houses, assets, and personal safety, and we use them while embracing them in the warmth of our hands. By coming into contact with people’s warmth on a daily basis, the keys accumulate countless, multilayered memories that dwell within us. Then at a certain point we entrust the keys, packed with memories, to others who we trust to look after the things that are important to us. (Source)
The keys represent a collection of human feelings, while the yarn visualizes their immaterial connections across time and space. Furthermore, while far removed from their international owners and original purposes, the keys also embody emotions and memories on a transcultural, transnational scale, as they are webbed together without perceptible distinctions of race, class, gender, or nation. As all the keys fall perpetually into the same ancient boats (which are described as “two hands catching a rain of memories”), Shiota’s installation beautifully visualizes a global form of connection spanning borders and generations. (Source). As the Curator’s Statement movingly concludes:
I look forward to watching as The Key in the Hand, an installation that forges a link between a space made up of keys, yarn, and two boats, and photographs and videos of children, transcends national, cultural, linguistic, and political contexts, and emotionally arouses countless visitors from all over the world. (Source)
Born in Japan, Shiota has been based in Berlin for the last two decades. Visit her website to see more fascinating large-scale installations. (Via Colossal)
Photographer Phil Bebbington takes pictures of mostly abandoned spaces throughout the world that once were popular like resorts and churches. His portraits can be just as haunting, people that could easily abandon where they are as well. Check out Phil’s flickr and blog too.
In the creation of Autobiography, the photographer Jacinda Russell was inspired by collectors and hoarders, those compelled by the impulse to save seemingly insignificant objects as markers of meaningful experience. Driven by the photographic impulse to catalog her own life, she turned to what she calls “inconsequential objects are one aspect of [her] identity, easily disposable yet somehow kept:” cut hair, an old toy, fallen teeth.
Each meticulously-shot object serves as a tangible reminder of a particular section of her life; for example, the artist tracks the years from 2000-2007 with hair and swimsuits. The obsessive lens through which she views each cherished object expresses the desperate impulse to fix moments and spans of time within discernible possessions. Like a catalog of carefully pinned butterflies, each object is preserved multiple times over: once they are set aside, they are vacuum-sealed or placed in jars, only to be framed in the center of each shot with unnerving precision. Russell’s high-resolution shots scrupulously reveal and memorialize even the smallest details: the fibers of towels, the stains on clothing, the remarkable tonality of nail clippings.
The narrative of the series is hard to follow, and therein lies its power; the viewer is tasked with the impossible exercise of constructing a life between bookend-like photographs of chopped hair. What emerges from the powerful work is not the objects themselves, or even whatever personal and mysterious experiences they might symbolize, but the artist’s movingly frantic and ultimately futile attempt to immortalize what is already gone. Take a look. (via Lenscratch)
Screenshot from #EmbraceYourself: Kitty Von-Sometime
Photo: Birta Rán
Kitty Von-Sometime is an Iceland-based (England-born) filmmaker who creates beautifully strange and empowering performance art videos celebrating women of diverse backgrounds, ages, and body types. Titled The Weird Girls Project, Kitty’s art pieces are visual experiments aimed at releasing the participants from inhibitions and insecurities by exploring fun and unconventional forms of identity.
As a child born of the digital world, I have a compulsive hunger to record what I do. My inspiration comes from childhood dreams, from synchronicity, from public participation, in freeing those from their constraints, and a personal obsession with spandex.
In each episode, a group of women — many of whom have never met — are assembled and briefed on the secretly planned video shoot that Kitty has carefully planned. The results are inspiring: in “Secret Garden,” for example (shown below), women walk among the trees, unveiling both body and soul under the moonlight. In “Castle of the Apocalypse,” filmed in an abandoned fake Disneyland theme park in China, a shadowy crew dances amidst the ruins of greed and corruption. Taking a turn towards the humorously absurd, “Bunny Revolution” features a cast of rabbit-masked ladies who violently battle before throwing down their weapons and humping vigorously. In each of the videos, we see women improvising, playing, and morphing into expressive extensions of themselves, exploring their individual strengths and beauties while also working together as a supportive group. I had the opportunity to speak with Kitty about her project.
Kristian Hammerstad is a illustrator/designer hailing from Oslo, Norway. His prints for various going-ons in his hood are absolutely a-ma-zing. I’ll keep this write up very brief, just go look at them after the jump!
Jane Perkins reproduces classic paintings using found plastic objects like buttons, beads, jewelry, shells, toy figures, LEGOs, and other plastic items. With her careful and meticulous arrangements, she faithfully recalls well-known works, enhancing the texture of them and creating interesting depth. She implements each item’s original color and shape skillfully into the compositions, illustrating shades and lines with the outlines of the objects. From afar, her pieces could pass for prints of these famous works, but up close, the viewer is granted another layer of appreciation for them. Perkins applies her background in textile design to her plastic found object arrangements, artfully utilizing the textures of each object. (via my modern met)
Let’s hop into the mind of Washington DC based artist, Emily Hoxworth. At the core of each of Emily’s pieces, as she states on her portfolio site, is an interest in biology, but specifically the idea that the core of our biological purpose is to reproduce our genetic material. This greater purpose, Emily explains, is a starting point for her explorations which largely take the form of alternative, narrative, worlds. The imagery is a bizarre mashup of mythology, nature, and medical illustrations. The result – a kind of psychedelic series of landscapes and scenes that are very much alien, yet somehow familiar – I like to speculate that these images are akin to the scenery we might experience upon birth. A kind of visual experience that is forgotten upon arrival. Check out more of Emily’s work after the jump.