Last Tuesday, the militant extremist group ISIS released a video threatening to kill two Japanese hostages, journalists Kenji Goto and Haruna Yukawa. They requested a $200 million ransom of which Japan refused to pay (Yukawa has said to have been killed). The Japanese public has responded to these threats by using Twitter to mock ISIS with Photoshopped memes. While this isn’t exactly art, elements of design, digital collage, and illustration are being used for political and social reasons. The images, viewable with the hashtag #ISISクソコラグランプリ, translates to ISIS crappy collage grand prix. This popular tag presents exactly what it says – the terrorists, rudimentarily cut/pasted/drawn on, are seen in spaceships or cartoon characters. One image even features Mickey Mouse.
While the hashtag has received criticism from some, many see this parody as a way to react to the threat without bowing to terrorism. Peter Payne, owner of the online shop J-List, sums the hashtag up up by tweeting, “You can kill some of us, but Japan is a peaceful and happy land, with fast Internet. So go to hell.” (Via Dazed and Buzzfeed)
Evan Penny is a Toronto-based (South African-born) artist who makes human sculptures out of silicone, resin, hair, and pigment. In many ways, his works — especially those he produced in the 1980s (see “Jim”) — are hyperrealistic, with detailed skin textures and lifelike body postures and facial expressions. However, throughout the 1990s and into the 2000s, Penny began to experiment with abstraction, manipulating human proportions and forms to create flattened, stretched, and warped bodies that resemble optical illusions, troubling the perceptual line between digital manipulation and animated flesh. In his more recent works, Penny has implemented computer technologies to scan, distort, and re-scale the figure, which he then recreates by hand.
Two interrelated themes that Penny interrogates in his work include the passage of time and the ever-changing nature of self-perception. As he explores in his works “Young Self” and “Old Self,” for example, self-representation — indeed, identity — is a construction that is never stable; “time, memory, and desire” influence the way we appear and project ourselves to others (and ourselves) (Source). Penny’s work also explores the implications of image manipulation in the digital age, when photo editing and digital reality give us new means of constructing our self-representations, and indeed, evading the naturally-occurring inconsistencies of our real-life identities. As he stated in an interview with Canadian Art:
“With the digital, how we imagine ourselves in time has changed again. We’re starting to comprehend ourselves quite differently, and I’m not sure we fully understand how that is affecting us” (Source).
Despite the seemingly playful aspects of Penny’s sculptures, some of his artistic investigations are tinged with sadness as they grapple with the passage of time. “Jim Revisited” (2011), for example, is a recreation of his sculpture “Jim,” which was made in 1985, when his figures were still largely realistic. Jim was a friend of Penny’s who had passed away several years ago. What Penny seems to be achieving in the dialogue between these two works is a series of overlapping personal and artistic reassessments: an examination of the way time distorts memory, as well as how his own artistic practice — infused with years of experience and shifting emotions and new perspectives — has changed. You can read more about Penny’s thoughts on “Jim Revisited” here. Visit Penny’s website to see more of his work.
Seattle’s goCstudio design team has cooked up a dreamy creation that is perfect for the moody weather in the Pacific Northwest. This piece, the “Floating Sauna,” offers a portable, wood-fueled sauna that can be taken and put onto a body of water. This project is nearing fruition as the team is in their final stages of fundraising and will soon begin construction. They have reached out into the community for support and have received an overall enthusiastic response.
GoCstudio was founded in 2012 by architects Jon Gentry and Aimee O’Carroll, who met while they both worked for Olson Kundig Architects.
This team, which has already produced some amazing projects, is moving to embrace a more unique and innovative path. Not only is the technical concept behind the sauna pretty astounding, but the aesthetic presence of it is simple yet elegant. It will add beauty to any horizon it sits on.
As for the logistics of the sauna, they sound pretty spectacular: ” The earliest concepts for the sauna were always focused on the journey to discover this place; creating a unique experience and refuge in the water that would offer a new perspective on the landscape. We imagine people kayaking out to the structure and tying off. The design has a deck, a wood-fired sauna, and a roof platform for canon balls. The rear ladder connects the water, dock, and roof platform. The ‘cool down hatch’ allows hot and sweaty visitors a chance to open the back door and cold plunge directly into the water.
The sauna is designed to fit on a standard size trailer. It can be transported and launched into any accessible still body of water, and when not in use, parked and stored on land.”
As they say on their Kickstarter page, “The sauna is an apotheosis of all experience: Purgatory and paradise; earth and fire; fire and water; sin and forgiveness. It is eternal new birth. You are healed, you are made new.” -Constance Malleson 1936
There is something fantastically unworldly yet alluringly familiar about Amy Joy Watson’s bright sculptures. Whether it’s a drooping bow or a glitter-filled orb, this Australian’s artful structures feel like a 1986 birthday party, translated or abstracted by a video game of that same era: there are no soft edges, only the disjointed illusion of it.
To make each piece, Watson stitches or glues together watercolor-stained balsa wood, occasionally adding a tasteful Gobstopper here, or helium balloon there, to garnish her own primal sense of whimsy and sacred geometry, resulting in a somewhat spiritual monument to another imaginative age and time.
Folkert De Jong is hands down one of my absolute sculptors working today. So much so that in 2008 we did an exclusive interview with him and put him on the cover of Beautiful/Decay Issue: V. Since then Folkert has gone on to create an impressive body of work, each one outdoing the next. Opening April 1st Fokert is back at it again with a solo show at James Cohan Gallery in NYC showing a completely new body of work. His work is refined, grotesque, experimental and takes risks. In other words it’s amazing. This is one of the rare times that I wish I lived in NY so if you’re anywhere near the big apple head down to Folkert’s opening and report back to me. More images below from the centerpiece of the show titled Operation Harmony after the jump.