If you can’t get to a beach this summer, then you will be thankful for design duo Snarkitecture‘s new installation at the National Building Museum in Washington DC. The space is filled with 1 million translucent polystyrene balls in a massive wading pool, the floor is carpeted and scattered with deck chairs and beach umbrellas, inviting the beach goers to enjoy a day reading, wading, or playing paddle ball. There is even a summery snack bar available selling popcorn, candy, chocolate bars and soda pop. Every Wednesday the Museum offers different events where the snack bar will also offer bar service.
The Beach is a part of the program the Museum likes to offer each year – they dedicate the 10,000 square foot space to a gimmicky exhibition that will draw the crowds. And this year the honor went to Snarkitecture to produce something that would entertain the masses. Established by Alex Mustonen and Daniel Arsham, Snarkitecture is a design studio that focuses on minimal and intelligent design solutions, not only for spaces, but for objects as well. Drawing their name from Lewis Carroll’s The Hunting of The Snark, the team like a challenge and enjoy re-imagining existing objects and architecture. The poem describes an “impossible voyage of an improbable crew to find an inconceivable creature”, and Mustonen and Arsham take on this idea quite literally. They state their mission as:
Snarkitecture’s approach focuses on the viewer’s experience and memory, creating moments of wonder and interaction that allow people to engage directly with their surrounding environment. By transforming the familiar into the extraordinary, Snarkitecture makes architecture perform the unexpected. (Source)
The duo have been responsible for some very clever installations in many different spaces. You can check out their back catalog here. Or take your bathing suit and towel and head to their artificial paradise. The Beach is open until September 7. (Via Washingtonian)
Chef Ken has taken Mac Fanboy-dom and food sculptural likenesses to a…ahem…cheesy new level. Savor the delights of Steve Jobs head on an appetizer platter, in a sizzling plate of “iPad Thai” or in a festive nacho concoction. A big ghastly when his head melts all over the chips. I can’t really say much more.
Danling Xiao is a Sydney-based artist who has started Mundane Matters, a project aimed at coupling fun food sculptures and photography with daily insights and philosophies. The bulk of the project can be seen on Instagram, which is updated daily. The objects she creates range from cute to bizarre—such as a zucchini squid and a grinning, beady-eyed apple—but they all exemplify ingenious ways to recreate and re-represent ordinary objects.
“Is mundanity really mundane?” Danling’s artist statement asks. “Perhaps it is our ignorance?” She argues that by seeing something in a different light, and by allowing ourselves to become curious, we can find joy and creativity in all things. Fruits, vegetables, and the objects they’ve been molded into take on new levels of significance. We become aware of design, and how beauty and utility often arrive together. As Danling suggests, “If we look closer, if we slow down our pace and be more mindful about our inner self and surroundings, we can actually discover a wonderland inside every mundanity.”
Each of Mundane Matters’ posts on Instagram is accompanied by a short write-up, usually updating the viewer on events in Danling’s life. These range from descriptions of dreams, daily practices of overcoming fear, and more general wisdom, such as the importance of nurturing our relationships. Danling’s goal is to spread “humor, creativity, positivity, and stories” through her work, and given Mundane Matters’ beautiful photos and growing social media following, there is no doubt that her art and ideas are connecting with people everywhere.
Ramona Zordini is an Italian photographer who seeks to explore states of ambiguity and transition in her work. Featured here is Changing Time III, the third part of a series of images wherein bodies float, twist, and thrash in a murky tide of passion and despair. There is a sense of profound liminality as the figures skim the water’s surface; bare skin is exposed to the air and light, while faces are obscured, making their emotional experiences unreadable to the viewer. Some of the photos feature solitary bodies, curled up as the water embraces them. Elsewhere, lovers cling together, groping wet, chilled flesh in postures that are both erotically charged and desperately troubling.
The emotions these images provoke are both powerful and conflicting — are we seeing lovers holding on to each other out of need in an unforgiving world? Or are they destroying each other? Indeed, some of the water around the figures looks milky and eerily bloodstained, suspending the couples in a dark, amniotic fluid wherein they hunger for connection and love. The submerged faces, arched torsos, and reaching limbs suggest imminent death as much as they do the submission experienced in sex and desire.
“I would like the impermeability of things to touch every sensation,” Zordini writes on her biography page, explaining her drive to explore uncertain states of transience and becoming. “Ambiguous term, ambiguous place, gesture, thought […] there is nothing like yesterday.” (Source) Ambiguity permeates Changing Time; drifting in states between life and death, passion and sorrow, the nude figures unfurl on the edges of their own physical and psychological evolutions.
Photographer Nat Wilkins spent two weeks documenting the ceremonies and death rituals of the Troajan tribe in the highlands of South Sulawesi in Indonesia. In his series Dealing With The Dead, The Troajan Of Tana Toraja, he takes a close up look at this fascinating world and wishes to examine his own understanding of death and decay. The funerals carry on for a number of days and are one of the most important part of the culture in the highlands of Tana Toraja. When a family member dies, they are embalmed and lay waiting inside the family home until the ceremony can take place. Wilkins explains a bit more about the process:
When the time of the funeral comes illegal cock fighting, illegal gambling, buffalo fighting and the slaughter of buffaloes and pigs mark the occasion. The wealthier the family the grander the funeral, with this grandness being marked by the number of buffalo slaughtered, a minimum of one buffalo is required to pass to the land of souls but wealthier families will slaughter 10 to 20 sometimes 30 buffalo and the richest Torajan’s will kill hundreds.
To some these rituals may seem over-elaborate, and excessive, but to the Troajans, it is essential to ensure their loved ones cross over safely to the ‘land of souls’. Devoutly Christian, the tribe places great emphasis on life after death, or the treatment of the body and soul once dead. The living who are left behind, make great sacrifices to provide what is needed for those who have passed. But with the weight of this responsibility comes much hardship. Wilkins explains again:
From an outside perspective it can seem that to the living these funerals are used as a reflection on the importance of the deceased’s family, a status symbol for the rich. On the flip side though, death can be a serious burden on the poor. Every spare penny earned by the living goes to honoring the dead and the importance of a good funeral puts serous weight on the poorer Torajan’s with the poorest getting serious debt problems just to slaughter a buffalo.
In 2011, photographer Colby Vincent Edwards (in collaboration with William Franevsky and Jarrett Scherff) created The 8th Day, an incredible exhibition that “documents” a post-apocalyptic future. In addition to black and white photography, the artists designed costumes made of leather, cloth, feathers, twine, and bone. Dusty, ripped, and layered, the outfits integrate brilliantly with the wasted environment. The weapons the models carry seem ancient, but upon closer inspection betray the remnants of the present-day world: shattered metal and protruding nails.
The photographs themselves are stark and intimate, composed of “high contrasts with rich blacks, and blank white collodion skies” (Source). We see human figures traversing barren plains, salvaging debris, and collapsing in what could be sorrow, exhaustion, or near-death. With their faces masked, the characters’ physical anonymity makes it possible to imagine oneself in their place, navigating the devastated world. Here, the artists have drawn on the appeal of our childhood fantasies, but have troubled them by infusing such imaginative stories with the tragedy and finality of a cataclysmic event. Step back from the beautiful details and you perceive the vast emptiness of the world.
Even though the exhibition is a few years old, the images are still intensely relevant. Depictions of post-apocalyptic worlds weigh heavily on our social consciousness. In this way, The 8th Day captivates us while making us quietly thankful that such a universe exists only in our imaginations — for now. Visit their Tumblr page for a fuller narrative of these stunning photographs. You can view the rest of Edwards’ work here.
When people observe art, the try to find a purpose, a message behind the whole thing. In many art pieces, the message may not be obvious or clear. Within the work by Ripo Visuals, their clear, easy-to-read, simplistic messages are powerful. Catchy, funny, truthful, clever phrases have been left on buildings all over Europe and South America. Courtesy of Ripo Visuals.