American artist Phillip K. Smith III found inspiration from the most basic of places in his recent project, Lucid Stead. Taking a small cabin which had been slowly eroded by the harsh environments of the Joshua Tree Desert for seventy years, Smith III modified the existing structure, adding mirrors between aged wood slats and changing LED panels to the door and window frames. By day, the desert scenery is reflected upon the modified mirrored slats, while the piece illuminates the desert landscape by night. The artist explains Lucid Stead, “This project is about tapping into the desert, into the pace of change, and is about responding to the quiet of the place. And ultimately, in that quite, the project begins to unfold.”
While the piece has a decidedly aesthetic-first quality, Smith explains that there are four ideas at play in Lucid Stead - “Light and Shadow” (the interaction with the sun, and changes in the reflections of its light), “Reflected Light” (within the mirrors, using the desert as a medium placed on the shack), “Projected Light” (the LED lights within the shack, pure color illuminating the cracks and openings of the structure), and “Change” (the shifting colors of the lights, which change so slowly as to be almost unnoticed). Smith III continues, “The project really is about slowing down…stopping and being quite so you can truly see and listen.” (via from89 and designboom, additional images via Kevin Smith, archinect)
Los Angeles-based artist Patrick Martinez (previously featured here) not only works with the messages that are seen daily on Any Major Inner City Street USA, he also uses the favored communication method of the majority of these messages to give additional contextual weight to his artistic turns of phrases. While Martinez has been lauded as The Man in Art & Design 2013 (Complex Magazine), Latinos on the Rise as well as Artist on the Rise at Scope Miami, it seems to sell the artist’s work short by boxing it in to an ethnic or inner-city-only messages, considering the crux of his work focuses on themes (consumerism, globalism, mental and physical health, violence, money, race, and a multi-cultural future) which effect the broadest ranges of a global society. To simply state that he uses the vernacular of the disenfranchised would be limiting the unique, darkly-egalitarian perspective Martinez brings to his work, as well as the implication against an unnamed force that keeps the Everyman (no matter their ethnicity or background) from achieving the most basic of human goals.Martinez expands on this idea, “People feel it’s accessible, complex but it still invites. It’s like a kiss on the cheek and a punch to the gut all at the same time. It’s not elitist, but relatable.”
While many of the artist’s works freely delve into multimedia (the combination of still-life realism painting with neon sign craftsmanship), Martinez’s works statement claims a simpler message. “Patrick focuses on the phenomenology of his surroundings. He brings sublime beauty to things that aren’t thought of as conventionally beautiful. He uses subject matter such as everyday people that aren’t usually painted into the limelight and elements of the city that would be thought of as objects we take for granted.”
Martinez’s upcoming exhibition, Buy Now, Cry Later at Public Functionary in Minneapolis, MN, promises to continue this tradition simultaneous cultural exploration and criticism. By focusing a glowing eye on the viewer, Martinez builds metaphors of consumption and the unending needs of Capitalism and the Human Spirit in the modern world. Buy Now, Cry Later opens Friday, November 15th and runs through Friday, December 20th.
By all accounts, particularly documentation photos, Akane Moriyama’s newest installation appears to be nothing more than floating colors. The piece, titled Cubic Prism, is actually large skeins of prismatic and semi-transparent polyester fabric, ethereally suspended between two buildings in the courtyard of Goldsmith Hall at the University of Texas, Austin. Cubic Prism shows both rigid characteristics (the ‘skeleton’ of the piece holds it’s cubed shape) as well as the looseness of flowing fabrics.
Akane Moriyama, a designer who was born in Japan and is currently based in Stockholm, Sweden, uses her background in textile design to create such works. By hanging more than 150 large pieces of sewn fabric, the cubed form resembles a canopy (or hammock) shape. Natural elements such as wind obviously effect the installation, though perhaps the most interesting reaction is the natural color play of light and sun when seen between the almost translucent fabric layers. This colorplay activates the entire courtyard, buildings and natural environment for viewers, giving off gorgeous multi-colored glows. (via from89 and designboom)
Using repetitious and precise cuts, artist Robbie Rowlands manipulates objects and environments. They are monumental manipulations and demand your attention the moment you see them. He installs his work in abandoned homes, school yards, and gymnasiums,using elements from the space to create his sculptures. Doing so gives the place or object a mind of its own. The walls breathe and the floor is alive.
Writer Simon Cooper wrote about the work in an essay that accompanied Rowlands’ Disintegration exhibition in 2008. Despite the time passed, I find that his analysis is still apt for the artist’s current body of work. Cooper writes:
Rowlands bases his sculptural work on things that exist at the fringes of our awareness, utilitarian objects such as lampposts or desks. He refashions them into something altogether different yet in a way that never allows their original identity to be shed. The mass produced and functional designs are softened and framed in terms of a new aesthetic, giving the object a renewed energy or sensibility. The effect is to reveal hidden potential in what had come to be regarded as outmoded. If the former object is largely unrecognizable in the new sculpture, the process is not one of violence, rather there is a sense of redemption, as if the object has been liberated from obsolescence, from forgetfulness.
Rowlands repurposing gives us the opportunity to remember the thing or place, but place it in an entirely new context. Sometimes, the way something is cut and later posed feels like a cartoon. Take, for instance, the basketball hoop that has been cut. Seeing this hoop laying on the ground, like a turtle on it’s back, is simultaneously comical and sad. We’re reminded that while it has no practical use anymore, it didn’t before it was manipulated. Rowlands has saved it from total obscurity.
John Grade’s Capacitor is a site-specific installation which reacts to the climate of the site it inhabits. Located within the John Michael Kohler Arts Center in Sheboygan, Wisconsin, this enormous coil is roughly 40′ x 20′ x 20′ and slowly reacts to the changing wind directions and temperatures of the outside environment. Physically behaving according to statistics collected outside the institution, a mechanized controller within the installation powers the enormous coil’s shape. According to Grade, “the whole of the sculpture will appear to be very slowly breathing”. Capacitor also changes the brightness of the lights within the construct, giving an entire reaction to outside elements. (contemporist and artist’s site)
The work of architect and designer Sophia Chang, Suspense is a site-specific installation that blends the inner and outer environments of a gallery space. A recent graduate with distinction at Harvard Graduate School of Design, Chang created Suspense at Invivia Gallery in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
By pulling large sheets of Lycra between rectangular frames, her work creates an interactive, suspended environment which both blurs yet highlights the building’s pre-existing architectural features. Some rooms are completely explorable, while others remain visible yet restricted by the installation. Says Chang, “The whole piece holds itself in shape under the tensile forces of being stretched without any extra pneumatic input – except perhaps the breeze flowing in and out of the two doors!” (via designboom)
Alex Chinneck is a London-based artist and designer, recently responsible for an installation that cleverly combines both disciplines. In Margate, a tiny town in Kent, England, a dilapidated home in the Cliftoncille district which had laid in ruins for months has been transformed. By remodeling the brick exterior and exposing the building’s top floor, Chinneck has altered the facade of the building to look as though it has become a single sheet and slid from the rest of the house.
Playfully titled From the knees of my nose to the belly of my toe, Chinneck extends his experimentation for surreal constructions and alterations of ordinary buildings (past projects include 312 identically smashed windows near the Olympic Stadium, and a melting brick wall). In an interview with Dezeen, Chinneck stated “I just feel this incredible desire to create spectacles, I wanted to create something that used the simple pleasures of humour, illusion and theatre to create an artwork that can be understood and enjoyed by any onlooker.“
Chinneck goes on to state some intentions of the piece, though admits they mostly have come after the piece’s construction. “It has social issues, it struggles with high levels of crime and the grand architecture has fallen into a fairly fatigued state,” says Chinneck, “I increasingly like that idea of exposing the truth and the notion of superficiality,” he explained. “I didn’t go into the project with that idea, but as it evolved I started to like that.”
From the knees of my nose to the belly of my toe can be seen at 1 Godwin Road, Cliftonville, Margate UK, until October 2014, when it will again be turned into residential housing.
Chinese architect Ye Chang‘s Kong Shanshui/Empty Shanshui is a naturally transforming installation consisting of over 10,000 petri dishes. Part of the “Pavilion of China – Architecture China 2013” exhibition, which recently opened at the Palacio Quintanar in the Segovia, Spain, the piece has a unique, changing quality. The base of the installation consists of layers of white stones which fill the ancient palace’s courtyard, echoing peaceful, meditative gardens. On top of the stones are piles or gatherings of petri dishes, some ten thousand in total, stacked in various forms, resembling miniature hills, mountains and rock formations.
According to Sue Wang at Cafa Art Info, the installation transforms at different stages of the day, citing firsthand that, “…there is dew in the petri dishes in the morning; light is gentle in the morning and the glass is transparent; when there is direct sunlight at noon, the installation is entirely placed in the sun, strongly reflecting, which is in contrast to the dry surrounding environment, making people feel cool; the setting sun is blocked by the house in the evening, so the glass reflects the light from the sky, seen as backlit, it looks like the scales of a huge creature stranded on the beach, with rich tones; the whole glass hills is self-luminous at night, producing a transition effect changing from semi darkness to darkness.” This daily, natural transformation of the installation not only is a quickly-viewable message of transition, but it’s meditative qualities also call to attention how both art and architecture can effect a viewer’s ability to feel at peace in a home, garden or museum experience. (via myampgoesto11 and CAFA Art Info)