Nishi Building’s Striking Entryway Installation Made Entirely Of Reclaimed Wood

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Combining Japanese architectural influence with a concern and skill for using reclaimed materials, Australian firm March Studio decided to make a statement to the entryway staircase to the Nishi building in Canberra, Australia. Already being called “Australia’s most radically sustainable mixed-use building and apartment complex,” the building’s design makes an effort to harmony with its natural surroundings, treelife, and wasting as little as possible in it’s construction.

Hotel Hotel Blog explains March Studio’s design goals well, quoting, “Let the location inform the materials, and then let the materials inform the design. In Nishi’s case, the creative catalyst was the splendour of the construction site itself: chaotic but precise. March also prescribes to the philosophy of “letting the material be the material” (ah so desu ka, sensei) by using them in their natural state.”

Made of 2,150 recycled (or upcycled, whichever word seems more appropriate), the repurposed wood from homes, basketball courts, and the remnants of the construction site of the building itself. Held in place with over 2000 steel rods, the installation creates a striking effect, yet balanced with an ordered peacefulness. Beautiful yes, but dusting seems like it will be a pain. (via colossal and hotel hotel blog)

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Alex Podesta’s Life-Sized Sculptures Of Men Dressed In Bunny Suits

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Artist Alex Podesta creates life-sized sculptures that feature grown men in bunny costumes. The realistic-looking figures wear head-to-toe fluffy suits with two giant ears on top of their head. Podesta poses his characters and puts them into different settings that are both in and outside of a gallery. We see several identical statues looking over the roof of a building, as well sitting inside and playing with marionettes and trying to tame a snake. Their actions and attire don’t read as one of grown men, but of  young boys. And, that’s partially the point of Podesta’s work. From his artist statement:

…I have culled the rich fantasies, daydreams, misconceptions and experiences of childhood and re-contextualized them through the filters of adulthood, experience and education. This effort has been made in an attempt to plumb the depths of the creative and comprehensive naiveté of youth; to illustrate, in engaging and serio-comic ways, the role of fantasy, “othering” and conflict in nascent self-awareness; and, through the time honored tradition of solipsistic navel gazing, to pick gently at the loose thread of wistful escapism inherent in a quiet, downhill slide into maturity.

These men exist in a liminal space that’s in between boyhood and manhood, and Podesta goes on to explain that his subjects “…will be forever locked in the Sisyphean toil of misapplication, miscomprehension and misunderstanding.” (Via ARTNAU)

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Shen Shaomin’s Beautiful And Terrifying Bone Sculptures

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Bones automatically insinuate death, and often are the only physical remnant that insinuates life once existed. Shen Shaomin‘s bone works are equal parts terrifying and fascinating, man-made memorials to human intervention on the planet. Creatures that never have been or should be are pieced together from human and animal skeletons. The bones are carved and relief-carved with text taken from several sources, including the Bible, the Koran, and various sources. Inscribed in English, Arabic, and Chinese, the texts serve as warnings to the two largest industrial nations in the world of the damage being caused to the planet.

Related to the Chinese practice of bonsai, or long-term manipulation of a living tree to one’s will based on aesthetic and stylistic choices, Shaomin has also used bonsai in past works as a metaphor for human intervention upon nature.

In an interview with the University of Sydney’s ARTSPACE CHINA, Shaomin explains the terror he hopes to evoke in his skeletal works, “China’s current situation is very much like my bonsais. At first glance you will find it beautiful, but once you look more carefully you’ll see there are terrifying things behind that beauty. China has over a billion people, but over 800 million of those people are peasants. A peasant’s standard of life in China is still pretty basic. They say that if every one of those 800 Chinese peasants showered every day it would take more than all the water on the planet. That’s a scary thought.” (via myampgoesto11)

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Byoungho Kim’s ‘Progression of Silence’ Engages Sight and Sound

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Byoungho Kim‘s The Progression of Silence engages sight and sound, using an aesthetically and aurally pleasing repetition of bells. A site-specific installation, Kim constructed the massive work from brass, piezo, signal wire and a sound controller, to hang in the spiral stair case of the Johnnie Walker House, an arts exhibition space opened in 2013 buy the famous whisky distiller. The piece hangs from the roof of the building down to the floor, engaging the entirety of the architecture, and with sound, the people inside the building. Says Kim, “One of the “materials” I like to use is sound. The essence of sound is the vibrations of frequency, and these vibrations are often seen as geometric patterns to the eye. Through the process of changing these geometric patterns, namely modulation, they become sounds for the artworks.”

Kim fully explains his process, “My work is an approach toward the rationality that was spontaneously generated with the progression of civilization such as systems, standards and modules. The unitized and systemized material/immaterial elements become the material of my work. The output created from my materials poses questions on the essence of life as well as being a study on human nature.” (via myampgoesto11)

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Exhibition Explores Parallels Between Design And Cloud Data

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A recent exhibition in Minneapolis investigates the inherent desire to organize and structure our world, and the ensuing clutter and confusion when we become increasingly influenced by the sprawling technologies we’ve invented to helps us. Eddie PerroteLeanna Perry and Bill Rebholz conceived Scategories as a display to highlight ordered chaos.  “We’ve enabled our minds to perceive more information, decrease our mental clutter and externalize our memories,” reads the press release, which explains why the exhibition feels a bit overrun, offering too much to process, even when the looking is enjoyable.

Each of the artists has one foot firmly planted in the design world, which is perhaps the ideal middle ground to view the changing landscapes of art and design, and how technology is rapidly altering them. The group explains, “Through organizing the brain we present windows into the cerebral wold of structure, chaos, habitual patterns, and seemingly infinite layers of content. It’s these informalities that create vivacious energy, and eccentricities that feed the visual cacophony of information ever gathering within our minds.”

The exhibition itself is presented with this visual cacophony in mind. Colorful, typography-inspired murals covering several walls, while the remaining white-walls are densely covered with 2 and 3-dimensional works. Recurring motifs, such as simplistic cloud shapes, puzzle pieces, mirrors and stairs connect their works; an unplanned phenomenon, which was not surprising considering their shared influences and interests, claims the group. Perrote, Perry and Rebholz even shared a specific color palette for the show, using the same magenta, teal, and yellow paints, both for visual cohesion and “to highlight the gap between colors that exist in reality and the RGB colorspace of computer screens” says Perrote.

At the heart of the exhibition is a paradox, highlighted by the significant gesture that each painting, drawing and screenprint was made by hand. Even in a time when we can create, share and store an unlimited amount of data, the information must still be processed slowly, through our hands, eyes and minds in order to be appreciated, an appreciation which is key to good design.

Scategories is currently on view at The Abstracted Gallery in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The closing reception will be Friday, April 11th, 2014, from 7 to 10 pm.

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Jorge Rodríguez-Gerada’s Portraits Are So Massive They Can Be Seen From Google Earth

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Jorge Rodríguez-Gerada is known for his culture-jamming renegade advertising disruptions, and even more so for his large-scale charcoal portraits of local residents on the buildings in their neighborhoods (previously featured here). But his newer works have gotten bigger, so large many of them can be seen from Google Earth.

“Working at very large scales becomes a personal challenge but it also allows me to bring attention to important social issues, the size of the piece is intrinsic to the value of its message,” says the Cuban American artist. “Creativity is always applied in order to define an intervention made only with local materials, with no environmental impact, that works in harmony with the location.”

Works like WISH (above) took several years to complete, and involve a time-consuming process which begins by using a plotted grid system and only recently available Topcon GPS technology to map the area. 30,000 wooden stakes were applied as markers to an open area in Belfast, Northern Ireland’s Titanic Quarter shipyards, resulting in a portrait drawn by volunteers using nearly 8 million pounds of sand, rock and soil. The massive scale of the project is balanced by the delicacy of its subject, an anonymous local girl Rodríguez-Gerada met while planning the project (via blog4uuntitled).

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Elaine Cameron-Weir’s Glowing, Symbolic ‘Venus Anadyomene’

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Elaine Cameron-Weir latest work, titled Venus Anadyomene, 2014,consists of five similar pieces, each made a giant clam shell edged with neon tubing, and high-fire ceramic vessel each filled with olive oil, wick, flame, sand, mica, frankincense, benzoin, myrrh, brass. Each piece, suspended from the gallery by a brass rod, while the incense slowly burns.

Varying ideas of birth and bringing to life are present in the works, from the title (meaning ‘Venus Rising from the Sea’, a story of the Greek Goddess Aphrodite’s birth (and a famous work by Titian). The title of the work references both art history and god creation, as do the shells, which bring to minBotticelli’s masterpiece of the Roman Goddess Venus (and one of the most recognizable and imitated paintings ever created). Meanwhile, the scent element in the gallery space of burning frankincense and myrrh recall the Christian nativity story and the birth of Jesus Christ, echoing the gifts brought by the Three Wisemen. Present throughout Cameron-Weir’s work are ideas of how symbolism is omnipresent to ideas of myth-making.

Elaine Cameron-Weir’s Venus Anadyomene, 2014 is currnetly on view now through April 6th at Ramiken Crucible in New York City.

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Cyril Le Van’s Sculptures Created With Stitched Together Photographs

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Combining photography, sheets of plastic, and sewing, French artist Cyril Le Van reproduces life-size three-dimensional objects. They include small things, like a Polaroid camera, and large things, like a car. Le Van photographs his subjects from all angles then pieces them together using a blanket stitch. The result is something that’s a deflated, vaguely real version of something that already exists.

A portion of Le Van’s work focuses on consumerism. He reproduces expensive Nike shoes, Rolex watches, leather jackets, and more. These things are a status symbol for those who own and wear them, and his uncanny duplicates take power away from its branding.

Another facet of the artist’s sculptures are based on economic and cultural exclusion. Le Van photographed shanty towns and installed them in a gallery setting. His intention is that it challenges the viewer’s awareness of issues like poverty, and forces them to ask questions like, “what are these, and who uses them?” This, along with a car buried in luggage and a motorcycle weighed down by belongings, shows the transient nature of not having a permanent place to live.

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