Austrian artist Valentin Ruhry often plays with ideas of Minimalism and analog technologies, using light installations as a systematic approach which reveals a metaphor of interconnectedness, even when we do not see them present. In his 2013 exhibition Réclamer at Halle für Kunst & Medien in Graz, (then travelling to Österreich), Ruhry references advertising and promotional communication, using light boxes which generally house these messages. The exhibition’s title, Réclamer, comes from Latin and French, meaning to claim, to appeal, to call back. Ruhry, who was born in Graz, Austria and now lives and works in Vienna, used the empty light to represent a loss of function, “both through their components and in and of themselves.”
This type of installation investigates many of the themes present in Ruhry’s other works. When speaking with Jon Rathenberg’s Artist Interview Tumblr, Ruhry explains his fascination and his process, “I´m not a scientist nor have I ever been educated in mechanical engineering or whatever but I have always had a strong interest in technology. For me, a jet plane or a refrigerator is as fascinating and sometimes as miraculous as the power socket on your wall. Since I don’t understand much about the technical aspects of most of the equipment that surrounds me I study there aesthetic qualities. I try to highlight them by placing aesthetics or form before function.” (via likeafieldmouse and artistinterview)
Amy Boone-McCreesh’s sculptures and 2-D mixed-media works are both self-referential and highlight a larger aesthetic idea, which is the visual aspect of celebrations. For years, she’s explored the way in which different cultures commemorate events in their lives, particularly how they express it with decoration and objects. Now, with a new body of work, Boone-McCreesh goes beyond this initial inspiration and uses things she’s previously created as raw material for new pieces. They debuted at a recent two-person exhibition with artist Sarah Knobel entitled Anything Sacred at Hamiltonian Gallery in Washington, DC.
Anything Sacred is a birth of new from the old. Through digital manipulation, collage, printing, and reworking, I allow visual elements from an extant body of work to become new imagery printed on vinyl, paper, and custom fabric. The complex layering, stripping, and blending of the digital with the handmade gives birth to a new visual language.
In sampling my own imagery and re-contextualizing it in an immersive visual experience that is both cyclical and unifying, I am challenging traditional notions about value and pushing for a more complex, dynamic personal aesthetic. Simultaneously, my work in Anything Sacred continues to examine the use and meaning of decoration through formal arrangement and design.
You can view Anything Sacred now at Hamiltonian Gallery in Washington, DC until June 21 of this year. More shots of the candy-colored walls and lively work after the jump.
California-based artist Gregory Kloehn often repurposes the still completely-usable trash and street detritus that he finds in the streets. His ongoing project Homeless Homes takes this idea one step further, offering real aid by creating housing for the homeless in Oakland. Dubbed as “eclectic building materials for small but efficient mobile homes.” Kloehn and his volunteers recycle and reuse salvage to offer small, mobile house (they are on wheels), Mostly the size of a sofa or small room, these Homeless Homes offer a safe place and protection, and raise awareness to the needs of the homeless community. “Stuff people just throw away on the street can give someone a viable home,” Kloehn said in an interview with NBC News. “Does it have merit as a solution to homelessness? As far as giving people a shelter, yeah, definitely. Is it a solution to homelessness? It’s an answer. An attempt.”
Kloehn further describes his aims on the project’s website, “Our goal is to bring together imaginative people and discarded materials to make sturdy, innovative, mobile shelters for the homeless people. By sourcing our materials from illegal street dumping, commercial waste and excess household items, we strive to diminish money’s influence over the building process.”
Perhaps the fascination for artists utilizing chrome and mirror in their works is the increasing divide between seeing ourselves more and more via social media, yet understanding ourselves less. This is particularly evident in the work of New York-based Korean multidisciplinary artist Kimsooja, which often deals with the self-perception and the self and the other. In her installation To Breathe – A Mirror Woman at the Palacio de Cristal, Parque del Retiro, in Madrid, Kimsooja transformed a classic greenhouse by removing everything and replacing it with a mirrored floor. Next, the Tague, South Korean-born artist used a translucent, light-diffracting film to coat the windows, which cause an array of naturally occurring rainbows, which were in turn continuously reflected by a mirrored surface that covered the entire floor. Like many of her projects, an audio pairing accompanied the visuals. Visitors would experience a recording of Kimsooja breathing, enhancing the contemplative yet personal and relatable mystery of the installation.
Taken from Kimsooja’s description of the project, “Outside light filters through the glass of the pavilion and reflects off the diffraction film. It diffuses into rainbow spectrums, transforming the external panorama seen from within the palace. The resulting effect is that the entire structure as well as the rays of colour reflecting off the mirrored floor. Natural light, colour, and sound are all ethereal elements within the empty space. The artist’s breathing from the performance, The Weaving Factory, bounces off the mirrors and fills the entire building to intermix with it, breaking down barriers of inside and outside, self and other, and reality and fantasy.”
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)
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)
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)
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)