Artist Sam Songailo uses bright colors, straight lines, and bold, graphic shapes in his outdoor and indoor installations. Geometric repeating patterns span span floors, ceilings, and walls. Lighting plays a role in his work as it enhances color and gives the work a sense of space and a depth of field. Once the viewer is immersed in the space, all of the elements of Songailo’s work transports them to another place.
Outdoor installations, like the ones on a city street, work with the existing landscape. Songailo’s patterns fill and conform to every inch of the given space like a mutating organism. The high-contrast colors and intricate trellis-like shapes create a disorienting effect. Not so much when viewing it as a whole from above, but walking through it leaves little indication of direction.
Before he started large-scale installations, Songailo was a graphic designer. This is evident in the execution of his work, especially in one of his few indoor installations, Zen Garden (directly above). The piece mimics the lines of sand, with a few “rocks” that are spread throughout the gallery floor. Songailo is able to have full control over the space, and uses principles of design to make it not only attractive, but to effectively transport the viewer to a minimalist, geometric zen garden.
When artist Amanda Burnham first moved to Baltimore, Maryland, she didn’t know anyone. So, she spent a lot of time in her 7th floor apartment that had interesting views of the city. The time spent observing and recording her surroundings later informed her temporary, site-specific installations that are a patchwork representation of Baltimore. Burnham draws and paints street signs, fire hydrants, architecture, and store fronts, piecing them together in a manner that’s fractured yet cohesive. Taking elements of a neighborhood (or neighborhoods), she fashions her own view of the city, creating work large enough for a viewer to walk around and between. In an interview with Dwanye Butcher of Visual Baltimore, Burnham explains why she chooses to work this way (and why she reuses paper and boxes):
The idea of things being layered and pieced together is important to me. I see this city, and really all cities, as these giant ad-hoc organisms – collectively authored, chop-a-bloc, joints exposed – an ongoing melange of edits, adjustments, negotiations. I hope to suggest that with the deliberately collage-y, visually dense, maximalist aesthetic of my drawings. I also love paper and what it does when treated as an object – the shadows it casts, the way tears and cuts are line. Most of the paper I use is really cheap stuff – low grade drawing paper that comes in rolls, kraft paper, packing materials. Boxes. That’s important because I’m not rich, but also because I see it as conceptually significant – resourcefulness is an ethic I sometimes see evidenced in the forms of the city, and it’s one I really respond to.
Burnham not only takes the outdoors indoors, but creates a whole new environment in a matter of a few days to a week. Lighting, astro turf, and electrical tape craft an ambience that’s unique to the city.
Every winter, nearly two million people from all around the world venture to Sapporo, on the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido, to celebrate all things winter for one week at the Sapporo Snow Festival. The festival, which has its roots from when the city hosted the Winter Olympics in 1972, has been taking place since the early 1980′s. From enormous buildings, temples and slides to more intricately detailed and finely-sculpted statues, the city’s streets are full of all types of snow and ice works to celebrate the natural beauty of the winter season.
Now the festival draws sculptors and competitors from all around the world for its famous annual competitions, taking place in several different sites around the city. The event has set several World Records, including the audience-participatory construction of the most snowmen ever made in one place (over 10,000 – a record which still stands). The next installment, now the 65th Sapporo Snow Festival, will be held this February 5th through 11th in 2014. (via weirdtwist)
Although most of America (currently enduring one of the worst winter cold snaps in nearly two decades) would like to ignore this fact in for favor of bundled layers and heated blankets, sometimes even the dire cold, snow and ice can provide the tools and inspiration for those who brave it’s elements. Famed land and installation artist Andy Goldsworthy (previously here and here) has often utilized ice, frost, snow and frozen earth to create his trademark land interventions. And rather than avoiding the elements, Goldsworthy is only able to create these delicate and precise sculptures by embracing the cold.
In Goldsworthy’s 2004 documentary, Rivers & Tides, several scenes document the difficulty in attempting to harness the cold’s elements. One scene shows the artist, braving the winter elements for hours at a time in finger-less gloves (so as to be able to properly feel and hold the materials) fusing together icicle chunks together with warm water, holding them in place while they freeze together into naturally-made though unnatural shapes. The smallest temperature changes, light, and even chance cause the ice sculpture to collapse, repeatedly, which is all part of Goldsworthy’s process. Says the artist, “Movement, change, light, growth and decay are the lifeblood of nature, the energies that I try to tap through my work. I need the shock of touch, the resistance of place, materials and weather, the earth as my source. Nature is in a state of change and that change is the key to understanding. I want my art to be sensitive and alert to changes in material, season and weather. Each work grows, stays, decays. Process and decay are implicit. Transience in my work reflects what I find in nature.”
Goldsworthy’s process is only captured through the use of photographs, and the often detailed notes (below) which the artist uses to document the difficulties and triumphs of each individual piece.
Alicia Martín (formerly featured here - as well as in our Best of 2012) has kept busy this year, expanding on her signature style of cascading book installations that we first saw in Biografías. Each installation begins as a wire and aluminum structure, to which hundreds and thousands of books are attached, creating the illusion of waterfalls of pages and spines wrapping around objects, wrapping around themselves, and pouring from windows and underneath walls.
In works such as Singularidad, the Madrid, Spain-based artist focuses her waves of books into a more circular shape, resembling a vortex rather than a waterfall. Playing with the idea of a black-hole, or naked singularity, the collective swathe of books consumes itself, rather than bursting forward. In Contemporaneos, Martín plays with the idea of the books being the background, the support, or what’s behind the object, pouring out of (or cracking through) a wall – engaging in a dialogue with more indoor, site-specific contemporary installation. However, Martín continues to re-imagine her waterfalls, with newer pieces expanding on previous work’s pouring from buildings, as well as running down streets, through windows and around trees, with pages blowing in the wind at each amazing installation. (via mymodernmet)
Using an assortment of discarded paper goods and household items, artist Lisa Hoke creates large-scale collage installations on walls. From afar, you might not realize what materials that she’s used, but upon closer inspection you’ll notice there are cardboard boxes, trading cards, cups, plates, cups, stickers, and more. The use of these items is Hoke’s way of commenting on the amount of refuse we produced and how we overlook the beauty of these objects. She’s right. If you think about all of the work that goes into designing and producing packaging, then it is a shame to discard it. Her color-coordinating, lusciously textured work gives these objects a second life and a chance for viewers to appreciate it beyond it’s primary function. Hoke even allows them to participate by donating items to be used in her work.
In an article in Arts Sarasota, Hoke says, “Castaway treasures become my tools for expression of beauty.” Her work unfolds organically, as she recognizes that you can’t completely plan for any installation.When she’s finished, the work is often a surprise to not only the viewers, but herself.
There is a both a visual delight and over stimulation that comes from looking at Hoke’s installations. This representation of our over-abundant consumer culture has a dizzying amount of bright colors, logos and patterns. They vibrate against each other, competing for our attention. Here, it seems the old adage “art imitates life” rings true. (Via Junk Culture)
Simon Beck’s geometric landscape artwork doesn’t require much more than a good snowfall, careful planning, and a lot of patience. To produce his works, the artist treks through miles of snow, patterning his walk carefully to create large scale designs. The results of his efforts can best be viewed aerially, as they cross acres of land. Conveniently, he’s installed some of his work under ski lifts and across valleys, where they can dazzle passersby.
Beck’s work is reminiscent of a Tibetan Sand Mandala, which too requires hours of work (his snow patterns take 8 to 10 hours to complete), has ritualistic movements, and whose existence is fleeting. Both will eventually be destroyed, as it is inherent and built into the ritual. But, while the breakdown of a mandala is ritualistic, Beck’s snow murals are at the whim of mother nature. (Via Huffington Post)
Treasure Hunt “Treasure Hunt is based on the artist’s childhood memories. Lee devoted three months to crafting the lush multitude of wire leaves – it evokes a child-like wonderland.”
South Korean artist Jee Young Lee spends weeks and even months converting her work space into an elaborate tableaux which the artist then photographs (and never alters with computer after effects). In a Seoul studio measuring smaller than 12′ x 13.5′ x 8′, the artist creates intricate scenes, employing various materials, and camera tricks to create narrartive photos which reference fables, cultural metaphors, and stories personal to the artist herself.
According to curator Hyewon Yi “Lee’s constructed realities belong to the “directorial mode,” employed since the 1980′s by Postmodernist photographers in repudiation of the Modernist practice that sought truth in the everyday world. Lee’s “constructed image photography” may be compared to the works of German sculptor and photographer Thomas Demand…U.S. installation artist and photographer Sandy Skoglund’s orchestrated room-size installations. But in contrast to these earlier artists, Lee’s subjects are deeply personal and intensely psychological. Drawing upon prodigious powers of imagination, she labors for months to create effects that seem to expand and contract physical space. And always, a lone figure inhabits and completes her narratives. Jee Young Lee assumes the roles of set designer, sculptor, performer, installation artist, and photographer – and she executes them all magically.”
OPIOM Gallery in Opio, France will be presenting Lee’s first European exhibition, a selection of her ongoing body of work called Stage of Mind. The exhibition opens February 7 and runs through March 7, 2014.(via mymodernmet)