Mike Leavitt is already known for his playfully subversive figures that feature and poke fun at other artists, celebrities, and world leaders. In his newest series, Empire Peaks, Leavitt combines famous leaders and innovators with characters from Star Wars. Comprised of 18 figures sculpted out of wood, and each corresponds to one character from the movie franchise. Albert Einstein’s infamous expression is sculpted into R2-D2, while Steve Jobs is his counterpart C-3PO. Michael Jackson plays the part of the adorable Ewoks. US President Barack Obama is Lando Calrissian.
Inspiration for Empire Peaks came from Leavitt’s experience growing up as a Gen-X’r raised by Baby Boomers. With both his parents working, he had to entertain himself, relying on the cheap thrills of television and plastic toys. Describing the series, he writes:
For better or worse, each ‘Empire Peaks’ non-fictional character is complicit in the world order today. We’re all shackled to our past because of endlessly echoing paradigms. David Sirota argues in ‘Back to Our Future’ for a cyclical 30-year regurgitation of politics and culture. I think it’s an inescapable human nature causing regimes to repeat themselves. ‘Empire Peaks’ are meant to reduce modern dynasties to a sci-fi soap opera of objects.
It’s all about gluttony. Serving desires lubricates civilization. Capitalism fills desire and demand. Development expands. Culture thrives. From religious redemption to material objects, mass coveting is the driving force. (Via ARTNAU)
Chinese artist Lu Xinjian has been inspired by maps and cities for years, often collected in his increasingly large-scale acrylic on canvas series City DNA. But his newest work City Light expands on these inspirations, taking the flat abstractions and mounting them onto the wall with neon.
Using Google Earth images of the artist’s current home, the sprawling metropolis of Shanghai, Xinjian renders the map loosely in his abstract style. The resulting plans are rendered in neon on a solid black background, and run on a flash program which controls the timing of each area’s lines being illuminated. Starting with a small, centrally-located blue square, the rest of the surrounding area follows, until the entire piece is lit. Representing the rapid growth of the modern metropolis, the network of neon light tubes takes the language of city communication and visually abstracts the idea of rapid expansion. (via alwaysinstudio and designboom)
The first quality one may see in the brightly-colored, bent steel pieces by Rana Begum is the potential to shift based on perspective. From one angle, viewers will be confronted by a flat, monochromatic shape jutting from the wall, while another view offers more intricate geometric patterns spreading across several pieces. This is the legacy of Sol Lewitt, Donald Judd or Agnes Martin – to take the simplest shapes and through color, form and collection, imbue them with complexity and depth. As Begum explains, “Its so beautiful the way the simple form and shape can be repeated to create a space like that”
Though Begum lists these more modern artists as influences, theBangladeshi-born, London-based artist also explains that the Aniconism (belief in avoiding/outlawing representations of divine beings, prophets or any human beings in religious imagery) traditions of Islam were equally influential. This tradition was responsible for the exquisite geometric and intensely detailed works seen in classical Islamic architecture, a connection which is apparent in Begum’s deceptively simple works. “For me, architecture evokes memories of reading the Quran as a child in a mosque in Bangladesh,” said Begum in an interview with Surface Magazine’s Marina Cashdan, “which was bare, simple, and had a lot of light coming in through the windows.” This shifting imagery can be seen in her works, where repetition and simplistic elements collectively offer complexity.
Begum’s most recent works often uses paint on Origami-like, bent mild steel and powder-coated aluminum, but she has also begun using brass and copper as a base for her wall sculptures. “[They are] materials I spent a long time researching and I’m excited to use them for this show,” she says. “They bring an extra dimension to the works” (via wallpaper* and surface)
“Processes that give rise to forms are at the heart of our artistic work.” says German studio Deskriptiv (the combined work of Dominik Kolb and Christoph Bader), who describe their work as being rooted jointly in the (occasionally conflicting) realms of design, art and computer science. “We work on the interface of computer science and design and combine both disciplines. In this area of conflict to find new processes to deal with it, to analyze it and graphically prepare, that’s what fascinates us and drives. The formation processes, we define purely digitally with the help of our main working tool, the computer.”
Naturally 3D printing fits neatly into the Venn Diagram shared by these disciplines (see previous examples, such as the world’s first 3D printed room, Nick Ervick’s incredibly complex 3D sculptures, and more at Beautiful/Decay) and serves as the perfect medium in which to explore their intersection. In works like their “Hüllen” series (“Wrap,” in English), the duo utilizes clear and opaque plastics, combining them with more mirrored silver surfaces. The intricate complexities (and the imagined difficulties to achieve such subtleties without blending the materials) can also be seen in the their “Verbowen” (translation, “Interwoven”) series, combines a variety of materials and surfaces, weaving them in tight complexity. Meanwhile, their “Klebend” (translation, “Adhesive”) series focuses less on blended materials and more on form, choosing a singular palate to exhibit the true range of surfaces the technology is capable of. (via hi-fructose)
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)
Oh Seung Yul’s noodles may look delicious and edible, but in reality they are complex, hyper-realistic resin sculptures. The Korean noodles dangle 12-feet tall with an actual chopstick fixed to the top. Everything is articulated, from the individual noodles to the carrots and clams. Yul has considered even the gesture of slurping this food. He has colored the noodle mass in such a way that you feel a rush of broth dripping from the chopsticks.
You can marvel at the sculptures for their craft as well as attach a narrative to them. Who is tall enough to hold that chopstick? What kind of person owns that decorative floral platter? The work exaggerated size lends itself well to a whimsical interpretation. It’s still without feeling stiff and impeccably realistic. Yul’s work tricks the viewer, but ultimately reward them with something that’s extremely considered and tediously constructed. (Via My Modern Met)
Mark Jenkins’ sculptures occupy the uncanny valley. His work, in which he recreates the human body, places “people” into odd and often disturbing situations. Some of them are as fantastic as they are strange. One of the most interesting parts of Jenkins’ work is the way they are installed. His people are on the streets. They are life sized and dressed in conventional clothing, so they look as though they belong in the landscape. In reality, they don’t. His sculptures are standing in trash cans, on the edge of buildings, face first into a public fountain, and more.
Seeing Jenkins’ work amongst people is partially what makes it so successful. Seeing the reactions of others to these sculptures is both amusing and at times discerning. People walk by them as if they are nothing, as if they are completely normal. Sure, they stare at them, but they are never captured intervening on their behalf. Some, of course, aren’t believable. Others, like a woman stuck in a trashcan or laying on the top of the billboard would elicit some reaction. But, instead, she remains in the can.
The subversive nature of Jenkins’ installations is satisfying, especially if you are in on the joke and know it’s all fake. You could watch people for hours as they pass by, try and interact with the sculptures, and ultimately fail. The artist is taking the art outside the gallery and entering a world that combines art lovers and non-art lovers alike. (Via Hi Fructose)
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)