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.
Joe Black is an artist who uses Pop Art against itself. Collecting iconic imagery (often choosing those which have already been famously exploited by other artists), Black creates large-scale hued portraits using copious amounts of consumer items. One of many artists using collected masses of materials into larger mosiac-style works, Black claims that he is open to using any material as long as it is small and plentiful (past pieces have used Lego pieces, toy soldiers, pins, ball bearings, badges) and relates to the source image. These images, which are best seen from a distance of fifty feet, offer a contextual surprise for viewers upon closer inspection.
Though trained as an artist and painter, Black claims to be uncomfortable labeling himself a professional artist, preferring to consider his work more based on image-making and craftsmanship. One such aspect is the time-consuming application of several thousand smaller pieces which make up his whole images, which Black hand-alters by using aerosol to add tones that give gentle gradients which become the lines and shading of the portrait. (via u1u11)
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.
Tatiana Blass built a human body that leans over the spine of a chair. She built this body out of wax and gave it a spotlight to shine; however, its glow not only illuminated, but also curdled the figure’s shape with heat. Arms broke off and bone emerged. Soon the body itself was only spine.
Spine against spine.
On another day, at another location or time, Blass built another body, a lying down one. The heat was not on the back, but instead rising from below. The body melted and there was no bone. Only a puddle of wax, something similar to where the body began.
The dissolution is the performance, the performer is the object: it moves to mirror our horror, to show its aliveness: our aliveness.
This concept of sculpture as a temporary structure feels relative to Urs Fischer’s own monolithic candlelit figures which also weaken over time. Both generate a sense of narrative that we relate to instantly– feelings of loss or devastation amidst chaos. Ashes to ashes. Dust to dust. Wax to wax. What slips through our fingers: a certain temperature from day to day. We cannot gauge. An inevitable ritual.
The music must come to an end, and it does, especially for Blass’s other installation (video above), as Thiago Curry pounds five easy pieces on the keys, while two men pour melted paraffin into the grand piano.
In 2013, conceptual artist Lenka Clayton created the “One Brown Shoe” project, in which she instructed participants to make a single brown shoe using materials found in their homes. The participants were 100 married couples that spanned 12 countries. They were asked to not discuss the project with their partners, and to construct their shoes in secret. Once each person completed their brown shoe, they could then share it with their spouse.
The type of shoes and materials used runs the gamut. Brown shoes were made from packing tape, knitting, animal crackers, corks, teddy bears, and much more. Materials were both conventional and innovative. One artist, for instance, made a stiletto heel from a nail. Another made use of a nest and quail egg. Some people used actual shoes, which seems like cheating (it isn’t). Despite living in the same household, no couple used the exact same supplies. Size of shoe was also noticeable; Some of them were meant for giants, while other babies.
In writing about the project, Clayton muses, “…each pair of shoes might be seen as a portrait – of two individuals, of one couple, and of the difference between the two.” It shows the artistic differences between the pair, as well as their individual ingenuity and knowledge of materials.
The fact that the shoe-making was in secret was the key to making this project successful. If they hadn’t, I don’t think these shoes would be as interesting. They might look forced, like they were trying (or not trying) to replicate their partner. One Brown Shoe allowed the participants to create freely without criticism. The eventual reveal of the two shoes, which are often very different from one another, is both amusing and telling. When left to their own devices, it’s fascinating to see how two people who share a life together would create something that is so alike or so different. (Via Junk Culture)
Austrian artist, Aldo Tolino, creates sculptural objects out of printed photographs. The printed-photograph-turned-sculpture is then photographed, and the end ‘result’ is what you see here.
The folding techniques vary and so do the photographs; this is what makes the work interesting, as there are infinite number of permutations that will work for this purpose. The redundancy of the project is much like a philosophical argument, one that loops around and is at some point, unanswerable.
The fact that the folded photograph is photographed is also an interesting factor, as it creates and thought-provoking dialogue between both the precision and the inaccuracy that the medium of photography inherits through time.
Besides being an artist, Tolino is also a philosopher and he is currently working on a book project called Interferenz, which precisely deals with the themes explored here: paper, folding, image, object, sculpture, texture and recursion. (via IGNANT)
The Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze touts itself as being the Tri-State’s (New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut) biggest and most exciting Halloween event. Their hubris is deserved; The glowing pumpkins and the elaborate installation of carvings are incredible.
The event features more than 5,000 hand-carved, illuminated jack o’ lanterns, and is set against the backdrop of the historic,18th-century riverside landscape of the Hudson River Valley. All displays are made out of pumpkins, and arranged into the likes of giant sea monsters, dinosaurs, snakes, and shrunken “Little Monsters.” It even features a Tunnel O’ Pumpkin Love. (If you’re wondering how that works, it involves gourd-filled Jack-in-the-Boxes springing up and bouncing around.)
Pumpkin carving has a rich history in the UK. The Instagram blog describes it, writing:
Although only associated with Halloween as we know it today since the late 1800s, the tradition of gourd carving dates back to the 18th and 19th centuries in rural Ireland and England. People created jack o’lanterns for the old holidays of Samhain and All Souls’ Night when spirits were thought to be the most active. Grotesque faces carved into the objects were meant to frighten away any ghouls seeking to do harm.