Monday, November 28, 2011

The Walkable Roller Coaster

Conceived and designed by installation artists Heike Mutter and Ulrich Genth, "Tiger & Turtle - Magic Mountain" is a site-specific interactive sculpture located in the German city of Duisberg.

From Mutter and Genth's website (translated from the German):
"The walkable, large outdoor sculpture Tiger & Turtle – Magic Mountain is currently in construction on the Heinrich Hildebrand Höhe in Duisburg Wanheim (D). It overtops the plateau with the artificially heaped-up mountain by 21m | 23yd so the visitor can rise by more than 45m | 49yd above the level of the landscape and enjoy an impressive view over the Rhine.

'The curved flight of stairs inscribes like a signature on the landscape and recruits the nimbus of the classical roller coaster. Having a closer look, the public is disappointed in a disarming way. The visitor climbs on foot via differently steep steps the roller-coaster-sculpture. So the sculpture subtly and ironically plays with the dialectic of promise and disappointment, mobility and standstill. Visitors happen to briefly meet with oncoming visitors on the steep and about 1m | 1yd wide corridors.'

Led-lights are integrated in the handrails and highlight the flight of stairs so the sculpture is accessible at night, too."

What I really want to know is: how do you climb the loop?

BEAUTY: Photography--Elaine Duigenan

Fine art photographer Elaine Duigenan became fascinated by surgical instruments. She says they "carry connotations of butchery as well as healing" and are "the means to open the body and put it back together." She therefore named this series "The Dreadful and the Divine." Although Duigenan is a fine art photographer, she often uses a flatbed scanner in her work, as evidenced by these ghostly images of a latex gloved hand emerging out of a mysterious black background holding one of these dreadful, divine tools.

Of course I cannot help but flash on the "gynecological instruments for operating on mutant women" from David Cronenberg's terrifying "Dead Ringers."

BEAUTY: Painting--Alessandro Pagani

I am drawn to the work of painters who use the obscured-face technique of portraiture, like Nicola Samori, Carole Bremaud, and Alejandro Diaz.

Here we see the marvelous work of Italian artist Alessandro Pagani. I love how parts of his frames are in clear detail while the faces are obscured. He also uses film stills as models, including vintage Vincent Price films!

Top to bottom: untitled; untitled (Milano Odia); untitled (Van Dyck); untitled (Badlands); On

BEAUTY: Photography--Cooper Gorfer

The photographic team of Sarah Cooper and Nina Gorfer have created a rich, gorgeous exhibition entitled "My Quiet of Gold" that came about after a journey to Kyrgyzstan. They use photography as well as drawing, collage, and Photoshop in their work. Visit their website for more information.

Currently listening to...

...what I think of as one of the best Soft Cell songs recorded (aside from "Memorabilia"), "Little Rough Rhinestone," from the underrated and overlooked "This Last Night In Sodom." The chorus always manages to get me... "I once had a friend but he moved away..."--wow.

"Little rough rhinestone
Where will your love go today?
Sometimes you think
You had none to start with anyway

You will lose the deep pools
And the blues will cloud up
Your frightened little eyes
And the cold comes to claim you inside

You sit writing letters to imaginary friends
That you left behind in your mind
The deep dark red doorways
Call to a limbo of loneliness
Where a million rhinestones sit and cry

I never knew sorrow
Could hit me this way
I once had a friend
But he moved away
And even my mother
When she turned on me
Couldn't put emotion like this in me

Fist into glass into head (someone else's head)
They beat you up so badly
That your eyes
Show the look of the nearly dead
The wagon will come and scoop up
What's left of the sorry debris
And you'll take the place
Of a hundred other little Johnny's
That went the very same way

I never knew sorrow
Could hit me this way
I once had a friend
But he moved away
And even my mother
When she turned on me
Couldn't put emotion
Like this in me

And screaming out loud
He ran crashing through the crowd
He ran crashing through the crowd
He ran crashing through the crowd
God if you're up there
I need you
Where are you?
I need you
Where are you?
I need you....
Where are you?
When I need you?"

Well, now I have done it. I've gone and mentioned "Memorabilia" and I can't get it out of my head now...

I Had That Dream Again

What We See

“Through the years, a man peoples a space with images of provinces, mountains, bays, ships, islands, fishes, rooms, tools, stars, horses and people. Shortly before his death, he discovers that the patient labyrinth of lines traces the image of himself.”
--Jorge Luis Borges

“We do not see things as they are, we see things as we are.”
--Morrie Camhi

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Tori Tori

Rojkind Arquitectos (exterior and structure) and Esrawe Studio (interior and furniture) collaborated to create a stunning site for Tori Tori, a new Japanese sushi restaurant in the Polanco area of Mexico City. The envelope is a double layer of pierced and curved steel. And the interiors are minimalist but organic--that low-ceiling-ed plank wood space opening up to the towering wall of vegetation is truly inspired.

Just watched...

Over this Thanksgiving break, in an effort to try to stay afloat on the ever-rising tide of the Netflix queue, I saw a double feature of documentaries.

First up: "Bill Cunningham New York."

I have seen Bill Cunningham’s entertaining column, "On The Street," in the New York Times for years now, but I had never really stopped to wonder about the person who creates it. Thankfully, filmmakers Richard Press and Philip Gefter followed the indefatigable, mercurial Cunningham as he pedaled around Manhattan snapping photos of street fashion, and came up with the charming documentary “Bill Cunningham New York.”

After a successful career as a milliner and a stint in the Army during World War II, Cunningham became a photographer somewhat by accident. He started his “On The Street” column by accident as well, after a chance run-in with, and then unobtrusively photographing the paranoid and reclusive Greta Garbo in 1978. And Cunningham has been chronicling what people wear—what people choose to clothe themselves in—on the streets of New York ever since.

We get to see the passion for fashion (sorry for the rhyme) that fuels his column. He is not dedicated to designers simply because they are famous, or to what the monied jet-setters (is that word even applicable anymore, in this age of such massive wealth inequality?) are seen in. He is not dedicated to fashion in the abstract. He is interested in the life of the clothing after it leaves the runway. How are people wearing these pieces in real life and what are they choosing to wear them with? He is interested in not what fashion magazines tell people to wear, but instead what people choose to wear despite the fashion industry, which includes vintage pieces and self-made clothing. Cunningham seems to respond the best to people who have a strong sense of individual style, like the New York style and fashion icon Iris Apfel, modern–day “Dandy” and fashion world figure Patrick McDonald, or club kid Kenny Kenny—he does not discriminate based on age, financial status, or social “standing.” He is genuinely fascinated with original style and often scorns things that come off the runways.

We get to probe a little deeper into the life of Cunningham, who lives alone in a small studio in the Carnegie Hall building. His tiny space is stuffed with file cabinets, with barely room for a small cot. We get to see Cunningham the ascetic… he is obsessed with saving money, with the concept of “waste” and with frugality, all qualities that most New Englanders tiresomely boast of and wear with pride. His New England roots are apparent in how he wears the same blue canvas street cleaner smock day after day, or how he repairs his rain poncho with black gaffe tape. But beyond that, he displays an almost fanatical aversion to food, particularly accepting food at events he covers. He adamantly maintains that by not taking even a glass of water from a charity event, a party, a caterer, a host, a designer, that by refusing this gift--or more accurately: symbol--he cannot be owned by them, cannot be bought. In this way, he feels free to live, speak, and do as he pleases. There might be something to this in a kind of "energtic" karmic sense, however extreme the execution.

We also get to see a gentle exchange between Bill and the filmmakers about Cunningham’s sexuality and love life. When asked about the topic, Bill laughs and rightly assumes that the real question is, “Are you gay?” He does not answer the question but says that he has never had a relationship in his life—all eighty-two years of it. This is immediately followed up with a question about his Catholic faith. A regular church-goer, Cunningham is visibly shaken by the proximity of these two topics. It takes him a while to compose himself and we are left with the indelible idea that the Catholic belief system has altered Bill’s personal life to a degree that even he cannot fathom.

With appearances by fashion luminaries like Vogue editor Anna Wintour (or Miranda Priestley) who confesses, “We all get dressed for Bill,” and designer Michael Kors, the film is fun, interesting, and satisfying.

Take a look at the New York Times video page here that features a slideshow version of Bill's recurring column, narrated by Bill himself.

Recommend? Yes. Especially if you have seen Bill’s column…

Next was "Waiting For Superman" by Davis Guggenheim.

“Waiting For Superman” is an indictment not only of the current educational system in the United States, but of the forces that are keeping it at a sub-standard level. The United States is consistently at the lower end of rankings when compared to school systems and student performance of other countries. The film does attack teacher’s unions as part of the problem, if not the major problem. Of course this view polarizes many who are part of the world of academia. Also touched upon is the funding inequality for inner-city schools vs. suburban schools—or put in a more understandable context, black vs. white schools. Without boring you with the details, I have seen this problem fist hand. I have lived it and I can tell you it is absolutely true.

Whatever the problem or solution may actually turn out to be, it is undeniable that US schools are suffering, students are suffering, and the future of the country is already suffering because of it. The film is actually quite gentle it its examination of the issues, and I like to think that it is the starting point of trying to understand the problem in order to fix it. But the issues of course are, disappointingly, tied to politics, “convention,” and a willingness to play with the education of children.

Recommend? Yes.

BEAUTY: Multimedia and Sculpture--Ashley Zangle

Ashley Zangle is a multi-media artist who uses an unusual medium to produce her work. No, it's not Oreos (see this post), it's not honeycomb (see this post), and it's not copper sulphate (see this post)--it is bubble bath!

She pours various bubble baths and bath products into subtly colored Rorschach blots. As they interact with each other, congeal, and dry, they take on a very organic sense. Look at the detail photos of some of these creations--crystals form once the liquid evaporates!

Carrying on the organic theme, Zangle creates small sculptures that look like organic forms, mineral samples, coral, or petrified ocean life. For these pieces, she uses wax, spray paint, salt, flour, acrylic paint, oil paint, baking soda, plasticine, and found objects.