Australia based artist Patricia Piccinini creates disturbing yet enticing human-animal-plant hybrids. Her work probes your brain in a very uncomfortable way, forcing you to come to terms with the potentiality of a sci-fi engineer’s fantasy come alive. Her work spans various media, however her silicone, fiberglass, and human hair sculptures seem to take the cake of most striking. These alien plants and what may resemble sea creatures made from human flesh are not exactly easy to digest — yet, they are unquestionably inventive and just as hard to look away from as they are to look at. She begins her process by drawing through her thoughts. Once her idea becomes developed thoroughly, she plays with material. Her ideas manifest themselves through media spanning anywhere from photography to drawing to sculpture. She is able to develop a project anyway in which she believes will best connect the viewer and the concept. Her sculptures range in process — she uses both traditional approaches such as hand sculpting using plasticine models as well as digital techniques such as CNC and 3D-printing. Through provoking thoughts of genetic mutation and the potential of biotechnology, each piece questions the boundary of possibility and perhaps aims to be the foresight to the alarming possibilities of the future.
Stefan Glerum is a Dutch artist known for his playful and eye-popping illustrations. He spent four years studying illustration at Academy St. Joost and also worked as an assistant to Joost Swarte, a celebrated comic book artist. His work is characterized by clownish figures engaged in various dynamic acts. Described as “a melting pot of illustration heritage,” Glerum’s style draws on the Art Deco, Russian Constructivist, Italian Futurist, and Bauhaus movements, infusing this creative mash-up with popular themes (Source).
Recently, on the wall of a housing complex in Amsterdam, Glerum designed a massive and unique work of site-based art: two stained glass windows installed on a housing complex that depict a cartoonish collage of the location’s history. Located on the front and back of the building, each window is 60 feet high. Heren 5 Architects built the complex, and Atelier Schmit fabricated the stained glass. The AFK supported the completion of this project.
The longer you look at this stunning work, the more you’ll unravel about the surrounding location. First and foremost, the windows are aligned like a chimneystack, referring to a Oostergasfabriek (a nineteenth-century gas factory) that once stood out in that area of Amsterdam. Following the abandonment of the factory at the beginning of the twentieth century, the area hosted other industrial and public spaces. The front window shows a swimming pool, an animal shelter, and the Don Bosco School; the back depicts a public bathing room for factory workers, the laboratory of Professor Ernst Laqueur, and musicians of the Red Fanfare who formerly rehearsed there. You can read a more thorough description of each window on Glerum’s website, and there is a video about the construction here.
What makes the windows so spectacular is the artist’s seamless combination of historical periods and human environments. From military maneuvers to the coal industry to animal care, his loony figures crash together in a time-transcending and spirited symphony. Glerum’s art is not unknown to B/D; he is included in our Book 7: Class Clowns, and even designed the cover art. If you enjoy Glerum’s work—and, furthermore, are curious about artists who use similar styles of humor to engage and challenge us—you can purchase a copy of Book 7 on our shop page. Limited copies are still available.
In 1888, Vincent van Gogh severed his left ear with a razor blade—an act that would solidify his reputation in art history as a tortured genius. Last year, in a grim-but-fascinating project titled Sugababe, Dutch artist Diemut Strebe recreated the lost “artifact” as a living replica. She created it using 3D printing and genetic material derived from Lieuwe van Gogh, the great-great-grandson of Vincent’s brother Theo. The ear has been sustained in a nutrient solution, and remarkably, it can hear you; using a microphone, visitors can speak to it, and the sound is processed by a computer that simulates real-time nerve impulses.
The purpose of the project is part science, part literature, part theory. It is an investigation into human replication—can the artist’s essence be reborn, or replaced? Drawing on the Theseus paradox from Plutarch, the ear invokes questions about bioengineering and authenticity. The project’s description on Strebe’s website goes into more detail:
“In the late 1st century Plutarch asked in The Life of Theseus whether a ship, which was restored by replacing all its parts, remained the same ship. In the course of time, many variations of the principle have been described. One of these variations refers to the title of the project. The famous paradox is carried out with biological material making a particular form of human replication, from historical or synthesized material, a central focus of this project. The ear is one of a series of a limited edition, made of different scientific components referring in various ways to the same principle of replacement.” (Source)
Visitors wishing to view this curiosity and “speak” to the deceased artist will be able to see it at the Ronald Feldman Fine Arts’ show Free Radicals, which runs November 7th-December 5th, 2015. (Via The Creators Project)
Chilean artist Don Lucho creates installations from found cardboard that simulate extraordinary scenes from everyday life. During a street fair in Santiago, Chile, Don Lucho crafted a fruit and vegetable stand, titled “El Puesto de Don Lucho,” stocked fully with items made of paper. He stayed there the entirety of the fair, acting just like another ordinary fruit stand.
“I sold a lot of cardboard fruits. The…reactions were different, some were angry because the fruit was fake, others thought it was a hidden camera show, other people laughed. A lot of people asked many questions like what is this fruit for or if there was real fruit inside the cardboard fruit? The real fruit sellers got very angry and started shouting: Stop buying cardboard fruit! It’s not real fruit!” (source)
Another one of his installations, “Casa de Carton,” depicts an entire apartment, kitchen, toilet and all, completely made of cardboard. With a skateboard leaning against the wall, clothes thrown about, and an unmade bed, the apartment, despite its paper construct, perfectly mimics a truly lived in environment. He has also created various installations that reproduce accidents. On the streets of Santiago, Chile, Lucho, along with collaborator Quillo, created a cardboard car crash, as well as a small air craft that looks as if it has fallen from the sky.
Don Lucho’s work aims to question materiality both is an artistic sense as well as a monetary one. Through imitating the real, using materials found on the street, Don Lucho provokes the viewer to assess what value truly is — what does it mean for an object to be worth something? His work falls in line with the postmodern notion of simulating the real, which in turn, become “signs” of the real. If his work can provoke emotions and thoughts just as the genuine objects could, then, what is the true difference? Does Lucho’s work prove that the simulated can be just as powerful as the authentic? Or, does it prove that the authentic no longer has such a individualized meaning, as the simulated actually deflates meaning of the real? (think Andy Warhol’s Death and Disaster Series). Lucho states, “the confusion people feel when they first encounter the scene makes them doubt what is real and what impact it should have one them.” (source)
A group of students from the Hasso-Plattner Institude in Germany have designed a mechanism called the Protopiper that allows you to make three dimensional sketches in space. Created from a modified tape gun, the Protopiper works by dispensing and rolling packing tape into strong, hollow tubes. Then, after the desired size has been formulated, the machine seals the tube and cuts it off while simultaneously creating a wing formation which allows each piece to be easily connected. Every tube can be programmed for a specific length and therefore can create models of specifically sized objects. The Protopiper allows you literally create and organize a room with furniture you haven’t bought yet, or brainstorm the layout design and attributes of an installation, or physically sketch the building blocks to the formation of a piece of a sculpture. Through a simplistic handling and inexpensive material, The Protopiper truly allows you to draw three dimensional throw away sketches. This little invention is great for anyone interested in design— it takes the process from being one of painstaking two dimensional drawings that are then to be projected into a physical space through imagination into one where the physical reality of a project can be played with and manipulated (it also just looks super fun). (Via Junkculture)
Berlin based digital art and design studio, Onformative, has recently installed their newest project, ANIMA iki, an “immersive experience of light and sound.” The installation is made up of a large glowing sphere that spans two meters in diameter and is suspended from the ceiling in a dark room. The orb is lit up by a visual aimed to mimic a “viscous metallic fluid” that’s hue and tonality shift and become distorted, creating a futuristic, mysterious aura. The “glow” within the sphere is created from a powerful wide angle projector that uses a fish eye lens and can create 360 degrees images. By manipulating the audible frequencies, the installation is able to “respond” to the space though picking up and reverberating the sound back. ANIMA iki is able to create visual and sounds in real time by responding to a Kinect tracking system that has the ability assess movement within its atmosphere. As the orb has a complex interaction with light and sound, the installation is able to seem alive. The orb seems to be able to have a personal interaction with the viewer, creating a strange, interesting experience.
Founded in 2010 by Julia Laub and Cedric Kiefer, Onformative offers a space they describe as “guided by an emotional approach, we constantly search for new forms of creative expression. Through an experimental practice we create meaningful works to challenge the boundaries between art, design and technology.”
The work was originally commissioned for the Amsterdam Dance Event and has since been exhibited at various galleries in the Netherlands and Germany.
Paul Fryer is an artist based in London, England. We featured his works in 2011, but his stunning sculptural installations—which explore agony and human folly in passionate tandem—warrant a second examination. His works unsettle the cultural imagination by coupling mortality with religious imagery, depicting human figures on the verge of destruction and death.
One notable work is a sculpture of winged Lucifer, thrashing amidst a net of telegraph cords that suspend him above the altar steps of the Holy Trinity Church, Marylebone. This piece was part of a solo exhibition called Let There Be More Light, shown in October of 2008. The dramatic lighting casts Lucifer in dramatic shadows, and his tarnished, corpse-like skin gleams with antiquity and the torture of life-within-death. This work signifies the fallible human, and the chaos and terror of one’s own making. The venue—with its stained glass windows and domed ceiling—provides the perfect space for this dramatic, allegorical scene to unfold.
Also shown here is Fryer’s “Blue Pieta” (2010), the martyr in the electric chair, and Lilith (2010), a fallen angel bound to a platform by golden wires. In more recent years, Fryer has created jellyfish-like sculptures out of Murano crystal. You can view more of his strange and dark world on his website. (Via Empty Kingdom)
Sixteen graffiti artists painted over 4500 square meters of a Swiss prison throughout an eighteen month period. Their work spanned exercise yards, corridors, stairwells, and the extensive outside wall, which alone would use around 1000 spray paint cans. The project began as a sort of celebration of graffiti as a unique art style as well as a desire to bring the artists’ work into a new environment with a challenge of large walls. Besides pushing personal boundaries of creating work on such a grand scale, the artists wanted to change the atmosphere of the prison. Their project would turn a cold, banal, uncomfortable setting into a warmer space for both prisoners and staff. The duration of creating the paintings was equally matched by the amount of planning and concept creating needed to span such a large space and find harmony between sixteen different artistic styles. The physicality and planning, however, were not the only difficult tasks: the artists were met with an emotional challenge as well. Despite knowing they we not confined, they were still consistently aware of their setting and were given a mere glimpse of what it is like on the inside. For example, they needed to call guards to be let out of the space and were daily witnesses to the day to day tension that exist within a prison.
Artists include Malik, Claude “Note” Lüthi, Robert Proch, Onur, Mizzo, Ti, Lain, Ata “Toast” Bosaci, Huran “Shark” Dogan, Daniel Zeltner, Sarah Parsons, Nevercrew (Pablo Togni and Cristian Rebecchi), Benjamin Solt, David Monllar, and Chromeo
For more information, check out the projects website here.