Architectural Magic: Big Stone Building Breaks Free & Floats


[ By WebUrbanist in Art & Installation & Sound. ]

architecture floating building magic trick

A work of art, genius and incredible effort, half of this replica structure appears to hang in mid-air, seeming at once a perfect aesthetic fit for its surroundings and completely disconnected from the laws of physics.

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British artist Alex Chinneck and his crew spent over 500 hours and had to construct a 4-ton counterweight to balance this faux building in the sky – what appears to be solid stone is in fact a steel-framed copy of an historic structure also found at Covent Garden (the original is nearly 200 years old).

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Chinneck is well known for his architecture-centric optical illusions, with this particular piece created as a play on the area’s “performance culture” – its proximity to theaters and performance spaces.

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The construction process required a painstaking attention to historical details and materials in addition to grafting the appearance of age, wear and tear onto the fake structure. Another significant challenge: the seemingly haphazard breaking and slicing of everything from stones to windows and their frames.

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From the artist: “The hovering building introduces contemporary art to traditional architecture, performing a magic trick of spectacular scale to present the everyday world in an extraordinary way. My objective was to create an accessible artwork that makes a harmonious but breath-taking contribution to its historic surroundings, leaving a lasting and positive impression upon the cultural landscape of Covent Garden and in the minds of its many visitors.”

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Vacant Buddha: Intricate Paper Sculptures Seem to Disappear


[ By Steph in Art & Sculpture & Craft. ]

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Deceptively solid-looking when seen from either side, the delicacy of these paper sculptures is revealed if you simply shift your position to view them straight on. Korean artist Ho Yoon Shin coats strips of paper with urethane and attaches them to each other with paper joints to create Buddhas, replicas of famous sculptures and other human figures.

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The translucency of the sculptures is a commentary on what Shin sees as the vacancy of modern society, relating social and political conditions in Korea to Buddhism’s philosophy of emptiness.

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“I am interested in social phenomena and approached the essence of it,” says Shin. “I realized that the closer I approached it, I realized there is no essence. I think it is already intrinsic in me or in you, being judged and evaluated by the inherent values in our things. Therefore, if examined in that viewpoint, I begin to understand why the power group of Korea has wanted to split all kinds of social systems – the right and the left, social classes divided on its economic structure, dominance and subordination, etc.”

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“In the end, it’s a story about the situation and a point where we fill a surface that doesn’t exist… and console and satisfy ourselves.”

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In addition to his human figures, Shin’s paper work includes large-scale installations of highly detailed, curtain-like sheets of paper, including ‘Imegrated Flowers,’ which filled an entire hallway at the Kobe Biennale.

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So Metal: Intricate Sculptures Made of Nothing but Nails


[ By Steph in Art & Sculpture & Craft. ]

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Most people use nails just to hang art on the wall, but Maine-based sculptor John Bisbee collects thousands of them to craft incredibly intricate sculptures into spiked balls, undulating waves, tree-like structures and towering geometric stacks.

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Bisbee got the idea after entering an abandoned house looking for found objects to use in his art, and finding a bucket full of old nails. “I kicked the bucket and it flipped over,” he told NPR, “and the nails had cohered, oxidized – they’d rusted into the bucket shape. And it was just such an obvious thing of beauty – it was so clearly above anything I had ever envisioned making myself. And I sat down on the bed, and I knew that I needed to get some nails.”

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Since then, Bisbee has created dozens of sculptures using nothing but nails in a free-flowing process that the artist improvises, getting them “into my hands and out into space.”

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It was only recently, after spending years welding and bending the nails into shapes, that Bisbee realized there’s something really obvious he can do with them as well: hit them with a hammer. From this revelation has come lots of wall-based art made with a pneumatic power hammer.

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Starry Night: Glow-in-the-Dark Bike Path Inspired by Van Gogh


[ By WebUrbanist in Technology & Vehicles & Mods. ]

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Opening last night in Nuenen, Holland, this illuminated cycling surface is free to the public, storing sunlight during the day to create stellar patterns to guide riders after dark. Its swirling shapes are recognizably inspired by one of Vincent van Gogh’s most famous paintings.

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Developed by Dutch artist and innovator Daan Roosegaarde in conjunction with infrastructure specialists from Heijmans, this pathway is a conceptual extension of a series of glow-in-the-dark highway projects and other urban improvement proposals.

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Part practical lighting scheme and part installation art project, the path is located along a stretch of a bicycling route passing through Noord Brabant, the region from which van Gogh originated, which in turn connects various notable sites from his personal life and work. Its creator explains: “I wanted to create a place that people will experience in a special way, the technical combined with experience – that’s what techno-poetry means to me.”

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The semi-abstract pixelated swirls are a high-tech reference to Starry Night, painted in 1889 and depicting an idealized view from the east-facing window of the painter’s asylum room at Saint-Rémy-de-Provence (now part of the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York City).

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Studio Roosegaarde is known for “tactile high-tech environments in which viewer and space become one. This connection, established between ideology and technology, results in what Roosegaarde calls ‘techno-poetry’. His often interactive work connects people with art and people with people.”

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Well Rounded: 7 Animal Murals on Abandoned Buildings in Africa


[ By WebUrbanist in Art & Street Art & Graffiti. ]

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Using the unique regional shapes of structures to his advantage, street artist ROA has created a series of large-scale works as part of a neighborhood art project in Djerba, Tunisia, drawing 150 artists from 30 countries.

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While a number of impressive and well-known painters and muralists contributed to Djerbahood, ROA’s work is particularly site-specific, drawing on the architectural details (like domes) present in the regional landscape, mainly in deserted buildings.

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The artist’s signature creatures, as usual, vary with the locality as well – in this case his work features a combination of desert and sea animals, reflecting the water-surrounded space as well as the dry land of the area.

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The largest island in North Africa, Djerba has become a true open-air museum, contrasting authenticity and tradition with a space for expression by artists of various cultures. This project was made in part to appeal to tourists, aiming to draw in additional visitors from Europe and around the world. Additional work by ROA includes urban street animals in Mexico and Panama City as well as London.

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Scalpel Cities: Urban Landscapes Made of Surgical Tools


[ By Steph in Art & Drawing & Digital. ]

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Bird’s-eye views of cities around the world, from Paris to Hong Kong, are visualized in the form of surgical tools like scalpels and skin graft blades against glossy black surfaces by famed British artist Damien Hirst. The ‘Black Scalpel Cityscapes’ series continues the artist’s method of using sharp metal objects to create complex compositions in stark monochrome.

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The depiction of these cities (many of which are sites of recent conflict) from an aerial viewpoint references the ‘all-seeing eye’ of constant surveillance in the modern era. Look closely and among the blades and surgical tools you’ll also see small items that relate to each individual city, like cheap silver keychains of the Eiffel Tower in Paris, and even silvery condom wrappers.

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In a video interview with White Cube, Hirst explains that he began working with scalpel blades “because they’ve got kind of a nice and nasty feel to them.” Flying over Milton Keynes, a town in England, he noted how modern and unnatural the landscape looked, sparking the idea for the series. In addition to cities like Baghdad, which have a symbolic connection to the medium used, Hirst depicted cities that are personally meaningful to him.

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“I’ve done one of the Vatican where I’ve used lots of religious symbols. So I think you try to make them into a portrait, but always from a distance they’re going to look totally like a photograph.”

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Intangible Data in Physical Form: 12 Scientific Sculptures


[ By Steph in Art & Sculpture & Craft. ]

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Mathematical theorems, the physics of an object moving through space, and intangible scientific data are visualized three-dimensionally and made into works of art in these 12 sculptures and installations.

Kinetic Sculptures Based on Mechanical Waves

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“Inspired in equal parts by math and nature,” Reuben Margolin’s kinetic sculptures use pulleys and motors to recreate the complex movements seen in nature. These mechanical installations capture the crawl of a caterpillar, the movement of waves and other physical phenomena in a way that’s entirely unexpected and beautiful to take in.

‘Cosmos’ Sphere Made of Scientific Data

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If you were to happen upon this sphere while walking in the forest, you couldn’t be blamed for wondering whether you’d discovered an alien spaceship of some sort. But the reality of ‘Cosmos’ is just as interesting: it’s scientific data in three-dimensional form, a record of a year’s worth of carbon dioxide patterns and measurements from the trees of Alice Holt forest in Surrey, England. The grooves on the exterior of the sculpture contain the data, which was collected from a nearby tower.

Interactive Sound Tapestries

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A series of capacitive sensors were applied to suspended fabric using conductive paint for ‘Contours,’ an interactive tapestry installation by creative laboratory Bare Conductive and designers Fabio Antinori and Alicja Pytlewska. As people pass nearby, the sensors gather data about their movements and translate it into ambient sounds, making reference to the relationship between science and the body.

Cell-Inspired Sculpture Made of 1200 Mirrors

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An egg-like sculpture made of 1,200 mirrors hovered in a tree in the city center of Nantes, France, visually representing the creators’ research into cells. French studio Collectif Timée based the sculpture on the Voronoi Diagram in which a mathematical formula creates cells from halfway lines around random space points. As the cells converge, a kaleidoscopic effect is produced.

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