Dream Rooms: 14 Unreal-Feeling Art Gallery Transformations


[ By Steph in Art & Installation & Sound. ]

surreal art flat side 1

You might have to pinch yourself to ensure that you’re still awake as you walk into surreal dreamscapes of billowing clouds, seemingly endless fields of stars and rooms that appear to bend and shift in physically impossible ways. These installations completely transform gallery spaces into strange new environments that feel disconnected from the waking world. See 15 more surreal art spaces.

Cloudscape Made of Soap Bubbles

surreal art cloudscape 1

surreal art cloudscape 2

Eight pumps around the room in a Japanese gallery continuously alter a surreal cloudscape entitled ‘Foam.’ The installation, by artist Kohei Nawa, is made up of a pliable combination of glycerin, detergent and water that holds its shape and isn’t affected by gravity. The mixture billows gently, making it seem as if visitors are really in the sky.

Spatial Confusion by Sarah Oppenheimer

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Doorways bend, walls lift up their corners to provide glimpses into adjacent rooms and skewed apertures make it seem as if people walking in nearby spaces are upside-down. Sarah Oppenheimer’s work seems to distort physical spaces, changing the gallery itself to create confusion.

The Flat Side of the Knife by Samara Goldstein

surreal art flat side 2

flat side 2

Do you ever dream about spaces that make no physical sense, with platforms seeming to hover in midair and staircases leading to apparently endless new rooms? With ‘Flat Side of the Knife,’ artist Samara Golden manages to capture that feeling in physical form with a combination of objects made of reflective foam insulation and live video projection. The installation spanned the entire floor-to-ceiling space of MoMA PS1’s first-floor duplex gallery, the various levels representing ‘layers of consciousness.’

Crawling from the Wreckage by Simon Birch

Student visitors pose from inside an installation titled "Crawling from the Wreckage" as part of Simon Birch's solo art exhibition in Hong Kong

surreal art crawling 2

You’ll feel like you stepped inside a 1980s video game with Simon Birch’s ‘Crawling from the Wreckage,’ a highly convincing three-dimensional replication of a computer-generated model. The effect is achieved using glow-in-the-dark paint on gridded furniture within a gridded ‘cell.’

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Pixel Performers: Digital Projection Mapping on Live Dancers


[ By WebUrbanist in Art & Installation & Sound. ]

pixel stage dangers performers

Combining choreographed movement and projected abstractions, these works of performed art are visually stunning, creating effects and illusions far beyond the sum of their parts.

pixelated performance art

From its creators, Pixel, shown above, “is a dance show for 11 dancers in a virtual and living visual environement. A work on illusion combining energy and poetry, fiction and technical achievement, hip hop and circus. A show at the crossroads of arts and at the crossroads of Adrien M / Claire B’s and Mourad Merzouki’s universes.”

klaus obermaeier performance art

The idea of projecting onto moving performers is, however, not new – indeed, Klaus Obermaier has been using low-tech projectors and equipment to create equally amazing work for decades. Indeed, while speaking at INST-INT recently in Minneapolis, he joked that he would carry on using his decade-old laptop until it broke down.

klaus horizontal vertical dangers

Indeed, the lower-tech approach he takes relies heavily on the ability of each dancer to have complete control of their own movements, making their skill a critical part of each and every exhausting performance.

projection interactive art

projection map art

projection building pixels

Obermaier has also engaged in other forms of public interactive projection art over the years, taking his productions off the stage and allowing passers by to interact with his work.

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Pixel Pour 2.0: Digital Water Street Art Stuck in Mid-Spill

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Your Neighbor Darth Vader: Doorbells for Fictional Characters


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

the ringer 1

Only particularly perceptive passersby would even notice that they’re standing outside the residences of Marty McFly, Luke Skywalker and the Teenage Ninja Turtles, as labeled on doorbells and mailboxes on the streets of Paris. These subtle guerrilla installations by street artist Le Sonneur will make you wonder what could happen if you actually rang the bell.

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‘The Ringer’ is presented in four sets. The first, Everyday Heroes, makes icons like Superman, Batman, Doc Brown, Darth Vader and Han Solo seem more accessible, as if they might actually appear at any moment if you press the button.

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But you might not want to come face-to-face with most of the names featured in the Neighbors Charming series, which include Patrick Bateman from American Psycho, Alex Delarge from A Clockwork Orange and Hannibal Lecter.

the ringer 5

the ringer 6

The Lovers series makes these fictional residents overly familiar with labels like ‘My love,’ ‘Prince Charming’ and ‘A pretty girl’ while the Boxes series takes the opposite tact with complete anonymity, telling you only that ‘A man’ or ‘A stranger’ live inside.

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Darth Vader Goes Fishing: Unwanted Paintings, Reimagined

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Cool as Ice: 10 Years of Artist-Made Shanties on Frozen Lakes


[ By WebUrbanist in Art & Installation & Sound. ]


Over the past decade, over 1,000 artists and 60,000 visitors have taken part in this incredible seasonal arts event, coming together to create an annual temporary arts community-on-ice in one of the nation’s coldest states.

art shanty village overview

art shanty collection image

Known as the “Land of 10,000 Lakes” but also as a center for the arts, Minnesota seems the perfect place for the Art Shanty Projects – a temporary autonomous zone where two disparate concepts to come together: the tradition of ice shacks built for fishing and the idea of public, interactive, community-built art on those same iced surfaces.

art shanty ice dice

art shanty aerial view

Comparisons have been made to Burning Man, but those sell short the unique local nature of this undertaking. One thing they do share, however, is a harsh (if opposite) environmental context that makes serious demands on buildings and shapes their form and function. The resulting structures are a mixture of wooden stick-framed shacks, metal geodesic domes, triangular tipis and other proven engineering approaches mixed with creative touches and unusual applications.

art shanty party time


In years past, first on Medicine Lake and later White Bear Lake, the spaces these shape have featured a little bit of everything, from interactive games and dance floors to indoor and outdoor theatrical and musical performances. Sometimes a wild art car or two can be spotted patrolling the streets of the the shanty village as well and strange sculptures have been known to crop up in between buildings as well. While some things are scheduled, visitors learn to expect the unexpected.

art shanty rainbow arc

art shanty robot play

This winter, the Art Shanty Projects is taking a break from the On-Ice Program to celebrate 10 years of success and complete a pivotal transition into an official non-profit 501(c)(3) organization. However, the organization is hosting a fundraising retrospective featuring some of the best shanties of years past as well as a custom-brewed beer specifically created for the event, taking place on February 28th at the Fulton Brewery in Minneapolis (more details can be found on ArtShantyProjects.org). Anyone wishing to donate to next year’s program can also do so online at Give.MN. This year, ASP is also a finalist for an Art Place America grant and is competing for a Black Rock Arts Foundation grant.

art shanty building process

art shanty night light

More about ASP: “Art Shanty Projects is an artist driven temporary community exploring the ways in which relatively unregulated public spaces can be used as new and challenging artistic environments to expand notions of what art can be. Our organization values artists, art in all communities, and the importance of interaction between the two. Through an array of artists receiving fair wages for their work, we broaden perceptions of art while maintaining respect for the environment and communities in which we work.” Note: the writer of this article serves as on the Board of Directors for the Art Shanty Projects, an unpaid position.

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Celestial Cityscapes: Photographing Dubai from Above the Fog


[ By WebUrbanist in Art & Photography & Video. ]

dubai skyscrapers above fog

Home to the tallest building in the world, Dubai is a city rich in skyscrapers that seem almost otherworldly when seen piercing through seasonal layers of urban fog.

dubai city aerial view

dubai sunrise cloud city

Photographer Daniel Cheong resides in this surreal desert city and has taken to capturing images of it from above, particularly during times when the weather is transitioning from warm to cool and producing the effects seen in these shots.

dubai cryogenic marina

dubai dawn cloud city

In some cases the viewer can see glimpses of the streets, buildings and marina below, but in others the entire built landscape appears perched on a layer of clouds.

dubai fluidity urban photo

dubai landing planet

While his photographs do represent reality, they also employ digital blending techniques that combine multiple exposures to make them seem almost more real than reality (but without the stretched effects sometimes seen in overly-processed HDR).

dubai fog blues

In doing so, he emphasizes “this slight element of the surreal, or hyper-reality often found in painting.” A world traveler, Cheong was “born in Mauritius, originally of Chinese descent, and French by nationality.” Of his picture-taking prowess, he writes: “I’ve always loved photography, but only became serious about it when I bought my first DSLR in Singapore, back in 2006.”

dubai cryogenic sunrise

“I then aimed to perfect the technique of Digital Blending, which consists of manually blending multiple bracketed exposures in order to obtain the maximum dynamic range, while trying to keep a very natural look and avoiding the common mistake of many ‘overcooked’ HDR images. This slight element of the surreal, or hyper reality often found in painting is what I am trying to achieve”

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That’s No Moon: Artists Launch Huge Human Head Balloon


[ By Steve in Art & Installation & Sound. ]

A bizarre art installation based on a dream saw a 50-ft tall balloon become a bizarre “Man In The Moon” as it rose above the streets of Utsunomiya, Japan.



Residents of Utsunomiya, a smallish city roughly 60 miles (100 km) north of Tokyo, Japan, experienced the shock of their lives on the evening of December 13th, 2014 when they espied the full moon rising over the horizon.




No doubt dozens of necks suddenly snapped in a group double-take as residents suddenly realized that’s no moon… it’s the enormous inflated head of one of their neighbors!



Give credit to Japanese art trio Me (in collaboration with the Utsunomiya Museum of Art) for the uniquely unusual “Ojisora” project, an artistic effort spanning over two years from conception to realization. Its origin rests with one of the three artists, Haruka Kojin (above, right), who as a junior high school student dreamed of an old man’s grossly enlarged and disembodied head floating over town and country .



Upon awakening from her dream, Kojin quickly sketched her recollection and then just as quickly forgot about it. Many years later, she came across her sketch and wondered… was there some way to recreate her dream in real life? After consulting with her two co-artists and with the support of the Utsunomiya Museum of Art, Kojin took the first step towards realizing – and sharing on a mass scale – her odd dream from so many years before.

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Head Light: Popup Wall Lamp Has Horns that Glow in Shadows

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Beware of Colour: Activists Highlight Decay with Pink Paint


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

pink abandoned building photo

Splashed with bright buckets of paint from roofs and windows, the colorfully defaced buildings of downtown Johannesburg have evoked different reactions from supports and detractors who variously see this work as an act of protest or crime of vandalism. Before we delve too deep into the sides represented, keep in mind that Beware of Colour employed water-soluble paint in these interventions.

pink painted historic building

beware of color logo

pink buildings people foreground

pinked architecture

Colombian-American Yazmany Arboleda and the other artists behind the work note that all of the buildings targeted have been abandoned for decades despite a housing crisis – a fifth of the region’s population needs a place to live, currently dwelling in shanties or on the streets. Historic preservationists, meanwhile, decry the defacement and suggest that other methods could be used to raise public awareness of civic problems.

pink window splashes

pinked out building protest

pink abandoned structure balconies

pink beware of color

The case is more complicated, though, than either single viewpoint might suggest and the case for preservation is nuanced. As CityLab’s Ryan Lenora Brown points out, “appealing to history in contemporary South Africa is hardly a straightforward matter. Buildings like Shakespeare House were originally built for the exclusive use of whites, back when Johannesburg’s inner city was the center of one of the modern world’s most infamous projects of racial segregation …. The slumped and broken building has become a symbol for a different Johannesburg, one blighted by decades of white flight and municipal neglect.”

pink city artist statement

pink hashtag logo

pink derelict structure splashed

pink architectural urban intervention

Arborleda was eventually caught with a crew of people and arrested for “malicious destruction of property” after being spotted entering one of the buildings on their list. This has, for now, put an end to this particular vintage of urban activism in South Africa.

pink architecture site plan

pink south africa press

Most of the structures the 30-some artists threw paint upon are either owned by the city or by Urban Ocean, a development group with a significant number of centrally-located and historical holdings. It remains to be seen whether this project will make a difference in the course of the city’s development, or become just another piece in the area’s persistently puzzling blight.

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10 Vintage London Paintings Superimposed on Street View Images


[ By WebUrbanist in Art & Drawing & Digital. ]

london church street montage

Blending fiction and reality, art and history, this series of superimpositions takes ‘then-and-now’ imagery all the back to the 18th Century on the streets and rivers of England’s capital city. Most of the added classics (spliced with Google Street View shots) are largely unedited, a few are strategically cropped but many show a naturally stark contrast in colors, tones, lighting, and of course: street life.

london historical street view

london history meets modernity

Collected and collaged by Halley Docherty, these hybrids show historical structures in their built environments like St. Martin in the Fields, shown at the top (painting by William Logsdail in 1888), a church situated on the opposite side of Trafalgar Square to Northumberland House, pictured directly below (painted by Canaletto in 1752 and since demolished).

london then now painting

london ships boats river

Various views of the River Thames show how the riverfronts, skylines, ships and boats and shifted in type and number over time, or highlight key points and storytelling scenes of local history set against the everyday backdrop captured by Street View vans.

london historical painting war

london street chapel view

Many major streets are shown at least partly as they were, albeit with some embellishments or artistic license here and there, as well as the vehicles and people that populated them (just surrounded by contemporary persons and contexts).

london historical contemporary collage

london gardens park neighborhood

london street view hybrid

Other paintings shown in this collection include: A View of Greenwich from the River by Canaletto (1750–52), Blackman Street London by John Atkinson Grimshaw (1885), View of The Grand Walk by Canaletto (1751), The 9th of November, 1888 by William Logsdail (1890), The Strand Looking East from Exeter Exchange by Anonymous (1822), Covent Garden Market by Balthazar Nebot (1737), The River Thames with St. Paul’s Cathedral on Lord Mayor’s Day by Canaletto (1746) and Westminster Abbey with a Procession of Knights of the Bath by Canaletto (1749).

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Flowerworks: Pictures Capture Plants Exploding Like Fireworks


[ By WebUrbanist in Art & Photography & Video. ]

flower red starburst white

A novel take on a New Year’s staple, crafty photography and flower power, these bright botanical arrangements (set against dark night-like) backgrounds seem to burst in midair.

flower plant art photos

flower tracer arc light

flower orange purple explode

This Flowerwork photo series from Berlin-based artist Sarah Illenberger stemmed from her combined interest in art, photography and graphic design as well as a fascination with other dimensions of everyday options.

flower purple green explosion

flower green white buds

flower like firework art

Working together with photographer Sabrina Rynas, buds and blossoms were set against a faux night sky, appearing to be much larger fireworks shot from off-screen at first glance. In some cases the stems trail like streamers or one plant seems nested in another like some kind of grand finale.

flower burst light dark

flower fire photography shoot

More about the artist: “Sarah Illenberger is a multi-disciplinary artist based in Berlin working at the intersection of art, graphic design, and photography. With a focus on analog craftwork using everyday items, Sarah is renowned for creating vivid, witty images that open up new perspectives on seemingly familiar subjects.”

flower exploding firework botanical

flower draping falling sequence

flower grand finale art

“Her ability to transform ordinary materials into complex and unexpected visual experiences has been utilized to develop concepts for clients from the fields of culture and business in several countries. In her aim to explore the fertile overlap between art and design, she’s collaborated with numerous photographers and artists, and filled exhibition spaces with self-initiated projects in Paris, Tokyo, and Berlin.”

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More Map Art: 27 Cool Cartographic Sculptures & Drawings


[ By Steph in Art & Drawing & Digital. ]

map art fairburn 2

Rivers become veins in detailed portraits, mirrored city blocks resemble modernized Persian rugs and urban topographies emerge from rolls of tape in these map-based works of art. Some create the images of cities, countries and continents from unexpected materials, like Manhattan rendered in a 2.5-ton block of marble, while others use complex aerial imagery and cartography as an unexpected medium for drawings and sculpture.

Google Maps as Persian Rugs by David Thomas Smith

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map art persian rugs 3

Images composited from Google Maps screencaps are reconstructed piece-by-piece into mirrored images inspired by Persian rugs in ‘Anthropocene,’ a series by David Thomas Smith. The Dublin-based artist chooses locations that are centers of global capitalism, including Dubai, the Beijing International Airport, and industrial sites like the Delta Coal Port in Vancouver, British Columbia. “This collision between the old and the new, fact and fiction, surveillance and invisibility, is part of a strategy to reflect on the global order of things,” says the artist.

Manhattan in 2.5 Tons of Marble

map art marble manhattan 1

map art marble manhattan 2

Japanese sculptor Yutaka Sone did, in fact, use Google Maps and aerial photographs to render an accurate replication of Manhattan in this whopping 2.5-ton block of white marble. But most of his inspiration actually came from a series of helicopter rides in which he got a feel for the city, ultimately carving it as if it were an elevated plateau. The details of the sculpture are so accurate, residents of the city can locate their own buildings by counting the blocks.

Topographical Tape Maps by Takahiro Iwasaki

map art tape 1

map art tape 2

Best-known for his intricate thread sculptures, Japanese artist Takahiro Iwasaki has also created topographical maps carefully sliced into fat rolls of gray and blue electrical tape. The landscape replicated on the gray roll is Victoria Peak, a mountain located on the western half of Hong Kong Island.

Map Portraits by Ed Fairburn

map art fairburn 1

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Ed Fairburn
uses paper maps as canvases for incredibly detailed portraits, rendering human features as topographical landscapes on top of street maps, star charts, railroad blueprints and other types of maps. The portraits seem to blend seamlessly with the landscape features, with rivers and roads running through them like veins.

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