Posts Tagged ‘installation’

For the longest time, it looked like nothing at all, this art installation of 10,000 sunflowers where route 195 once polluted the soil.

Adam E. Anderson, the brains behind the community-building project, writes on his website, “Ten Thousand Suns is a summer-long botanical performance in which over 10,000 sunflower seeds have been planted and being nurtured over the course of the summer months, on land that until recently sat under a highway, with high compaction, low-organic material, and embedded with toxicity.  …

“Rather than using high maintenance and energy intensive large swaths of turf grass, the installation uses the bio-accumulating (removes toxins) and habitat creating properties of Helioanthus (aka, Sunflower) planted in rows in a series of large circles, leaving paths in-between for intimate exploration.

“The project will create a spontaneous and unique cultural identity for the citizens of Providence and its visitors during the summer months.”

With little rain all summer, the project looked like a hopeless cause for many weeks. Until it didn’t.

In celebration of the cheery results, I want to share a few lines of a poem about a goldfinch loving a sunflower. Because who wouldn’t love a sunflower?

From poet Ross Gay‘s “Wedding Poem”

Friends I am here modestly to report
seeing in an orchard
in my town
a goldfinch kissing
a sunflower
again and again
dangling upside down
by its tiny claws
steadying itself by snapping open
like an old-timey fan
its wings
again and again
until swooning, it tumbled off
and swooped back to the very same perch …

Read more about the project at Adam Anderson’s site, here, and on Facebook, here. Click on my photos to check the dates.

































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“Will you, won’t you, will you, won’t you, will you join the dance?” go the lyrics of the “Lobster Quadrille” (the “Mock Turtle’s Song“) in Alice in Wonderland.

And Wonderland is where you may imagine you have landed if you stumble upon this irresistible invitation to dance with your shadow.

At FastCoDesign, Mark Wilson explains how the dancers are drawn in.

“At some point between ages 3 and 13, we go from the life of the wedding dance floor to being the awkward kid standing at the edge of the gym wondering why we wore a silk shirt. …

“But what if our environment could encourage us to dance — without any balloons, bridal parties, or booze? A project called Mesa Musical Shadows, by Montréal’s Daily Tous Les Jours studio, is doing just that. It’s a public installation that turns a chunk of pavement in Arizona’s Mesa Arts Center into a giant game of Dance Dance Revolution that you play by moving your shadow.

“As detailed by Creative Applications, the system itself uses light sensors, coupled with speakers built into the mosaic tiles. If the tiles sense a shadow—or even just you stepping directly on the sensor—it plays a note. And so as many people swing and kick together, these notes combine into a harmonious soundscape generated in real time. …

“Now that the physical installation of sensors and speakers is done, the studio can see how people use it, and actually program the system’s entire logic to react in more complicated ways to a user’s behavior, like ramping up with more and richer sounds as a person becomes more and more engaged.” More.

Video: Creative Applications

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With a little creative thinking, a woman in Detroit was able to put a rundown house to good use, improve the neighborhood, promote her flower business, and help florists who focus on locally grown flowers.

Stacy Cowley writes at the NY Times, “Eleven months ago, a derelict house here that is now filled with 36,000 flowers contained far grimmer things. …

“Twelve thousand pounds of trash had to be hauled out before Lisa Waud, a florist who bought the duplex at auction for $250, could see what kind of canvas she had purchased.

“The house remains a structural wreck, but its atmosphere has been transformed. [In October] some 2,000 visitors [toured] Flower House, an art installation Ms. Waud and more than three dozen floral collaborators from around the country created on the site. Their goal is to cast a new light on the Detroit metropolitan area’s infamous blight, and on their own trade. …

“All of the plants and flowers filling [the rooms] are American-grown, a rarity in an industry that imports a majority of its wares from Colombia and elsewhere. …

“The inspiration for Flower House struck in 2012, when she saw images from that season’s Christian Dior couture show, held in a Parisian mansion filled with flowers in a rainbow of colors.

“ ‘It was stunning, and I knew immediately that I wanted to do that — but living in Detroit, I pictured it in an abandoned house,’ she said. ‘I’m trying to rebrand abandoned houses as a resource.’ …

“Ms. Waud estimated that she would need to raise $150,000 to cover the installation’s floral costs, but when she contacted her usual wholesalers, the California Cut Flower Commission, Mayesh and Nordlie, all three offered to donate their flowers.” Read about the inspiring results here.

Photo: Laura McDermott for The New York Times 
Lisa Waud, a Michigan florist, works on her room on the back side of the Flower House on the first day of the installation in Hamtramck. 

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I wrote about New American Public Art back when I first posted a photo of the group’s giant geometric snowballs in Dewey Square.

I looked them up. Their tumblr blog says, “We are a collaborative of artists, engineers, programmers and designers with the mission of developing beautiful, interactive public art. Our method of development is always contextual. The existing physical and social aspects of a space are integral to the installation. The art form we create is more than the physicality of the work, it is the social curiosity and interaction of the audience with the piece.”

Alas, curious snowplows interacted with the interactive snow sculptures, and the snowballs are no more. But the artists seem to be fine with their work being ephemeral. Their approach supports the notion that it is good to notice things that can’t be captured permanently. It’s good just to enjoy. And interact.

I say that, but I’ve been regretting for two weeks that I couldn’t bring myself to capture in a photo several strangers facing me on the subway since one woman was looking my way. It would’ve been a great shot. In the midst of a sea of black-coated commuters, there were three astonishing reds: a woman with a bright red shawl, another with a red-red coat, and a young man with brilliant new red boots.

I’ve been looking for reds ever since and pondering how to take a photo without being noticed.

Check out American Public Art installations here.



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Because I have tried and failed repeatedly to upload my video of this art installation, I offer instead a still shot from the Boston Cyber Arts website. The video would have shown you the generative art installation as the tadpole becomes a frog. Having been around a newborn and a two-year-old this week, I’ve been thinking a lot about how new beings grow into beings that are both different and the same.

Elder Brother is currently more interested in the washer-dryer than anything else on earth. I heard about a man who drives big rigs with ease and was obsessed with gear shifts as a toddler. Will Elder Brother grow into a washer-dryer inventor, repairman, or salesman? Will he just be the guy who is always happy to help out with the wash? Or will this tadpole grown into a man who has no interest in washer-dryers but, for reasons unknown to him, loves the smell of detergent? Time will tell.

Getting back to the art installation, there’s a good description on the Cyber Arts website: “Chunky Frog Time is a new generative art installation by Brian Knep, created for the Boston Harbor Islands Welcome Center located on Boston’s Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway. The … animation is of a frog swimming against the tide of time, cycling from tadpole to juvenile and back with each kick. Moving across an ever changing made-made landscape, the frog’s struggles represent the ebb and flow on the islands, as well as the relationship between nature and our idea of nature.

“Brian Knep is a media artist whose works range from large-scale interactive installations to microscopic sculptures for nematodes. He was the first artist-in-residence at Harvard Medical School, working side-by-side with scientists, using their tools and techniques to explore alternative meanings and ways of connecting to the world.”

More here.

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In my part of New England, Daylight Savings is drawing to a close with cold, wet, dark presentiments of the season to come. Seems like a good time to think about the fun we had in October.

Artist Don Eyles floated a pyramid in Fort Point Channel until a storm blew up. Suzanne, my husband, and our middle grandchild visited the sheep and other animals at the Audubon Society’s Drumlin Farm.

At work, we had a pumpkin-decorating contest. My team did Miss Piggy, porcine Muppet diva, to use the Wall Street Journal identifier. (Left to right, Elvis, the Monopoly Man, Miss Piggy, Edgar Allan Poe, Chia Pet, and Gonzo.) A Halloween band marched surrounded by babies, kids, and adults in costume all around blocked-off Providence thoroughfares near the Brown Street Park.

More quietly, chrysanthemums soaked up sunshine.

Here is a bit of background on the pyramid, in case you are interested.

“In 1998 Fort Point artist Don Eyles floated his first pyramid in Fort Point Channel, marking the water as a venue for art and opening the doors to years of temporary art installations to come. The installation was a bold move, made independently, and completely self-funded.”

“ ‘Consider the history that has passed along the cobbled streets of Boston — all the men and women, famous or unremembered, who have walked and rode here … always with granite cobblestones beneath their feet and wheels. I have long dreamed of making this history tangible, by constructing a great pyramid from the cobblestones uprooted by the City’s recent development.’ ”

More on the Pyramid and other Fort Point projects at tumblr, here.




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Yesterday my husband, my cousin Dennie, and I went to the Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA) to see a video installation of Icelandic musicians performing together but in separate rooms of a crumbling mansion on the Hudson River.

Museumgoers entered a large dark gallery at any point in the performance and fixed their eyes on whichever of the nine big screens caught their attention. We happened first upon the guitarist Ragnar Kjartansson in the bathtub singing at the loudest point in the cycle. We turned to each other with our mouths and eyes wide in a huge grin, it was so incredibly crazy and far out.

Here’s what the ICA says about the installation: “A celebration of creativity, community, and friendship, The Visitors (2012) documents a 64-minute durational performance Kjartansson staged with some of his closest friends at the romantically dilapidated Rokeby Farm in upstate New York. Each of the nine channels shows a musician or group of musicians, including some of Iceland’s most renowned as well as members of the family that owns Rokeby Farm, performing in a separate space in the storied house and grounds; each wears headphones to hear the others. …

“The piece itself sets lyrics from a poem [“My Feminine Ways”] by artist Ásdís Sif Gunnarsdóttir, Ragnar´s ex-wife, to a musical arrangement by the artist and Icelandic musician Davíð Þór Jónsson; the title comes from a 1981 album from Swedish pop band ABBA, meant to be its last.” More.

From “My Feminine Ways,” by Ásdís Sif Gunnarsdóttir,
“A pink rose
“In the glittery frost
“A diamond heart
“And the orange red fire
“Once again I fall into
“My feminine ways.”

I wrote about the crumbling Hudson River estate before, here.

My husband said Rokeby would have been a great setting for the Antiques Roadshow. Dennie, who is related to the owners of Rokeby, says her friends will never believe that she, a person who always disparages far-out art, was drawn in and ended up really liking “The Visitors.” We watched it twice. I’m still singing the most-repeated line,”Once again I fall into/My feminine ways.”

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Do you believe in miracles? Consider the snowflake, consider the soap bubble.

Our family is big on soap bubbles in summer. Wired magazine seems to be big on soap bubbles, too, with a recent article on an installation involving bubble magic.

Kyle Vanhemert writes, “Soap is pretty ordinary stuff – until you blow a bubble with it. Then it becomes something a little bit magical, shimmering with delicate, ever-changing color. Unsurprisingly, if you shine a light through that swirling orb, it makes for a pretty incredible show.

“That’s the gist of ‘Invisible Acoustics,’ an audiovisual installation by Royal College of Art graduate Dagny Rewera. For the project, Rewera created three apparatuses that combine light, sound, and soap to spectacular effect.

“First, a wand dips itself into a pool of water, creating a wet, soapy lens. A speaker plays tones and chords, vibrating the soap, while a light projects the proceedings on the ceiling above. …

“Each of the three units is set to play a different range of frequencies, making for three distinct sets of patterns unfolding overhead.” More here.

Art: Dagny Rewera 

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Another good one from This Is Colossal: Janet Echelman’s suspended net creations.

According to This Is Colossal, “In the late 1990s artist Janet Echelman traveled to India as a Fulbright Scholar with the intention of giving painting exhibitions around the country.

“She shipped her painting supplies ahead of time and landed in the fishing village of Mahabalipuram to begin her exhibitions with one major hitch: the painting supplies never arrived.

“While walking through the village Echelman was struck by the quality and variety of nets used by the local fisherman and questioned what it might look like if such nets were hung and illuminated in the air. Could it be a new approach to sculpture? …

“Echelman is currently embarking on her largest piece ever, a 700-foot-long sculpture that will be suspended over Vancouver … In collaboration with the Burrard Arts Foundation, she’s seeking funding via Kickstarter to make it happen. There’s all kinds of great prints, postcards, and shirts available so check it out.”

More here, at This Is Colossal, where you can see lots more nets. They will make you feel happy.

Art installation by Janet Echelman

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I like to think I know something about the nonwork interests of my colleagues, interests that may be — in spite of their workday professionalism — at least as much a part of who they are as their jobs. There’s the woman employed as a customer service rep who gets her kicks out of Tough Mudder competitions (extreme sports in mud). Or the editor who bakes bread every day. Or the economist who composes choral music and creates arrangements for flute choir.

Everyone has at least one other life.

But I guess if you’re not physically in the same office, if don’t have lunch together or chat in the ladies room or on the subway, you never find out about people’s other lives.

That’s why I was utterly floored this week when a hard-driving, business-oriented colleague in the Washington office sent around an e-mail saying she would be away from her desk for a month at an artist retreat in Korea. Huh?

Says I, “Oh! Are you an artist?”

Says she: “Yes” and sends me her website.

Oh, my gosh. This is who she really is: a sculptor and installation artist with a record of shows and a gorgeous portfolio. How does she even find time to be hard-driving and business-oriented in the day job?

It makes me wonder what else I’m missing, whose real life is right in front of me and I’m not noticing.

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