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    Artificial Organisms: Shimmering Digital Creatures Undulate and Pulse with Light in Maxim Zhetskov’s New Film

    
    Animation
    Art

    #digital
    #short film
    #video

    November 9, 2021
    Grace Ebert

    [embedded content]
    In “Artificial Organisms,” Russian director Maxim Zhestkov (previously) enlivens machine intelligence to create palpitating marine organisms that radiate with vibrant bands of light. The hulking, life-like specimens, which are comprised of countless individual spheres, are presented floating in undulating masses or enveloping a stark white structure in groups evocative of a coral reef. Each piece fuses the artificial and organic, producing “a bizarre world of mesmerizing digital creatures,” Zhestkov says. “A combination of biological symmetry and impeccable digital matter, they are a representation of budding artificial intelligence.” To watch more of the director’s projects, head to Vimeo, Instagram, and Behance.

    #digital
    #short film
    #video

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    At the Annual Roadworks Festival, a 7-Ton Steamroller Prints Linocuts in San Francisco’s Streets

    
    Art

    #printmaking
    #public art
    #video

    October 5, 2021
    Grace Ebert

    
    In a neighborhood of tech giants and startups, the San Francisco Center for the Book is decidedly analog. The nonprofit has been a hub for printmaking and book arts for Bay Area creatives since it opened 25 years ago, offering about 300 workshops and classes in papermaking, letterpress, binding techniques, and a range of other processes to thousands of students each year.
    Beyond wanting to provide a space for local artists and those interested in the practice, though, one of the center’s tenets is community engagement, a commitment that manifests in the spectacular day-long Roadworks festival. The annual event, which was pared down in 2020 due to COVID-19 precautions, began in 2004 as a way to expand the organization’s footprint beyond its own walls, but it wasn’t until 2013 that it grew into the dramatic occasion it is today. Roadworks celebrated its 18th year this September and brought back its prized activity: printing dozens of linocuts with a 1924 Buffalo Springfield steamroller.

    All images courtesy of Roadworks, shared with permission
    Each year, the center brings in the seven-ton machine from Roots of Motive Power to produce a series of 42-inch square prints in the middle of San Francisco’s streets. The process is as monumental as the event, requiring dozens of volunteers and fast-moving hands to create works successfully in the midday sun and wind. “It’s an interesting printmaking challenge in that you get to practice once a year,” says Chad Johnson, the center’s studio director and a resident instructor who’s been at the helm of Roadworks in recent years. “There’s no replication of all of the conditions except for when you do it.”
    The actual process utilizes the street as the base of the press, with an insulating rubber mat on top to counter any debris. A piece of MDF particle board—the team prefers this material to plywood because it has no grain and can distribute pressure evenly—marked with a taped registration system sits on top. Once Johnson inks the plate with the yellow- and purple-tinted pigments specific to Roadworks, he has to quickly position it on the ground and have two others cover it with paper. “The only other trick is keeping the plate wet up until two minutes before. There’s no amount of ink that I can get on it that won’t dry in the wind and the sun,” he says.
    After that, the rest is similar to the etching press, although it happens on a much greater scale. The team lays down a plastic tablecloth to prevent steam leakage on the paper, then a wool blanket, and finally a thick rug that serves as an insulator from the massive machine. After two rolls, the team peels off the layers and reveals the finished prints. Roadworks “has the ability to broaden the range of outreach by the sheer fact that it’s a steamroller,” Johnson shares, sometimes printing “Godzilla, sometimes a tree, sometimes a plant.” Most years, the group produces between 30 and 35 pieces within a few hours, although 2021 saw its largest collection of 38.

    Alongside the larger prints created by a trio of committee-selected artists, the festival also sells linocut kits prior to the event that allows community members to carve their own works and see them realized day-of. “The idea was to get people excited about printing on a grandiose scale, and I think for me, that’s still really an amazing, powerful thing,” Johnson says, noting that these projects also garner essential funding for the nonprofit.
    Although this year’s prints are sold out, the center is selling totes that feature a 2004 steamroller design by Rik Olson, a local artist who’s participated in the festival for nearly two decades. You can see more photos from Roadworks 2021 and watch for information on next year’s event on Instagram.

    #printmaking
    #public art
    #video

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    Circular Masses of Coral and Leaves Form Sculptural Embroideries by Meredith Woolnough

    
    Art
    Craft

    #coral
    #embroidery
    #leaves
    #nature
    #video

    October 4, 2021
    Grace Ebert

    [embedded content]
    From swirls of eucalyptus leaves to perfectly round bodies of coral, the sculptural pieces by Newcastle-based artist Meredith Woolnough (previously) depict a range of textured, organic shapes. Each elaborately crafted work is drawn through free-motion embroidery, which involves using the most basic stitches on a sewing machine and moving a swath of water-soluble material around the needle. Once the form is complete, Woolnough dissolves the fabric base to expose the delicate, mesh-like structure, a process filmmaker Flore Vallery-Radot follows in the studio visit above.
    The resulting works either stand alone as sprawling clusters of veins and branches or are strung into larger displays, like the “carpet of embroidery” Woolnough is working on currently that involves more than 1,000 small pieces threaded together. No matter the size, each piece contrasts thick lines with fine, sparse patches to give the leaves or rocky formations shape, and the artist describes the balance between the two methods:
    Often when I depict solid subject matter, like coral which is often quite hard, I will stitch my design with dense areas of stitching. I like to put lots of small overlapping stitches very close together to form a solid structure where you can’t clearly see the individual stitches. This dense structure is needed to help the final embroidery hold its shape once I remove the water-soluble base material I stitch onto. With this dense stitching, I can also achieve subtle colour blending as I change thread colours.
    Alongside her practice, Woolnough teaches a variety of workshops and released a book back in 2018 titled Organic Embroidery that details her processes. Some of her smaller works will be included in a group exhibition at The Royal Botanic Garden Sydney, which opens online on October 16. You also can find her available pieces on her site and watch for updates on Instagram. (via The Kids Should See This)

    Eucalyptus leaves. All images © Meredith Woolnough, shared with permission
    Corallite
    Red coral
    Eucalyptus leaf
    Coral
    Corallimorph
    Coral

    #coral
    #embroidery
    #leaves
    #nature
    #video

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    Furry Tendrils and Tufts of Technicolor Hair Erupt Across Shoplifter’s Immersive Installations

    
    Art

    #hair
    #immersive
    #installation
    #video

    September 29, 2021
    Grace Ebert

    
    Icelandic artist Hrafnhildur Arnardóttir, otherwise known as Shoplifter (previously), fittingly describes her immersive environments of hair as “an exploded rainbow.” Cloaking walls with neon fur and hanging tendrils of fuzzy fibers from the ceiling, the artist creates enormous, extravagantly colored landscapes designed to be ruffled and stroked as viewers pass through the cave-like walls and underneath the suspended strands.
    In a new interview with Lousianna Channel, Shoplifter recounts her first encounter with the medium as a child in Iceland and her later move to New York, where she’s spent the last 25 years creating kaleidoscopic landscapes brimming with textures. She perpetually gravitates toward vibrant, bold color palettes because of their therapeutic, playful, and ornamental qualities, and although she creates such strikingly manufactured installations, she describes her practice as a form of “hyper-nature… I’m not competing with nature. I just exaggerate and create this abstraction that resembles it but isn’t literal.”
    Watch the full interview above to dive deeper into Shoplifter’s inspirations and process, and see an archive of her technicolor creations on Instagram.

    “Hyperlings” at the Art Gallery of Alberta. All images courtesy of Shoplifter
    “Hyperlings” at the Art Gallery of Alberta
    “Hyperlings” at the Art Gallery of Alberta
    “Hyperlings” at the Art Gallery of Alberta

    #hair
    #immersive
    #installation
    #video

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    First Look at ‘Numina’: A Wonderland Brimming with Bizarre Creatures and Fantastical Scenes Opens at ‘Convergence Station’ in Denver

    
    Art

    #immersive
    #installation
    #sculpture
    #surreal
    #video

    September 16, 2021
    Grace Ebert

    [embedded content]
    Between a two-story metallic spaceship, gnarled trees teeming with strangely colored mosses and lichen, and fantastical creatures, the eccentric artworks that comprise the new space at Convergence Station by Meow Wolf (previously) rival those in even the most peculiar sci-fi universe. The immersive, swamp-like installation, which is dubbed “Numina” or the spirit of a place, is one of the anchors of the Santa Fe-based company’s latest undertaking, which showcases more than 70 installations by 300 artists across four floors. Four years in the making, Convergence Station opens on September 17 in Denver.
    Accessible through a series of secret portals and wormholes, “Numina” scales 35 feet into the air and is designed as a multi-sensory experience inviting visitors to interact with their unearthly surroundings. When someone speaks to one of the four glowing creatures resembling sea urchins, for example, the forms warp and spew the echoed audio across the space. The color-changing “Fairie Orbs” similarly sing and vibrate with intonations when a person passes by, and the “Frog Egg Garden” emits kaleidoscopic lights and quiet sounds when activated with touch.

    All images © Meow Wolf, shared with permission
    Spanning three levels, the extraordinary, hand-built project is evidence of the team’s penchant for detail and ability to fuse seemingly disparate reference materials into surreal sculptures with various colors, textures, and shapes. The wood-like structural elements, for example, are wrapped in innumerable folds that artists modeled after the wrinkled skin of hairless cats, while pieces like the “Toad Piggies” are hybrid creations and the “Nudibranches” exaggerate the striking bodies of real-life mollusks by stretching them to seven feet. “Some ‘flowers’ were inspired by jellyfish, and some ‘jellyfish’ look more like flowers,” says Caity Kennedy, the project’s creative director and co-founder of Meow Wolf.
    Although individual artists retained control over much of what they created—the expansiveness of this collaborative approach is part of what makes “Numina” so uniquely vast and diverse—Kennedy tells Colossal that she gravitated toward the more bizarre works rather than whimsical, fairytale-style pieces. “It is an interesting challenge to play with the balance of comfort and discomfort, to build a space that is welcoming but sometimes unnerving, to make people feel both safe and adventurous at the same time,” she shares. “There are so many things I could point out… Look for the sundial! Find the zoetrope! Point the sort of mollusk orchid/telescope creatures at the stars! Find Leomie’s Field Notebook in the library!”
    Tickets are on sale now to visit Convergence Station in person. Otherwise, watch the video tour above for a more in-depth look at the unreal wonderland.

    #immersive
    #installation
    #sculpture
    #surreal
    #video

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    Artist Thierry Mandon Lives in Suspended Domestic Scenes Within the Ghost Rooms of Severed Buildings

    
    Art

    #humor
    #performance art
    #public art
    #site-specific
    #video

    September 13, 2021
    Grace Ebert

    “Tableau vivant” (2007-2008). All images © Thierry Mandon, shared with permission
    Multidisciplinary artist Thierry Mandon casts himself as the subject of his satirical works as he reads in a bed hazardously suspended feet above the ground or sips a glass of wine at a halved dining table. The humorous and discomforting pieces, titled “Inside–Outside” and “Tableau vivant,” respectively, unveil a series of slow, solitary activities that, once outdoors, become a performative spectacle rather than a mundane moment. They speak to Mandon’s “search for harmony and for a stable unity between humans and their environment,” he says, as he literally slices and adheres domestic objects to a building’s facade.
    “Each video portrays a character that, as a kind of archetype of the individual, is confronted by his human condition, his limits, his power, and helplessness,” Mandon writes to Colossal. “These themes are rendered by works where two elements, two worlds are exposed in a precarious balance.”
    Mandon lives and works in Ardèche, France, and you can find a larger collection of his works on his site and Vimeo.

    [embedded content]
    “Inside–Outside” (2015)
    “Tableau vivant” (2007-2008)
    “Inside–Outside” (2015)
    “Inside–Outside” (2015)
    

    #humor
    #performance art
    #public art
    #site-specific
    #video

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    Through Totemic Sculptures and Sound Art, Guadalupe Maravilla Explores the Therapeutic Power of Indigenous Ritual

    
    Art
    Documentary
    Music

    #health
    #installation
    #performance art
    #sculpture
    #sound
    #video

    August 11, 2021
    Grace Ebert

    
    In 1984, eight-year-old Guadalupe Maravilla left his family and joined a group of other children fleeing their homes in El Salvador. The Central American country was in the midst of a brutal civil war, a profoundly traumatic experience that’s left an indelible impact on the artist and one that guides his broad, multi-disciplinary practice to this day.
    Now based in Brooklyn, Maravilla works across painting, sculpture, and sound-based performances all veiled with autobiography, whether informed by the Mayan architecture and stone totems that surrounded him as a child or his cancer diagnosis as a young adult. His pieces are predominately therapeutic and rooted in Indigenous ritual and mythology, recurring themes the team at Art21 explores in a new documentary.

    “Guadalupe Maravilla & the Sound of Healing” follows the artist as he prepares for his solo exhibition on view through September 6 at Socrates Sculpture Park in Long Island City. Titled Planeta Abuelx, or Grandparent Planet—Maravilla expands on the often-used idea of Mother Nature to broaden its scope—the outdoor show is comprised of the artist’s trademark Disease Throwers, towering headdresses and shrines made of recycled aluminum. Allusions to Central American culture bolster the monumental works, with imprints of corn cobs, wooden toys, and other found objects planted throughout.
    Covering the surrounding grass are chalky white markings, a signature component of the artist’s practice that delineate every space where he installs a piece. The abstract patterns evoke Tripa Chuca, one of Maravilla’s favorite childhood games that involves players drawing lines between corresponding numbers to create new intertwined motifs.

    In Planeta Abuelx, Maravilla pairs his visual works with meditative performances that are based on the sound baths he used for pain management while undergoing chemotherapy. These healing therapies are designed to reduce anxiety and tension that often trigger stress-induced diseases and date back to ancient Tibetan traditions. Using gongs and glass vessels, the palliative remedy has been the foundation of workshops the artist hosts for undocumented immigrants and others dealing with cancer that more deeply connect his totemic artworks to the viewers.
    “Having a community that has gone through similar experiences can be really empowering,” he says. “Making these elaborate Disease Throwers is not just about telling a story from my past, but it’s also about how this healing ritual can continue in the future, long after I’m gone.”
    If you’re in New York, Maravilla is hosting a sound bath to mark the close of Planeta Abuelx on September 4, and you can see more of his multivalent projects on Instagram. For a larger archive of documentaries exploring the lives and work of today’s most impactful artists, like this visit to Wangechi Mutu’s Nairobi studio, check out Art21’s site.

    #health
    #installation
    #performance art
    #sculpture
    #sound
    #video

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    A Visit to Wangechi Mutu’s Nairobi Studio Explores Her Profound Ties to Nature and the Feminine

    
    Art
    Documentary

    #collage
    #colonialism
    #identity
    #nature
    #sculpture
    #video

    July 23, 2021
    Grace Ebert

    [embedded content]
    Kenyan-American artist Wangechi Mutu made history in 2019 when her four bronze sculptures became the first ever to occupy the niches of the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s facade. Stretching nearly seven feet, the seated quartet evokes images of heavily adorned African queens and intervenes in the otherwise homogenous canons of art history held within the institution’s walls.
    The monumental figures are one facet of Mutu’s nuanced body of work that broadly challenges colonialist, racist, and sexist ideologies. Now on view at San Francisco’s Legion of Honor is the latest iteration of the artist’s subversive projects: I Am Speaking, Are You Listening?  disperses imposing hybrid creatures in bronze and towering sculptures made of soil, branches, charcoal, cowrie shells, and other organic materials throughout the neoclassical galleries. The figurative works draw a direct connection between the Black female body and ecological devastation as they reject the long-held ideals elevated in the space.

    No matter the medium, these associations reflect Mutu’s deep respect for and fascination with the ties between nature, the feminine, and African history and culture, a guiding framework that the team at Art21 explores in a recently released documentary. Wangechi Mutu: Between the Earth and the Sky visits the artist’s studio in her hometown of Nairobi and dives into the evolution of her artwork from the smaller collaged paintings that centered her early practice as a university student in New York to her current multi-media projects that have grown in both scope and scale.
    Whether a watercolor painting with photographic scraps or one of her mirror-faced figures encircled with fringe, Mutu’s works are founded in an insistence on the value of all life and the ways the earth’s history functions as a source of knowledge, which she explains:
    I truly believe that there’s something about taking these bits and pieces of trees, and animals and completely anonymous but extremely identifiable items and placing them somewhere that draws their energy, wherever they were coming from, whatever they did, whatever molten lava they came out of a million years ago, that is now in my work and that little piece of energy is magnified.
    Dive further into Mutu’s practice by watching the full documentary above, and see a decades-long archive of her paintings, sculptures, collages, and other works on Artsy and Instagram.

    #collage
    #colonialism
    #identity
    #nature
    #sculpture
    #video

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