Category Archives: Art

Christian Marclay

Christian Marclay is one of those artists who seems to have experimented with almost every medium out there. In the 1980’s he was pioneering the use of the turntable as an experimental musical instrument by playing intentionally scratched or skipping records on multiple turntables simultaneously. He has performed with some of the giants of avant garde music such as John Zorn and the Kronos Quartet.

He is also a sculptor and installation artist who works with found materials that always involve the idea of sound.

Tape Fall- reel to reel recorder, ladder, magnetic tape, 1989

Moebius Loop- cassette tapes, zip ties, 1994

 

Virtuoso- altered accordion, 2000

He is a collage artist who uses album covers as his medium.

And most recently, he is a video artist who obsessively cuts and splices together scenes from existing films of similar everyday actions such as telephone conversations or people checking the time on a clock or a watch.

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Damned Tornadoes Interfereing with My Art

All I wanted to do today was to go to Eastfield College in Mesquite, Texas and install about 700 arrows in the ceiling of a hallway there for an exhibition at the school called “Temporary Occupants”. My piece is called “Inhale-Exhale” and it involves the arrows interacting with the intake and output air vents in the ceiling of the hallway…

But just like every other time it seems like I have to install or transport artwork, mother nature just HAS to show me who’s boss… Fifteen tornadoes were spotted in the DFW area this afternoon, many just miles from my location, and so two hours of my precious install-time were spent sitting in the basement awaiting the impending doom…

And if that image is not enough, here is a video from the same storm of some semi-trailers being tossed about like balloons… And THAT is the tornado that was still headed toward Mesquite, exactly where I was installing artwork.

Amazingly, we dodged that bullet and my truck survived without even a hail dent. I was finally allowed to continue my installation and I was finished by around 9:00 tonight. So at least mother nature was simply a road-block and not a wrecking ball for my artwork…In retrospect, the mechanics of fluid motion that are at play in a storm are exactly the things I am interested in with the air currents in this piece on a much smaller scale. Coincidence? I think not… 😉 Here are some images I got of the finished work tonight.

"Inhale-Exhale" 2012 detail image

"Inhale-Exhale" 2012- detail image

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Filed under Art, Nature, News

Soviet Spaceships

I really like the concept art for these alternate-history Soviet Union spaceships made for Dawn of Victory,  a mod in the works for the video game, Sins of a Solar Empire.  I had  never heard of it before now, but looking at some of the gameplay videos makes me wish I was 15 and had piles of homework to ignore while I waged war across the galaxy.

The mod looks like it will be an epic Soviets against Germans battle for intergalactic supremacy.  The concept art for the German ships is not up yet, but I can’t wait to see it.

I found these images while trawling the amazing Concept Ships blog.  It’s been an incredibly inspiring resource for ideas as I ponder my next scratch-built spaceship.  But beyond that, there is some amazing artwork over there as well.

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The Artist Who Cut a House in Half- Gordon Matta-Clark, Splitting, 1974

Both my sculpture and my painting have always been influenced by architecture, but my first exposure to the work of Gordon Matta-Clark changed the way I think about architecture fundamentally. His sculptural work was not only about architecture, but it used existing architecture as its medium much like a stone carver used a block of marble as a medium to carve a statue from. For Matta-Clark, the house itself was the medium to be used to create the work.

For some reason, my brain has always thought in terms of architectural spaces and I think that Matta-Clark’s rupturing of those spaces exposes a lot about the psychology of the public and the private. In all of the apartments I have ever lived in, I’ve realized that the layout had a utilitarian purpose. The bathrooms line up with other bathrooms because of the plumbing and the bedrooms line up with other bedrooms for sleeping purposes. That means that in your apartment, on the other side of your bedroom wall, you may very well be sleeping literally two feet away from someone you don’t know, which has always been something I’ve had to tell myself is perfectly normal when I still think it’s creepy.

Although this video is filmed in silent Super 8, it does capture the hard work involved in cutting an actual house in half and then lowering the back half a few inches so that the entire thing opens up.

Another thing that I find interesting about this piece is  the fact that he cut the four corners out of the house before it was finally demolished… The major point of the entire artwork is the fact that it existed outside the museum, but these were the the few things that the museum could keep as souvenirs, or possibly the “scalps” of the house that was to be demolished within weeks of the completion of the work.

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You Want a Narrative Art Form? Here’s Your Freaking Narrative Art Form!

Roger Ebert will go to his grave denying it, but games tell good stories, deep and involving stories, stories that are enhanced by collaboration with the player. Judging a medium by its least accomplished or most superficial exercises is like judging film’s narrative capacity on the strength of porn or Alvin and the Chipmunks. Does the Smurfs big screen debut nullify, oh, I don’t know — Beyond the Valley of the Dolls?

(This rant brought to you by Mass Effect 3, the only space opera — that’s right, THE ONLY space opera on the market right now, and probably the best written one in any visual medium — and the upcoming HD re-release of one of the best games ever written, Silent Hill 2. And also the notion that Dark Souls is in any way meant to be a story-delivery system. Meh!)

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by | March 6, 2012 · 9:17 pm

R.I.P. Ralph McQuarrie

Concept art for The Empire Strikes Back by Ralph McQuarrie

Ralph McQuarrie was not a household name, yet the characters and creations he conceptualized are seared into the consciousness of generations of Earthlings.  You don’t have to be a science fiction fan at all to know and love R2-D2, C-3PO, Yoda, Darth Vader, Chewbacca, or Boba Fett.  I challenge you to find a male between the ages of 8 and 48 who doesn’t want to do the Kessel Run in the Millennium Falcon in less than 10 parsecs. It was McQuarrie’s art that brought all of those characters into our lives– and yes, I would argue the Millennium Falcon is a character.  So it is with a heavy heart that I report the news of Ralph McQuarrie’s passing today at the age of 82.

McQuarrie's concept art for the Millennium Falcon.

Without the vision of McQuarrie, it’s impossible to say what the original Star Wars trilogy would have looked like.  Though since he didn’t work on the second trilogy, I think it’s safe to say things probably would have been a whole lot different.  George Lucas usually gets the credit for bringing the Star Wars universe to life, but it was McQuarrie’s blueprints, sketches, concept art, and ideas that made the characters, spaceships and planets look and feel both compelling and believable.

The ship that warped all concepts of what a spaceship had to look like-- Boba Fett's Slave I from Return of the Jedi.

It would have been more than enough to have conceived the Star Wars iconography.  But McQuarrie also designed the mothership for Close Encounters of the Third Kind, he worked on E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Star Trek IV, and Jurassic Park.  And all those ships in the original Battlestar Galactica?  McQuarrie had a hand in that as well.

The Cylons taking on a Viper Mk. II. Concept art for the original Battlestar Galactica.

When I was in the 4th grade, I had this book of Empire Strikes Back concept art.  I wore the spine out of that book tracing pictures of Yoda, the snow speeders and Imperial AT-ATs.  It fired my imagination and undoubtedly played a part in my fondness for faffing about with home made spaceships nowadays.  I don’t know why it’s important, I just know that it is.  So I bid Ralph McQuarrie a heartfelt farewell.  May he be free to roam the cosmos in the coolest spaceships ever designed.

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ART THOUGHTZ: Performance Art

A new installment of “ART THOUGHTZ” on the subject of performance art by my favorite internet art critic, Hennesy Youngman.

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Holy Cow!

Photograph by Mariajoseph Johnbasco

Today’s National Geographic Photo of the Day is divinely bovine.  Or is that bovinely divine?  Maybe I should let the photographer clarify:

“I shot this calf on the road in 2011 on the eve of Diwali at Neyveli, which is my hometown. Due to crackers going off everywhere, the cows couldn’t rest near homes so they sought the middle of the road for rest. The fog, noise, and the backlighting of the streetlight made me take this picture.”

Now, I’m from Texas and when you talk about crackers going off shooting calves, it means something completely different.

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Filed under Art, Nature

The Best Public Restroom In L.A.

It is inevitable.  Go out often enough, and you’re going to have to use someone else’s facilities to relieve yourself.  If you’re anything like me, you experience a bit of trepidation just before opening that lavatory door at the thought of what could be lurking on the other side.  I’ve visited more than a few establishments that seem to actively go out of their way to dissuade customers from seeking relief in their water closet.

But not L.A.’s best hobby shop, Kit Kraft.  In fact, I’m surprised there’s not a queue just to go inside.  Yes, it’s clean.  And there’s a toilet.  And a sink.  But mostly, there’s a lot of excellent eye candy.

Make the jump for more of my photos of Kit Kraft’s kooky can.

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Bubblegum Galactica – Make a BSG-inspired Model Spaceship From Gum Containers

One of the truly awesome superpowers you gain when you start kit bashing and scratch building scale models is a limited-scope future vision that allows you to see which everyday household objects would make great spaceships.  It’s like a really useless ESP or an X-Ray vision that doesn’t let you see through blouses.  Seeing as I lack any decent super power, I’m not going to register my complaint with the Justice League just yet.

The key components used in the spacecraft pictured above are Hubba Bubba measuring tape gum dispensers.  My son loves the stuff and probably chewed his way through a few miles of it before I started scratch building.  Not long after my super power was attenuated, I saw a couple of the empty containers in the back seat of my car and visions of the Battlestar Galactica rag tag fleet danced in my head.

The "Mineral Ship" from the new Battlestar Galactica series - aka the "Livery Ship" in the original BSG series.

As a kid, I loved the original Battlestar Galactica.  My favorite parts of every episode were the establishing shots of the “rag tag fleet” all floating in space together.  I remember the original series with the same fondness I afford to The Dukes of Hazzard, Knight Rider, The A-Team, and Automan.  Yes, they were cheesy and have not aged well.  Fortunately, the reboot of Battlestar Galactica was one of the best television series produced in the past several years.  I thought it was intelligent, funny, and thought-provoking.  The writing and acting were both excellent.  And the spaceships looked really cool.  As a kid, I especially liked the tri-disc-shaped ship and my nostalgia sensors overloaded when I saw it had been reproduced for the new series.

Activate the jump drive and follow me to the next set of coordinates where instructions on how to turn discarded Hubba Bubba containers into your very own BSG-inspired ship await your discovery.

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Filed under Art, Let's Make Something Beautiful, scale modeling