While living in Beijing several years ago German artist Wolfgang Stiller acquired several head molds and large pieces of wood. After experimenting with the various components the artist struck on an idea to create several large-scale burnt matches where the charred remains of each tip appeared as the face of a human, a series he calls Matchstickmen. While Stiller leaves the meaning of the artworks open for interpretation the pieces exist in a surprisingly strange area between morbid and humorous. At a distance each match seems almost laughable in its appearance almost like a toy bobblehead, but up close the somber, lifeless faces often resting in coffin-like matchboxes are pretty disconcerting. The Matchstickmen will be on display again in just a few days starting March 8th, 2013 at Python Gallery in Zurich as part of the show Burnout which runs through April 20th.(via lustik, designboom, lustik)
Unstable Matter is kinetic sculpture by Finnish artists Tommi Grönlund and Petteri Nisunen, a.k.a. Grönlund-Nisunen. The moving table contains thousands of small ball bearings that move and crash within the confines of a giant wobbly table, sort of a modern take on a rain stick. The table is part of several kinetic and magnetized works by the duo that were recently on view at Esther Schipper in Berlin.
With over 100,000 followers on Tumblr, Boston-based motion graphics designer Matthew DiVito (aka mr. div) is probably one of the most popular artists making animated gifs today. DiVito works with a combination of After Effects and Cinema 4D to create each image which appear to be inspired by 1970-80s era motion graphics with a distinctly modern twist. These are just a few of my favorites, but you can see dozens more right here.
When you first begin watching this clip from Japan’s Kamiwaza 2013 talent show, you’ll notice a fair amount of dramatic lighting, deep breathing, and plenty of showmanship from Swiss performer Mädir Eugster of the Rigolo Swiss Nouveau Cirque. He carefully rests the feather on a small tree branch and then grabs another slightly larger stick and another and another. Fast forward ten minutes and the act miraculously continues, sweat pouring from the top of Eugster’s head down his bare back until a series of 14 enormous sticks zig zags from the performer’s lifted arm like a massive wooden Calder mobile. If you have any doubt of how precarious this might be, wait until the very end when he removes the feather. I’ve also included another video above of Lara Jacobs (Eugster’s daughter!) of Cirque Du Soleil’s Amaluna performing the same act. Pretty amazing.
Pratt student Melanie Hoff connected cables carrying 15,000 volts of electricity to a large plank of wood and then documented the results. Surprisingly the areas around each contact point don’t simply catch on fire or burn in a circle, but rather traverse outward in a fractal-like pattern, like lighting in slow motion. Watch it all unfold above. (via colossal submissions)
South Korean artist Wang Zi Won constructs intricate mechanical figures of Buddha and bodhisattva that appear to be lost in meditation or enlightenment. The electrically-powered figures are fused with numerous mechanical components which at times resemble halos or lotus flowers and simultaneously move the humanoid figures through repetitive motions (see videos above). The artist says his intention is to examine a future where humans and technology merge, something he views in a particularly positive light. Via Shin Seung-ho of Dukwon Gallery:
The artist predicts that in the future humans will evolve and adapt themselves to enhanced science and technology just as men and animals in the past evolved to adapt themselves to their natural circumstances. He sees this future as our destiny, not as a negative, gloomy dystopia. His work is thus based on neither utopia not dystopia. Wang represents the relations between man, technology and science through the bodies of cyborgs.
The artist considers it important to escape from human bondage in order to achieve harmony between men and machines. He thinks this harmony can be achieved through the process of religious practices and spiritual enlightenment. In Buddhism, the Bodhisattva of Compassion helps people attain enlightenment, Arhat is a spiritual practitioner of asceticism, and Buddha is a being who reaches the highest level of enlightenment. Through them, the artist intends to follow the path of enlightenment, breaking away from anxiety, agony, and pain. The artist has no intention to emphasize religious connotations through these Buddhist icons but to reflect his own or our own existence between utopia and dystopia.
While it may be difficult to grapple with the artists intentions I find the figures and their motions to be really quite beautiful and indeed meditative, somewhat reminiscent of the robots used in Chris Cunningham’s amazing All is Full of Love video for Bjork. If you have some patience (the site loads quite slowly) there are many more examples of Wang’s work and several more videos over on his blog and you can learn more at Art Nova and Hanmi Gallery.
Take a few steps back or perhaps just squint your eyes and these images by artist Yao Lu might resemble traditional Chinese landscape paintings of cliffs, waterfalls, and mountains. Look a bit closer and your perspective may change. Lu digitally assembles each of her images using photographs of landfills and other aspects of urbanization draped in green mesh to mimic idyllic scenery. Similar to the recent work of Yang Yongliang featured on this blog just last week, Lu seems to be making a thinly-veiled commentary on the encroaching ecological threat of urbanization. See much more over at Bruce Silverstein Gallery. (via beautiful decay)