In 2005 Kito Fujio quit his job as an office worker and became a freelance photographer. And for the last 12 years he’s been exploring various overlooked pockets of Japan like the rooftops of department stores, which typically have games and rides to entertain children while their parents are shopping. More recently, he’s taken notice of the many interesting cement-molded play equipment that dots playgrounds around Japan.
The sculptural, cement-molded play equipment is often modeled after animals that children would be familiar with. But they also take on the form of robots, abstract geometric forms and sometimes even household appliances. Fujio’s process is not entirely clear, but it appears he visits the parks at night and lights up the equipment from the inside, but also from the outside, which often creates an ominous feel to the harmless equipment.
Speaking of harmless, the nostalgic cement molds have been ubiquitous throughout Japan and, for the most part, free of safety concerns. That’s because the cement requires almost no maintenance; maybe just a fresh coat of paint every few years. The telephone (pictured below) is evidence of how long ago the equipment was probably made.
The sculptural cement equipment was a style favored by Isamu Noguchi, who designed his first landscape for children in 1933. Many of his sculptural playground equipment can be found in Sapporo but also stateside at Piedmont Park in Atlanta.
Brooklyn-based artist Elizabeth Sweetheart really loves the color green. In fact she loves the color so much, there are not many objects in her life that aren’t marked by its vibrancy. From her braided hair to her rounded spectacles, Sweetheart’s life is dyed green. For this simple reason she has been nicknamed “The Green Lady,” and embraces the name and the joy it brings to others by continuing her passionate collection of all things green.
“I think people really, really like to believe that you like something enough to really carry it through,” says Sweetheart in a film created by Great Big Story about her obsession. “When you are young you tend to think you look good in black, but as you get older you realize that color is so fun. I will continue to be green because it is so positive. I think when it is not, then I’ll change to my next favorite thing.”
You can learn more about the artist’s life, and the 20-year span of her collecting, in the short film created by Great Big Story above. (via Laughing Squid)
Digital illustrator Chris Labrooy continues to experiment with radically unusual car designs by creating ludicrous CGI vehicle concepts based on VW Beetles, Datsuns, and Citroen C3s. Since we first mentioned his Auto Aerobics series, Labrooy decided to bring a few of his ideas to life in a series of animations titled Cut & Shut and Tokyo. You can see more of his recent work in his portfolio. (via Designboom)
Brooklyn-based photographer Ben Zank has an eye for the unusual. Strange juxtapositions, awkward inconveniences, and often the ongoing struggle of life itself are all expressed through his surreal photography. Zank often portrays figures (some of which are self-portraits) as physically encumbered with faces obscured or turned away from the camera, seemingly in the throes of personal conflict. Yet despite the adversity in each photo, the element of humor seems constantly present. It’s hard not to laugh and smile at the absurd predicaments he conceives of for each shot, reminding us all to take a step back sometimes and just laugh at the ridiculousness of it all.
Zank shares his work almost exclusively through Instagram and prints of some photos are available through Opium Gallery.
As a finishing touch before glazing his wheel-thrown vases and bowls, ceramic artist Abe Haruya (previously) sets about carving the surface of each piece with various metallic tools. Many of the pieces are done freehand by sight, but some of the more complex scale-like patterns are first sketched with a pencil before Haruya carefully rakes across the surface to remove thin layers of porcelain. The videos have proven to be wildly fascinating to watch, garnering millions of views across Instagram despite a proportionally smaller following. You can catch a number of additional videos here.
Reflecting its surroundings with a splintered and imperfect view is Jordan Griska‘s 2016 sculpture Wreck, a non-functional model of a Mercedes Benz S550 made entirely from reflective stainless steel. The piece, which is composed of nearly 12,000 individual parts, is meant to highlight both luxury and mortality from a removed perspective. While researching the work Griska referenced Andy Warhol’s series of car crash prints, connecting the sterility of his work’s stainless steel to that of a lithoprint.
“The sculpture mirrors the peak of today’s automobile industry by using digital technology and meticulous handcraft to subvert both utopian dreams and reality,” explains Philadelphia Contemporary in a statement about the piece. “Spectacular and haunting, Wreck captures the dual nature of American culture by contrasting wealth, freedom, and individuality with decadence, debauchery, and tailspin, as flip sides of the same coin.”