A new short film by Optical Arts depicts what would be a dinner-party nightmare: ceramic plates and bowls shatter, red wine cascades from long-stemmed glasses, and sharp knives dive to the floor. Despite its explosive scenes, “Tocatta” subsequently shows the same dinnerware, drinks, and plates of boiled eggs seamlessly repair and float upward as whole objects.
A multivalent consideration of physical contact, the word “tocatta” both originates from an Italian form of “to touch” and refers to a musical composition designed to showcase the performer’s refined techniques. The reparative film is set to the opening section of Johann Sebastian Bach’s Toccata and Fuge in D Minor, one of the German composer’s most recognized works. Because of its discordant runs, the musical piece historically has been used in horror films, like Rouben Mamoulian’s Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1931), Terence Fischer’s The Phantom of the Opera (1962), and Norman Jewison’s dystopic Rollerball (1975).
Written for organ, the eerie composition adds a foreboding element to the film. The dramatic piece explores “the nature of time, the relentless violence of entropy and creative energy and its relationship to music itself,” the London-based creative studio writes in a statement. Another nod to the iconic composer, the dark, opening scenes are shots from Eisenach, Germany, where Bach was born and lived for the first few years of his life.
Update: A previous version of this article incorrectly identified the film as a CGI animation.
Share this story
In artist Jennifer Halvorson’s (previously) collection of lustrous glass sculptures, there sits a group of glossy ducks. In some of her pieces, the water the birds sit within pours over the side, and each shiny piece looks wet to the touch as if it has dripped or melted into its shape.
Halvorson’s ducks are part of her pressed glass collection, which features a variety of light blue and chocolate brown sculptures that either are facing each other, swimming apart, or have their tails lifted up in the air as though they are diving to catch fish. They comprise her exploration into the history and process of factory pressed glass, and her work explores innovative ways of working with the medium.
Halvorson began her glasswork practice in 2007 when she was a Fulbright Fellow and began studying at Danmarks Designskole, a Danish Design School in Copenhagen. “For two weeks my glass course resided in Sweden, visiting various glass factories and studying at Riksglasskolan, the national school of glass in Orrefors,” she says. For Halvorson, the factory visits were influential in shaping her artistry. Developing an understanding of the medium and accessing production on a large scale enabled her to learn and appreciate a variety of glasswork techniques.
After her graduate studies, Halvorson was awarded a residency at Wheaton Arts in Millville, New Jersey, which houses the Museum of American Glass. Featured within the museum’s walls are historical machines and molds. “This was the first time I was taught and participated in a press production run,” says Halvorson. “Driving home to the Midwest after this residency, I stopped at Fenton Art Glass Company in West Virginia. At this time (2010), the factory was still operating, and I was able to view how efficiently the teams worked to create multiples.”
Three years since her visit to the company, Halvorson purchased a glass press machine—called Beatrix—from George Fenton, along with three cast-iron press molds. “Since then, I have learned how to operate the machine, acquired 15 molds, and received a grant to design and manufacture a new mold,” she explains.
Halvorson’s glass ducks are one of her most successful pressed sculpture series and originally were designed by the factory to cover a small dish. “Soon after the form is pressed, I alter the duck’s gaze to give the form a character,” says the artist. “After the glass production group cools, I form groupings to create narratives.” Then, Halvorson warms the pieces back up and works in more detail by pouring more material. “The fresh ladle of glass contrasts the factory press glass process and aesthetic and also gives the ducks an amorphic water puddle to swim,” she explains.
From her explorations into traditional pressed glass, Halvorson currently is working on two larger compositions: a stepping sock and plant leaves. Similarly to her ducks, Halvorson will combine pressed glass-making with contemporary techniques, a process which she also will bring to her new co-teaching position at the glass design course at Ball State University. See more of her process on Instagram.
Share this story
While most shattered glass heads straight to the trash, Yelldesign’s panes actually can be reassembled into a single sheet, turning a groan-inducing mistake into a delightfully tedious activity. Comically titled “The Accident,” the acrylic puzzle is comprised of 215 jagged and cracked pieces resembling a broken window. Yelldesign warns, though, that although you don’t have to worry about getting cut or scratched by the pointed edges, assembly isn’t an easy feat.
An animation studio venturing into design, the company also released two other clear puzzles: “The Fish Tank” surrounds an orange guppy in the form of a single piece, while “The Virus” contains a green contagion at its center. These jigsaws come amid an ongoing boom in puzzle sales as people around the world are looking to occupy themselves in quarantine.
Share this story
One-hundred five hourglasses dangle from the entranceway ceiling at cSPACE King Edward in Calgary. Every day at both noon and midnight, the sand-filled vessels flip in tandem and reset. They’re part of a 2018 project called “Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow,” a site-specific installation created by artists Lane Shordee, Caitlind r.c. Brown, and Wayne Garrett (previously), that visualizes the intricacies of how we experience collective moments, individual memories, and history.
Each hourglass has a unique correlation to time–half document how hours slip by like a clock, while others reflect more personal relationships to the passing seconds in a series of notes submitted by the public. “Ranging from ‘the time it takes to call mom’ to ‘the time it takes to realize it was just a dream and you are no longer lying next to me,’ you can read the brass tags attached to various hourglasses to understand the increment of time being measured in sand,” the artists tell Colossal.
Every vessel, though, represents a year of the King Edward building, from its construction in 1912 to its transformation to the cSPACE area in 2017. “‘Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow’ uses the hourglass as a symbol of non-linear time–both mortal and immortal–drawing a relationship between the sandstone school’s past, transitional present, and the uncertain future yet to come,” they said. Visualizing the otherwise abstract concept, the suspended project invites people to consider how all moments are interwoven.
For the project, the creative trio ground the sandstone bricks from the original building. They then sifted and measured the substance into the hand-blown glasses that measure zero seconds to four hours. Motors, sensors, microcomputers, and an internal clock using GPS ensures that each vessel flips on time even if there’s a power outage.
To keep up with Shordee, Brown, and cSPACE King Edward, head to Instagram. You also might like Brown and Garrett’s interactive lightbulb sculpture and Carbon Copy, their installation that flipped a car on its front bumper
Share this story
Made of translucent glass, Laura Hart’s brilliant orchids appear to be the paragon of delicacy: the fleshy petals and neon-illuminated columns are in full bloom, representing a fleeting stage of life that’s modeled with an easily breakable substance. The Suffolk-based artist, though, is more concerned with the floral family’s historical resilience and aptitude for survival.
There are 28,000 known species of orchids, which 100-million-year-old fossil records prove were the first to bloom. “Representing a quarter of the world’s flowering plants, there are four times as many orchid species as there are mammals and twice as many birds,” Hart says. In her newest series, Orchis Exotica—which debuted earlier this year as part of Collect 2020 with Vessel Gallery—the central neon light is a nod to orchids’ efforts to attract necessary pollinators to ensure their survival. These successful strategies prove their adaptability, Hart says, a move she connects to Charles Darwin’s evolutionary theories.
Manacled by religious dogma of his time, he risked a charge of heresy had he cited another organism equally successful in achieving global population through adaptability. Though there is very little anecdotal record of his personal resolve that humans were the ultimate example of his revelatory theory, there can be no doubt he believed it to be so…The bi-coloured neon centres illuminate the uncanny resemblance between orchid and human reproductive organs; a parallel unlikely missed by the great man himself.
Orchis Exotica is an extension of Hart’s previous flowers that had similarly perfect symmetry but lacked the glowing portions. Despite LED lights being simpler to use, Hart tells Colossal she prefers the traditional mechanisms. “Why neon? Well, I am a lover of the light/art form; very much a rarity in itself these days with the advent of LED neon tube usurping traditional glass,” she writes. Constructed with a combination of 3D design software and traditional technique, each piece is hand fused and slumped to create the half-meter-wide flowers. They undergo multiple firings.
Of course, unlike living orchids, Hart’s sculptures prove their durability by their failure to wilt. Head to Instagram and Facebook to follow her vibrant works, and see which are available for purchase from Vessel Gallery.
Share this story
In Tianshui, China, a clear dome casts sunlight onto 483 polychromatic glass panels lining a kindergarten’s windows, railings, and doorways. It gives the spacious building a kaleidoscopic effect, refracting varying hues onto the white walls and minimalist wood furnishings. “Color shades can grow and shrink as colors overlap and become different colors, or move from a vertical plane to a horizontal plane and back again,” architect Keiichiro Sako wrote on Instagram. “I hope that spending childhood in this beautiful light will foster the creativity of the children.”
Centered on the open atrium, the playful glass pieces and doorways are rounded, which is a nod to the school’s location in the Loess Plateau. They even border the outdoor recreation area, giving the kids a colorful and translucent view of the surrounding city. (via Trendland, thnx Laura!)
Share this story
Editor's Picks: Photography
Highlights below. For the full collection click here.