inflatable

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Art Craft

Balloon-Like Sculptures Reimagine Blown Glass in Matthew Szösz’s ‘Inflatables’ Series

November 17, 2022

Kate Mothes

A glass sculpture by Matthew Szösz that resembles an unusual balloon.

“untitled(inflatable)no. 33.” All images © Matthew Szösz, shared with permission

The art of blown glass takes on new meaning in Matthew Szösz’s Inflatables series. About 15 years ago, the artist was interested in challenging assumptions about how the material could be worked and what form it could take. “In the craft and design field, the way that we make things has a profound effect on what we make,” he tells Colossal. “Blown glass and thrown pots are round; houses and furniture are rectangular. I spend a good portion of my time experimenting with process to try and use a new way of making to create new families of objects and forms.” The resulting sculptures capture a playful tension between fragility and strength, ephemerality and durability.

Using glass panes or sheets from salvaged windows, Szösz carefully plans the shape of the final form and cuts numerous pieces that are measured to slightly overlap so that when fused together, they create tight seams. Ceramic fiber paper separates the layers to prevent the material from sticking to both the kiln and itself. At 1,600 degrees Fahrenheit, the piece is swiftly removed from the kiln and inflated, balloon-like with compressed air. The glass is malleable for only about a minute at most before it cools to a hard object. “There is very little shaping that can be done during the inflation, so the process relies entirely on the preparation of the material,” Szösz explains. “Once you pull it out to inflate it, what you get is what you get.”

Szösz’s work with sheet glass take numerous forms, and his sculptures are currently on view in two exhibitions at BWA Wrócław Galleries of Contemporary Art, including a solo show titled Gold Standard, and the group exhibition Autonomous Zones, a collaboration with Pilchuck Glass School. You can follow more of the artist’s work on Instagram and his website.

 

A blown glass sculpture by Matthew Szösz that resembles an unusual balloon.

“untitled(inflatable)no. 95r”

A blown glass sculpture by Matthew Szösz that resembles an unusual balloon.

“untitled(inflatable)no_100bir”

A glass sculpture by Matthew Szösz that resembles an unusual balloon.

“untitled(inflatable)no. 71a”

A blown glass sculpture by Matthew Szösz that resembles an unusual balloon.

“untitled(inflatable)no. 93irk”

Blown glass sculptures by Matthew Szösz that resembles unusual balloons.

Left: “untitled(inflatable)no. 87.” Right: “untitled(inflatable)no. 75g”

A blown glass sculpture by Matthew Szösz that resembles an unusual balloon.

“untitled(inflatable)no. 90ir”

A blown glass sculpture by Matthew Szösz that resembles an unusual balloon.

“untitled(inflatable)no. 85b”

A blown glass sculpture by Matthew Szösz that resembles an unusual balloon.

“untitled(inflatable)no. 91irb”

A blown glass sculpture by Matthew Szösz that resembles an unusual balloon.

“”untitled(inflatable)no. 89g”

 

 

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Art

Bulbous Inflatable Installations by Steve Messam Interact with Historic Architecture and Landscapes

October 5, 2022

Kate Mothes

“Spiked” (2021). All images © Steve Messam, shared with permission

U.K.-based artist Steve Messam is known for his artistic interventions in the landscape, reinterpreting historical monuments, buildings, or rural areas with bold, ephemeral installations. Often inflated, his works reimagine or disrupt perceptions of our surroundings and impact how people move around and through them. Bright colors and striking forms that jut from colonnades, facades, and river banks prompt viewers to consider their relationships to the built environment.

As part of BlowUp Art Den Haag, a three-week outdoor exhibition featuring large-scale, temporary, inflatable artworks throughout The Hague, the artist has unveiled new work marking two notable locations. For one, a bronze statue of William I, or Willem de Oranje, who founded the Netherlands as an independent nation, a tube of green spikes playfully encircles the monument, transforming the atmosphere of the main square it overlooks.

You can find more work on Messam’s website and Instagram.

 

“Oranje,” (2022). Photo by Pim Top / Hague & Partners

Left: “Bridged” (2021). Right: “Multiform*” (2022)

“Portico” (2022)

“Oranje.” Photo by Pim Top / Hague & Partners

“Tunnel,” (2022). Photo by Pim Top / Hague & Partners

 

 



Art Science

An Enormous ‘E.coli’ Floats Through the National Museum of Scotland at 5 Million Times Its Actual Size

August 10, 2022

Kate Mothes

“E.coli”. All images © Luke Jerram. Photo by Neil Hanna, courtesy of the artist and National Museum of Scotland

In the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh, an enormous single-cell organism floats among the Victorian iron colonnades of the cavernous Grand Gallery. Bristol-based multidisciplinary artist Luke Jerram often explores the nature of scale and perception in his pieces (previously), and the latest installation of his inflatable sculpture “E.coli,” which has been displayed in locations around the U.K., spans 90 feet, representing the bacterium at 5 million times its actual size. (If humans were to scale up just as enormously, they would be about 5.5 miles tall!)

Escherichia coli (known as E.coli) is a group of mostly beneficial bacteria that live in the intestines of animals and humans. Some types can occasionally cause severe illness, usually transmitted on food. Jerram’s sculpture prompts visitors to re-examine their relationship with “germs,” elevating and celebrating the importance of bacteria for both health and science.

“E.coli” is on view as part of Edinburgh Art Festival through August 31. You can find more of Jerram’s work on his website.

 

Photo by Luke Jerram

Photo by Luke Jerram

Photo by Neil Hanna

 

 



Art

Illuminated Inflatable Sculptures Populate Whimsical Wonderlands by ENESS

March 31, 2022

Grace Ebert

All photos © ENESS, shared with permission

Giant striped characters, the world’s first inflatable fountain, and a mass of towering arches occupy the otherworldly installations designed by ENESS. The Melbourne-based studio creates immersive worlds of whimsical creatures and puffy, illuminated structures that spring from the ground. Often paired with upbeat soundscapes and interactive elements like squirting water and digital eyeballs, the air-filled sculptures are arranged as wonderlands of light and color that at night, bathe the viewer in a kaleidoscopic glow of LED bulbs.

ENESS’s “Cupid’s Koi Garden” (shown below) is on view from April 12 to August 21 alongside 14 artists as part of Pop Air, a collaborative exhibition between La Villette and Balloon Museum, that occupies more than 5,000-square-meters of the Grande Halle in Paris. Follow where the studio’s radiant inflatables are traveling next on Instagram.

 

“Cupid’s Koi Garden.” Photo by Sam Roberts

“Cupid’s Koi Garden.” Photo by Diana Snape

“Cupid’s Koi Garden.” Photo by Diana Snape

“Airship Orchestra.” Photo by Ben Weinstein

“Airship Orchestra.” Photo by Ben Weinstein

“Sky Castle.” Photo by Zu Rui

“Sky Castle.” Photo by Gavin Jowitt

“Sky Castle.” Photo by Gavin Jowitt

 

 



Art

Pink Inflatable Tubes and Spheres Form Immersive Pyramid Installations by Cyril Lancelin

September 22, 2019

Andrew LaSane

All images: Cyril Lancelin / town and concrete

French artist Cyril Lancelin recently designed two inflatable structures for the Made in America Festival in Philadelphia. Constructed out of nylon fabric, the installations feature repeated geometric shapes that expand to form giant pink pyramids.

Guests enter Pyramid Sphere through a tunnel that is intersected by round holes on left and right faces of the pyramid. The windows let in additional light and also allow those inside to peer out to the rest of the world. Pyramid Tube has no clear entrance or exit. Visitors are expected to navigate the spaces between where the tubes meet and where the structure meets the ground.

To create the massive inflatable forms, Lancelin used parametric modeling software. From corner to corner and from base to tip, the fully inflated Pyramid Tube and Pyramid Sphere structures are just shy of 33 and 40 feet, respectively. The artist explains that during the manufacturing process, designs are adjusted to fit the technical data and to account for factors such as air resistance, structure resistance, and budget. 3D software is used to create a flat template, which each piece fitting together like a puzzle.

“When I design an immersive installation, I like the visitor to be totally in the sculpture,” Lancelin told Colossal. “I found that inflatables were a good way to make monumental installations, but also using as [little] material as possible, and being very light for shipping.”

To see more of Cyril Lancelin’s brightly colored inflatables as well as his steel sculptures, follow the artist on Instagram.

 

 



Art

An Immersive Inflatable Labyrinth of Light and Color by Architects of Air

June 29, 2019

Andrew LaSane

All images via Architects of Air

Designer and Architects of Air founder Alan Parkinson’s latest architecture maze, Daedalum, is a 153-foot long inflatable structure, recently installed in London as a part of the Greenwich + Docklands International Festival. Light fills the labyrinth’s tunnels through colored panels made of translucent material, bathing the interior in bright and ethereal hues.

Parkinson’s maze is comprised of 19 interconnected egg-shaped domes. Named for the father of Icarus and the designer of the minotaur’s labyrinth from Greek Mythology, Daedalum is one of several traveling luminaria created and installed in over 40 countries since 1992. A highlight of the network of color-soaked roams is the ceiling of its Main Dome, which features a 600-piece pattern inspired by Rome’s Pantheon.

“I design the structures to create a particular encounter with the phenomenon of light,” Parkinson told Dezeen. “I devise an architecture to encourage a sense of wonder.” On his use of inflatables as a medium, the designer said that it is “transient and aspires to be utopian in a way that permanent architecture, with its feet on the ground is often not allowed to be.” He added that as designers he and his team still have to “engage with the parameters that actual architecture engages with–wind-loading, drainage, temperature control and wheelchair accessibility.” (via Dezeen)