Starting in 2013, Los Angeles-based conceptual artist Glenn Kaino has had the opportunity to meet and collaborate with a man whose act of protest had long inspired him. “Bridge” is Kaino’s 100-foot long construction featuring two hundred casts of former American track and field runner and Olympic gold medalist Tommie Smith’s arm, which he raised as a human rights salute during the National Anthem after taking gold at the 1968 Summer Olympics. Kaino’s work will be installed as a part of a larger exhibition at the High Museum in Atlanta in fall 2018. We spoke with the artist to learn more about how his collaboration with Smith came to be.
On the podium of the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico, African American medalists Tommie Smith and John Carlos went from being top-performing athletes representing the United States to legendary activists with a simple yet powerful gesture. The photograph of Smith and Carlos with their heads lowered and their leather-clad fists raised is one of the most iconic images of the 20th century, and Kaino tells Colossal that it is one that he used to have taped to the side of his iMac.
A friend of Kaino’s noticed the picture and referred to Tommie as “Coach Smith,” revealing that he knew the former athlete from his days as track coach. The friend set up the meeting, and Kaino soon found himself at Coach Smith’s home in Atlanta, watching tape of the race in slow motion as Tommie broke it down almost frame by frame. “I didn’t have a pitch,” Kaino said of the way he finally approached the topic of collaboration with the gold medalist and his wife, “but I did have an observation.” He noticed that Tommie Smith’s home was like a “time bubble,” with memorabilia and references to his career and to his most famous moment. Kaino says that as someone who was born after the salute, the image has always been symbolic, but for the Smiths it was personal. “You shook my hand with that arm, you brush your teeth with that arm,” he said to Tommie.
Through the conversation, Kaino convinced Tommie to collaborate on a project that would remove the icon (the arm) from his body and help him see the salute the way that others do. Back in Los Angeles, after experimenting with what Kaino believes to have been the arm of an Aquaman figure, they got to work casting Smith’s arm and clenched fist. He used the cast to create hundreds of fiberglass arms, which he then painted gold and hung from wires to form, according to the artist’s website, “a golden path leading forward from the present but connected to the past, a spectacular reconciliation of a historic record, an individual memory, and a public symbol all renegotiated in an infrastructure of time to creates stories of the now.”
As for connecting the past and present, it is interesting to consider Kaino’s work and Smith’s salute as it relates to Black athletes today, like Colin Kaepernick, who are criticized for publicly protesting similar issues 50 years later. Kaino tells Colossal that he is working on a documentary to tell Smith’s story that goes deeper than the one image that everyone knows. For those who want to see “Bridge” in person, the exhibition, titled With Drawn Arms: Glenn Kaino and Tommie Smith, opens in Atlanta, Georgia at the High Museum on September 29, 2018. (via Artnet)
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One of the must-see shows in Amsterdam this summer is the debut museum solo of Studio Drift (previously) at Stedelijk Museum, which balances elements of tech art, performance, and biodesign. The exhibition, titled Coded Nature, presents a wide range of transdisciplinary works from the Dutch studio that engage with topics from sustainability to issues raised by the growing use of augmented reality.
Founded by Lonneke Gordijn and Ralph Nauta, Studio Design typically creates installation, sculptural works, video projections, and interactive VR. One of the standout pieces in their new exhibition is Drifter, a floating concrete monolith measuring 13 x 6 1/2 feet, which tenderly levitates inside one of the museum galleries (the video below shows the work on display in 2017 at the Armory Show in New York). The puzzling effect of seeing such a familiar object floating through space is emphasized with a video projection of the film Drifters, which follows the same concrete sculpture as it floats through the Scottish Highlands.
Contrasting the effect of the large floating concrete block is the breathtaking installation Fragile Future Chandelier 3.5 which consists of countless bionic dandelions with glowing LED lights at their centers. The labor-intensive installation, like many of the studio’s works, challenges relationships between man, nature, and technology. Other works include the light installations Tree of Ténéré and Flylight, and kinetic installations Semblance and In 20 Steps, which are all based on naturally designed forms or movements.
Studio Drift: Coded Nature will run through August 26, 2018. You can see more site-specific installations and science fiction-inspired works on the studio’s website and Instagram, and take a deeper look inside the duo’s process in the videos below.
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Guided by the movement of a flower stalk on a breezy day, a field of indoor plants seem to move in a choreographed dance. To create this mesmerizing movement, artist David Bowen installed indoors 126 plant stalks attached to x/y tilting mechanical devices. The indoor devices then jerk and tilt in near perfect synchronicity with an identical plant affixed to an accelerometer, which moves freely outside.
In its most recent iteration, tele-present wind has been installed indoors at Azkuna Zentroa in Bilbao, Spain, and outside at the University of Minnesota’s Visualization and Digital Imaging Lab. As a result, the plants in Spain were responsive to subtle wind current happening over four thousand miles away. The project is on view in Spain until September, 2018. Bowen works with movement and technology in many of his works, including SPACEJUNK, in which fifty twigs point in unison to the direction of the oldest piece of man-made space debris. You can see more from the artist on Instagram and Vimeo. (via Prosthetic Knowledge)
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A ghostly piano frame releases swarms of white thread and sheet music in a new installation at Yorkshire Sculpture Park by Japanese artist Chiharu Shiota (previously). The work, titled Beyond Time, is installed in an 18th century chapel. Yorkshire Sculpture Park describes Shiota’s work as referencing “the Chapel’s rich history and years of human presence, dating back to 1744, making poignant allusion to the bells that were rung, the songs that were sung, and the lives that revolved around it, from cradle to grave.”
Shiota lives in Berlin, and exhibits widely. Her installations are currently on view in Gothenburg, Milan, and Knislinge, and a new piece opens in Germany on June 22, 2018. You can see more of the artist’s projects on Instagram and Facebook.
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Japanese artist Tanabe Chikuunsai IV produces twisting installations of woven bamboo that meld into their environment’s floor and ceiling. To bend the durable material he first moistens each piece to achieve the perfect curve, and often recycles the same pieces of bamboo for future installations. In 2017 the artist constructed a site-specific piece titled The Gate at The Metropolitan Museum of Art. The work used tiger bamboo that had been used ten times, including in a piece shown at the Museé Guimet in Paris.
“Technique and skill and spirit are important,” Chikuunsai IV told The Sculpture Center last summer. “My parents taught me that this spirit is more important than technique. Using bamboo, I try to keep the spirit and tradition in my heart as I create new work.”
The art form was past down to Chikuunsai IV from a long line of bamboo craftsman, including his father. Formally he earned a degree in sculpture from Tokyo University of the Arts, and trained in bamboo crafts at a school in Beppu on the island of Kyushu, Japan. Chikuunsai has a sculpture currently on view at the historic estate Domaine de Chaumont-sur-Loire (thnx Helen!). You can see a time lapse video of last year’s installation at The Met on the museum’s Youtube channel. (via I Need A Guide)
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Billowing clouds of smoke burst upon rugged mountainous terrains, deserted architecture, and blossoming fields. These vibrant, ethereal sceneries are captured by French photographers Isabelle Chapuis and Alexis Pichot and are part of their Blossom project. The duo’s smokey clouds emerge from beautiful landscapes and desolate buildings alike, transforming both natural and abandoned scenes into enchanted spaces of sorcery and wonder.
Chapuis and Pichot’s collaborative project is a celebration of the beauty of natural forms, of what nature grows into without humankind’s influence. Each cloud is created by adding colored pigments to smoke including pastel pinks, vivid blues, dark greens, and creamy yellows. The duo captures the resulting colorful scene scene with a Nikon D810 camera.
The project is set in various parts of the globe including the US, Morocco, Turkey, and Norway, each of which has unique natural topography. The clouds take different forms depending on the landscape. In one photo a mustard yellow cloud resembles volcanic smoke, yet in another, a cloud looks like an peach-hued spiritual form haunting an old industrial site.
With ‘Blossom’, the artists share with Colossal that they seek to illustrate a visual manifestation of humanity’s creative impulse, and to raise awareness on the interventions of mankind in territory. “If people are absent from these photographs, their imprint is suggested among these wild natural or abandoned landscapes,” states Chapuis.
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Polish-German artist Karina Smigla-Bobinski gives buoyancy to the act of drawing with ADA, a large inflatable drawing tool. Filled with helium, ADA floats freely, making lines with its charcoal spikes as it moves through a room. More dramatic mark-making starts to occur when humans are added to the mix: the video above shows visitors engaging with ADA at Muffathalle where it was installed for a week in Munich, Germany.
The artist describes ADA in a statement: “The globe put in action fabricates a composition of lines and points, which remain incalculable in their intensity, expression, and form however hard the visitor tries to control ADA, to drive her, to domesticate her. Whatever he tries out, he would notice very soon, that ADA is an independent performer, studding the originally white walls with drawings and signs.”
Smigla-Bobinski categorizes ADA as biotechnology and pays homage to past creatives that have designed computer-like works, which give unpredictable outputs once given a command. She mentions Ada Lovelace, Jean Tinguely, and Vannevar Bush as influences.
The artist studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Krakow and Munich. Her work, which ranges from kinetic sculptures to multimedia theater performances, has been shown in forty five countries. ADA made its debut at the Electronic Language Int. Festival in São Paulo, in 2011, and has since traveled the world. You can see more from Smigla-Bobinski on her website and YouTube channel.
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Editor's Picks: Murals
Highlights below. For the full collection click here.