interactive

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Art

Ride EJ Hill’s Bubblegum Pink Roller Coaster Through a Mass MoCA Gallery

November 15, 2022

Grace Ebert

A photo of a person riding a pink roller coaster in a gallery

“Brava!” (2022), installation view at Mass MoCA. All images courtesy of Mass MoCA, shared with permission

Throughout the Jim Crow era, Black people were often barred entry to recreation spaces like public swimming pools and amusement parks. As these sites of leisure and joy were officially desegregated following the landmark Brown vs. Board of Education case, those who continued to champion separation imposed new restrictions to control access to such areas. This included charging high fees to even enter the parks rather than smaller prices per ride, a practice that’s still widely in use today and has proliferated to other cultural arenas like museums.

Artist EJ Hill considers the racialized legacy of such entertainment through Brake Run Helix, the Los Angeles-based artist’s largest solo show to date and first at an institution. On view through January 2024 at the Massachusettes Museum of Contemporary Art, the exhibition revolves around the roller coaster as a way to excavate the history of identity, recreation, and pleasure. Through sculptures, installations, paintings, and smaller works, Hill considers the rides “public monuments to the possibility of attaining joy,” a feeling that is necessary for creating an equitable society.

The center of Brake Run Helix—this title references the mechanisms that slow or stop the cars and the 360-degree turn within the track—is a 260-foot bubblegum pink roller coaster. “Brava!” allows for a single rider, who emerges on a bright blue cart through a velvet curtain before plummeting a few feet and riding the undulating architecture through the Building 5 gallery.

 

A photo of a person riding a pink roller coaster in a gallery

Hill sees these rides as a sort of solo performance by museum visitors, who are propelled by gravity around the course before halting on a wooden stage in front of viewers. “I’m no longer interested in being the one to perform for a ravenous audience who wants to either celebrate me or consume me,” the artist told The New York Times in reference to earlier projects that involved him standing or lying atop an artwork for long periods. “I’m making this elaborate stage for other people to perform while I collect myself and recharge.”

Hill’s manner of inhabiting the world as a Black, queer person is also reflected in the pastel pink that runs throughout the exhibition, considering the pigment is traditionally associated with the feminine. “I feel like I understand bodily threat in a very real way. Every day when I leave my place, the threat to my bodily existence is palpable,” he said in that same interview, sharing that the interactive installation is a way “to bring people as much as I can to understanding what that feels like, but in a space of joy, of being a human in the world.”

For more of Hill’s multi-disciplinary works, visit his site and Instagram.

 

A photo of a pink roller coaster in a gallery

A photo of pink roller coasters in a gallery

A photo of a pink roller coaster in a gallery

A photo of a pink roller coaster in a gallery viewed through a wooden entrance

A photo of a person riding a pink roller coaster in a gallery

 

 

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Design Science

Fly with More Than 450 Bird Species on Their Annual Migrations with Audubon’s New Interactive Maps

October 13, 2022

Grace Ebert

All images courtesy of Bird Migration Explorer

What route does the whooping crane follow as it travels south each year? What about the long-winged turkey vulture? A new interactive guide from Audubon tracks the journeys of more than 450 species as they travel around the hemisphere. Complete with the conservation organization’s signature illustrations, the Bird Migration Explorer features digital maps that offer detailed insight into such grand-scale avian movement and are searchable by different taxonomies. Follow a tundra swan’s annual flight path from the arctic, see where the organization spots tagged merlins, and explore the difficulties a horned lark faces as it encounters human activity and climate crisis-related changes on its treks. (via Alastair Humphreys)

 

 

 



Art

Responsive Sculptures by Daniel Rozin Echo Human Movement Through Undulating Objects

March 28, 2022

Grace Ebert

A solo exhibition at bitforms gallery highlights the fleeting nature of interaction in a series of responsive sculptures by artist Daniel Rozin (previously). Titled Shades, the show is comprised of multiple imitative works that reflect viewers’ movements through an embedded camera. “Take Out-Chopsticks Mirror,” for example, attaches the wooden utensils to a motorized base, and as someone passes in front of the piece, the components lift upward at a wider angle. In addition to the echoed motion, the undulating works rely on light and shadow to create intriguing, abstract renditions of human gesture.

Also included in the exhibition are two inverse sculptures, “CMY Shadows Mirror” and “RGB Peg Mirror.” Both works reproduce full-color reflections, although the former uses the subtractive color model and the latter additive. Whether animated by human presence or a pre-programmed algorithm, the resulting forms become dynamic displays of kaleidoscopic color.

If you’re in New York City, you can see Shades at bitforms gallery through April 23, and see more of Rozin’s works on his site and Instagram.

 

“RGB Peg Mirror” (2019), anodized aluminum knobs, motors, 3D camera, control electronics, computer, custom software, 72 inches in diameter and 4 inches in depth

“Take Out-Chopsticks Mirror” (2021), chopsticks, motors, wood, custom software, computer, camera, 66 x 34 x 17 inches

Detail of “Take Out-Chopsticks Mirror” (2021), chopsticks, motors, wood, custom software, computer, camera, 66 x 34 x 17 inches

 

 



Art

A Circle of Light Beams Undulates in an Interactive Kinetic Installation by Scale Collective

April 7, 2021

Grace Ebert

An undulating kinetic artwork by Scale Collective blends organic movement and architectural forms in a mesmerizing installation. Created for the Constellations Festival in Metz, France, “Flux” is comprised of 48 beams of light that stretch 1.5-meters-long and are spaced 40 centimeters apart. Each is connected to a single mechanism that’s motorized and controlled by viewers through an interface, allowing for a synchronized performance of twisting and coiling patterns. “The formal multiplication of these lines coupled with micro variations of phases, time delays, speeds, and amplitudes allows us to sculpt an object 20 meters long, alive and evolving with a cyclical back and forth movement,” the French collective says. See more of the group’s dynamic projects on its site, Vimeo, and Instagram. (via Core 77)

 

All images via Scale Collective

 

 



Art Design

Rael San Fratello’s Pink Teeter-Totters at the U.S.-Mexico Border Win Beazley Design of the Year

January 19, 2021

Grace Ebert

The three neon pink seesaws that slotted through the U.S.-Mexico border were just named the 2020 Beazley Design of the Year. Conceived by Oakland-based artists Ronald Rael and Virginia San Fratello (previously), the playful, subversive project was installed in July 2019 between El Paso, Texas, and Ciudad Juárez and physically connected the two communities despite the 20-foot barrier. The prestigious, annual award comes from London’s Design Museum.

Rael and San Fratello spent a decade working on “Teeter-Totter Wall” before its installation at the border during a particularly divisive time under the Trump administration. Although it was in use for less than an hour, the interactive work intended to foster and display unity between children and adults from both countries as they physically lifted each other up. In response to the administration separating families at the border, Rael wrote about the project:

The teeter-totters represented the kind of balance necessary for any two people, two nations, to achieve equality, with the understanding that the actions on one side have direct consequences on the other. The teeter-totter is the physical manifestation of the Golden Rule—treat others as you would like others to treat you—a maxim that is shared by all cultures and religions. To experience joy on a teeter-totter, you must allow the other person to experience joy as well.

Among the other winners are a 3D rendering of SARS-CoV-2 by Alissa Eckert and Dan Higgins for the CDC and Social Design Collaborative’s “ModSkool,” a moveable building that can be easily assembled and taken down in response to evictions of farming communities in India. Check out all the top designs through the museum’s virtual exhibition that runs until March 28, and head to Rael San Fratello’s site and Instagram to see more of the duo’s socially minded projects.

 

 

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Art History

Immerse Yourself in the ‘Bob Ross Experience,’ a Permanent Exhibit Dedicated to the Beloved Painter

November 5, 2020

Grace Ebert

Bob Ross on the set of The Joy of Painting. All images © Minnetrista, shared with permission

In the small city of Muncie, Indiana stands a three-story house with white columns lining the front stoop. Now unassuming, the brick structure formerly featured a sign at its entrance reading “WIPB TV,” denoting the camera crew inside recording beloved icon Bob Ross, who filmed more than 400 episodes of The Joy of Painting in the space from 1983 to 1994. Today, the house has been transformed to honor the legacy of the PBS artist, whose joyful manner and positivity inspired his devoted fans for more than a decade.

Formally called the Bob Ross Experience, the $1.2 million permanent exhibit and masterclass series pays homage to the painter by recreating the set where his soothing voice echoed instructions on blending pinks and blues for a sky or adding highlights. A rotating selection of his original paintings, like “Gray Mountain” and “Sunset Aglow,” line the home, which also features a 1980s-style living room complete with a plaid lounger. His personal items, including keys and hair pick, are on display, along with memorabilia celebrating Ross. Other than the artist’s palette knife, easel, and brushes, many of the artifacts are free to touch.

 

The studio

Opened in October, the museum is housed at the Lucius L. Ball House on the Minnetrista campus, a year-round gathering place with historic buildings, children’s entertainment, and workshops. About a half-mile up the street, the interactive exhibit continues in a building where “Certified Ross Instructors” teach masterclasses a few times each month. Participants are encouraged to embrace “happy little accidents,” just as Ross advocated in his episodes—many of which are available to watch on YouTube—as they paint serene landscapes, sunsets, and wildlife.

In the coming months, Minnetrista organizers plan to convert the upper levels of the house into gallery and studio space, according to The New York Times. To follow updates on the renovations or book your own Bob Ross Experience, visit the organization’s site.

 

Ross’s brushes

The Lucius L. Ball House, where Ross filmed The Joy of Painting

The entrance to the museum

The living room of the Bob Ross Experience

Artifacts on display in the museum

A Certified Ross Instructor teaches a masterclass