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Art Design

A Virtual Installation Immerses Viewers in a Reactive Environment of Shape-Shifting Architecture

September 20, 2021

Grace Ebert

“Medusa.” All images courtesy of London Design Festival, shared with permission

A landmark collaboration between Japanese architect Sou Fujimoto (previously) and Tin Drum, a production studio and technology developer, brings an undulating, reactive installation to the 2021 London Design Festival, but the immersive artwork is only viewable through a headset. Falling at the intersection of architecture and virtual reality, “Medusa” is comprised of monochromatic pillars that appear to suspend from the ceiling in a rippling environment. As viewers move through Raphael Court at the Victoria and Albert Museum where the work is on display, the responsive structure shifts and alters its composition in light and shape.

The work draws inspiration from the dynamic displays of the aurora borealis and underwater bioluminescence, two phenomena that manifest through the animated qualities and shifting patterns of Fujimoto’s curved forms. “This is the first time I am designing architecture with non-physical materials—it’s using light and pure expanse of the space,” he said in a statement. “It’s an architecture experience but completely new and different.”

“Medusa” is on view through September 26.

 

 

 



Craft Design

A Whimsical Ad Uses Conductive Thread to Light Up Miniature Scenes Made of Yarn and Fabric

September 8, 2021

Grace Ebert

Simple landscapes dotted with felt trees, miniature power lines, and spool-propelled ambulances become twinkling nightscapes and whimsically glowing scenes in “Connecting Thoughts.” The advertisement, which was created to promote the Japanese infrastructure firm Kandenko’s “Everyone Lights up the Future” message, uses Smart-X conductive thread to send electric currents through figures stitched into gloves and around yarn-based architecture, illuminating each scenario with tiny bulbs. This short piece follows the company’s 2016 ad, which used a conductive marker to create a dazzling pop-up book.

 

 

 



Art

Lights and Painted Blocks of Color Intersect in a Perspective-Bending Installation by Luftwerk

August 9, 2021

Grace Ebert

All images © Luftwerk, shared with permission

A deceptively trippy installation by Chicago-based duo Luftwerk (previously) immerses viewers in a distorted environment of color and sound. Relying entirely on physical properties for its illusions, Open Square connects two spaces that are painted with clean, angled blocks of color in cool and warm tones. Prismatic LED lights flash across the rooms, skewing their boundaries and creating perpetually changing settings that appear to emerge and fade over time.

The abstract installation is part of Factory Installed 2021, a group exhibition at Mattress Factory on view now through November 14. One of five projects, Luftwerk’s Open Square transforms the historic building into a kaleidoscopic experience that’s “designed to mesmerize and shed the outside world, holding limitless possibilities for exploration,” a statement says. “Developed throughout the Covid-19 lockdowns of 2020, the exhibition reflects on the habitat that defines our everyday experience.”

Artists Petra Bachmaier and Sean Gallero are behind Luftwerk, and you can explore more of their site-specific installations on their site and Instagram.

 

 

 



Science

A Scorpion and Her Babies Emit a Fluorescent Blue and Purple Glow Under UV Light

July 26, 2021

Grace Ebert

Artist Sarah Folts explores the vast world of insects and arachnids, and she recently captured extraordinary footage of an unusual phenomenon. Under UV light, a scorpion and the babies cradled on her back radiate a bright blue and purple glow caused by proteins in the pincered creatures’ exoskeletons—the younger predators will stay in this position until their shells adequately harden. Scientists are unsure what the evolutionary purpose of the fluorescent color is, although theories include an inadvertent chemical reaction, a tactic for deceiving prey, and the novel idea that their entire bodies function as giant eyes. (via Laughing Squid)

 

 

 



Art

Immersive Installations by Liz West Convert Spaces into Glowing Arenas of Prismatic Light

June 30, 2021

Grace Ebert

“Hymn to the Big Wheel” (2021), steel, PVC vinyl, and polycarbonate, 480 x 480 x 300 centimeters. All images courtesy of Liz West, shared with permission

Whether nestling an iridescent tunnel inside a Georgian-style church or encircling a concrete walkway with multicolor ribbons, Liz West transforms whatever space she approaches into a dynamic field of kaleidoscopic light and shadow. The prolific British artist (previously) is known for her large-scale pieces that use reflection and refraction to create dazzling immersive environments. Often utilizing translucent panels and a combination of natural light and LEDs, West’s intention is to enhance sensory awareness, showing the potential the full spectrum of color has to impact both psychological and physical reactions.

On view through August 21 at Canary Wharf in London, “Hymn to the Big Wheel” (shown above)  is an architectural installation comprised of two concentric octagons that cast layered jewel-toned shadows depending on the viewer’s position. The piece draws its name from Massive Attack’s “Hymn Of The Big Wheel” and has what West calls a “sun-dial effect” that changes how the light streams through the panels depending on the time of day.

Other recent projects include “Aglow,” which arranged 169 fluorescent bowls in a hexagon outside of the Musee Nissim de Camondo in Paris. The individual elements were designed to catch rainfall, which once pooled in the base, added an extra layer of color and illusion to the patterned grouping. Similarly deceptive is West’s 2021 piece titled “Presence” at Christ Church in Macclesfield, which produced an obscured and prismatic path through the historic site that presented the existing architecture through the lens of colorful panels.

West is currently working on two permanent installations launching in August and September in Salford, while “Hundreds and Thousands” (shown below) will be taken down this fall. You can follow her vibrant constructions on her site and Instagram.

 

“Aglow” (2018), acrylic, 1,500 x 45 x 1,500 centimeters

“Aglow” (2018), acrylic, 1,500 x 45 x 1,500 centimeters

“Hundreds and Thousands” (2021), pigment injected polyester, 700 linear meters

Detail of “Hundreds and Thousands” (2021), pigment injected polyester, 700 linear meters

“Hymn to the Big Wheel” (2021), steel, PVC vinyl and polycarbonate, 480 x 480 x 300 centimeters

“Presence” (2021), metal, dichroic vinyl, and polycarbonate, 1,500 x 140 x 300 centimeters

“Our Spectral Vision” (2016), dichroic glass, LEDs, and acrylic, 700 x 220 x 40 centimeters

“Presence” (2021), metal, dichroic vinyl, and polycarbonate, 1,500 x 140 x 300 centimeters

“Presence” (2021), metal, dichroic vinyl, and polycarbonate, 1,500 x 140 x 300 centimeters

 

 



Art

An Eclectic Group Show Features Sound Sculptures, Collages, and Toy Assemblages for the Annual BBA Artist Prize

June 18, 2021

Grace Ebert

By June Lee. All images courtesy of BBA Artist Prize, shared with permission

A broad, varied collection of work from 20 emerging artists converges in a group exhibition for the sixth-annual BBA Artist Prize. Living in ten countries and working across mediums, this year’s finalists include Steve Parker’s touch-activated horn sculptures, Fiona White’s vivid collaged paintings, and June Lee’s figurative assemblages of toys and everyday objects. The winner of 2021’s award will be announced on June 25, with all works on view at Kühlhaus Berlin through June 30. Get a preview on the BBA site, and check out artist Ming Lu’s blue-and-white porcelain sculptures, which won the 2020 competition.

 

By Ewa Cwikla

By Fiona White

By Ernst Miesgang

By Steve Parker

Left: Nina Ekman. By Right: By Juliette Losq

By Sandra Blatterer