A Mirrored Ceiling and Gleaming Tile Floor Turn This Chinese Bookstore into an Immersive M.C. Escher-Style Illusion
X+Living is known for its deceptively designed Zhongshuge bookstores that mimic M.C. Escher woodcuts and trippy infinite spaces. The latest iteration is this dreamy location in Chengdu featuring bold archways, a reflective tile floor that makes the display tables appear like floating boats, and a mirror embedded in the ceiling to create a seemingly endless loop of stairways and shelving. Completed in 2020, Dujiangyan Zhongshuge has a cafe on the first floor, along with a children’s area occupied by a bamboo forest and pandas climbing the bookcases. In the rest of the two-story space, the uppermost shelves lining the winding walkways are covered in a decorative print, adding to the illusion of countless volumes and ensuring all 80,000 available titles are within a customer’s reach.
See more of the Zhongshuge locations, in addition to the Shanghai-based studio’s cinemas, family parks, and retail spaces, on its site.
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Cosmic Nature: A Spectacular Polka Dot-Filled Exhibition by Yayoi Kusama Sprawls Across New York Botanical Garden
Now inhabiting the verdant, 250-acre campus of the New York Botanical Garden are oversized flowers sprouting in seasonal arrangements, a glowing pumpkin-packed infinity room, and a sea of 1,400 reflective spheres by Yayoi Kusama (previously). Teeming with squiggly sculptures, site-specific installations, and smaller pieces covered in the Japanese artist’s iconic polka dots, Cosmic Nature is an expansive exhibition celebrating decades of Kusama’s bold, joyful body of work.
Four new pieces are debuting during the immersive show, like the tentacled creature that marks the entrance to the grounds. Others include a 16-foot-tall dancing pumpkin, an obliteration greenhouse, and a new infinity room that reflects the lush greenery of the outdoor environment. Coupled with a variety of smaller acrylic paintings, fabric sculptures, and drawings on paper—the earliest of which dates back to 1945— the most recent works establish a broad visual trajectory of Kusama’s fixation on the natural world and never-ending penchant for polka dots.
While many of the playful blooms connect to larger themes about the human relationship to the environment, some pieces are distinctly personal, including “Flower Obsession,” which invites visitors into a space that mimics the artists’ own greenhouse. “Our earth is only one polka dot among a million stars in the cosmos…when we obliterate nature and our bodies with polka dots, we become part of the unity of our environment,” the prolific artist notably said.
Cosmic Nature opens this weekend at the Bronx venue and runs through October 31. (via Hyperallergic)
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Suspended Orbs, Webs, and Air Plants Imagine an Alternative Ecological Future by Artist Tomás Saraceno
Three reflective spheres hover above the courtyard of Florence’s Palazzo Strozzi in Tomás Saraceno’s immersive installation. The metallic orbs mirror the historic Renaissance architecture in addition to visitors who pass by, while marking the entrance to the imagined space that explores life beyond anthropocentrism. As its name suggests, Aria is concerned with air, encompassing human travel, its ability to foster growth, and how it’s entwined with every living organism.
The Argentinian artist (previously) is known for his large-scale works that fall at the intersection of science and art and consider the human toll on the natural world. Throughout Aria are various experiences dealing with contemporary environmental issues: Glass forms hang from the ceiling and house Tillandsia plants, which need only air to survive, while “A Thermodynamic Imaginary” considers the immensity of the sun and its unused potential.
Each of the works also references one of Saraceno’s 33 arachnomancy cards that explore ecological interconnectivity. References to arachnids manifest in the complex systems that hold Weaire–Phelan structures in “Connectome” or in the stark “Aerographies,” a series of clear balloons and framed networks that explore how “the movements of people, heat, animals, and spider/webs affect and are affected by the air,” a statement from Saraceno says.
Ecosystems have to be thought of as webs of interactions, within which each living being’s ecology co‐evolves, together with those of others. By focusing less on individuals and more on reciprocal relationships, we might think beyond what means are necessary to control our environments and more on the shared formation of our quotidian.
If you’re in Florence, stop by the Palazzo Strozzi to see Saraceno’s work before it closes on November 1, 2020. Otherwise, find out more about what he has planned for the rest of the year, which includes a new solar-powered balloon, on his site and Instagram. (via This Isn’t Happiness)
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AZIMUT, an installation by French artist and designer Arnaud Lapierre, offers a prismatic look at some of Venice’s historic structures. Situated along the waterfront of Riva degli Schiavoni, 16 titled mirrors with battery-powered motors rest on the cobblestone walkway in front of the Palazzo Ducale, a gothic landmark that dates back to the 14th century and currently houses one of the Italian city’s museums. The reflective circles spin in tandem, offering a magnified view of the palace’s patterned stone and the intricate details on its facade.
When facing the water, the mirrors even pick up glimpses of the San Giorgio Maggiore, a Benedictine church that was completed in the 16th century. Featuring massive marble columns, the basicillica was designed by Renaissance architect Andrea Palladio.
Lapierre described the project as “a loss of balance, of recomposing landscape and a patchwork observation,” of the surrounding architecture and historic city. For more of his designs that question and alter perspectives, head to Instagram and Vimeo. (via designboom)
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Korean artist Lee Bul examines shared human consciousness in a variety of forms, creating tentacled sculptures, futuristic chandeliers, and other large-scale forms that refract the audience through tiny mirrored tiles. The installations and sculptures are at once inspired by the past as they draw from societal folklore and shared histories, and the future, as they consider technological advancements.
“For Lee Bul, humankind’s fascination with technology ultimately refers to our preoccupations with the human body and our desire to transcend flesh in pursuit of immortality,” explains the artist’s biography. “This interest often materializes in her work in the form of a cyborg—a being that is both organic and machine—the closest thing to a human that truly achieves this ideal.”
Bul views the cyborg as a metaphor for our current attraction and repulsion to advanced technology, her works a dual representation of its attractive and monster-like qualities. This year Lee Bul received the Ho-Am Prize for The Arts, which is awarded to people of Korean heritage who have made significant accomplishments to science, engineering, medicine, community service, the arts, or other specialized fields. Bul’s solo exhibition of recent painting and sculpture titled City of the Sun closed at SCAD Museum of Art on July 28, 2019. You can see more of her sculptures and installations on her gallery Lehmann Maupin’s website.
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Mirror Mirror, a recent commission by the Alexandria, Virginia’s Office of the Arts, is a reflective semi-circular structure which hides a prismatic array of mirrors at its center. The multi-colored panels are placed at sharp angles within the round sculpture, and refract dazzling, geometric patterns of light as the sun hits its interior. The work was produced by New York-based design studio SOFTlab, who was inspired by the lens used in the city’s historic 19th-century lighthouse. The Fresnel lens was an advanced technology at the time, and uses a series of prisms to create a bright and direct light source as a navigational aid.
In addition to reflecting Alexandria’s waterfront and the surrounding urban environment, the outdoor installation has LED fixtures that respond to visitors’ voices and bodies. Each vertical component of the structure is activated to produce light, allowing the work to be brilliantly illuminated, even after the sun sets. A demonstration of how the sculpture reacts to human movement can be seen in the video below. You can view more works by SOFTlab on their website and Instagram. (via designboom)
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