Intricate Sculptures by Zheng Lu Suspend Splashes of Water in Stainless Steel
Harnessing the energy of water in motion, Zheng Lu’s metallic sculptures appear frozen in time. The Beijing-based artist defies utilitarian or industrial associations with steel, creating tension between the material and the fluid forms. Challenging our expectations and understanding of physics, smooth, chrome-like surfaces reflect the surroundings and change in the light as the viewer moves around them, further adding to the perception that the sculpture itself is in motion. In some of the works, Zheng composes surfaces of thousands of Chinese characters derived from historical texts and poems, nodding to early Chinese philosophers who studied physical principles of the natural world to better understand cosmological mysteries.
Zheng’s exhibition Liquid Narratives runs March 16 to 29 at HOFA Gallery in London, marking the artist’s first show in the U.K., and you can find more of his work on his website.
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A House of Crimson Steel Vines Harbors Memory and Mourning in Wuhan Shimenfeng Memorial Park
Rambling, weathered ivy constructs the walls of a home placed among the quiet, serene cemetery of Wuhan Shimenfeng Memorial Park. The project of designer Hu Quanchun of Field Conforming Studio, “The Vanished House” elicits the act of remembering in a public space devoted to mourning and memories. Tension between the enduring and transitory pervades the architectural work, shown through the combination of the sturdy material and open roof that appears to fade around the perimeter.
In a statement about the memorializing project, the studio likens the structure to that of a child’s sketch, explaining that the simple design draws attention to the sprawling vegetal forms laser cut from sheets of Corten steel. Over time, the crimson material will age with rain and sun, and its rusted color will stand in starker contrast to the green environment.
For more from Field Conforming Studio, including a similar vine-based project installed at Delong Steel Art Park in Leting, Tangshan, visit its site. (via designboom)
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Life and Death Converge in a Two-Sided Field of 17,000 Steel Flowers by Zadok Ben-David
At the heart of Zadok Ben-David’s Natural Reserve on view at Kew Gardens is a low-lying plot sprouting nearly 1,000 plant species. The sprawling, ecologically diverse installation, which has traveled to multiple cities like Seoul, Tel Aviv, and Paris since 2006, is titled “Blackfield,” a name tied to the flowers’ dualistic nature: one side captures the vibrancy of life through bright, fantastical colors, while the other is painted entirely black.
Containing upwards of 17,000 steel-etched botanicals, the installation considers the precarious line between life and death and how a small shift in perspective can inspire oppositional feelings of either loss or hope. “The relationship between humanity and nature is one which is central to my work. I have always been fascinated by the idea of how humans rely on nature for survival yet seem to forget this essential fact in everyday life,” the Israeli artist says.
In addition to “Blackfield,” Natural Reserve includes a variety of intricate, sculptural pieces, some of which are based on 19th Century illustrations in the garden’s collections, and is on view through April 24. Follow Zadok Ben-David (previously) on Instagram to keep an eye on where his works are headed next.
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Design Documentary History
A Massive Chainmail Shelter Prevents a Renowned Scottish Mansion from Dissolving in the Rain
The coastal town of Helensburgh is located in one of the wettest regions of Scotland, averaging more than 190 days and 63 inches of rainfall each year, and it’s also the site of an architectural masterpiece by famed designer Charles Rennie Mackintosh. Built in 1904, “Hill House” is a modern construction with a focus on light and texture, and its facade is made of gray Portland cement rather than a more traditional and hardier substance like lime.
While the material was innovative at the time, it hasn’t endured the wet conditions of its surroundings and has started to deteriorate and crumble as it soaks up moisture from the air and ground—the National Trust of Scotland, which manages the home, describes it as “dissolving like an aspirin in a glass of water.” To dry out the facade and hopefully preserve it for generations to come, the trust commissioned a giant, greenhouse-like box to sit over top.
English YouTuber and educator Tom Scott visits the porous covering, which at 32.4 million steel rings is the largest sheet of chainmail in the world, in a short documentary that reveals how the uniquely designed mesh structure has become a landmark of sustainability and innovative conservation in its own right. He discusses the unusual reasons for a permeable wall, the ways the chainmail offers the proper amount of ventilation without sacrificing protection, and how the multi-story walkways allow for otherwise impossible views of the “Hill House” roof and upper floors. Join Scott on his tour above to see the enclosure up-close, and in case you missed it, make sure to watch his trip to this mountain of mannequins.
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SpaceWalk: A Spectacular Rollercoaster-Esque Staircase Loops Through a South Korean Park
Towering 70-meters above ground at its highest point, “SpaceWalk” is the latest undulating sculpture by Hamburg-based artists Heike Mutter and Ulrich Genth. The monumental staircase winds in loops and elevations similar to that of a rollercoaster throughout
Pedestrians enter the work at a central staircase, which breaks into two paths: one gently sloped walkway leads to a view of Yeongil Bay and the surrounding city, while the other is a steeper climb through a helix. Both are designed to mimic an otherworldly experience. “The title ‘SpaceWalk’ is taken from the terminology of outer space missions. It describes the act of exiting the space vehicle in the weightlessness of outer space. More literally, ‘SpaceWalk’ can be understood to mean ‘a walk through space,'” they say.
For more of the duo’s architectural projects, head to their site. (via This Isn’t Happiness)
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Inscribed Lace Patterns Defy Expectations in Cal Lane’s Plasma-Cut Steel Tools and Industrial Objects
Using car hoods, shovels, and oil drums as her base, Canadian artist Cal Lane cuts generic lace motifs found on the shelves of mass-market retailers. Her quotidian designs adorn tools and commodities typically associated with masculinity, warping both assumptions about gender and the limits of construction and craft. “I am more interested in the dialog between the object and the image, not so much the lace pattern specifically. I didn’t want the work to necessarily be decorative but to be about decoration and the relationship we have with it,” she shares.
A former welder, Lane is broadly interested in the possibilities of materials, and it’s “the industrial, man-made structure, masculine, modernist quality of steel that I am attracted to. I see steel as a metaphor for confrontation, a thing that represents the walls put up by the society I was born into,” she shares. Her body of work, which includes a series of Industrial Doilies, is steeped in contradiction and an ability to defy expectations, which manifest as delicate filigree inscribed in sturdy hunks of metal. “Steel feels like the perfect material to carve into to create the contrasts and conflicts that I myself struggle with,” the artist says.
Many of the plasma-cut sculptures shown here are part of In Her Space, which is on view through March 3 at C24 Gallery in New York. The exhibition includes some of Lane’s more recent pieces, including the collection of shovels and “Astute Class.” A miniature marine vessel, the submarine features a pattern Lane designed that’s comprised of thale cress flowers, a species that “had been bioengineered by Canada and The Netherlands as a bomb-sniffing flower…the flowers grow, but if there is a landmine beneath, the color of the flower changes,” she says. “I thought it was so beautiful, brilliant, and poetic.”
In addition to In Her Space, Lane will show a new series of paintings on queen mattresses this fall at Art Mûr in Montreal. Until then, head to Instagram to see more of her process.
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