In Craig Walsh’s ‘Monuments,’ Enormous Projected Portraits Illuminate the Selective Histories of Public Art
In the mid-nineties, Australian artist Craig Walsh created his first projection at Woodford Folk Festival in Queensland. Made with photographic slides, the massive installation temporarily transformed a tree into a large-scale portrait, enlivening the canopy and initiating what’s become a 30-year project.
Now encompassed within the artist’s Monuments series, the digital works continue to animate landscapes and public spaces around the globe, and they’ve evolved in breadth and scope, sometimes incorporating live video and sound that allows viewers to interact with the illuminated characters. Blinking, yawning, and displaying various facial expressions, the emotive figures address both connections between people and their surroundings and conversations around whose stories are upheld and disseminated. “The work in the early days conceptually linked more to how the environment we exist in influences the human condition,” Walsh tells Colossal. “Surveillance was another interpretation.”
Today, the responsive installations more directly address traditional narratives and challenge “the selective history represented in our public spaces,” he says. Many of the Monuments celebrate people who significantly impacted their communities, and yet, might be overlooked. His 2017 piece, “Churaki Hill,” for example, pays homage to Churaki, an Aboriginal man who was responsible for many successful water rescues in the Tweed region in the early 1900s.
Similarly, Walsh’s recent installation in Charlotte, North Carolina, honors the descendants of Mecklenburg County’s Black residents. Created for the annual Charlotte SHOUT! festival, the trio of works occupies Old Settlers’ Cemetery, the burial ground for the city’s wealthy residents throughout the 18th and 19th centuries. He shares about the project:
Much like today, Charlotte was a diverse city in its founding century…By 1790, the census for Mecklenburg County lists a total population of 1,608 enslaved African Americans or 14 percent of the town’s population. By 1850, enslaved African Americans accounted for 44 percent of the total population inside the city limits. While their graves are not marked, the north quadrant next to Church Street is the final resting place for the formerly enslaved members of Charlotte’s first one hundred years.
On display earlier this year, the installation features folk artist Nellie Ashford, filmmaker and counselor Frederick Murphy, and DJ and musician Fannie Mae. Honoring the deep family ties and legacies these three hold within the city, the portraits memorialize their continued contributions to local culture.
Walsh is currently based in Tweed Heads, New South Wales, and his latest project is on view at Victor Harbor, South Australia, through September 11. Explore more of the Monuments series on the project’s site and Instagram.
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In the AI-Generated ‘Symbiotic Architecture,’ Manas Bhatia Envisions an Apartment Complex Within a Live Redwood
Much of the architecture in the Western world relies on sterile materials like steel and concrete and a desire to build upward, with skyscrapers soaring high above the earth. As designs necessarily shift in response to a changing climate, there’s renewed interest in adopting more organic, sustainable approaches to construction that more directly interact with the environment—see these bricks that double as homes for bees and an exploration of Indigenous technologies as examples.
Part of finding alternatives to conventional methods is pushing the boundaries of what’s possible, which is the basis of a new series by architect and computational designer Manas Bhatia. Created using the artificial intelligence tool Midjourney, the conceptual renderings of Symbiotic Architecture imagine an apartment complex embedded within towering, live redwoods. “I have always been fascinated by how small insects and creatures create their dwellings in nature,” he told designboom. “Ants, for example, create their dwellings with intricate networks in the soil. If humans could create buildings that grow and breathe like plants do, what an amazing world would that be to live in.”
To produce the drawings, Bhatia entered basic text prompts like “hollowed,” “stairs,” and “tree” into the system, which then generated the enchanting structures. Glass windows and balconies nestle into the grainy bark, with knotty, cavernous entrances at the base. Although the surreal designs are not practically feasible at the moment, they offer a way to more easily envision potential projects. “To give life to such an idea, we’ll have to wait for a long time working our way towards the goal gradually,” Bhatia says, explaining further:
Currently, I am interested in using these images to try to develop a 3D model using AI and modeling software like Rhino and Grasshopper. That is really the first step towards the journey of manifesting this project into reality. Till that time comes, AI will have drastically improved making the entire process much easier than it can be thought of at the moment.
To find more of the designer’s projects both real and imagined, visit Instagram.
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In this brief timelapse, a single acorn germinates from seed to sapling during a period of 196 days, transferred carefully from vessel to vessel as it sprouts. The simple yet wondrous clip is just one of many plant-growing timelapses produced by the Youtube channel Boxlapse (also on Instagram) where you’ll find a new release almost every weekday. The videos include all manner of plants and fungi captured in interesting ways, including the growth of a mango tree during a yearlong period or the first 113 days of a dragon fruit cactus, seen below.
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Through Organic Sculptural Furniture, Artist Nacho Carbonell Channels the Sensual Details of the Mediterranean
Evoking the textures and colors of his native Valencia, the sculptural furniture pieces by Spanish artist Nacho Carbonell are sensual interpretations of life in the Mediterranean. A bulbous, metal mesh canopy sprouts from a rugged pink seat, small wooden sticks comprise the sinuous patterns on a buffet, and a vibrant mosaic takes the form of a headphone-shaped lamp. Tactile and potentially functional, the objects reference the natural, sun-soaked environment of Carbonell’s childhood, in addition to art historical traditions like those of 15th Century painter Hieronymus Bosch and 20th Century Austrian sculptor Franz West.
Constructed from a wide array of recycled and industrial materials like glass bottles and concrete, the works are largely organic and archaeological, rooted in personal memories the artist likens to fossils. He tells designboom:
I learned that when you build something, nature can take over. Here, in this context is where I learned it. But this is not unique in the world, it is happening everywhere. So I just take [the natural elements] and I appropriate them because they are part of me… I feel entitled to say ‘Because we grew together, I can use you in my work to create this narrative for others, to let them know that you exist here.’
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Look up! The vibrant embroideries of the U.K.-based artist known as Sew Beautiful capture the awe-inspiring breadth of the outdoors within a tiny wooden hoop. Layering colorful French knots and long, straight threads in neutral tones, the artist transforms thin organza bases into fiber renditions of forests dense with autumn leaves or aerial shots capturing wide swaths of landscape. The hand-stitched pieces are vivid and tinged with whimsy, and Sew Beautiful has a few works currently available on Etsy. Follow shop updates and new embroideries on Instagram. (via So Super Awesome)
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Ukrainian artist Diana Yevtukh draws inspiration from her surroundings by carefully situating cornucopian floral arrangements made of thread in the hollows of trees. Based in Lviv, her work has assumed more urgency since the invasion of her home country by Russian forces earlier this year, and pieces like “Why did they do that to us” draw on her background in photography and design to spread the crucial message that Ukraine remains under threat.
The artist’s meticulous needlework pieces feature a medley of vibrant flowers like poppies, daisies, and sunflowers, which nestle into the surfaces and appear to effervesce from within. Her works are often juxtaposed with rough or decaying surfaces like old stone walls or rusting metal to “heal” the damage, emphasizing the possibility for beauty and strength in unexpected places.
You can find more of Yevtukh’s work on Instagram.
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