Friday, August 30, 2013

LightRails: A Neglected Railroad Underpass Illuminated by Artist Bill FitzGibbons

Built in 1931, this Art Deco railroad underpass in Birmingham, Alabama is a vital gateway between the heart of downtown and a new urban space called Railroad Park. In recent years the dark tunnel had deteriorated into an unwelcoming and potentially dangerous area, so the city hired sculptor and public artist Bill FitzGibbons to create a lighting solution that would encourage more pedestrian traffic. Titled LightRails the installation is composed of a network of computerized LEDs that that form various lighting patterns in the previously darkened underpass.

The Art of the Dollar: Meticulous Currency Collages by Mark Wagner

Brooklyn-based artist Mark Wagner (previously) has been referred to as “the greatest living collage artist” and even “the Michael Jordan of glue”. The artist has a wide variety of artistic pursuits from writing and artist bookmaking to drawing and assemblage, though he is probably best known for his intricately cut and assembled currency collages using the one dollar bill. From his artist statement: The one dollar bill is the most ubiquitous piece of paper in America. Collage asks the question: what might be done to make it something else? It is a ripe material: intaglio printed on sturdy linen stock, covered in decorative filigree, and steeped in symbolism and concept. Blade and glue transform it-reproducing the effects of tapestries, paints, engravings, mosaics, and computers—striving for something bizarre, beautiful, or unbelievable… the foreign in the familiar. Wagner had a solo show late last year at Western Exhibitions here in Chicago and is currently preparing for a large exhibition at Pavel Zoubok Gallery in NYC that opens September 6th.

A Couple Leaves their Jobs to Build a House of Windows in the Mountains of West Virginia

For their very first date, photographer Nick Olson took designer Lilah Horwitz on a walk in the mountains of West Virginia. While chatting and getting to know each other during a particularly scenic sunset the two jokingly wondered what it would be like to live in a house where the entire facade was windows, so the sunset would never be contained within a small space. Where most people would file the idea away as a dream or maybe an item at the bottom of a bucket list, the newly minted couple were a bit more aggressive. Less than a year later the two quit their jobs and embarked on a road trip starting in Pennsylvania to collect dozens of windows from garage sales and antique dealers. A few weeks later they arrived in West Virginia and built the glass cabin in the exact same spot where they envisioned it on their fist date. Filmmakers Matt Glass and Jordan Wayne Long of Half Cut Tea caught up with Horwirz and Olson to learn more about the construction of the building and their unusually strong commitment to following through with their artistic visions.

An Artist is Making a Map of Manhattan Using Only Handwritten Directions From Strangers

Think about it, when was the last time you asked for directions? Or even used a paper map? Armed with smart phones and fancy GPS apps that map the route to your destination in milliseconds, asking a random person for directions is an increasingly rare occurrence. New York conceptual artist Nobutaka Aozaki is exploring the act of asking for directions in his ongoing art piece, Here to There, by gathering a collection of impromptu hand-drawn maps he obtains from complete strangers. Dressed as a tourist in a souvenir baseball cap and carrying a Century 21 shopping bag, the artist hits the streets around Manhattan and approaches random pedestrians to inquire about directions through the current part of the map he’s working on. One of the most common scenarios when asking strangers for directions is their habit of pulling out a smart phone to start typing in an address, after which he insists on leaving with a drawn map on whatever written surface is available: torn sheets of notebook paper, napkins, or even paper plates. Aozaki tells Spoon & Tamago that his goal is not to make a complete map, but to instead document his daily routine and his myriad interactions with people, sort of like a mapped diary.

Kaleidoscopic Floor Installations Made of Mirrors, Crystals and Glass by Suzan Drummen

In an act of patience and precision that boggles the mind, Dutch artist Suzan Drummen creates sparkling floor installations using an array of individually placed mirrors, crystals, chromed metal, optical glass and precious stones. That’s right, the thousands of objects in each of her artworks are placed and stacked by hand and sit completely loose during the exhibition. The fractal-like patterns in each installation form a sort of temporary 3D carpet that alters the space in which its installed by reflecting light in all directions. But even the slightest disturbance, an accidental step or dropped object, could send pieces from the unprotected installation flying, a true testament to the artist’s trust in the viewer.

A Historic Staircase in Caltagirone, Sicily Used as a Backdrop for Light and Flower Festivals

Built in 1608, the Staircase of Santa Maria del Monte is a 142-step staircase in Caltagirone, Sicily made from thousands of ceramic tiles, one design per step, as a fitting tribute to a city known for its design and production of ceramics and terra-cotta sculptures. For centuries the stairs have been used as a backdrop for various festivals for which images of patron saints and other local themes are illustrated using thousands of flowers or candles. You can learn more about the La Scala Flower Festival over on My Modern Met, or the light festival called the Scala Illuminata. Photos by Andrea Annaloro.

Photographed by Miguel Vallinas

When first encountering this body of photographs Madrid-based advertising and industrial photographer Miguel Vallinas it’s easy to view it as a familiar “animals dressed as people” project. But as you look closer you realize it’s quite a bit more than that. Aside from the solid retouching, lighting and overall execution, Vallinas took this anthropomorphic project a bit further and imagined what the fully-realized wardrobe of each animal might look like if it were wearing human clothes. Titled Segundas Pieles (Second Skins), the ongoing series includes some 50+ animals whose personalities seem to be perfectly amplified by their pitch-perfect attire, making the portaits just a bit more human than animal. I’m pretty sure the hipster bird in the cardigan works at a coffee shop by my house. The work is a sister project to another series called simply Pieles where the photographer portrays himself in a wide range of professions.