London’s architectural icons, transported to the cliffs of Portugal.
[Image: Gus Petro]
Fred Kahl, an art director and designer at New York media firm Funny Garbage, is using a very new technology to create a very old thing. The new technology: MakerBot 3D printers. The old thing: The demolished Luna Park amusement park at Coney Island—resurrected detail by detail, ride by ride.
“Long ago, I came to the realization that I just wanted to make work for myself and not play the gallery game,” Kahl says about his dream to spend 30 years quietly creating a single diorama. “Since I first learned about Luna Park, I knew it would be my Étant donnés,” referring to Duchamp’s miniature Xanadu.
Kahl’s introduction to Coney Island in 1984 consumed his imagination, like it did for many artists who have painted, photographed, and performed there. “There was still a lot of traces of the old Coney Island left at that time, but it was in this magical state of decay,” he says. It was Ric Burns’s 1991 Coney Island documentary on PBS’s American Experience that sparked the idea of bringing Luna Park back to life: “I would recreate the park in matchsticks during my retirement,” Kahl thought.
Read more. [Image: Laure Leber]
When Laurence Tisch became CEO of CBS in 1986, he started cutting costs everywhere from the mailroom to the newsroom. Even the cafeteria wasn’t safe. That’s where the proverbial knife fell on a landmark typographic installation: the now-legendary “Gastrotypographicalassemblage”—the Great Wall of CBS—that had hung for more than 20 years.
At 35 feet wide by 8.5 feet tall, this three-dimensional mural designed by CBS design director Lou Dorfsman and the typographic maestros Herb Lubalin and Tom Carnase took over one entire cafeteria wall of Eero Saarinen’s Black Rock, the CBS Building on Sixth Avenue between 52nd and 53rd Streets. Dorfsman considered this massive frieze of custom-milled woodtype spelling out foods and food groups—from lamb chops to hasenpfeffer—his magnum opus, “his gift to the world.”
That says a lot.
Read more. [Image: AIGA]
This week, Facebook will have two big causes for celebration. On Monday, the company will release a new iPhone app. On Tuesday, it will turn 10.
A new iPhone app? New software would seem to pale against a decade of existence—ten years in which the company has gone from a dorm room conception to a $150 billion capitalization, in which a website that once required harvard.edu email addresses became the world’s second most-visited.
But the new app, named Paper, is more important than it may first appear. It signals a change, long-time coming, for how the company interacts with consumers, and marks a new sort of competition among social networks. It’s a change that could affect far more than the iPhone users who will download the app on Monday.
But to understand why, you have to understand the app.
Read more. [Image: Facebook]
Following the killing of 800,000 Tutsis in Rwanda in 1994, 2,257,573 refugees (40 percent of the population) took asylum in 36 countries. In 2012 when Tuareg rebels in Mali captured Timbuktu after an army coup, 297,552 refugees (2 percent of the population) settled in 28 asylum countries. These are just a fraction of the world’s refugee population being documented on a dynamic new website, The Refugee Project, an example of how graphic designers increasingly are turning their attention to framing data that stimulates action.
While data visualization will not end the refugee problem, the designers at Brooklyn-based graphics firm Hyperakt think they can make some difference by developing a tool that decision makers can use to advocate for humanitarian relief.
“Our own lack of knowledge about the millions of people around the world who have been forced to leave their homelands led us to want to tackle this story,” Deroy Peraza, Hyperakt’s creative director, said. “We thought it would be very helpful to visualize and compare all the refugee crises happening around the world—and not just for this year, but over time. We also wanted to have an understanding of the causes behind massive migrations.”
Read more. [Image: The Refugee Project]
If you lived through the punk scene during the ‘70s, the notion that someday the era’s aesthetic would become as venerated as the Renaissance’s or Modernism’s would seem daft. Yet following a reasonable interval, every cultural rebellion becomes the meat of scholarship, nostalgia, and marketing.
So more than 30 years after its heyday, a new wave of retrospective books and exhibitions are emerging. The most recent, Pretty Vacant: The Graphic Language of Punk, opens tomorrow and is on view until March 15 at the Galleries at Moore College of Art and Design in Philadelphia. The mass of artifacts and ephemera is drawn from the collection of Andrew Krivine, a commercial banker and punk-stuff collector since 1977. For him and others involved with the exhibit, it’s both a chance to show off an obsession and fondly revisit personal pasts.
Read more. [Image: Jamie Reid, Sex Pistols, God Save the Queen, 1977, lithograph. Collection of Andrew Krivine.]
At first, Michelle Hamer’s work may look like overly pixelated photographs of trains and buses, street signs and billboards, sonograms and X-rays —which might be interpreted as a critique of our chaotic digital media and information-saturated culture. But on second glance, it becomes clear that her pixelation is not of the digital variety at all. Rather, her works are delicately hand-stitched replicas of photographs that inject 21st-century imagery with a 19th-century needlepoint veneer. Hamer’s art is making needlepoint “samplers” out of her photographs—now that’s retro.
An Australian artist who teaches architecture, Hamer has had no textile training and minimal exposure to needlepoint. And yet: “I am a fan of its history of narrative,” she told me. “For example, The Bayeux Tapestry.” From sampler to tapestry, her interest in what she calls “primitive pixelation” is particularly relevant given that she sees some Australian indigenous art as “historically pixilated.” And while she is more concerned with the stitch as a pixel than purely needlepoint as art or craft, she likes the interplay between manual and digital.
Read more. [Image: Michelle Hamer]
There is a moment when each ultra-realistic prosthetic limb crafted by Sophie de Oliveira Barata transitions from a hunk of silicon into something more. “It happens around this point,” the artist explained, gesturing to a half-finished leg jutting mid-kick from her work bench. “I’ll know it’s happened when I handle a limb a bit roughly, and I find myself apologizing to it: ‘Oh, sorry!’”
It’s an easy mistake to make. With precision molding, hand-painted veins, and real human hairs, the limbs scattered around Sophie’s studio look uncannily real: legs on the verge of dancing and hands ready to burst into applause. With these prostheses, Sophie enables her customers to conceal their absences and blend in. But the artist also caters to another kind of clientele: amputees wanting to stand out. She works with these clients to imagine the missing parts of their bodies as fantastical works of art: an arm housing a motorized coiling snake, a jewel-studded leg with embedded stereo, a bird-wing arm with a metal hook for a talon. “Instead of seeing what’s missing,” she remarked, “you see what’s there.”
I met Sophie in her cozy London studio recently to discuss her work. After serving tea, the artist returned to the task of tenderly shaping a silicon calf as we spoke.
Read more. [Image: Roc Morin]
The pioneering pornographer Al Goldstein, founder of the Midnight Blue TV show and publisher of Screw, died Thursday at 77. It’s a miracle that he lived so long. His life was a rollercoaster of affluence and penury. His health was as over the edge as his psyche. Yet I was truly surprised when I heard the initial, though premature, announcement of his demise published last Monday on therealpornwikileaks.com; relieved to hear it was untrue; and saddened two days later by the confirmed news of his passing on the front page of New York Times website. (Ironically, he had always sought the Times’ acknowledgement and rarely received it. Prior to this respectful obit by Andy Newman, my review of I Goldstein: My Screwed Life, was one of the rare occasions that he was covered in the paper for something other than an arrest, lawsuit, or other ignominy.)
Read more. [Image: Phillipe Weisbecker]
Visual books about New York’s painted and graffiti-scrawled walls seem as plentiful as graffiti itself. But other parts of the urban environment don’t get the same coffee-table-tome attention. For instance: doors. Until now, the illustrations gracing city portals have been mostly ignored as a distinct canvas. Door Jams: Amazing Doors of New York City by Allan Markman (Schiffer) spotlights the most elaborate, eccentric, and surprising entryways in the five boroughs.
Markman was appointed senior graphic designer for the United Nations in 2006. His first task: create a workplace poster announcing the newly formed UN Ethics Office. “The idea I came up with was a grid of interesting, diverse, and beautiful doors with the following copy: ‘Not sure if you should open that door? Contact the Ethics Office,’” he says. There was no budget to purchase stock photos, and Markman could not find enough public-domain images to his liking, so he began photographing doors in and around Manhattan. It took him four days to snap all the pictures needed for the poster, which, he told me, “the client loved, but upper management rejected.” The ad was never printed, but Markman’s door obsession had begun.
To a street artist, doors are public canvases waiting to be transformed. To Markman, they collectively tell the story of a diverse city: “The door is an exciting and often surprising marker of the urban experience. Many doors provide a small glimpse of a forgotten past, while others reflect the dysfunction of the present. A door speaks of class, culture, wealth, poverty, change, neglect and even death. Some really interesting doors adorn the mausoleums found in the Woodlawn (Bronx), Greenwood (Brooklyn), and Maple Grove (Queens) cemeteries.”
Read more. [Image: Allan Markman (Schiffer)]