Artist-tecture

460 Degrees Gallery

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In a record two months, what was a totally free of commercial taint artwork (at Burning Man, you know it's pure if it was there), has been done in a very similar fashion (without the burning part) at the Lexus 460 Degrees Gallery in Los Angeles! Yes, the same artist whose minions took Greg Allen for task for criticizing his Burning Man project has designed the interior of a Lexus Showroom with the same motif. There is nothing that brings us more pleasure than the knowledge that unbridled irony still lives in this world.

Of course, nailing a bunch of 2x4s together in a sculptural way is hardly new: I draw your attention to Tadashi Kawamata's work in the 1980s, work of much more powerful shape, form, and beauty than of the references we've seen this year. And of site-specific relevance. The Lexus Gallery in particular seems strangely decorative in this context: it could well be a coffee bar, or an awning for a wedding, or a kitchen sales office.

Via CoolHunting.

On Smithson's Hotel Palenque

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Greg Allen posts a gorgeous piece about Robert Smithson's lecture/slideshow/fictional narrative Hotel Palenque. He includes a link to a filmed recording of the 1972 event at the University of Utah, and impressions of what it is to see this piece through the lens of a filmmaker.

Pretty Pictures Monday: Natalie Czech

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BLDGBLOG points us to the artist Natalie Czech, whose series Blattschnitte are paintings (or watercolors? Tropolism's translation team took the holiday off) of aerial views. The views appear to be double exposures, much the way Charles Sheeler's later paintings, also done from photographs, were from double exposures. If you know more about this artist, please write us.

Denari, Illuminated

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The Flickering Field of Fluoroscape: Illuminated perspectives on Neil Denari.

On a culture-filled Sunday this past September 17th I tromped down to Downtown Los Angeles to take in several fantastic “Spectacles of Culture”. First, I visited the Banksy show, which was held in an out-moded industrial structure off of Santa Fe Blvd. in the heart of LA’s industrial district. Banksy, the merry prankster of the street-art world, jammed the warehouse with examples of his work, and an live elephant as well. I shall not comment on the show as it has already been done to death by the press and therefore can be summed up with the phrase “if you were there, you’d know what I’m talking about”.

The event was, however simply the primer for the next stop which was to take place at the Southern California Institute of Architecture (SCI-Arc). Click Continue Reading for the rest of my review and another picture.

Joe Nishizawa: Deep Inside Japan

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We never get tired of reading Jean Snow, who this week points to an interview with Joe Nishizawa in PingMag. This artist takes some stunning photographs of underground spaces in Japan: rail tunnels, utility tunnels, and nuclear power plants. The work is amazing, and the interview is thorough.

Tomas Scaraceno: Air-Port-City

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Continuing this week's theme of artists who build 'scapes, our friends at Tanya Bonakdar Gallery point us to their current exhibition of Tomas Scaraceno, Air-Port-City.

While the online slideshow is devoted exclusively to pieces from the slideshow in the gallery's back room, the main space is devoted to three sculptures, two of which we found fascinating. Click continue reading for more.

John Powers: Sci-Fi Wahabi

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When we were wee students in graduate school, we found a prepoderance of fellow students who should have been at Sci-Arc who did nothing but designs that triggered our deepest childhood fantasy of landscapes like the surface of the Death Star in Episode IV: A New Hope. They were unable to describe their work as a pure exercise in facile form-making; instead tortuous and unsatisfying descriptions ensued. Tortuous and unsatisfying jury comments were a result. (Of course, this was Tschumi's Columbia University, the jury comments didn't regularly border on the profound anyway). But a part of me always hoped they would just leave architecture and create their planetscapes anyway, and we would all play and live with them anyway.

The artist John Powers is not a former fellow student, but he could have been. Our favorite scapes are Sci-Fi Wahabi #1, pictured above, and the delusional Sol Le Witt-like Voluntaries #23a. They ignite our imagination the way toys did long ago, and architectural models did not-so-long-ago. Our invitation is for him to create something larger and perhaps walkable. Something we can be inside, and explore with our bodies.

Via Future Feeder, of course.

Implant Matrix Installation

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Architects oftentimes have other outlets for their creativity. Some teach. Some do watercolor. Some write weblogs. Some make sculptures. This last category seems to have the most participants, to mixed results.

One of the more interesting of this lot is the installations of Philip Beesley and Will Elsworthy. While they have a full portfolio of completed and projected buildings, they also have a full portfolio of completed installation sculpture. Their latest is called Implant Matrix, an interactive sculptural installation currently on exhibition in Toronto until June 29. The piece is composed of "purpose programmed micro-controlled sensors and actuators that provide a mechanical response to user stimuli". It is organized as a large organic array shape memory alloy (aka muscle wire) driven pores open and close as people touch sensors that are suspended from the matrix. It looks like it's going to come alive and creep around the room. Which is why we're intrigued by it: it would make a lovely topiary for any environment.

Pretty Pictures: Party Walls

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Pruned points us to the gorgeous party-wall photography of José Antonio Millán (pictured above, in Alicante).

Pretty Pictures, Olafur Eliasson Edition

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We here at Tropolism like Olafur Eliasson. Not just because we know and work with O, but because we are continually entranced by his projects. A sampling of some new work can be seen in the Flickr collection of O's last show at Galery Aedes in Berlin, posted by Republish, including a pattern we used in an unbuilt commission for a Chicago residence (pictured above).

Tokyo Meets Berlin

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We all know that Toyo Ito designed an installation for Mies Van Der Rohe's Neue Nationalgalerie in Berlin, for their upcoming Berlin-Tokyo/Tokyo-Berlin show. Right? Keep up speedy: We Make Money Not Art has a Flickr pool showing the installation in progress. Tropolism will bring you more as it develops.

Thursday Is New York City As Sculpture Day

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(photo via Curbed, by plemeljr)

Today, Thursday is New York City As Sculpture Day. I missed the memo:

1. Miss Representation comes back from a quiet spell to chat about the progress at Ground Zero. And to comment on 7WTC, which we like too. And to give us this golden, priceless bit of blogging: "Every once in a while I want to feel the strange mixture of dystopian social evolution and sexual awakening that was Logan’s Run, and now I have a place to go (though, unfortunately, Jenny Argutter won’t turn up in a pelt)."

2. Lisa at Polis gives us a bit of irony, and seredipity, worthy of a great Situationist.

3. Greg Allen remixed Curbed today to create, what else, a meta sculpture about a sculpture and something people mistook as sculpture.

Paper Topography

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When I was in school, there were no computers to draw with. We were intimately familiar with the material qualities of paper and graphite. So it is with no surprise that I am struck dumb in admiration by the gorgeous origami techniques of Eric Gjerde. His blog gives us a regular stream of love, as does his Flickr sets. Pretty pictures with instructions, our idea of a good time.

Via the ever-folding BLDGBLOG.

Tropolism Films: Sketches of Frank Gehry

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Los Angeles Correspondant John Southern reports on the LA premiere of "Sketches of Frank Gehry".

There comes a time in an architect’s career when self-preservation (in an archival sense) begins to seep into the sub-conscious like water under a dam. Building great works of architecture can only provide one with the fleeting feelings of monumentality in as long as they are left standing. Film, however, is easily reproducible and thus may well exist for eternity. All you need to complete the equation is a friend with a movie camera and a penchant for probing questions and its “Lights! Camera! Action!”.

The last phrase invariably came to mind on Monday evening when I attended the LA Premiere of “Sketches of Frank Gehry” directed by his good friend, Sydney Pollack. The film was shown at an event entitled “Reel Talk” hosted by Vanity Fair and Tiffany’s at the Directors Guild Of America building- a piece of architecture so banal that it almost does injustice to the artists it seeks to unite.

Click Continue Reading for more screening shots and review...

The Unlivable Complaint

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Tropolism means calling bullshit. Usually it's architects. They talk a lot. Present company included. But today we call client bullshit. Sunday, The New York Times published its magazine issue entirely devoted to architecture. If there was ever a time to cancel your subscription, it would be the unbearably gotcha! reporting in this article by Michael Kimmelman. My favorite complaining-person quote:

"We wanted prefab, and instead we got a creative architect's iteration of prefab. It's not Green. It's not solar. It was twice over budget and construction was a nightmare and it's still not finished."

First of all, what were you, the client, doing during the year or two you spent developing this project with Steven Holl? Did you ask him for a prefab house? Did you mention to him that his design wasn't a prefab house? Did you notice that none of his other houses, or anything he's ever done, has been prefab? Did you ask for solar? Why did you approve the construction contract if the project was over budget? Did you approve the design and construction details, or was it sneaked by you over the one to two year period that the house was under construction? The client's hedge about getting a work of art may be so, but it stretches the bounds of credulity to blame the designer for not delivering a built house that you don't like.

Umschreibung At KPMG

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In keeping with our theme of staircases this week, we thought we'd bring you one of the more beautiful stairs we've seen, ever. It's a sculpture/experience by Olafur Eliasson. We saw gorgeous digital prints of it in Tanya Bonakdar's private viewing room a couple of weeks ago. However, we weren't familiar with the actual object until today. It's a continuous loop of a staircase...you are always moving on it, although sometimes up, sometimes down.

The stair is called Umschreibung (Rewriting), and was completed in 2004. It's in the courtyard of the global accounting firm KPMG in Munich. There are articles on it (all in German) at Arcguide and Artinfo24, with more pictures on Olafur's website.

Olafur Eliasson at Tanya Bonakdar

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In case you missed last Friday's opening, Olafur Eliasson is the inaugural installation at Tanya Bonakdar's expanded gallery on 21st Street, Chelsea, Manhattan, New York. The show is stunning, even by OE standards. My favorite piece is the compass piece. To describe any more would kill it.

For some interesting observations on Olafur's work, and Olafur as an author, read Greg Allen's What He Really Wants To Do Is Not Direct.

Matthew Moore: Suburban Crop Developments

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Stuff like this gets us up in the morning: Matthew Moore is a "visual artist" whose works include planting large fields of crops and then mutilating them to appear as if they are subdivisions. Just this side of "didn't the land artists do this already?" and so worth a look. My favorite is pictured: Rotations: Moore Estates Planned Area Development.