He picks up his iPad and slips it into his jacket pocket. All his suits have been made with a deep inside pocket so that he can put a sketchbook in it: now the iPad fits there just as snugly. Even his tux has the pocket, he tells me.
The room is filled with millions of handcrafted ceramic sunflower seeds:
Each seed has been individually sculpted and painted by specialists working in small-scale workshops in the Chinese city of Jingdezhen. Far from being industrially produced, they are the effort of hundreds of skilled hands. Poured into the interior of the Turbine Hall's vast industrial space, the 100 million seeds form a seemingly infinite landscape.
Porcelain is almost synonymous with China and, to make this work, Ai Weiwei has manipulated traditional methods of crafting what has historically been one of China's most prized exports. Sunflower Seeds invites us to look more closely at the 'Made in China' phenomenon and the geo-politics of cultural and economic exchange today.
For the first couple of days, people could walk around on the tiny sculptures (as you can see on Flickr), but health concerns prompted the museum to put a stop to that. Still pretty cool, but this remains my favorite Turbine Hall exhibition. (via hilobrow)
Someone sent this to me ages ago and I forgot to post it but luckily I ran across it again this morning: A Failed Entertainment is a show at The LeRoy Neiman Gallery featuring the films of James Incandenza...you know, the ones from the 8-page footnote in Infinite Jest.
Included as a footnote in Wallace's novel is the Complete filmography of James O. Incandenza, a detailed list of over 70 industrial, documentary, conceptual, advertorial, technical, parodic, dramatic non-commercial, and non-dramatic commercial works. The LeRoy Neiman Gallery has commissioned artists and filmmakers to re-create seminal works from Incandenza's filmography.
No word on whether any of the filmmakers made JOI's Infinite Jest...I guess we'll find out if anyone emerges from the opening reception tonight.
Global Street Food is an exhibition the various contraptions people use to make and sell food on the street.
"Global Street Food" is dedicated to the fascination with improvised kitchens in public places. Urban fast food stations navigating the contrast between pragmatic dilettantism and complexity in the smallest of spaces. Mike Meiré will be presenting several objects and street kitchens from different parts of the world in the Buckmneister Fuller Dome. An exhibition depicting the sculptural quality of authentic objects and their cultural identity
The Printed Picture is an exhibition of physical specimens made using all the different ways that type and image can be printed on paper, metal, glass, etc, with a special emphasis on dozens of photography techniques, from albumen prints to dagguereotypes to color photography. On view at MoMA until June 1.
Revolving Hotel Room is an art installation comprising three outfitted, superimposed turning glass discs mounted onto a fourth disc that all turn harmoniously at a very slow speed. During the day the hotel room will be on view as part of the Guggenheim's theanyspacewhatever exhibition, which runs from October 24, 2008-January 7, 2009. At night, the art installation becomes an operative hotel room outfitted with luxury amenities.
Paola Antonelli, a senior curator at the museum, had to kill the coat. "It was growing too much," she said in an interview from a conference in Belgrade. The cells were multiplying so fast that the incubator was beginning to clog. Also, a sleeve was falling off. So after checking with the coat's creators, a group known as SymbioticA, at the School of Anatomy & Human Biology at the University of Western Australia in Perth, she had the nutrients to the cells stopped.
In the past few decades, individuals have experienced dramatic changes in some of the most established dimensions of human life: time, space, matter, and individuality. Working across several time zones, traveling with relative ease between satellite maps and nanoscale images, gleefully drowning in information, acting fast in order to preserve some slow downtime, people cope daily with dozens of changes in scale. Minds adapt and acquire enough elasticity to be able to synthesize such abundance. One of design's most fundamental tasks is to stand between revolutions and life, and to help people deal with change.
I was surprised at how many of the show's ideas and objects I'd seen or even featured on kottke.org already. But getting there first isn't the point. The show was super-crowded and I didn't have a lot of time to look around, but here are a couple of things that caught my eye.
Using eight of my favourite films from eight of my most admired directors including Sidney Lumet, Francis Ford Coppola and John Boorman, each film is processed through a Java program written with the processing environment. This small piece of software samples a movie every second and generates an 8 x 6 pixel image of the frame at that moment in time. It does this for the entire film, with each row representing one minute of film time.
The Adam Baumgold Gallery is currently showing a series of drawing by Chris Ware, Drawings for New York Periodicals. His series that ran in the NY Times and his Thanksgiving New Yorker covers are included. Feb 1 - Mar 15, 2008. (thx, evan)
In the past few weeks, I've seen several people mention the 50 Years of Helvetica exhibit at the MoMA along with some variation of "Woo! I might need to take a trip to New York to go see this!" You should know that this exhibit takes up just a small corner of the Architecture and Design Gallery on the 3rd floor...it's essentially a case and a handful of posters and other specimens. If you're in the museum already, definitely check it out, but you'll be disappointed if you make a special expensive trip just to see the Helvetica stuff.
In the 1970s, Japanese photograhper Kohei Yoshiyuki stumbled upon a couple in a park engaged in sexual activity in the darkness and, somewhat more curiously, two men creeping towards the couple, watching them. Over many months, he followed these voyeurs in the park, befriended them, and outfitted his camera with an infrared flash so as to blend into the crowded darkness. The result is a fantastic series of photos called The Park. As you can see in the photo below, Yoshiyuki even caught some of the peeping toms touching their "visual prey".
Yoshiyuki's photographs explore the boundaries of privacy, an increasingly rare commodity. Ironically, we may reluctantly accommodate ourselves to being watched at the A.T.M., the airport, in stores, but our appetite for observing people in extremely personal circumstances doesn't seem to wane.
Opening Friday, June 22 at jen bekman gallery in NYC: A New American Portrait, "a group exhibition of photographs featuring artists at the vanguard of contemporary portraiture in America". Curated by Jen Bekman and Joerg Colberg, one of my favorite bloggers on the topic of photography.
Let's say you're interested in movies and New York City. Then you could do worse than check out the Celluloid Skyline exhibit being displayed in Vanderbilt Hall in Grand Central from May 25 through June 22. The exhibit is based on the book of the same name by James Sanders, an exploration of how New York is portrayed in film. The exhibit includes "scenic backing" paintings made for movie sets in the 40s & 50s, film footage of films set in NYC, production stills and location shots, and other artifacts of NYC's intersection with film. Sanders was kind enough to send me a photo of one of the scenic backing paintings:
I left the tool chest in the foreground for scale...the paintings are three stories tall! I'm always down for a trip up to Grand Central so I'll definitely be checking this out.
Exhibit on Helvetica (the font, not the film) opens tomorow at the MoMA and will be available for a good long time (until March 31, 2008). "Widely considered the official typeface of the twentieth century, Helvetica communicates with simple, well-proportioned letterforms that convey an aesthetic clarity that is at once universal, neutral, and undeniably modern."
The Shapes Project by Allen McCollum. "I've designed a new system to produce unique two-dimensional 'shapes.' This system allows me to make enough unique shapes for every person on the planet to have one of their own. It also allows me to keep track of the shapes, so as to insure that no two will ever be alike." Part of McCollum's project is on display at the Friedrich Petzel Gallery in NYC. (thx, scott)
Burtynsky calls his images "a second look at the scale of what we call progress," and hopes that at minimum, the images acquaint viewers with the ramifications -- he avoids the word price -- of our lifestyle. But what if viewers just see, you know, some dudes and a ship?
"Another photographer might focus on the loss of life or pollution," acknowledges Kennel of the National Gallery. "He uses beauty as a way to draw attention to something. It's a very particular strategy."
The Brooklyn Museum of Art is displaying an exhibition of Burtynsky's photos until January 15. Well worth the effort to try and check it out. The scale of modernity, particularly in his recent photos of China, is astounding. In Three Gorges Dam Project, Dam #4, this huge dam seems to stretch on forever and you don't know whether to goggle in wonder or shrink in horror from looking at it.
MoMA just opened their show about Pixar last week and on Friday, we went to a presentation by John Lasseter, head creative guy at the company. Interesting talk, although I'd heard some of it in various places before, most notably in this interview with him on WNYC. Two quick highlights:
Lasseter showed colorscripts from Pixar's films (which can be viewed in the exhibition). A colorscript is a storyboarding technique that Pixar developed to "visually describe the emotional content of an entire story through color and lighting". They are compact enough that the entire story fits on a single sheet and if you're familar enough with the films, you can follow along with the story pretty well. But mostly it's just for illustrating the mood of the film. Very cool technique (that could certainly be adopted for web design and branding projects).
Near the end of the talk he showed a 2-3 minute clip of Cars, prefacing it with an announcement that it had never before been shown outside of Pixar. Some of the CGI wasn't completely finished, but it was certainly enough to get the gist. When the first preview trailer for Cars was released, I was skeptical; it just didn't look like it was going to be that good. Based on the clip Lasseter showed and some of his other comments, I'm happy to report that I was wrong to be so skeptical and am very much looking forward to its release in 2006.
At 15 minutes long, the Q&A session at the end of his talk was too short. The MoMA audience is sufficiently interesting and Lasseter was so quick on his feet and willing to share his views that 30 to 40 minutes of Q&A would have been great.
 For you Pixar completists and AICN folks out there, the clip showed Lightning McQueen leaving a race track on the back of a flat-bed truck, bound for a big race in California. As the truck drives across the US, you see the criss-crossing expressways of the city stretch out into the long straight freeways of the American west, the roads literally cutting into the beautiful scenery. A cover of Tom Cochran's Life is a Highway plays as the truck drives. The world of the movie features only cars, no humans...the cars are driving themselves.
A quick note about the Van Gogh show at the Met that's closing at the end of the month: if you're in NYC, go see it. Admittedly, I'm a fan of Van Gogh, but I thought this was one of the best museum exhibitions I've ever seen. The exhibition features drawings (as well as a few paintings) from his short 10-year career as an artist, and you can really see how much he progressed during that time and how much his drawings and paintings were related. I can't wait to go back over to the MoMA and look at Starry Night and The Postman and view them not as paintings, but more as drawings done with paint.
At the risk (ha!) of missing it, I waited until this late in the game to check out Safe: Design Takes On Risk at the MoMA. Great show. Two of my favorite items:
Safe Bedside Table by James McAdam. If the need should arise in the middle of the night, the top of the table separates from the leg and can be worn on the arm as a shield while you use the leg to beat the crap out of a surprised burglar.
Suited for Subversion by Ralph Borland. Don this highly visable suit before heading out for a day of protesting. It's padded to protect against police brutality, an optional wireless camera acts as a witness to the day's events, and a speaker amplifies the wearer's heatbeat, letting those around him know that's he's scared, anxious, exhilarated, or simply human.
The Burtynsky exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum of Artsounds good. I hope to get over there before it closes on January 15. Here's his site with lots of photographs. "He often will shoot an image on three or four different brands of film, then print each image on three or four different brands of paper...then chooses the combination that produces the richest and most vivid look."
The Chanel exhibition at the Met showcases the fashion designs of Coco Chanel as well as the more recent fashions of Karl Lagerfeld's design. The exhibition attempts to draw parallels between the older Chanel fashions and Lagerfeld's newer work (words like "interpretation" and "reinvention" sprinkled the exhibition walls), but I had a hard time seeing Coco's influence in much of his work. Seems more like Lagerfeld is out on his own, which is in keeping with his thoughts in this 2001 interview with Paper magazine. Initially he says he hates "nothing more than people who only look in one direction, which means only in their direction" but then that he finds it hard to collaborate with others (except with himself). Then:
When I do my own things, I'm not really too interested in other people telling me what to do.
Lagerfeld is a fascinating figure and may have captured the cultural zeitgeist of the 80s and 90s in Chanel's fashions, but I don't know if I buy any of this reinvention business. If you'd like the check out the exhibit for yourself, you'd better hurry...it's only on for a few more days.