Category Archives: Design

Damien Hirst’s Dot Paintings & Eyebeam Art+Technology Center: Lumarca

This Thursday night was a dot filled evening given the fanfare surrounding the Damien Hirst openings at the Chelsea Gagosian Galleries.  The exhibition spaces on 21st  and 24th streets were packed with people.  Rather than a retrospective of unexpected works,  the abundance of dot paintings underscores the corporate attitude of this Hirst series.   Rather than a groundbreaking conceptual show,  the simultaneous exhibitions prove to be an art marketing coupe (which seems to be Hirst and Gagosians’ objective.)   I can’t help but have a soft spot for the mini dot paintings in the 21st street gallery.

The most innovative art I found of Thursday night is in the main room of Eyebeam Art+Technology Center.   Lumarca is an interactive combination of a video game and a light installation.   The viewer stands in a cube taped on to the floor and follows instructions given by a chandelier-like installation of electric light tubing.   The electric tubes form a cube shape that mimics the space where the person interacting with the installation stands.  The computer senses the movement of the person.  The outline of the person is reflected in the tubing structure and stylistically alludes to early video games or anime characters.  The tubes light up designating the hands, feet, and head of the player.

The participant is then expected to move their body to capture lit up parts of the electrical tube matrix.  Acting like video games projected with a green screen,  Lumarca produces a similar effect and even provides people with final scores.  Apart from the general interactivity of the installation,  the electrical lighting is especially aesthetically pleasing.   The person playing with the installation is illuminated, flooding the small square with light which contracts the expansive dark room that houses Lumarca.  This makes the player appear majestic and like the person is literally fighting the machine.  Lumarca proves to be a mesmerizing installation,  drawing a large crowd and illiciting cheers from the crowd when the installation issued a high score.

The unique installation is a collaboration between Albert Hwang and Eyebeam Resident Matt Parker and is on display until February 14th at Eyebeam Art+Technology Center.

Here is a video of Lumarca at SIGGRAPH Asia 2009:

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Of Lamb: Matthea Harvey and Amy Jean Porter

Last night I had the joy of listening to the poet Matthea Harvey at NYU’s Lillian Vernon Creative Writers House.   Harvey read her work, Of Lamb, that contained 100 illustrations.  Harvey read her poetry accompanied with a power point presentation of Amy Jean Porter’s illustrations.  The words and images continued to amuse me throughout the reading turning form lighthearted humor to twisted self reflection.   The written and visual componets occupied an uneasy ambiguity.  Was this a children’s book for adults?  Harvey said that she was comfortable creating for an audience of an indeterminent age.  

The words are built from an erasure of Lord David Cecil’s A Portrait of Charles Lamb.  Harvey used white out to transform the exsisting words into a narrative arch about Mary and her little lamb.  Amy Jean Porter’s illustration prove equally implusive,  with the large number of pages.   The drawing reflect the words on the page,  echoing Harvey’s whimiscal and disturbed narrative.  

Amy Jean Porters illustrations were shown at the P.P.O.W. Gallery this summer.  Harvey and Porter’s book Of Lamb is available from McSweeny’s.

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Do Ho Suh: Home Within Home

This Saturday I went to Lehman Maupin Gallery to see Do Ho Suh’s Home Within Home a delightful show that combined two of my childhood passions, art and overly decorated dollhouses.  Entering adolescence, my love of dollhouses faded as my commitment to art blossomed.  If you knew me before middle school, you are aware of my extremely large, messy, interior decorated dollhouse where I spent countless afternoons parading my Barbie collection.  That is why I was pleasantly amused by Do Ho Suh’s exhibition and especially the sculpture Fallen Star.

The highly detailed house is split in half, displaying impressive amounts of craftsmanship.  The bifurcated home shows humorous details, like a cut turkey in an oven and a sullen teenage boy’s lair.  What is quaint about the home is that the interior mimics real furniture from the Ikea catalog.

 

The interior of the home is destroyed in certain areas, because of the surprising detail that the viewer finds when circling the sculpture.  In the back of the home is a traditional Korean house smashed into the back.  A parachute extends out of the back of the Korean home. This sculpture recalls obvious metaphors of cultural identity and struggle to sustain a Korean American identity.  While these over arching themes are not new to Do Ho Suh’s work, the large-scale representation is an impressive step forward in craftsmanship for his body of work.

Do Ho Suh standing in front of Fallen Star

Home Within Home at the Lehman Maupin Gallery closed Saturday.

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Olek: Astor Place Cube

Here is a video of one of my personal favorite’s Olek crocheting the cube at Astor Place.

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What is IBM’s “Think” Exhibition?

For the 100th Anniversary of IBM the company hosts an exhibition called “Think” in front of Lincoln Center.  The exhibit is nothing more than a public relations tool for the IBM Company, faceting the corporation as a global innovator for improving the lives of humans.  The feel-good exhibition used video, data visualization, and interactive media to spotlight technological advances. The entire experience compares to the Coca-Cola Corporation’s museum World of Coca-Cola, except IBM does not give out free sugary drinks at the end of the tour.

Aside from the obvious problems surrounding the quality of the information within the exhibition, the installation explores innovative curatorial practices.  The installation tracks sensors connecting to the surrounding environment to monitor traffic, pollution, and weather.  The most impressive aspect of the installation, are life sized touch activated screens, which allow the visitor to tailor the experience to their personal interests.  The interactive media broke down into clichéd categories like ‘Mapping,’ ‘Understanding,’ ‘Believing,’ ‘Seeing,’ and ‘Acting.’  The portals allowed access to sound bites of social innovators/scientists, mapping, visual time lines, and more data visualization.

This innovative viewing experience is what was lacking from the MoMA’s presentation of “Talk To Me.”  In fact, the exhibitions serve as perfect foils.  A highly interactive exhibit lacking critical content vs. An exhibition of human’s and objects with out innovative curatorial ideas to spark interaction within the exhibition.

The most telling differences between this exhibit and a museum or gallery show was the lack of credit given to the graphic designers, videographers, and curators.  When viewing the video, a small text box at the bottom of the screen invites the viewer to click and reveal the source of the video.  Sadly, instead of names the button simply revealed an IBM copyright.

But in the words of Mitt Romney, “Corporations are people too.”

“Think” is open to the public until October 23rd.

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Talk to Me: Design and the Communication between People and Objects

The Museum of Modern Art attempts to inform the general public about what any owner of an IPhone already knows: how humans relate with objects changes rapidly.  The exhibition “Talk to Me: Design and the Communication between People and Objects,” presents a muddled collection of technological innovations, toys, and data visualization. Unfortunately, the show lacked a thesis statement or opinion of the interaction of humans and technology.  While museums often struggle with showcasing innovative technologies in the context of fine art, “Talk to Me” lacked a strong curatorial voice or institutional opinion to provide a readable narrative of the show.

The curators struggled with the presentation of the work, because the majority of the work was inherently interactive and performative.   Instead of allowing the audience to fully interact with the art works, much of the work was displayed as artifacts from a piece of performance art.  Stagnant and often behind a layer of glass, the inventions were hard to understand and visualize.  To overcome this difficulty,  the curators overcompensated by bombarding the visitors with copious amounts of wall text and explanatory videos.  Even though many objects required explanation, the Museum of Modern Art should have stuck with its institutional character by allowing the pieces to stand-alone or with an interactive video.

Many of the objects within the show were witty, inspiring and truly innovative.    The exhibition included daily objects like an MTA subway card vending machine to beta prototypes of bank Automated Teller Machines.  Prayer Companion by the Interaction Research Studio at the University of London beamed current events to a group of cloistered nuns to provide them with material for daily prayer.  The Avatar Machine by Marc Owens allows the wearer to walk around with the perspective of their body from behind.  This is a common format in video games, which would create a truly out of body experience.

Things that the show chose to omit were the most baffling aspect of the “Talk to Me” exhibition.  Throughout the exhibition, there was no mention of social networking or an at length discussion of the Internet.  The show ignored the innovation of smartphones and the rising global impact of cellphone usage.   Also, the show ignored the politics associated with the innovations like open sourcing and the activism surrounding different interfaces of the Internet.  Even tongue and cheek video game displays like Gentrification Battlefield contained political undertones that were ignored by the copious mounts of wall text.

Despite the flaws that existed within the exhibition, it is extremely important for much of the art within the show to be institutionally recognized.  While the MoMA’s efforts were often a bit misguided, the existence of this exhibition is a step in the right direction for the museum to embrace alternative forms of digital media.

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