All Things Giant Considered

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In 1952, Edna Ferber published, Giant, an extremely controversial novel depicting life in southwest Texas. Ferber was chastised all across the south for her portrayal of rural Texans in the satire. The novel was a runaway hit nationally and was rapidly sold for production into a screenplay. The subsequent film—starring James Dean and Elizabeth Taylor and filmed on location in Marfa, TX—brought the story greater acclaim and even more rancor in Texas.

In keeping with the theme “All Things Giant,” a recent NPR All Things Considered segment highlights a new documentary that tells the story of the families of Marfa, TX who were recruited to play the extras in the film.  Children of Giant explores the racial divide between Anglos and Mexican Americans in the Southwest and the specific experiences of the Marfa families during that period of filming.

Source: NPR All Things Considered

The Eames Shell Chair

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WHY Magazine released a concise history of the Eames Shell Chair—accompanied by a fascinating twelve piece GIF collection—to visually explain the construction of the modern day shell chair. The GIFs were inspired by the Eames’ 1970 film, “The Fiberglass Chairs: Something of How They Get the Way They Are.” The GIFs, filmed in the fiberglass manufacturing facility of Herman Miller in Ashtabula, OH, aim to “explore the ways in which Herman Miller is honoring the Eames original design and ethos by pushing the manufacturing process and quality to be the best and most sustainable it can possibly be.”

Source: WHY

A Forgotten Mural

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The greatest rewards resulting from restoration and renovation projects are the surprises that are revealed. In late March 2015 the contractors, designers, and residents of 5 Bryant Park Tower in Manhattan were treated to a forgotten tile mosaic by notable muralist Max Spivak. During renovation, the metal cladding came down to reveal a remarkably well preserved abstract ceramic tile mural, viewed for nearly a week by passers-by, building patrons, and the Spivak family. However, the mural has since been re-clad “…in a way that will preserve it for the future,” much to the chagrin of art conservation groups in New York and the Spivak family themselves.

Source: New York Times

Shaping the Visual Landscape: Water Colors

Toshio Sibata - Hanno City Saitama Prefecture, Japan, 2006

Toshio Sibata – Hanno City Saitama Prefecture, Japan, 2006

Japanese photographer, Toshio Shibata’s latest body of work Water Colors frames engineered water containment systems and divergent mechanisms to create mesmerizing abstract designs that show the symbiotic relationship between the natural landscape and man-made constructs. The images of earthworks, hydroelectric dams, and spillways are framed to mask context and distort perspective by hiding horizon lines. Shibata focused “…mostly on how the infrastructure of Japan’s postwar building boom interacted with the country’s natural landscape.”

An exhibition archive of the work is on view at the Laurence Miller Gallery in New York, NY.

Source: New York Times Magazine

Foreclosure Quilts

Artist—and former urban planner—Kathryn Clark uses hand-quilting methods to create foreclosure maps of U.S. neighborhoods. In an interview for The Atlantic’s CityLab, Clark describes her choice of quilting as medium, being drawn to both its cultural contexts and how visual craft can be used to humanize data. Clark’s Block Lab Studio seeks to more broadly explore how quilt blocks can continue their historical role embodying meaning through new designs reflecting modern social and environmental issues.

foreclosure quilts
Source: CITYLAB

Predatory Buildings

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CITYLAB’s article on avian causalities resulting from the built environment largely focuses on Lights Out DC, a Washington DC based citizen group that aspires to protect migratory birds. Lights Out DC members go to the streets during the spring and autumn migratory bird seasons to collect, tag, and bag deceased birds. The high fatality rate among migrating birds is due to the fact their ancient flight routes used in search of fertile feeding and nesting grounds now include heavily urban areas. Nocturnal birds are most vulnerable to the urban landscape as they rely on stars for navigation and are disoriented by the light pollution that obscures constellations and makes smooth, transparent surfaces difficult to see.

The article also chronicles the most dangerous buildings in DC and new buildings that are designed with birds’ livelihoods in mind. Also discussed are simple steps to reduce avian fatalities such as encouraging businesses to turn off or dim lights overnight. This intervention in DC is believed to have reduced bird fatalities by two-thirds. The deaths in DC are not an isolated event. The organization Fatel Light Awareness Program (FLAP) in Toronto—often seen as a pioneer in the movement—claims to have collected over 65,000 birds representing 116 species since its inception in 1993.

Source: CITYLAB

Sidewalk Salon Cairo

Over the course of four years, artists Manar Moursi and David Puig have been using Polaroid photography and informal interviews to document abandoned chairs on the sidewalks of Cairo. Together, these photos and stories illustrate the enduring, time-worn character of the chairs, their users, and the city’s social fabric. Moursi and Puig are currently fundraising to publish a corresponding monograph, Sidewalk Salon: 1001 Street Chairs of Cairo.

Sidewalk Salon Cairo
Source: City Lab

 

Selfie Ethics

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Last June, San Francisco Art Institute (SFAI) hosted the Summer Symposium “Face It: Photography, Ethics, and Identity in the Age of the Selfie.” The symposium brought artists and scholars together to discuss the ethics and identity of photography in the new world of ceaseless and instantaneous images. The symposium explored complex ideas of self-representation and how the constant sharing of one’s life blurs the line between self-consciously performed and authentic experiences.

The symposium aspired to answer complicated questions like: “How does social media complicate the relationship between action/event/self and image? What are the political implications and ethical obligations of this relationship? How do current art practices refract, resist, or incorporate the ubiquity of images and connectedness? What exactly does ‘photography’ mean today?”

Artists and scholars addressed these questions through speeches, conversations, and panels. For those that were unable to attend the symposium or would like to re-visit the presentations, SFAI has generously uploaded the full presentations to Vimeo .

Source: San Francisco Art Institute

Google Street Art Project: A Digital Conservancy

Shepard Fairey

Shepard Fairey

The Google Street Art Project is slated to double the number of works documented in the database to 5000. Street art—contentious by nature—is either viewed as vandalism or the work of “outlaw” artists. Arguably street artists seek to reach a large audience utilizing the public landscape as their canvas without being concerned that the life span of their work is likely short-lived. Contrary to the inherent ephemeral nature of street art, the project database attempts to catalog as much information about the original work as possible and, by doing so, database creators and collaborators document a medium that falls outside the conventional art market.

Source: The Guardian

Bizarre and Beautiful: Architecture Composites

Photograph by Matthias Jung

Photograph by Matthias Jung

Combination Printing is a photographic collage technique implemented by photographers from Hippolyte Bayard in 1840 to the Dadists and Surrealists of the 20th Century. Bridging the gap between the current era’s digital composites and the tenets put forth by original alternative processes and combination printers, German photographer Matthias Jung creates composites of historical architecture photographs juxtaposed on serene, pastoral landscapes in his series surreal housesThe resulting images are equal parts playful and whimsical, and haunting and dramatic.

Source: Visual News