Fun Friday: Clever Street Art

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Web Urbanist has curated an eclectic collection of subtle street art. The collection looks at work that is easily overlooked due to size, stealthiness, or both. The pieces’ motives range from challenging onlookers to examine the illusions of freedom and containment to inspiring a smile by a trash can sporting googly eyes. This art rewards the shrewd city-dweller with a hidden treat, one that many will never know was right under their nose.

Source: Web Urbanist

“@Large: Ai Weiwei on Alcatraz”

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Ai Wei Wei is confined to China. While the Chinese government holds him hostage on native soil the artist’s installation on Alcatraz island—socially motivated and politically charged—conveys just how little hold they have over him. “@Large: Ai Weiwei on Alcatraz” is comprised of various works installed around the former prison. The works center around the “Trace” series—portraits of prisoners of “conscience and political exile” worldwide—created solely out of Legos.

The former prison acts as an architectural canvas for Ai Wei Wei’s work. The US National Park Service has allowed access to spaces that are normally off limits. For example, visitors are invited to sit on a stool and listen to audio recordings of political prisoners in normally restricted cell blocks. A Chinese dragon kite emblazoned with the flags of countries implicated in “Trace” hangs in the dining hall.

Source: The New York Times

Found: National Geographic on Tumblr

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National Geographic’s Tumblr, Found, boasts an eclectic collection of images that most often highlight the mundane rather than the monumental. Photographers skillfully capture and crystallize the wonder one might feel from observing simple moments in unassuming places. The collection’s reach is nearly limitless from kittens walking upon giant lily pads in the Philippines in the 1930s to women in Texas sun bathing alongside an oil rig in 1980. One should explore Found to get lost in the whimsy of conventional moments.

Source: National Geographic

James Turrell: Prints and Process

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Light is essential to how we view the world. Our eyes absorb and refract light allowing us to see, much the same way a camera lens absorbs light to record an image. Artist James Turrell—creator of acclaimed Guggenheim light installation Aten Reignpresents a re-visitation of the work in printed form. The goal was to translate the installation’s immersive light to paper and ink. The challenge was representing the installation’s luminosity in pigment—considering light blends together to create colors differently than ink. Created in collaboration with Pace Prints, the result is an array of saturated wood-cut prints that beautifully capture the interplay between light and architecture.

Experience James Turrell’s Skyspace at The University of Texas at Austin. It’s free!

Source: Artsy Editorial

Sharing in the City

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The sharing economy has made great strides in encouraging sustainable consumption. In an effort to increase potential participants’ accessibility to current programs, the Swiss initiative Pumpipume aims to eliminate the current requirement that one have online connectivity. Pumpipume minimizes barriers by creating a simple system that only requires one to order complimentary stickers that the sharer’s applies to her mailbox to indicate what items she is willing to lend. Pumpipume’s system not only questions the prevailing norms around personal consumption but also addresses the need for a low-tech, all access approach.

Source: Pop Up City

Constructing Worlds

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Constructing Worlds,”a new exhibition at London’s Barbican Art Gallery features an impressive array of photographs culled from the respective oeuvres of iconic photographersall heavily influenced by and drawn to architecture. The exhibition juxtaposes iconic architecture photographs, such as Case Study House #22 by Julius Shulman, with more obscure images of Garbage City in Cairo (see “Mokattam Ridge” by Bas Princen). Through their selection, the exhibition’s curators illustrate the intrinsic connection between photography and architecture, as architecture is “the medium’s most willing accomplice.”

Source: The Guardian – Photography

The Life of a Vacant Home

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Pittsburgh artist Dee Briggs’ most recent work is deeply personal and political. After several years living next to a vacant blighted home, Briggs decided to take action not as an artist but as a neighbor. Briggs was given the opportunity to take conditional ownership of the house as long as the structure was torn down. After Briggs encountered the personal belongings left in the home by its former residents, she began questioning the municipality’s sterile view of vacant buildings. Briggs launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise $30,000 to demolish the home as gently as possible in order to salvage materials for re-use.

The campaign recently met its goal, although what happened on the way to $30,000 is what is truly remarkable. Briggs and some friends painted the entire house gold to bring attention to the forgotten and launched a website allowing anyone to comment on the house. What emerged from the comment forum is a fascinating history of the home and its past residents. Briggs’ project has not only salvaged fragments of the physical but also that which is less tangible: love for a home left vacant.

Source: CityLab

Austin Rooftop Architecture Film Series: “Tiny”

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This week’s Rooftop Architecture Series screening at The Contemporary Austin features documentary film Tiny. Tiny tracks one couple’s struggle to design and build a home, the footprint of which fits within an average parking space.

The film runs for two nights at the Jones Center Roof Deck October 8-9, 2014 starting at 7:30 pm. Later this month check out the next installment in the series, Sagradawhich highlights the construction of Gaudi’s Barcelona basilica.

Source: The Contemporary Austin

Fun Friday: 3D-Printed Shells for Hermit Crabs

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Artist Aki Inomata has produced a collection of whimsical new homes for hermit crabs. Inomata scanned each hermit crab to ensure a perfect fit and then printed the crystal clear shells on a high-accuracy 3-D printer. Inomata decided to make each shell a different city skyline to prompt introspection about the temporary and transitional identities of place. Inomata’s shells question the politics of moving, migration, and nationality.

Source: Web Urbanist

World Metro Systems

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The Guardian presents a brief photo history documenitng the world’s metro systems over a one hundred year period, ranging from the first underground rail systemthe London Undergroundto Moscow’s ornate stations, often referred to as the “people’s palaces.” The collection reveals how metros over time have evolved, alongside cities, to best serve residents’ needs.

UT faculty, students , and staff can access images of world metro systems by logging into the Visual Resources Collection’s online image collection and searching key terms “subway” and “underground station” to view images from various regions and time periods.

Source: The Guardian

Vernacular Architecture One Exposure At A Time

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Author Katherine Flynn highlights the upcoming issue of Preservation Magazine with a blog post featuring a recent body of work by photographer duo Steve Gross and Susan Daley. Vernacular architecture—utilitarian in nature and designed in response to needs rather than stylistic constructs—reflects a greater social message about a town, people, and region. Canvasing the country, the photographers documented structures on isolated roads in nearly abandoned towns and homesteads. Gross and Daley believe the buildings appeal “because of their familiar forms that have a sense of character, directness, and certainty about them.”  The result is a poignant, socially conscious body of work.

Source:  Preservation Magazine is the quarterly publication of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

VETS RESTORE: Veterans and Historic Preservation

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VETS RESTORE, in King County, Washington, is an example of a partnership focused on civic engagement, veteran relations, and historic preservation bringing awareness to both the needs of returning veterans and historic buildings. Upon acceptance into the program, military veteran participants receive training on the theory of historic preservation. They visit current project sites in the region and receive weeks of supervised hands-on training. After completing the program, participants work as paid interns with one of the organization’s five local affiliates. Visit the VETS RESTORE Facebook page to view photos of work by the participants.

Source: VETS RESTORE