Tuesday, April 26, 2011

nature and its elements to depict the reality of dreams

magpie & whiskeyjack have previously featured the art of wearing an animal on one's head and the art of wearing a full wunderkammer on one's head, but via but it does float we find that Albín Brunovský (1935-1997) made full microcosms, forests, seas and legends worn on the head which pre-date and perhaps outdo all of the above.

lbín Brunovský / Albin Brunovsky
Lady Godiva - Dáma v klobouku VI. / Lady in the Hat VI.
lept, suchá jehla, mezzotinta
etching, dry-point, mezzotint
1981, 11.5 x 16 cm,
opus 490

You must agree, that's some hat.

Albín Brunovský was a Slovak painter, printmaker, graphic artist, illustrator and professor. He designed banknotes for Czechoslovakia and is considered one of the greatest Slovak painters of the 20th century. You can find more of his art here or in the Journey Around My Skull archives.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Machine Music

Mix your analogue with your digital. See what can be done with vintage (low) technology and a microcontroller:

Sewing Machine Orchestra from Martin Messier on Vimeo.

Montreal-based composer, performer and video artist Martin Messier makes music with 8 (amplified) sewing machines. Samuel St-Aubin has interfaced them to the microcontroller so that the machines themselves control sound parameters like volume through the wheels. The machines can be remotely controlled through the computer interface too. Messier cites the evocative power of employing the vintage sewing machines. I think the silhouettes of the machines themselves add to the performance. (via Etsys Deutscher Blog)

Messier also milks bits of clocks for all their musical worth:

L'HORLOGER from Martin Messier on Vimeo.

And, inspired by the early twentieth century Italian futurist idea that "noise" be part of a musical composition, he made variations on Luigi Russolo's mysterious box the 'intonarumori'. His mechanisms are open and visible, rather than hidden. Both the 'intonarumori' and clocks are played in this performance:

LA CHAMBRE DES MACHINES from Martin Messier on Vimeo.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Juxtaposition & Craftivism

german panther, 2007, Luftballon/Luft/Kleber (balloon/air/glou), 960 x370 x 300cm

A balloon tank by German-based Dutch artist Hans Hemmert (via Adapt)

Pink M.24 Chaffee
A tank wrapped in pink

Danish artist Marianne Jorgensen stitched together a pink cozy, knit and crocheted in a collection of three thousand 15 cm x 15 cm squares for a WWII tank as a protest against the involvement of Denmark (UK and US) in the war in Iraq, by volunteers in Europe and the US in 2006.

Barb Hunt
antipersonnel, 1998 and ongoing
approximately 50 knitted sculptures
Collection of the artist
©2001 Barb Hunt

Canadian artist Barb Hunt knit replicas of antipersonnel land mines in various shades of pink wool, inspired by protests againts land mines. While Marianne Jorgensen cites how knitting and pinkness allude to coziness and home, the antipathy of war, Barb Hunt relates knitting to caring for the body, bandages and hand-knit socks for soldiers abroad and thus to caring, recooperating and protection.

Barb Hunt
antipersonnel - detail landscape

I find Hunt's collection very moving; to ponder the sheer inventiveness of human evil in creating such an array of civilian-killing devices along with the irony of justaposition with the cuddly medium and feminine* pink colour.

The wikipedia entry for Craftivism includes instructions for knitting your own "purse grenade" from Political protest turns to the radical art of knitting by Charlotte Higgins published by The Guardian, Monday 31 January 2005.

*At least according to current colour-biases.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

The Oddballs, the Endangered, the Invasive & the Poodles

Jenny Pope's website J Pop Studios is a full zoo of exotic (and not so exotic) animal specimens in (colour reduction) woodblock print form. She tackles several topics in contemporary science, from flukes of evolotionary biology, to climate change, ocean acidification, pollution, extinction of the megafauna of Australia, invasive species as well as kitties & poodles.

She has a series investigating the effect of islands on evolution: 'Isolation Produces Oddballs' including the wonderously named, If Pygmy Elephants Climbed Trees (image size 13” x 17”)

which answers the question how did the 200 pound monitor lizard, the Komodo Dragon get so large? Apparently they were discovered on Flores, along with pygmy elephant bones - and sadly for them, the pachyderms are not known for tree climbing ability. She tackles 'Global Warming Band-aids' in her print 'Ocean Sequestration' (image size 19” x 23.75”) about the perils of simply trying to sequester CO2 in the deep ocean, and the consequent ocean acidification.

Colleagues of mine are working on the more sophisticated (but as of yet unproven on a large scale) possibility of sequestering CO2 in icelike 'clathrate' cage of hydrogen-bonded water molecules, known as CO2 hydrate - below the seafloor, rather than in the deep sea. So, this print reasonates with me as both a marine scientist and a printmaker.

Her South of North---The Lapping Territories of Bears (image size 32” x 24”) is about the strange fate of bears in far north, where the changing climate has lead to the discovery of the hybrid 'pizzly' (polar bear/grizzly cross).

Plane and a crane (image size 15” x 11.5”) in her 'Endangered Animals' series not only highlights the whooping crane, but also "Operation Migration," which uses ultralight planes to teach and re-introduce the migration which was lost when a certain population was destroyed, by having the birds imprint on the plane.

The invasive starlings are a problem where I live, as in many places in North America. They were introduced by Eugene Schieffelin who wanted to release all of the birds mentioned in William Shakespere’s plays. Sometimes romantic ideas and biodiversity are a bad mix. A Starling Guide to Night (image size 19” x 23.75”) is part of her 'Invasive Species' series.

Do yourself a favour and check out her large portfolio. I love the dynamic style and colour pallette of her prints, which combine the whimsy of children's illustration with serious, well-articulated subject matter. Her fascination with ecology, biology and obvious enthusiasm for science in general is infectious. I do love the medium of woodblock prints, and prints created at the art-science interface are likely to delight me, but I'm also very impressed with the background and information she provides with each print. You could learn a lot simply by reading about her subject matter. Despite her dismay at the way we treat our environment, she has a sense of the ridiculous - highlighting the absurdity of using of rubber ducks, turtles, frogs and beavers spilled from a container ship in 1992 to trace currents - or their imagined interaction with real marine animals, or some of our misconceptions about birds, from recent history. This makes her portfolio wonderful to explore, though the topics remain may be dire.

You should also check out her blog and her jpopstudios etsy shop - which also includes etchings.


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