Artist and metalworker James Nolan Gandy creates elaborate drawing machines that easily put your childhood spirograph to shame. The machines are engineered from relatively simple mechanisms that when combined, produce mind-boggling shapes and interconnected moiré patterns.
Although the gears and pulleys are crafted in a way to make some of the work on their own, Gandy has not yet manufactured a system to lift the pen at specific intervals. Therefore many of his works are collaborative studies, equally created from the talents of man and machine. Some of my favorites are those created with a high contrast between paper and ink, such as the brilliant blue form seen in his drawing below.
Frustrated by the daily bombardment of advertising on the streets of New York City, artist Caroline Caldwell and writer RJ Rushmore decided to produce a project that would dampen the sheer volume of visual marketing strewn throughout their environment. The pair didn’t have the budget to prompt an entire overhaul, but they did have the incentive to construct an intervention that would offer an alternative glimpse to the city’s high volume of print-based advertisements.
For their 2017 project, Art in Ad Places, the pair recruited 55 artists and collectives from across the country to produce 52 works to be temporarily displayed on pay phone booths across New York City. The installations were each presented for a week, and documented by their collaborator, street art photographer Luna Park.
“Pay phones were a perfect choice because they’re disappearing from the streets,” Rushmore told Colossal. “So I’d like to say that our ad takeovers were intended as a swan song for pay phones. Plus, contemporary pay phones serve no real function except to serve advertising, and that feels wrong. Nobody’s using pay phones to make calls, so why do we put up with their ads?”
The 52-week campaign ended in December of last year, however it has recently been compiled into a new book that documents the year-long installation. Art in Ad Places: 52 Week of Public Art Across New York City is available through Rushmore’s street art blog Vandalog and features statements from each artist alongside essays written by the project’s three collaborators. You can see the entire range of poster-sized artworks produced for Art in Ad Places on the project’s website or Instagram.
For over a century, Parisians were drawn out of the city and into the neighboring village of Le Plessis-Piquet to experience charming summer evenings among the township’s tall trees. What started as open air dancehalls called “guinguettes,” turned into treehouse cabarets after restaurant proprietor Joseph Gueusquin built Le Grand Robinson in 1848.
Inspired by the treehouse described in The Swiss Family Robinson, the unique establishment hoisted visitors to the top branches of a thick chestnut tree to dine dozens of feet above their fellow revelers. Over the next few decades copycat restaurants began popping up in trees across town, hosting donkey races and building tall tree swings to persuade diners away from their numerous competitors. This crop of new treetop guinguettes forced Gueusquin to rename his lounge “Le Vrai de Arbre Robinson” (The Real Robinson Tree) in 1888, which ensured customers knew they were dining at the original treehouse of Le Plessis-Piquet.
In 1909, after 60 years of booming success with the popular treehouses, the town changed its name to Le Plessis-Robinson. Today none of the Parisian suburb’s treetop bars remain (the last shut its doors in 1976), however the memory of treetop revelry remains in the few forgotten boards tacked to the town’s tall trees. (via Jeroen Apers)
Lori Nix and Kathleen Gerber (previously) collaboratively produce detailed dioramas caught in the throws of natural or manmade chaos. From 2005 to 2015 the pair created a series titled The City, which imagined the post-apocalyptic interiors of abandoned violin shops, malls, and natural history museums. Empire, a follow-up suite of miniature scenes, serves as a companion to this series by looking at the same imagined future from an exterior point of view.
Nix and Gerber’s new scenes move away from a focus on water-damaged and rusty interiors to explore broad outdoor environments recently devoid of civilization. Scaffolding and bridges crumble as plants begin to poke back through cement cracks, subtle hints that nature has begun to reclaim its land.
“Empire presents a world transformed by climate uncertainty and a shifting social order as it stumbles towards a new kind of frontier,” the pair explain in a statement. “These places are eerily beautiful but also unsettling in their stillness and silence. Long ago, man entered the landscape and forced nature to his will. Once grand and emblematic of strength and prosperity, these landscapes now appear abused and in decay, and it is uncertain how they will continue to (d)evolve.”
Each labor intensive model can take up to 7 months to produce, which often means that Nix and Gerber will only finish two photographs a year. The handcrafted dioramas are built from cardboard, foam, and glue—impermanent supplies which are deconstructed and recycled after each shoot.
“I am afraid of what the future holds if we do not change our ways regarding the climate, but I am also fascinated by what a changing world can bring,” Nix told Colossal. “I think this is part of why we make the work we do, to try to reconcile these different attitudes.”
The pair will exhibit images from Empire at their upcoming show at Chicago-based Catherine Edelman Gallery from March 2 to April 28. You can see more of their miniature scenes from both The City and Empire on their Instagram and Facebook.
The Castle is a 2007 project by Mexican artist Jorge Méndez Blake that subtly examines the impact of a single outside force. For the installation, he constructed a 75 x 13 foot brick wall that balances on top of a single copy of Franz Kafka’s The Castle. The mortarless wall bulges at the site of the inserted text, creating an arch that extends to the top of the precarious structure.
Although a larger metaphor could be applied to the installation no matter what piece of literature was chosen, Méndez Blake specifically selected The Castle to pay tribute to Kafka’s lifestyle and work. The novelist was an introverted figure who wrote privately throughout his life, and was only published posthumously by his friend Max Brod. This minimal, yet poignant presence is reflected in the brick work—Kafka’s novel showcasing how a small idea can have a monumental presence.
For more than 40 years Japanese truck drivers have been piling on lights, patterned fabrics, and other over-the-top adornments to their work trucks, creating moving masterpieces covered in LEDs. This tradition of decorated trucks or “Dekotora” originated from a 1970s Japanese movie series inspired by Smokey and the Bandit titled Torakku Yaro or “Truck Rascals.” Drivers first began decorating their vehicles in the style of the comedy-action films in hopes of being cast in upcoming films. Eventually the extravagant trucks became a way of life for many workers, with decoration costs to produce such elaborate vehicles sometimes running over $100,000.
Although the art form is now seeing a decline after it reached its peak in the ’80s and ’90s, the Utamaro-Kai Association of Dekotora drivers has begun to help raise funds for various charity initiatives, including areas of the country that have been hit by the recent Tsunami. Photographer Todd Antony‘s latest photographic series documents the men behind the association, taking a peek inside their cabs to view the personalization that goes into each piece of machinery. You can view more of Antony’s recent projects on his website and Instagram. (via Colossal Submissions)
Netherlands-based artist Super A (previously here and here) has a new series of painting and sculpture that explores the truth behind fantasy, slicing through pop culture figures to examine the reality that lays at their core. Trapped features characters such as Tweety, Mickey Mouse, Snow White and even Ronald McDonald as their recognizable features unfurl like ribbons, revealing realistically formed birds, mice, and people caught inside.
The series intends to address our skewed perception of reality through easily digestible cartoons, demonstrating that there can be no objectivity when it comes to our daily view of the world. A certain lens is always employed, a myth disguises the harsh truths.
“Nowadays the most dominant myths we have embraced as an warm blanket of truth are liberty, property and individualism,” said Super A. “We tend to see these as absolute objective truths which suit the best interests of all humanity. But aren’t we just trapped within our cozy reality? And if it’s cozy… Should we even dare to break free?”
Super A has shown works from the series in a variety of exhibitions. The Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck paintings were recently shown at Vertical Gallery's group exhibition Portrait, Tweety is on view at Pow! Wow! Exploring the New Contemporary Art Movement curated by Thinkspace Gallery at the Honolulu Museum of Art, and Snow White and Pierrot will be shown at an upcoming exhibition with Galerie Droste.