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Tag Archives: urban intervention

Give me some polygons, nature and light: you will immediately catch my attention. I recently bumped into two different works which I would like to spend some words on.

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Image taken from javierriera.es

The first one is the the project of a spanish artist, Javier Riera, who created spectacular perspectives projecting geometrical shapes on a natural landscape. The result is a suggestive painting, where light adds depth and volume to the natural canvas and geometry gives abstraction to the view. As the artist said in an interview, “geometry has the quality of representing the driving forces of nature that are not visible, the immaterial design of things, the origin of energy and matter”. The projection of scattered geometrical shapes into such context makes me feel out of place and wonder wether the view is real or not.

Cambodian Trees, by french artist Clement Briend, is the second project that drew my curiosity. The work is based on the digital projection of images from cambodian spirits and deities on big trees in different urban areas of Phnom Phen. The projections want to be a visual representation of the divine spirits that live in our world. They have a powerful impact that creates a sort of spiritual aura in the urban environment.

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Image taken from thisiscolossal.com

In both cases the projections create an effect which is halfway between sculpture and installation, and light, together with the natural element, gives the pictures an unusual depth, and a mesmerising effect to our minds.

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Some time ago I wrote a post describing an interesting and crazy documentary about the unconscious art of graffiti removal. Recently WAV (We Are Visual), urban activists and artists from Germany, made up a project which reminded me about this documentary. During a trip to Russia they documented all the buffed walls they found on the streets of St. Petersburg, creating this way a sort of alphabet or, as they said, an ABC of the city, their own way of reading the urban context. The common act of covering tag or graffiti can be charged with different meaning:  it can be read as an unconscious form of abstractionism or, as in this case, as a visual contemporary spelling-book.

Also, sometimes it is possible to play with these sad stains of colourless paint. The artist Mobrst for instance uses buffs as a base for his own pieces. He deliberately has fun of this practice by writing ironic and sarcastic short sentences on buffed walls. In his piece Playing with the buff man he tried to find an acceptable shade of grey, creating a “dialog” between himself and the buff man who, unconscious of the game, had to paint over the stencils, againg and again. Mobstr is putting an issue, like if he was challenging the municipality to a duel. In another of his pieces he also thanks the city council for their “obiedient collaboration”.

Images taken from mobstr.org

Both artists are taking advantage of elements already present in the city frame, focusing attention on it in different way and, like in Mobstr’s case, underlining the absurd behave of a city who blindly act against any form of urban intervention without even looking at it.

 

I’m fascinated by the sun-shaped lamp, called Little Sun, designed by Olafur Eliasson, together with the engineer Frederik Ottesen. Eliasson was born in Iceland, a country where, during the winter, you cannot see any sunlight. That’s why he gives extreme importance to light in his works. Certainly everybody remember The Weather Project, realized at the Tate Modern, London, in 2003, where he installed a giant semi-circular object made up from hundreds of mono-frequency lamps, in order to recreate an artificial sun in the Turbine Hall of the museum. This new project is also about sunlight, but, this time, the small piece of art wants to be part of our everyday life, as the real sun. Little Sun is a solar-powered lamp, conceived to bring light to those countries were electricity is not accessible to everyone. As stated in their project web page: “Little Sun helps decentralize access to power in the world by making sustainable light available anywhere. It promotes economic growth in regions of the world where electricity is not available or reliable.”

On the other hand, I would like to show another kind of project: an intervention realized in Berlin, which concept lies on the opposite pole of Little Sun. Powerhouse 2 The People is a project conceived by the creative studio Cheesecake Powerhouse. What they did was give citizens the chance to take care of a small piece of their urban furniture, installing a switch on a streetlamp and letting people free to turn it on or off as they wanted, when they wanted. We’re used to have light in our life and often we don’t give value to it, sometimes we also waste it without even realizing it. This project faces the problem of sustainable energy-consumption, hacking the frame of the city, involving citizens and encouraging them to think about how their everyday life works. A small effort for a great effective result.