Sculpture Turns Coca-Cola Back Into Clean Drinking Water

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Artist Helmut Smits makes shockingly clever work from surprisingly ordinary materials. In fact, his recent sculpture simply turns one common substance into another by distilling Coca-Cola back into clean drinking water in a work called “The Real Thing.”

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Smits originally made a version of the work back in 2006, which consisted of an installation where Coca-Cola could be manually filter back into clean drinking water. This time, he developed a distillation process with University of Amsterdam masters student Martien Würdemann that simply collects the water vapors from a heated Coca-Cola bottle in a separate container, and then has minerals added to it to make it potable.

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Although there are a lot of interesting conclusions that could be drawn from the content of this work, when asked what his intentions were when he decided to make the sculpture, Smits explained, “I just want people to laugh and then hopefully think about the sh*t that they consume.”

“The Real Thing” is on display as part of Dutch Design Week 2014 and can be seen in an exhibition called “Sense Nonsense” at the Van Abbemuseum in Eindhoven, which runs until November 9th.

[via Beautiful/Decay]


Alex Chinneck’s Actual House of Wax

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It’s that time of year when some people may be looking for a sinister thrill by watching classic horror films like “House of Wax,” but if you’re in London this year you can see an actual house made of wax in the flesh. Made from 8,000 wax bricks, the house is a fantastic installation by artist and designer Alex Chinneck, which is currently on display in London’s Covent Garden.

The work is called “A pound of flesh for 50p” and it poetically honors the history of an old candle factory which used to stand near the sculpture’s location in London’s district of Bankside.

The house will be melted manually with handheld heating apparatus commonly used in roofing applications. This method provides control over the artwork’s appearance, duration and changing figure, inspired by the classic process of sculpting material to shape form in a contemporary and unique way. The bricks will be cast in paraffin wax in beds of terracotta sand. This method makes each unique but collectively they mimic the colour, coarse surface and irregularity of a real wall. For the last twelve months the artist has collaborated with chemists, wax manufacturers and engineers to develop visually convincing wax bricks that transform in the most sculpturally effective way.

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If you’re in London this month, be sure to drop by and take a gander, because it may be completely melted to the ground by November 18th!

[via Nag on the Lake]


Justin Favela’s Enigmatic Piñatas

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Artist Justin Favela creates enigmatic works of art through the very DIY medium of piñatas made from just cardboard, paper, and glue. Based in Las Vegas, Favela’s work plays with concepts of Southwestern Chicano culture and the traditional Mexican Catholic interpretation of the piñata with works like his life-sized “Lowrider Piñata.”

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He literally elevates the piñata to a high art context with works like “Donkey Piñata,” which appears to be a reference to Maurizio Catalan’s “The Ballad of Trotsky,” featuring a hanging taxidermied horse.

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“Grande Bang” is made from found piñatas that he assembled to resemble an explosion, just like the candy that might explode from the piñata after being struck by a stick, mimicking the origin of the universe!

Justin Favela's Big Bird sculpture.

Justin Favela's Big Bird sculpture.

His most recent work demonstrates the emotional subtly that it’s possible to achieve with a piñata. In a poignant depiction of Big Bird sprawled on the floor, it’s not clear whether the beloved Sesame Street character is dead or simply sleeping peacefully in this beautifully rendered work.

[via ANIMAL]


Julia Christensen’s Upcycled iPhone Art Project

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Got a new iPhone? Have you thought about what you’ll do with your old phone? Media artist Julia Christensen is interested in what happens to pieces of technology when we’re done with them, so she made a fascinating work called BURNOUTS from upcycled iPhones. The work consists of donated iPhones that Christensen installed in 3D printed containers, featuring mirrors and lenses from discarded overhead projectors, in order to cast animated images of retired star constellations upwards onto a ceiling.

Just like the constellations illustrated in her work, Christensen connects the dots between our relationships to old technologies to create a new picture of how we understand them. Not only were these constellations edited from star charts due to increasing light pollution from Earth, but they were all constellations named for antiquated technologies, just like old phones and overhead projectors used to emit illuminated images of them.

The projection of these five constellations is a poetic metaphor for the technology producing the image––just as the constellations are still there and yet no longer in use, so are our own outdated gadgets.

Although we clearly have a long way to go toward improving how we deal with electronic waste, Christensen’s work is a stunning demonstration of the tremendous potential for creative expression using technologies that we might otherwise throw away. So, if you’re looking for a new project (or a new projector), you might want to think twice before you get rid of that old phone!

[via prothetic knowledge]


Beekeeper Sculpture Contains an Actual Bee Hive

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Artist Brian Fernandes-Halloran makes sculptural works from found objects that reconstruct memories. He recently worked with Aga Shraeder and Rafal Zwirek to create a sculpture of an eccentric beekeeper named Pantata, who he met during an artist residency in Poland. As Fernandes-Halloran explains in the video below, the sculpture is made from found objects that Pantata had collected and houses a functional apiary!

Pantata has had a small house in Colonia for about 20 years. He has transformed it from a towns unofficial trash dump into a cosy home where he undertakes many projects that make use of the surrounding forest, objects he comes across and years of know how. One of his projects is the apiary that he manages.

I love the contrast between the endearing sentiments behind this sculpture, and the idea that it will be constantly swarming with bees, forcing unequipped viewers to keep their distance, not to mention that this sculpture will potentially produce honey! Not too shabby.


A Microsoft Paint Figure Drawing Class

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Artist, prankster, and F.A.T. Lab member Aram Bartholl will hold a very unique figure drawing class this Saturday at the new Eyebeam location in Brooklyn. Rather than using paper and charcoal, attendees to this unorthodox drawing class will attempt to depict a nude model using only a classic version of Microsoft Paint and a mouse.

No antialiasing! No layers! Limited undos! Come and show off your mouse drawing skills in good old desktop drawing style.

Aside from being an all-around good time, this class may also be a clever critique of the value of learning antiquated art techniques. After all, if photographic processes replaced the necessity of having drawing skills in order to depict an image, then we must still be teaching drawing techniques simply for the merits of learning to think visually in terms of lines and mark making. Now that iPhones and photoshop have replaced the necessity of traditional photographic processes in order to produce an accurate image, why not teach a Microsoft Paint drawing class simply for the merits of learning to think visually in terms of pixels and digital file formats?

Update: Bartholl posted a set of SFW pictures of the very first MS paint figure drawing class on flickr, if you’d like to see the results for yourself!


Painting with Plants Found Growing Wild on the Maker Faire Grounds

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Artist Ellie Irons is holding a unique painting workshop today at the CUT/PASTE/GROW table at World Maker Faire. What makes her workshop special are the pigments and dyes that her workshop participants are using, they’ve all come from plants that Irons found growing on the World Maker Faire grounds at the New York Hall of Science.

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Some of the plants that Irons found include: Pokeweed, Bittersweet Nightshade, and Asiatic Dayflower. The workshop is part of her research-based art project called Invasive Pigments, which explores “the migration and proliferation of certain plants in tandem with dense human populations.” So, if you’d like to make your very own painting from plant species found in the local environment, then look out for Ellie Irons over in Zone 2!


Yes, There is a Robotic Penis Wall at Maker Faire This Year

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Artist Peiqi Su building her creation.

Maker Faire has always straddled a line of edgy and educational, a blend that makes it a magical, must-see event year after year. There’s no where else, for instance, where you can learn how solder while being sandwiched next to super-sized, fire-belching metal statues. And while this year’s World Maker Faire New York, opening Saturday at the New York Hall of Science, is no different, one particular exhibit has everyone talking.

It’s a wall of robotic penises.

The creation, made by Peiqi Su as part of her thesis project for NYU’s Interactive Telecommunications Program, consists of 81 articulating penises that can move in response to realtime changes in the stock market, to the viewers movement, or to any other input set by the creator. The piece is an immediate attention-getter and a fascinating piece of art.

There were several internal conversations at Make: about including it in this year’s event, but in the end, the art of the piece spoke loudest. “It’s a form of expression based on human anatomy, and it’s done by an artist who is interested in how you respond to it,” explains Make: founder and CEO Dale Dougherty.

We would love attendees to the Faire to see the piece and determine their feelings about it. The display is located inside a closed tent that is clearly labelled, so there won’t be any surprises and it can be avoided if the subject matter makes you uncomfortable. Its artistic expression will hopefully resonate with everyone, but if not, there are hundreds of other enjoyable things to see and do at the event.


Interactive Sculpture Dispenses Paint According to the Mood of Local Social Media

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Be careful what you tweet, because your feelings could be immortalized in a piece of public art. At least that’s what happened in Oslo when Syver Lauritzsen and Eirik Haugen Murvold publicly displayed a sculpture called MONOLITT.

MONOLITT is an interactive installation that quite literally paints the mood of the city, using social media feeds as an input. The installation takes electronic signals and lets them manifest themselves in the physical world. Using sentiment analytics, the installation links tweets to corresponding colored paints in realtime, feeding them out through the top of the sculpture, letting them flow into a procedurally generated three-dimensional painting.

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I don’t know how they decided to assign color values to different emotions, and different emotions to words, but I’d love to see this project done over a longer period of time. I think it would be fascinating to have a visual representation of the mood of a place and see how it changes over time!

[via Prothetic Knowledge]


LEGO Print Making at Maker Faire Orlando

I don’t play with toys. I just print with them. Chris Ware

Chris WareChris Ware, of cWare Studios,  is a graphic designer, print maker and artist from Central Florida.  At Maker Faire Orlando, he’ll be hosting a Maker exhibit focused on LEGO Print Making, lego printingwhich was selected as an Educators Pick  at the event.

On his website, Ware says, “I use LEGOs to print images of toys. The series focuses on how technology is becoming more of a reality than the tangible world. I am intrigued by how technology effects the developmental process and where this may lead us as a society but perhaps I am just “old-fashioned” in that I still prefer three-dimensional.”

We asked Ware to tell us more about his process.

printing with legos“I start with a drawing and gouache and transfer it into Illustrator, ” he explained. “In Illustrator I begin modifying the drawing into a grid that can be used. Once I have a satisfactory digital image I begin working on the plates creating one for each color I plan on using. Originally, I was mixing each color but it was too time consuming since I was hand inking each substrate. I recently switched to using limited colors (red, blue, yellow, green and black) mixed with a transparent base. As I print the individual plates the colors “stack” creating new ones.”skeletor

Ware uses a small etching press, which he’ll have on hand at Maker Faire Orlando, along with characters in the pre-print stage from his “Digital Masters” series, with Beastman, Merman and Trapjaw as a demo of the process. You can see some of the process and images on Instagram.

“I will bring Skeletor and Beastman prints and will be hanging the new prints as they are completed.”

Chris Ware will be playing with LEGOS in a whole new way at Maker Faire Orlando, where he’ll be one of many artists September 13 & 14, who will be making it amazing all weekend long.