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Is Donkey Kong David next?: Kordian Lewandowski’s Nintendo Pieta
March 23, 2010, 4:20 pm
Filed under: Art & Design | Tags: , ,

Game Over is Polish artist Kordian Lewandowski’s irreverent, Nintendo-fied take on Michelangelo’s La Pieta. Princess Peach takes the place of Mary, and Mario that of Jesus in this pop culture appropriation and re-contextualization of a high-culture icon of the art canon. Here, (branded) digital interactivity is our Bible, our shared narrative, and our object of worship. The choice of material, polystyrene foam, also seems significant–it’s crass and fake and disposable like so many pop cultural artifacts, but ironically, it’s likely to endure for much longer than Michelangelo’s pious marble. 

Hit designboom for more angles and pictures of the sculpture in process. (There’s chainsaws; it’s exciting.) Also, there’s more digital-told-in-the-language-of-the-old (Botticelli does Skype) and vice-versa (the Creature from the Black Lagoon enters the mix) at Lewandowski’s site.


Sculptures that are people, people that are paintings
March 23, 2010, 10:51 am
Filed under: Art & Design | Tags: ,

Timmy (Alexa Meade)

Painter Alexa Meade masks human flesh in thick acrylic paint in a method that “pushes the boundaries of perception, compressing 3D space into a 2D plane, effectively blurring the lines between art and life, [skewing] the way that the core of the subject is perceived.” Meade’s paintings, in distorting space, texture, and the eye’s ability to distinguish real living forms, thus presents both a sensory and a cognitive challenge. 


Sara (Alexa Meade)

Meade’s work reminds me of sculptors Duane Hanson, Jamie Salmon, and Ron Mueck, who, for contrast, achieve similar ends in technical negative: these photorealistic artists skew perception and subvert the real-unreal boundary between subject and environment with their life-sized (and in the case of Salmon and Mueck, sometimes massive) hyperreal sculptures.

In undermining the visual cues we take for granted as an indicator of the real, both approaches force an unsettling reevaluation of the nature–or even the possibility–of reality.

tourists 2

The Tourists II (Duane Hanson)


Chris (Jamie Salmon)

in bed

In Bed (Ron Mueck)

A little Tender Lego Care for buildings in need of repair

lego patch

He’s done it all around the world–Amsterdam, Berlin, Quito, Tel Aviv, to name just a few cities–but artist Jan Vormann just brought his Lego patchwork installations stateside. Showing that Legos–and grassroots urban beautification–are for all ages, Vormann was joined by a volunteer team aged 3 to 40 that helped him renovate cracked and pitted buildings across New York City. The project was done as a part of the VOLTA art show, and took citizens’ initiative and immediate action to address buildings in need of repair–literally, unsightly “gaps in the urban landscape”–by applying playful patches of color that both highlight the problem and help fix it. (Incidentally, these Lego installations are conceptually similar to Pete Dungey’s British pothole gardens, which simultaneously draw attention to the problem of poorly-kept roads while providing a cheery quick-fix with the addition of flowerbeds to the roads’ many blemishes.)

Vormann’s installation goes along so well with Lego’s past “Build it,” “Rebuild it,” and “Build Together” campaigns it’s uncanny–you almost wish it were a branded installation, but ultimately it’s even better that it isn’t; it’s indicative of the cultural inroads Lego has made that it would be independently seized upon with such enthusiasm and for such on-brand purposes.

Milton Glaser becomes first graphic designer to receive the National Medal of Arts
March 7, 2010, 4:05 am
Filed under: Art & Design | Tags: , , ,
glaser obama

President Obama presents the National Medal of Arts to Milton Glaser

Milton Glaser recently became the first graphic designer ever to be honored with the National Medal of Arts, established by Congress in 1984 to recognize “contributions to the creation, growth, and support for the arts in the U.S.”–past recipients have included composer Aaron Copland, architect Frank Gehry, poet Maya Angelou, and choreographer Twyla Tharp. Glaser is one of twelve 2009 recipients of the prestigious award, placing him in the distinguished company of arts legends and fellow 2009 honorees including Bob Dylan, Clint Eastwood, John Williams, and the School of American Ballet.  

Glaser is perhaps best known as the man responsible for one of the most recognizable and oft-copied icons in our visual lexicon: I Heart NY, but his prolific career has seen multifarious endeavors ranging from murals, logos, and posters to packaging design, publishing, and book covers–most notably those done for longtime friend, author, and fellow national treasure (and National Medal of Arts recipient) Philip Roth.  

Notoriously quotable, Glaser has given us such simple, pithy insights as “The purpose of art is to inform and delight,” and “Less isn’t more; just enough is more,” sharing with us a worldview in which design is a fundamental means of communication and art is a cognition-altering tool for relating more fully to the world.  

Read more about Glaser’s thoughts on art, career, and life at idsgn.  

i heart ny  

secret of art


Ironic Radio by CIID forces us to reconsider how we interact with objects
February 24, 2010, 8:28 pm
Filed under: Art & Design | Tags: , ,

Thought this was pretty cool–in a project by the Copenhagen Institute of Interactive Design, a team created a radio that looks like an iron, which is interesting in and of itself. But what’s more interesting is the way this cognitively dissonant sort of object challenges our notion of what an object is and does, and how we interact with it. The radio’s controls are in the knobs and buttons of the iron–but also on the iron’s metal surface, usually a surface we instinctively are uneasy touching, even when an iron is off–meaning that to control the radio, we have to do the counterintuitive, we have to overcome the way we think about and interact with the object in its usual context and learn a new way to conceive of the object.

Read all about it at PSFK, and watch a demo below:

Ironic Radio from Dean McNamee on Vimeo.

The Auteurs top 10 movie posters of the decade
December 22, 2009, 10:39 pm
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Where the Wild Things Are

My favorite movie poster in recent memory (not on The Auteurs' list)

Film site The Auteurs has released their top 10 movie posters of the decade. They have The Savages and Palindromes on there; me, I’m a little illustrated out–chalk it up to oversaturation. (I’ll take retro clever over forced whimsy, though–I love their pick of Woody Allen’s Anything Else). My favorites are the ones that resist the formulaic, the ones that are visually-arresting and unsettling, the ones that are enduring works in their own right, the ones that effortlessly and imaginatively evoke the film’s spirit (I mean, as branding artifiacts, shouldn’t they all?). The truncated close-ups, the larger-than-life, the unafraid-of-white-space, the bold-and-graphic; anything but this nonsense. Or this or this or this. (Seriously, Professor Hollywood’s School of Big Buck$ Postermaking?)

It’s not my list–I’m not even sure exactly what all I’d choose if it were up to me–but I see my sensibilities overlapping with theirs to a large degree. (My personal favorite if not of the decade, then at least of the year, I’ve shared here because it just deserves to be seen: the sublime first poster for Where the Wild Things Are. I was sad not to see it included in the Auteurs list but hey, taste is taste and 10 posters is only so many.) I’ve thrown together my favorites from their list for you to see below. View the rest, and some amazing runners-up at their site.

Girlfriend Experience

#7 on The Auteurs: The Girlfriend Experience

Funny Games

#1 on The Auteurs: Funny Games

40 Year-Old Virgin

#3 on The Auteurs: 40 Year-Old Virgin

I Am Trying to Break Your Heart

#4 on The Auteurs: I Am Trying To Break Your Heart

South Korean customs: knowing design knowing you
December 16, 2009, 10:12 pm
Filed under: Art & Design | Tags: , , , ,

South Korean Customs Forms

We’ve talked about matching content to medium, but another key to media arts is understanding how the audience lives with and interacts with your brand.

South Korean customs and immigration seems to understand, and designed their forms with efficiency and ease-of-use in mind, insights gathered by paying careful attention to audiences (in this case, travelers.) Noting that travelers tuck away their customs forms in their passport as they exit the plane and head to immigration, they have designed their customs documents to be passport-sized, and to have a handy little blue tab that sticks out for easy access. This is bound to make every stressed traveler’s journey just a little easier, and it is sure to speed up the customs process by reducing the number of misplaced and contorted forms. A little thoughtful audience planning and attention to detail makes a big difference.

South Korean Customs Form