Posts tagged with "public art":

Student’s Puzzle Facade Project Is an Architecturally-Scaled Game

In his school project, Puzzle Facade, Spanish designer Javier Lloret decided to transform the exterior of an Austrian museum into an interactive piece of architectural entertainment: a giant Rubik’s Cube. Lloret wirelessly connected a 3D-printed handheld cube to a laptop responsible for controlling colors on the facade of a nearby building roughly shaped like a cube: the Ars Electronica in Linz, Austria. The building proved to be an ideal canvas for the project as it was already furnished with an LED-lit media facade. The cube is equipped with electronic components enabling it to keep track of its orientation and subsequent rotations. The data is sent wirelessly via Bluetooth to a nearby laptop which runs software specifically designed for the project. The software enables the building to change color each time the handheld interface-cube is moved and twisted. Solving your own Rubik’s cube is difficult enough, but the 3D-printed controller for this larger-than-life version of the game presented even more challenging obstacles. The cube is white, making it harder for those who have memorized the color pattern of a regular Rubik's cube to solve the game. Moreover, due to the location and nature of the building, the player is only able to view two facades at the same time, which increases the difficulty in solving the puzzle. Javier Lloret developed this project as part of his thesis at the Interface Culture master program at the Universitat Kunstlerische and Industrielle Gestaltung Linz.

Silent Light Installation Illuminated Sound Pollution in Brooklyn

First proposed in 2011, Brooklyn's Silent Light installation has finally become a reality.  Located at the intersection of Park Avenue and Navy Street under the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway (BQE) in Red Hook, the series of gates frames a pedestrian walkway that passes through an area of heavy vehicular traffic. The structures are covered in LED lights activated by surrounding noise from cars to create fleeting light shows of various colors and patterns. The project was conceived and executed by Valeria Blanco, Shagun Singh, and Michelle Brick who together form the Artists Build Collaborative.  The trio collaborated with the Department of Transportation's Urban Art Program, the Brooklyn Arts Council, and the Red Hook Initiative to fund, construct, and install Silent Lights. The arches are intended to provide nocturnal aid to pedestrians navigating a potentially hazardous stretch of sidewalk.  More broadly, the Collaborative hopes that by dramatically visualizing the issue, the installation will call attention to problems of noise pollution that plague the neighborhood by virtue of the BQE.

Baltimore’s Hopscotch Crosswalk Colossus

Crossing the street in Baltimore just got a lot more fun. The city has just unveiled its newest dispatch: a "hopscotch crosswalk" transforming the downtown street crossing at the corner of Eutaw and Lombard streets into an entertaining diversion for pedestrians. The project was a component of the Baltimore Office of Promotion and the Arts for the Bromo Seltzer Arts & Entertainment District’s desire in incorporate public art in various areas of the city. The piece is comprised of four  crosswalks, each featuring a different footprint symbolizing the city’s many inhabitants. A shoe-print represents the business person, bird tracks mirror the flock of birds in the city sky, the boot portrays the labor force, and the footprint depicts the numerous artists bouncing around the city. Baltimore is one of many cities within the United States which has toyed with crosswalks by altering their main function as gateway between intersecting streets into a tangible piece of entertainment. Other cities such as Milwaukee and Miami have altered their crosswalks to create inventive pathways, transforming them into black-and-white oversized piano keys, or multi-colored lines. This artistic approach has been questioned for its safety, as playing a game of hopscotch in the middle of a busy intersection might not be the most responsible way to interact with traffic. The Baltimore Office of Promotion has assured skeptics, however, that they have worked collaboratively with the Department of Transportation who has approved the design for the project. Both agencies have said that the crosswalk is secure but that its users should remain mindful of the adjacent automobile traffic, stop lights, and other crosswalk signals.

St. Louis Architect Wants Public Art for Public Health

One St. Louis architect thinks his city’s public art needs a shot in the arm. Michael Jantzen says public art should further public health, and his work—interactive designs replete with solar film and meant to encourage exercise—shows how. Not that the Gateway Arch has lost its luster—the Eero Saarinen landmark stills makes millions of dollars in tourist revenue each year and is the subject of a $380 million redesign—but as Jantzen told the Daily Riverfront Times, its value is largely aesthetic:

The whole purpose of the Arch was to generate tourism, which it did very successfully here, to say the least … A lot of architecture and art projects that are being built and have been built, their prime function is to get people to come to the city and look at them—not unlike the Arch.

Jantzen, who moved to St. Louis from Carlyle, Illinois to attend Washington University, has a few ideas for public art that break the mold. His projects include a glass and steel bridge that changes shape according to its users and a massive waterwheel meant to harvest the energy of the Mississippi River’s current.

Public Art Fund Installation Creates a Colorful Terrain in Brooklyn

Amidst the trees of MetroTech Commons in downtown Brooklyn, a vibrant architectural terrain has been formed. In an installation piece called Just Two of Us, Berlin-based artist Katharina Grosse has situated eighteen large, multi-colored sculptural forms in the wooded public space. Sponsored by the Public Art Fund, the work creates a surprising show of colors and a form that walks the line between sculpture, architecture, and painting. With a spray can rather than paintbrush, Grosse creates layers and gradations of saturated neon colors on the three-dimensional fiberglass-covered plastic shapes set in nature. Irregular sculptures with deeply cut valleys, they transform the sparse environment. Built up in rough towers, they hint at an otherworldly form of shelter. Grosse’s temporary art installation creates a polychrome landscape where light, depth, and color invite viewers to explore the public space. Just Two of Us is on view at the MetroTech Commons plaza until September 14, 2014.

Austin’s ‘Ghost Tree’ is a Symbol of Drought in the Lone Star State

Austin’s new temporary art installation, THIRST, is inspired by Texas’ ongoing periods of severe drought since 2011. According to studies conducted by Texas A&M Forest Services, over 300 million trees have succumbed to the state’s extremely dry conditions over the past three years. Located between the Pfluger Pedestrian Crossway and the Lamar Boulevard Bridge, a white-ghostly tree now hovers over Lady Bird Lake and is surrounded by a floating barrier. The public art installation symbolizes the lack of water that plagues Austin and other Texas territories. Its purpose is to trigger emotion and dialogue about the tragic number of trees that have died due to a serious lack of rainfall and increased human water usage in the region. The tree was staged by Women & Their Work, a visual and performing art organization founded in 1978 and best known for their pioneering artistic spirit and commitment to the enrichment of the Texan cultural experience. Through their work, they seek to engage the community at large in issues that pertain exclusively to the local culture and the built-environment. The tree is a 35-foot cedar elm which has been painted white and stands atop a pedestal over the water. Another major component of this art piece is the installation of 14,000 prayer flags on which black trees have been imprinted. THIRST on Lady Lake seeks to acknowledge the devastating impacts of drought in Austin and to address water conservation issues in Texas. Its striking appearance and levitating stance aims to trigger a discussion about the impacts of climate change and seeks to promote action for conservation, sustainability, and the general well-being of the eco-system. This project is also unique in the sense that it did not receive any city funding. Contributing artists include Beili Liu, Emily Little, Norma Yancey, and Cassie Bergstrom. THIRST will on view publicly until December 26, 2013.  

New Public Art in Brooklyn Lends Transportation a Sense of Play

In Brooklyn, a new temporary public artwork brings the asphalt plane of 4th Avenue to a playful, three-dimensional life. On the avenue’s concrete median between 3rd and 4th streets, the New York City Department of Transportation’s Urban Art Program has chosen work by artist Emily Weiskopf for its latest public art installation. Unparallel Way is a 120-feet-long sculpture comprised of two parallel aluminum strips in the same bright yellow as the double traffic lines guiding vehicles driving on adjacent roads. In a clever distortion of those painted stripes, Weiskopf’s parallel lines sweep from the ground at irregular heights, creating parabolic curves that rarely match. The installation piece is a public art extension of Brooklyn Utopias: In TRANSITion, a current exhibition at Old Stone House (OSH) exploring 19 artists’ visions of New York City public transportation and its relationship to public space. DOT has partnered with OSH for the display of these utopian artistic ideas addressing issues within urban public transit. Unparallel Way underwent an official on-site unveiling ceremony this morning with presentations by associates from OSH and DOT.

Los Angeles Mayor Announces “Great Streets” Program

Last Thursday in his keynote address to the Transit Oriented Los Angeles conference, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti announced the creation of the "Great Streets Initiative."  In an executive directive—his first since taking office on June 30—Garcetti outlined a program that "will focus on developing streets that activate the public realm, provide economic revitalization, and support great neighborhoods." Garcetti defined "great streets" as accessible and walkable, with landscaping, shade, larger sidewalks, improved storm water drainage and green features. Turning to aesthetics, Garcetti said simply: "design matters."  Los Angeles' streets should make room for sculptures and murals, and not just functional components, he argued. The "Great Streets Working Group" will direct the initiative. Led by Garcetti's Deputy Mayor of City Services, the gathering will include representatives of Departments of Planning, Cultural Affairs, Transportation, and Economic & Workforce Development, plus the Department of Public Works's Bureaus of Engineering, Street Services, Street Lighting, and Sanitation. Their  first task will be to develop a plan in which 40 streets are identified for upgrades.

Fiber Dome Glows in Response to CO2 Levels in Saginaw, Michigan

A web-like dome in Saginaw, Michigan changes colors to reflect the level of carbon dioxide in the air. Solar-powered LED lights connected to an onsite CO2 monitor illuminate the structure’s fibers in timed patterns to create the appearance of an organic response. On display in Saginaw’s First Merritt Park through October 31, the installation is part of the Great Lakes Bay Region’s “Art and Sol” celebration of art, culture, and science. The structure of Loop.pH’s SOL Dome was inspired by molecular biology. SOL Dome, eight meters in diameter, was constructed on site by volunteers over three days.

Artists and City Government Collaborate for Urban Improvement in St. Paul

In St. Paul, Minnesota, public art is valued as more than just decoration. Susannah Schouweiler of Walker Magazine reported that the city has been proactive in the encouragement of artist-city government collaboration for nearly three decades, long before initiatives like ArtPlace became popular. City Artist in Residence positions exist on the government council, City Art Collaboratory puts artists in conversation with scientists to embed themselves in the “ecology” of the city, and art start-ups are encouraging business growth on “Central Corridor.” This cross-disciplinary relationship is only expanding in what Schouweiler calls St. Paul’s “quiet revolution in public art” and the city is reaping the benefits. Public Art St. Paul, a non-profit set up in 1987, provides private funding for creatives to hold City Artist in Residence positions within the city government. These artists are incorporated into city-led projects and initiatives, working with government officials, engineers, and public works officers on various capital projects, which create or renovate public buildings, public spaces, and streetscapes within St Paul. Since the enactment of a 2009 ordinance for the support of public art, St. Paul has integrated its artists even more into key planning, development, and improvement projects. Current resident city artist Marcus Young has worked directly with the Public Works Department since 2008. His public art initiatives have included Everyday Poems for City Sidewalk, a successful idea to replace broken sidewalks with new sections inscribed with poetry. The City Artist in Residence program was expanded in December 2012. Young now has a team of two other artists with which he works, Amanda Lovelee, a visual artist, and Sarah West, who is focused on improving streetspaces with "architectural and large-scale public art installations." Additionally, grassroots initiatives by local artists have brought pop-up shops to retail vacancies, explored an artistic reaction to the current light rail construction, and pondered an artist’s ability to improve the ecology of the Mississippi River. Exemplifying a forward-thinking relationship, the Public Art Ordinance states: “Public art strengthens public places and enhances and promotes Saint Paul's identity as a livable and creative city and a desirable place to live, work and visit.” With a government whose attitude toward art encourages these conversations, St. Paul continues to beautify, develop, and improve its public places.

Painted Fire Hydrants on Display Throughout Chicago

Chicago area artists age 12 to 87 have painted larger-than-life fire hydrants for a public art project on display throughout the city until November 11. The project, called the Great Chicago Fire Hydrants, aims to decorate 101 five-foot-tall fire hydrants (one for each Chicago firehouse) before November 11, when a public auction of the hydrants will raise money to benefit the 100 Club of Chicago and “other fire-related charities.” Find the hydrants on this map. Most are downtown, but Mt. Greenwood’s Funkie Fashions, Gordon Tech High School, and Swedish Covenant Hospital are among the neighborhood spots. Check out the website's gallery of completed fire hydrants if you can’t hoof it to all the locations. And if you'd like to decorate one, reach out here to the organizers here.

Flint Flat Lot’s Floating House draws criticism

When London-based Two Islands took first place in Flint, Michigan’s first Flat Lot Competition for public art, images of their floating, mirror-clad meditation on the foreclosure crisis turned heads. Six months later the project has been built, but it faced challenges and has drawn criticism making the leap from rendering to reality. Photos posted to the website designboom elicited a flurry of comments that decried the execution of Mark’s House, whose smooth reflective sheen turned out more like Reynolds Wrap, they said. Photos on MLive show a much more wrinkly mylar coating: The texture has drawn criticism. But some came to the project’s defense. One commenter writes:

"While the project did not turn out the way intended I find it very saddening that so many people find the need to put down the architects whose vision this was […] All in all I believe that the original effect was not attained by the material used. Do I think that the project was a smashing success absolutely not, but do I think that some good came from it yes. People from around the world CARED about Flint Michigan, “The Most Dangerous City In America” and they wanted to come to Flint to do something."

Permit issues delayed the project, but with the help of volunteers, $25,000 in prize money and an extra $15,000 boost from online donors, construction wrapped up late Summer.