Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Sue Blackwell's Paper Kingdoms

Usually when I'm considering things to post, I'll look at them and be like "Eh, that's pretty cool." But then some things I look at and am like "WHA! How did...with the... and the...WOAH!"

That happened when I looked at Sue Blackwell's work. She takes used books, and then slices and cuts the pages to form intricate scenes that relate to the content.

Maybe conceptually this does not seem like that big of a deal. I kind of thought so, but it's the detail and scope of her pieces that make them really arresting.

Sue says that her projects can take up to two months to complete, and that "My reasoning is that half of the books have been sat on shelves for years anyway, or that they were about to be thrown away and destroyed forever. I began feeling guilty about cutting up the books, but I had the integrity that I would create something magical from it."

You totally did.

Via Jezebel

Ahoy! Fall Quarter Ahead

Insanely, registration for fall quarter begins today. Fall is a big quarter for us here in the photography program. We're debuting two new photography certificates (the Fundamentals of Photography, and Advanced Topics in Photography), and have some great courses on offer. Personally, I'm excited about a new photo course, Lighting Fundamentals. For students who want to explore the idea of light and how it affects photographs (hint: so much), it's nice to have a beginning course that focuses (photography pun!) just on lighting concepts.

You can find a PDF of the Arts catalog pages in the column on the left.

And finally, please enjoy this image from ilmungo's Flickr, which I found by searching the terms "Autumn Los Angeles."

Friday, July 24, 2009

Liu Bolin Might Be Behind You Right Now

When Chinese artist Liu Bolin graduated from school, he felt lost. "I couldn't find suitable work and I felt there was no place for me in society. I experienced the dark side of society, without social relations, and had a feeling that no one cared about me. I felt myself unnecessary in this world."

Then Chinese authorities shut down his art studio in Bejing in 2005.

These experiences led Bolin to develope his unique style of turning himself into literal street art. He chooses a location and, with the help of an assistant, painstakingly paints himself to blend in with his surroundings. Titled Hiding in the City, the series is designed to "show how city surroundings affect people living in them," and to "remind people what the community we live in really looks like, and what kind of problems exist."

Shout out to Brian Engravalle for forwarding this craziness.

Via The Daily Mail

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Ronald McDonald Haunts My Nightmares

(click to enlarge)

Artist Andrew Shirey has reimagined our favorite fast food icons as Mafia crime bosses. I like the expression on Wendy's face, but oh my lord, how terrifying is Ronald McDonald? I'm not one of those people who shriek in horror when they see clowns, but that is a scary clown.

Also, is that Grimace behind him? I never really needed to think about Grimace that way.

Via Urlesque

Monday, July 20, 2009

Art Hopefuls Line up for Bravo

I was intrigued by the news that Bravo was holding open casting calls for their untitled art star reality show. "Who will show up," I wondered, "and what will their art look like? I bet it will be a 'colorful' day." (art pun!)

As if in answer to my inner monologue, the New York Times had a reporter on the front "lines" (I am on fire today) of Saturday's NYC casting call. More than 150 hopefuls were in line by 8:30 am, toting work that included "a ghoulish portrait of a face that appeared to be Michael Jackson’s melded with Elvis’s; a crazily beaded mannequin torso with the sparkly word “GIRL” attached like a tiara to the top of its head; a Caravaggio-esque painting of St. Sebastian, skewered and suffering; a photo-realistic canvas so large it arrived on a truck. At the corner of Horatio and Hudson Streets one artist was slowing traffic considerably as he applied bright blue swirly paint to the body of a topless woman who was wearing only a flesh-colored thong."

Remember, in art, there is no such thing as TMI.

The article addressed some interesting questions and challenges that the show will face. Those who watch Project Runway and Top Chef are familiar with "timed" challenges in which, say, designers are let loose in a hardware store and told they must construct a ballgown in 15 minutes out of Spackle and insulation. How will these tests and tasks translate to art practice? Sketch a caricature with a carrot? Paint a landscape with your toes, blindfolded? I also wonder how multimedia artist will be challenged equally. Regardless of their influences or style, all cooks basically work with the same ingredients. How will a photographer, an oil painter, and a digital artist meet on the same playing field?

Regardless, I think it's an interesting concept, and one that could showcase a wide range of talents and personalities. If this show ever actually makes it into production, I would totally watch it.

Hundred Try Out for Art-World Reality Show (NY Times)

(photos by Todd Heisler/NY Times)

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Jean-Charles de Castelbajac

As I mentioned in my last post, I like to read about what Lady Gaga is wearing. Who doesn't? She is a cypher and a Sphinx.

Anyway, I came across a picture of her on my favorite blog, Gofugyourself. Basically they were like "Lady Gaga, you have gone too far." Here is what she was wearing:

In case this is somehow unclear to you, her skirt is Animal from The Muppet Show. You know, the drummer. An! I! Mal!

"Ha ha," I thought, "what a crazy costume she (aka her stylist) has designed." But then the website was like "Of course, this is straight off the runway." "Surely not," I thought.

But lo:

Now my day is about finding out everything I can about Jean-Charles de Castelbajac, the designer of this outfit.

First of all, dude is a Marquis de Castelbajac, which means he is a French nobleman. We don't really have that here. Second, his nickname is JC/DC, which is hilarious. Basically, he is a whimsical sprite who has rocked weird design and outfits since the early 70s. He takes his inspiration from pop art and culture, and counts among his influences Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat. An early hit was a coat made of teddy bears that Madonna wore. Check it:

Other clients include THE POPE. In 1997 he was chosen as the official designer of the Catholic celebration World Youth Days. He dressed 5,000 priests and the pope in rainbow-themed vestments. I couldn't find many pictures (priests aren't photographed as often as Lady Gaga) but here's one:

According to an interview on the website IQONS, "The most amazing adventure of JC/DC’s life so far was when he was asked to dress 5,000 priests, 500 bishops and the Pope for their visit in Paris. The theme of the collection was the rainbow based on the story of Noah and the arc. God spoke to Noah and told him that “if you see the rainbow in the sky there will be peace between me and the human race”. The idea went over well but JC/DC thought it best to inform the Bishop that the rainbow was also the symbol of the gay community. The Bishop’s reaction was not one of shock rather he said that nobody owned the copyright on the rainbow and that was that. Once the work was completed the Pope spoke to JC/DC: “Young man, you have used colour as a cement of faith."


This guy is great, and I will close with a number of my new favorite Castelbajac designs. There's also a video with Lego people wearing his clothes Lego-style. I have no idea what it's related to, but it's fun to watch them strut.

Monday, July 13, 2009

What the Heck?

My boyfriend is a history buff. He likes to read about wars, and presidents, and economies, and stuff like that. I like to read about aliens, and what Lady Gaga is wearing. Yay!

Anyway, he has a special soft spot for the Civil War, so whenever I see cute things related to that era, I buy them for him. You may think that "cute" and the Civil War would not go together, because of the whole brother against brother thing, but you would be wrong-o.

Here is my favorite Civil War thing that I have bought him (imagine this on a T-shirt):

Ha ha ha ha ha, gets me every time.

Anyway, I recently bought him another such T-shirt. I didn't give it much thought at first, but when we received it, a furious debate began.

Here is the shirt

As you can see, Abe Lincoln is cast here as an old-tyme magician, because "The Great Emancipator" kind of sounds like "The Great Santini" or whatever. He has his wand and cape and whatnot. Here is the conversation that ensued:

Paul: A shirt! Wow! Thank you!
Me: It's Abe Lincoln!
Paul: Why is he pulling a giraffe out of the hat?
Me: Because he's a magician.
Paul: But why a giraffe?
Me: ...
Paul: Does the giraffe represent...Africa?
Me: I hope not, because that is kind of rascist. Actually, it's fairly racist.

So now we are totally confused about what is happening on this shirt. I went to the discussion forum (because I am such a nerd), and the consensus seems to be that, because Lincoln was famous for (among other things) wearing a tall stovepipe hat, he is pulling a giraffe out of his tall hat. Also a lot of other people are like "This is straight-up weird and borderline racist."

So what do you think? What, if any, is the significance of the giraffe? And why does the giraffe have one big lump on his head, when they traditionally have two head stumps?

And finally, is Abe Lincoln strangling that giraffe?

So many questions.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Art Imitates Art

Artist Kimiko Yoshida has a series of photographic self-portraits that seem to be based on classical (and modern) paintings by the masters. Here are a few - I've included images of the painting listed in the title for reference.

This one's called "LAUGHING GIRL BY VERMEER." I think this is the painting referred to:

I guess I can kind of see it? Because of the hat? And colors?

This is "PIERROT BY WATTEAU." Here's what Google Images came up with:

Definitely! Apparently Pierrot was a clownish figure popular with artists.

And finally, here's "MINOTAUR BY PICASSO."

I couldn't find a specific work by Picasso that this seems to be modeled on, but this one seems to come pretty close.

I love the costumes in the pictures, especially this last one. Do you think she makes everything herself? Those are rad shoes.

Via Boingboing

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Sophie Gerrard Documents E-waste in India

This blog does not traffic in social commentary. I will be the first to admit that. This blog traffics in things that I think look cool, and are vaguely related to art.

However, I would like to bring the room (blog) down for a minute. Photographer Sophie Gerrard has an arresting series documenting the horrific effect of e-waste on India's environment and people. Here is a brief explanation from her website:

"Each year, thousands of tons of old computers, mobile phones, batteries, cables, old cameras and other e-waste are dumped in landfill or burned. Thousands more are shipped, illegally, from Europe, the UK and the USA to India and other developing countries for ‘recycling’. Some is sent as scrap, some as charity donations.

India has become one of the world’s largest dumping grounds for e-waste. E-waste is highly toxic. It contains lead, cadmium, mercury, tin, gold, copper, PVC and brominated, chlorinated and phosphorus based flame retardants. Many of these heavy metals and contaminants are extremely harmful to humans as well as to animals and plants."

The images are a stark contrast to the way we usually think about technology, as a clean, cultured benefit to our lives. Just like many social advances, we ignore the long-term implications of the mass production of machines, and then are faced with the impossibility of safetly disposing of what we've created.

I've included a few pictures below, but I encourage you to visit the website and see the entire series. I found the images and captions truly heartbreaking.

Mother boards are treated with hydrochloric acid to recover copper. The worthless plastic is discarded as scrap, resulting in the severe contamination of the workplace and adjacent environment with toxic metals.

Studies carried out in Delhi and Chennai found extremely high levels of toxins in workshop dust, storage rooms, soils, water courses and river sediment in areas where e-waste recycling was taking place.

The environmental implications of illegal e-waste recycling are severe. The release of toxic metals into the ground, air and water causes massive damage to human and aquatic life

Sophie Gerrard Photography - E-wasteland
Via Boingboing

American's Next Top Artist

Though I can't figure out if the name is cutely meta or just a placeholder, here's something that you art folks may be interested in:

Casting Call: Bravo's next reality competition series will join the forces of Sarah Jessica Parker and her production company, Pretty Matches with Magical Elves (Top Chef, Project Runway) and Eli Holzman to produce a reality series dubbed The Untitled Art Project. The series will focus on thirteen up-and-coming artists who compete for a gallery show, a cash prize and a sponsored national tour. Bravo is hosting national casting calls for artists in various cities across the nation starting this month. The first open casting call is July 11-12 in Los Angeles; followed by July 14 in Miami; July 16 in Chicago; and July 18-19 in New York. More information on the series and casting calls can be found at

By the fine folks who brought you Project Runway, with which I was OBSESSED. Now whenever I'm holding a piece of clothing at arm's length and trying to figure out what I think of it, I just ask myself "What would Tim Gunn do?"


Monday, July 6, 2009

If Only Fireworks Were Edible

Happy belated 4th of July! I am happy to report that I saw some fireworks up close and personal on Saturday off the San Clemente pier. You know who loves fireworks? Kids between the ages of six and 12. Also, me.

In honor of this great day, and the great long weekend it bought, here is a fun video by PES.

Mmm, exploding Peeps. You may know PES as the artistic mastermind behind one of my most favoritest videos ever, "Western Spaggheti." Here it is:

So delighful! Every moment of this short little movie is so creative and full of life and humor. I love it when everyday tasks and objects are reimagined in a way that is totally crazy but also makes total sense. Also for some reason, it reminds me of the opening scene in The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, which describes the narrator cooking spaggheti and listening to the radio. FYI, that is a great book.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009


Why do things, especially balloons, look so cool in slow motion? Scientists are still working on an answer to this age-old question. In the meantime, here is a video compilation of many awesome slo-mo things happening. My favorite is seeing the visible shock-wave on the blowing-up car.

Via Urlesque

I Heart SF-Themed T-Shirts

Both Karen and I have spent time living in Berkeley and San Francisco, and we both have a really soft spot for that city by the Bay (and its surrounding environs). Maybe that's why I'm in love with these T-Shirts that have adorable inside-jokes about Bay Area living (Tacos! Your bike will get stolen!)

The website lists insider explanations of the SF neighborhoods the shirts display, like "The problem with ranting against "Mission hipsters" is that everyone is one, and nobody admits to being one." So true!

Gotta get 'em all!

Headline Shirts Local Coverage

Via Laughingsquid