Sampling Mother Earth

december 30th, 2008

Nobuo Sekine
Phase — Mother Earth, 1968
(270 x 220 cm)

Nobuo Sekine

In October 1968 Nobuo Sekine dug a hole in the ground, shaped the extracted dirt into a large cylinder and called the work “Phase — Mother Earth.” It was probably an experiment, influenced by discussions of the new Land Art and Minimalist works taking place in the United States.

When it was first constructed, the prevailing view in Japan was that it was kind of quirky visual play of positive and negative spaces. But artist Lee Ufan disagreed, claiming that this was actually the end of visual manipulation; it was in fact a real time, real life absence and presence presented in temporal juxtaposition — a before and an after.

This, Sekine’s piece and Lee’s comment, is typically pointed to as the founding moment of Japan’s influential, homegrown Mono-ha art movement.

Born into the post-war years and the supposed ruins of consumer culture, a small group of artists were attempting to create a new, utopian reality. They proceeded as if art might be re-enchanted by shifting attention away from the objectification of images and to the creation of a world of encounters, with everyday objects, that might end up looking like mythic gestures.
Mono-ha, literally “the school of things,” was initially an informal term — sometimes used derisively — that brought together loosely affiliated artists around Tokyo including Sekine, Lee, Susumu Koshimizu, Katsuro Yoshida, and 12 or so others.

By MATT LARKING
Special to The Japan Times

Nobuo Sekine

“Faced with this solid block of raw earth, the power of this object of reality rendered everybody speechless, and we stood there, rooted to the spot… I just wondered at the power of the convex and concave earth, the sheer physicality of it. I could feel the passing of time’s quiet emptiness… That was the birth of ‘Mono-ha’. – Nobuo Sekine

Mo(NU)mentum

november 6th, 2008

Maarten Vanden Eynde
Mon(NU)mentum, 2008 AD
(450 x 60 cm)

Maarten Vanden Eynde Monumentum

Maarten Vanden Eynde Monumentum

Time is a philosophical dimension, a basic substance which we breath in and out constantly. Just like space it is always there. Time experience however seems to be working on many different levels in an ever changing and more personalized speed (sometimes a minute can last forever and your life can fly by in a fraction). Time is not static, it is always on the move. The impossibility to stop time is mirrored by the impossibility to live in the present. ‘Now’ is an elusive point between the past and the future. Like the gardener on his way to Ispahaan, the present is on his way to an unavoidable destiny: the past. There is no escape. When you read THIS word, it became history already. The future is catching up instantly. What is the force that powers the engine of time? Is the present being pulled towards the future?

The Universal Law of Gravitation has several important features. First, it is an inverse square law, meaning that the strength of the force between two massive objects decreases in proportion to the square of the distance between them as they move farther apart. Second, the direction in which the force acts is always along the line (or vector) connecting the two gravitating objects.
In 1687 Sir Isaac Newton first published his Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica (Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy) which was a radical treatment of mechanics, establishing the concepts which were to dominate physics for the next two hundred years. Among the book’s most important new concepts was Newton’s Universal Law of Gravitation. Newton managed to take Kepler’s Laws governing the motion of the planets and Galileo’s ideas about kinematics and projectile motion and synthesize them into a law which governed both motion on earth and motion in the heavens. This was an achievement of enormous importance for physics; Newton’s discoveries meant that the universe was a rational place in which the same principles of nature applied to all objects.
Could it also work for Time?

Between two objects, let’s say A and B, there is a point where the gravitation of both objects is working with equal force (L1 point, named after Lagrange ). This point is balancing between the two attracting masses. If it is slightly bending towards A or B is will be attracted more by either one of them. It can only move from it’s frozen position, without loosing it’s equal balance, if A and B change mass simultaneously. The mass A is loosing, B has to gain. If time would be a linear experience, and A would be the past and B the future, than the point (C) hanging in the middle would be the present.
Presuming the past is getting longer and longer (or bigger and bigger), in order for C to be equally drawn to both A and B, it needs to be moving towards the future. The past is getting bigger and the future is getting smaller. And on top of that the speed of this process seems to be accelerating. With the population growth as exemplary model and driving fuel, evolution takes place at an unprecedented speed. New inventions and discoveries changing the world beyond recognition are constantly coming closer after each other. Just like the birth of matter during the big bang, time was created at the same moment and moves equally with the expanding universe; faster and faster to it’s final destiny.

The installation ‘Mo(NU)mentum’ is made up of several layers of history, creating a massive pillar. The drill core is like a sample of time, taken from the earth in the future to understand how the world evolved. Starting with a massive block of stone (in which the different geological layers are visible) the drill core contains samples of wood, copper, metal, bricks, concrete, asphalt, tar and plastic. The layers are getting thinner and thinner the closer they get to the present = the plastic layer. So far the materials created a foundation for the next, but the plastic layer is so thin and vulnerable that it is impossible to continue from there. It is a final moment in present evolution.

Maarten Vanden Eynde Monumentum

Mo(NU)mentum is a monument for the future, visualizing the impossibility to continue the current evolution. It is a permanent memory and trace of Generali Groups Executive Forum on Time: Business Opportunity and Strategic Timing. The best Champagne was served in plastic Champagne glasses. The empty glasses were collected and melted on top of the installation, thereby physically contributing the last layer.

Contemporary Cuneiform Script

november 5th, 2008

Toine Klaassen
Untitled, 2005

Toine Klaassen

This work consists of rusty nails put on the ceiling composing the names of different global corporations like Shell, Pentax, Texaco, BMW….

Toine Klaassen

Visit his TRAVELING LABORATORY FOR CONTEMPORARY ARCHAEOLOGY

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The 196th Law (“an eye for an eye..”) of Hammurabi, King of Babylonia, using graphics, in three different modes of cuneiform script, illustrating the evolution of signs over time. The first is the original Old Babylonian version (around 1750 BC), the second is in Neo-Assyrian signs (around 1000 BC), and the third is in the classic Sumerian signs used about 400 years before Hammurabi’s reign. Below that follow a transliteration into Akkadian and a translation into English.

Original Old-Babylonian

old babylonian Cuneiform Script

Neo-Assyrian

Neo Assyrian Cuneiform Script

Classic Sumerian

Classic Sumerian Cuneiform Script

Transliteration

šumma awīlum
īn mār awīlim
uḫtappid
īn šu
uḫappadû

English

If a man
the eye of a son of man
destroys
eye his
they will destroy.

News SHOT

november 2nd, 2008

Francis Alys
Gun Camera from SOMETIMES DOING SOMETHING POETIC CAN BECOME POLITICAL AND SOMETIMES DOING SOMETHING POLITICAL CAN BECOME POETIC , 2005

francis-alys


Modern Archaeology III

september 8th, 2008

Maarten Vanden Eynde
Plato’s Closet, 2008 A.D.

IKEA fossil, 2008 A.D.

When the IKEA catalogue became the most printed book in human history (beating the bible for the first time ever) it was clear that a new geological layer was added around the millennium, 2000 A.D., consisting mainly of IKEA products. In the future this period in time would become known as the IKEA-era. It took several centuries before their imperium was going in decay disappearing under the next layer of history. This negative fossil is one of the oldest remains of an IKEA closet, containing traces of a lamp and cup which probably stood on the closet. The left over void functions as a mother-mould enabling reproduction forever.

hacking Ikea, 2008 A.D.

This work was made in the context of the exhibition ‘Hacking IKEA’ at Platform21. Original IKEA products: MALM closet, KVART lamp, LJUVLIG cup

POMPEI, Italy

pompei moulds

Plaster moulds of people buried by ash and lava from the erruption of Mt Vesuvius that obliterated Pompei in 79 A.D. (The garden of the fugitives).

These mold formations were discovered as early as 1860 by one of the first archaeologists at Pompei, Giuseppe Fiorelli. He is credited with developing the process by which the molds – one might call them negatives in clay – are turned into the positive plaster forms. The technique was further refined by the archaeologist Amadeo Maiuri, who was in charge of Pompei excavations for much of the present century.

pompei moulds

Famous Forever

augustus 28th, 2008

Zatorski + Zatorski
Away from the Flock,
2008

zatorski+zatorski Away from the flock

In Away from the Flock (2008) we peer into a Victorian bell jar and a still-born goat skull smiles back with a wry cheeky grin, its mouth bejeweled with a 22ct gold capped tooth.

Piero Golia
Maybe not even a Nation of Millions can hold us Back, 2003

piero-golia2.jpg

piero golia

Complete skeleton with implanted diamond on the exact location where the (still living) artist has one as well.

Damien Hirst
For the love of God, 2007

damien hirst for the love of god

A 19th century human skull cast in platinum and encrusted with 8601 diamonds (weighing in at over 1100 carats). Price: $100 million

The human skull used as the base for the work, bought in a shop in Islington, is thought to be that of a European living between 1720 and 1810. The work’s title was supposedly inspired by Hirst’s mother, who once asked, “For the love of God, what are you going to do next?”

Trashology

mei 6th, 2008

Pascal Rostain and Bruno Mouron
Hollywood’s trash and treasure, 2004

ronald reagan

Ronald Reagan

Written by John Preston – Telegraph Magazine -

In 1988, French photographer Pascal Rostain had an idea. Or, to be strictly accurate, he nicked someone else’s. He read an article by a French sociologist who had set his students a project to examine the contents of 10 people’s rubbish bags. In garbage, the sociologist declared, could be found people’s true personality. Rostain wondered if it might take a little showbusiness twist. The next time he went on a job – to photograph the French singer Serge Gainsbourg – he took Gainsbourg’s bin-bags home with him. What he found astonished him. “It was like the key to Gainsbourg,” he says.

“Everything was completely distinctive: the bottles of Ricard, the packets of Gitanes. I felt as if I had a part of him in front of me.”

Soon Rostain and his partner, Bruno Mouron, were sifting through other famous people’s bin-bags. Brigitte Bardot came next, then French National Front leader Jean-Marie Le Pen. It may have been messy and smelly, but the results, the pair reckoned, were well worth the effort.

The magazine Paris Match suggested they try their luck in Los Angeles. In 1990, Rostain and Mouron flew to California with a map of the stars’ homes and a garbage collection schedule for Beverly Hills. “The first thing we would do was locate a suitable home,” says Rostain. “For example, Jack Nicholson’s or Bruce Willis’. Next, we would find out when the garbage was being collected and grab it before the truck came round.”

Taking someone’s rubbish is not illegal in America, but then came the awkward part. Rostain and Mouron wanted to do the photography in their Paris studio where they felt able to do their best work. They travelled back to France with three trunks of rubbish. When French customs officers demanded the trunks be opened, they recoiled in disgust, then went into a perplexed huddle and finally waved them through as harmless lunatics. Once home, they washed the contents of their trunks before spreading them out in neat lines to be photographed. They decided not to shoot anything that was either directly personal or medical – despite finding American Secret Service papers in Ronald Reagan’s rubbish listing his bodyguards and details of the weapons they carried. This puts them in quite a different league to more scurrilous scroungers such as Britain’s Benjamin Pell (aka “Benji the Binman”) who has made a speciality of raiding the rubbish bins of the famous, then selling the contents on to the tabloids, or even the original “garbologist” A. J. Weberman, who obsessively pillaged Bob Dylan’s bin for three years in the late 1960s. But there were still embarrassing slip-ups. In the rubbish of TV host Larry King, Rostain and Mouron found what they assumed were babies’ nappies. However, they turned out to be adult incontinence pads, which King indignantly denied were his. “We never wanted to create a scandal with what we were doing,” Rostain insists.

“They knew we won’t take pictures of empty Viagra packets, for example.”

sharon-stone

Sharon Stone

Yet what they have photographed proves to be both revealing and mysterious. While the objects themselves may be mundane, they throw up perplexing questions.
What, exactly did Sharon Stone do with 13 tins of pear halves? Was she simply creating a giant flan to delight her many friends? Or were darker, more fetishistic forces at work? Madonna, as one might expect, has glugged her way through a lavish array of bottled waters. However, there’s a faint poignancy about the empty pizza-for-one packet that nestles nearby.

madonna

Madonna

In Jack Nicholson’s rubbish we find a hearteningly large collection of empty booze bottles, but also a discarded hairbrush and comb. Does this mean that Nicholson’s creeping baldness has now reached the point where coiffure has become a thing of the past?
There’s nothing overtly strange about Elizabeth Taylor’s rubbish, but look more closely and a terrible bleakness starts to show through: the single-meal wrappers, the two bottles of non-alcoholic beer, the copies of the National Enquirer with articles about her in them. Is this how she spends her days, reading about herself in the scandal sheets while eating chicken enchiladas? It’s no wonder she chummed up with Michael Jackson; his life would appear to be equally empty, hedged about with ketchup wrappers and Cup O’Noodles.

It comes as no surprise to learn that several of Rostain and Mouron’s subjects – they won’t say who – recently bought the prints of their own rubbish at an exhibition in New York for $US6000 ($A8300) a piece, thus completing what even by Hollywood standards is a very peculiar cycle of self-regard.

“My brother is an archaeologist,” says Rostain, “and he’s always telling me that if he could find the garbage of a Mayan family, then he would win a Nobel prize.

Oddly enough, I think what we are doing is significant. In 200 years’ time our pictures will provide a very useful guide to how certain people lived in the 21st century. So, you see, what we’re doing is fun – but it’s not only fun.”

Neolithic Coca-Cola

april 30th, 2008

Ai Weiwei
Neolithic Culture Pot with Coco-Cola Logo, 1992

Ai weiwei

Han Dynasty Urn with Coca-Cola Logo, 1994

Ai weiwei coca cola

Dropping a Han dynasty urn (detail) 1995

Ai weiwei dropping an urn

Ai weiwei dropping a vase

Chinese artist and architect Ai Wei Wei uses the skills of craftsmen to transform antique Qing dynasty (1644-1911) furniture into mysterious objects that no longer have a clearly defined function. Ai is a conceptual artist in the Dada tradition, there is no doubt that showcasing the technical virtuosity of his hired minions is low on his agenda. Yet their superb skill is inextricable from his work; it is their expertise that allows his ideas to shine through. According to Ai ‘By changing the meaning of the object, shaking its foundation, we are also changing our own condition. We can question what we are.’ Shoddy workmanship would have distracted from the strange authenticity of Ai Wei Wei’s creations; we need to believe in their purposelessness in order to be persuaded to examine our own. – Tracey Clement -

Plato’s Garbage Pile

maart 26th, 2008

Tim Noble & Sue Webster
Real Life Is Rubbish
, 2002

tim-noble-sue-webster

Tim Noble and Sue Webster. Partners in both life and art, Tim Noble (1966) and Sue Webster (1967) explore the toxic influences of consumer culture through new modes of portraiture. Turning garbage into complex and visually arresting sculptural installations, Noble and Webster exploit, manipulate and transform base materials, often using self-portraiture to undermine the “celebrated” authorship of the artist.

Dead White Trash (With Gulls), 1998, one of their earliest garbage pieces, is six months’ worth of peanut butter jars, soup cans, and other stuff from their kitchen rubbish can, plus a pair of dead seagulls. That it was the same six months it took to make the piece is more than a cute conceit. “As we were making it, we were eating and consuming,” says Noble. On the wall, the shadow figures of the artists take a break with a cigarette and a glass of wine. Real Life Is Rubbish, a recent work, is constructed from studio trash. “All our old tools,” explains Webster. “I was using a screwdriver, and it made my nose look great, so I used it. So we eventually ran out of tools.”

Dirty White Trash (With Gulls), 1998

tim-noble-sue-webster3

Diet Wiegman
Regarded from two sides
, 1984

Diet Wiegman

Shadow sculpture ©Diet Wiegman 1984

				

Geological Graffiti

maart 24th, 2008

layers-of-paint.jpg

This is an extreme closeup scan (2400 dpi) of a paint chip retrieved from the ruins of Belmont Art Park from a piture taken by Amy McKenzie earlier this year. The fragment is about 1cm thick, and appears to consist of about 150-200 layers of paint.

Egyptian Theatre, Los Angeles

egyptian-theatre1.jpg egyptian-theatre2.jpg

The construction team currently restoring the 1922 Egyptian Theater, the American Cinematheque’s future home on Hollywood Boulevard, is engaged in a peculiar form of archeological excavation. Bound by federal laws dictating what renovations are permissible within a designated historic landmark and required to create a space suitable for contemporary media arts exhibitions, the workers peel back layers of piaster, paint and drywall. In the process they have revealed fragments of a 1960s-era mural, a hybrid of psychedelic and Egyptian styles, and, several layers beneath this, what remains of the original pastel and art deco ’20s decor. The excavation of successive false fronts and simulations suggests an architectural model for urban memory. Each layer reworks not a lost original but rather a prior approximation.

Cold Dark Matter

maart 12th, 2008

Cornelia Parker
Cold Dark Matter: An Exploded View
, 1991

Cornelia Parker

Cold Dark Matter began life as a garden shed filled with objects from her own and friends’ sheds and things bought at a car boot sale. She then asked the army to blow up the shed under very controlled conditions. The objects, along with the fragments of the shed, were collected and suspended in a closed room in an attempt to recreate the moment just after the explosion. The installation is lit with a single light-bulb at the very centre of the arrangement, casting shadows on the walls. The title gives us a whole new way of understanding the artwork, making us think of other dramatic moments of destruction and creation in the much wider universe.

Neither From Nor Towards, 1992

Cornelia Parker2

In ‘Neither From Nor Towards’ the brick remnants of an eroded house hang suspended in stilled animation in the work of British artist Cornelia Parker, who was nominated for the Turner prize in 1997. Her work often depicts a moment in time, which has been halted. In ‘Neither From Nor Towards’, the bricks are resonant with their previous life, reminding us of the passage of time over which we have no control. Parker rescues and reinterprets the ordinary, which is transformed by the gallery setting into something poetic and extraordinary.

Heart of Darkness, 2004

Cornelia Parker3

Charcoal from a Florida Wildfire (planned forest burn that got out of control)

Cornelia Parker was born in Cheshire in I956 and lives and works in London. She is interested in how everyday objects can be changed by (often violent) processes. During her career she has used a steamroller to flatten silver plates and has transformed a wedding ring into metres of fine, gold thread. Although at first glance it might seem that she is interested in destroying objects, she is in fact fascinated by how change can create something completely new.

The New World Order

maart 11th, 2008

Tony Cragg
Stack, 1975

tony cragg

Many of Cragg’s early works are made from found materials and discarded construction materials and disposed household materials. This gave him a large range of mainly man-made materials and automatically provided him with the thematic concerns that became characteristic of his work up to the present. During the 1970s he made sculptures using simple making techniques like stacking, splitting and crushing. In 1978 he collected discarded plastic fragments and arranged them into colour categories. The first work of this kind was called ‘New Stones-Newtons Tones’. Shortly after this he made works on the floor and wall reliefs which created images. One of these works , Britain Seen From the North (1981), features the shape of the island of Great Britain on the wall, oriented so that north is to the left. To the left of the island is the figure of a man, apparently Cragg himself, looking at the country from the position of an outsider.

tony cragg2

Britain Seen From the North, 1981

Chihuahua Footprints Discovered!

maart 10th, 2008

chiwawa.jpg

2008 AD, concrete sidewalk, Hollywood, USA

Smallest breed of dog, 15 cm/10 in high, developed in the USA from Mexican origins. It may weigh only 1 kg/2.2 lb. The domed head and wide-set ears are characteristic, and the skull is large compared to the body. It can be almost any colour, and occurs in both smooth (or even hairless) and long-coated varieties.

Industrial Gardening

februari 23rd, 2008

Panamarenko
Hofkes (little gardens), 1967

hofkens-panamarenko2.jpg

hofkens-panamarenko3.jpg

Hofkens  is a collection of three samples (cut outs) of industrial gardens containing only artificial materials. Nature is being reconstructed without any natural materials. The title refers to the small city-gardens people use to grow vegetables and herbs. The work is currently being restored in SMAK, the Municipal Museum of Contemporary Art in Ghent.

hofkens-panamarenko1.jpg

Digital Diggings

februari 19th, 2008

Niklaus Rüegg
Hand-axes
, 2002
cardboard, varnish, glue

niklaus-ruegg3.jpg