Posts for 2002

These Artists are Huge!

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To protect Asian elephant habitats, the National Geographic Society is raising money by selling elephant paintings. No, these aren't paintings OF elephants; they're paintings BY elephants. These pachyderms are regular Pollocks, making art using gravity and bodily movements, without the fancy theory and high price tags. You can get your own original Ramona for only $325. The one drawback to these paintings is their corny new age titles (tacked on by two-legged art dealers, no doubt). Only via the web could such art truly find its target market -- from the heart of Asia to a bourgeois living room near you. - Curt Cloninger

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Core Concepts

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What do Alan Turing, Brian Epstein, Jacques Derrida, Isaac Newton, and Eve all have in common? Apples. 'A is for Apple' is a non-linear, stream-of-consciousness mini-encyclopedia in multimedia form. Starting with the concept of 'apple,' creator David Clark free-associates his way through pop culture, religion, cryptography, and linguistics -- arriving at an interactive experience much more insightful than the mere sum of its parts. Conceptual thematics aside, the gorgeous multimedia collage work alone makes this sprawling piece worth a visit. - Curt Cloninger

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Alarming Birds

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Deep in the jungles of Trinidad, artist Nina Katchadourian mistook a singing bird for a car alarm. On her return home to New York City, Katchadourian decided to fabricate the inverse of her jungle experience with a couple of car stereos and microprocessor chips. She has outfitted several cars with 'Natural Car Alarms' that migrate throughout Manhattan this summer. When triggered, Katchadourian's car alarms play birdcalls in the six-tone mechanized sound pattern of a typical car alarm. The sounds, provided by Cornell University's Macauley Library of Natural Sounds, feature the Three-Wattled Bellbird, the Northern Bobwhite, and the rare Ivory-Billed Woodpecker. Keep track of the tweeting online, or sign up to buy your own birdcalling car alarm.

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Room With A View (or Two)

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The web is full of tiny, unobtrusive art gems just waiting to be discovered. One is Douglas Bagnall's '12,800,000 Views of the South Island and Taranaki,' a hand-drawn landscape that is literally configurable 12,800,000 different ways. Click on the buttons below the landscape to view some prefab views (city, suburb, seascape). Click on the 'autopaint' button to generate random views. Or click parts of the image itself to modify them. No tactical media. No allusions to Duchamp. Just 12,800,000 views of the South Island and Taranaki. - Curt Cloninger

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Alphabet Authoring

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If you ever made up your own language as a kid or enjoy speaking gibberish, visit Golan Levin's _Alphabet Synthesis Machine._ Levin's online project, an Art21 commission, encourages users to create imaginary alphabets. You start by making a scribble that becomes a guide for generating a series of glyph-like forms. The end result is your very own alphabet. Name and upload it to share it with the world, or, to use, download your alphabet as a TrueType font. Even watching the machine generate letters from a line drawing is fascinating in itself.

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The Fun World of Data Entry

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Handheld computing give us a Tetris and Scrabble hybrid, Dasher. On the surface, Dasher is a new data entry interface for devices without keyboards. But in practice, it looks more like a video game, zooming through multicolored rooms to get to each letter, intelligently presenting options for what users are likely to select next. Utilitarian or fun? Download a beta version and check out this cross-breed for yourself. - Eryk Salvaggio

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Tall on Small

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Where can you find an animation of a man diving into a cup of coffee, a photo gallery dedicated to flip flops flying through the air, and miniature illustrations of your favorite musical bands? All this and more awaits you at Flip Flop Flyin' (FFF). The artist behind FFF gets his kicks out of making whimsical graphics that are very small, entertaining, and twee. Art fans will especially enjoy FFF's _minimoma,_ a tiny permanent collection of works by some of the 20th century's biggest artists. A Warhol is most definitely still a Warhol at 25 by 30 pixels.

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File Under Water

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The girl with the arm-stilts pops the pillow-bubble releasing the underwater horse... floating mermaids dance... jackhammer-boy explores the sunken ship. No, it's not a Dali fairy tale, it's one of several possible _plots_ auto-generated by the ambient Flash film _Infrasound._ Discrete environments, characters, and objects are constantly shuffled according to subtle algorithms, creating on-the-fly narratives that vary each visit. Gorgeous illustrations by crankbunny and an evocative soundtrack by members of Mogwai make Infrasound a high-bandwidth experience worth waiting for. (Free CD-ROM can be ordered too). - Curt Cloninger

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McLuhan Visualized

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_The medium is the message._ _We are living in a global village._ Marshall McLuhan is known for these and hundreds of other pithy soundbites which he called _probes._ Now grungy graphic designer David Carson (of Raygun Magazine fame) has visually interpreted over 400 of these in the aptly named _Book of Probes._ Buy it for the insight or the eye candy. McLuhan would have been happy either way. - Curt Cloninger

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Art For Free

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Remember the Free Biennial? Now it has a sequel, Free Manifesta. Artist Sal Randolph organized both events to run alongside exclusive, international art exhibitions, the 2002 Whitney Biennial and Manifesta 4, respectively. The difference being that anyone can participate in Randolph's art exhibitions and the art is free. Currently on view in Frankfurt, Germany and online, Free Manifesta has over 225 free public art projects and more than 70 of these are net, mail, phone, or email-based. Free Manifesta, however, has a twist: Randolph is participating in the curated event, Manifesta 4. Her entry, of course, is Free Manifesta.

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