Thursday, March 31, 2011

Mike Giant- Neighbors

The Neighbors project was (is?) a project out of San Francisco in which a handful of personalities are interviewed in a candid manor doing what they do.

"The working title for the project is Neighbors, a series of short stories about six individuals (DJ Brown Amy, Mike Giant, Elgy Gillespie, Dick Vivian, Fran Martin, and Dylan Bigby) from various neighborhoods in San Francisco. Part conversational interview, part documentary – we get to know the individual in the context of their work and home environments, in order to gain a deeper understanding of their influences on the community.

The format combines an interview with environmental documentation. The concept for this film was to capture moments within the constraints of a two (to three) hour conversation." from their site.   

Very interesting!

Well to go along with the Operable Windows apparent recent theme here is the short on Mike Giant.  Mike is an artist who got his start with Sharpies and a note book.  He later moved on to graffiti, larger scale illustration, and tattooing.  As Sharpie is one of my favorite mediums, I love what he has to say about those cheap little sticks of wonderful ink.  

The informal nature of the interview seems very fitting and it is always enjoyable to watch an artist work.

Pascal Campion's Process

Here is another short about process from a very talented illustrator.  A bit sappy at points, he has some interesting points of view on art in general.  I don't agree with everything that he says, but it is interesting none the less.

Inspirational Artists: Pascal Campion from Onyx Cinema, Inc. on Vimeo.

Monday, March 28, 2011

A Picture Called Death - Peter Dean Rickards

As Matt put it in a chat we had tonight after we watched this video, "Photography is an art that happens even when times are hard".    The earthquake in Japan showed us that, when something happens some people run, others grab their camera and get to work.  Have a watch.

Friday, March 25, 2011

The Process of Illustration

Here at the Operable Window we love anything that has to do with process, hence all of the behind the scenes videos and discussion of how things are produced.

This short video has been going around in the last few days and it is simply mesmerizing.  If you think you have a handle on Adobe Illustrator, watch this. (unfortunately the final product is not as impressive as the line work)

Wake Up Mr Singh – 'Rachel' from Karan Singh on Vimeo.

Tronic Studio

The work of Tronic Studio first came to my attention when someone showed me the work they recently did for Herzog & De Meuron.  That video was actually produced a few years ago, but it was only recently that I was made aware of it.  Tronic has been very busy since that time creating new digital worlds for the likes of Adidas, Microsoft, Sony, Target, Diesel, GE, Nike, Sharp and Hitachi.

Most recently they did a spot for the very cool "The Cool Hunter" blog.

This post is not about those shorts as much as I wanted to show an interview of the firms two principles as they discuss their inspiration and background.  I personally found the interview interesting as it is focused on the line between architecture and the digital arts.  (more on that another time)

Interview with Tronic from TronicStudio on Vimeo.

56_Leonard_Herzog_and_Demeuron from TronicStudio on Vimeo.

Cool Hunter from TronicStudio on Vimeo.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

The Virtues of a Well Designed Buildings When the Earth Shakes

I am not sure what exactly I have to say about this entire situation yet.  This post is more of a conversation starter about the importance of the quality of our built environment.

The events of March 11th in Japan are one the minds of much of the world at this moment.  The visual understanding of the events has been discussed on this blog as well as the instant accessibility of those visuals via modern technology.

Most of what we see and hear about in situations of this nature and magnitude revolve around the loss of life and the destruction of the livelihoods of those that survive.  Architecture as built artifact has direct affect and is directly affected by these issues.  Architecture is entrusted with our lives at nearly all moments.  It is the shelter part of "Food, Water, Shelter."  More specifically in the case of Haiti, the idea that structures, that were designed by someone calling themselves an Architect, directly lead to the loss of life is sickening.

These are simply some of my thoughts on this subject as of late.

Below is a terrifying video taken from inside of Toyo Ito's Mediatheque in Sendai.  Those that occupy this building are fortunate enough to be in a building designed and constructed with great care.  

Monday, March 14, 2011

Explosive Vhils

What do you get when you mix street art, Mt.Rushmore style material removal, and indie soul music?

The Portugese street artist Vhils, is no stranger to Operable Window posts.  Recently this inspiring artist has teamed up with band Orelha Negra to make an interesting video.

Vhils ussually works by drilling an hammering away at walls to produce emotive portraits of common people.  For the  Orelha Negra video for M.I.R.I.A.M. he did much the same, except he refilled the works with plaster (with the addition of small explosive charges).  With the help of a slow motion camera, the result is a beautiful video of seemingly instant art.

Orelha Negra - M.I.R.I.A.M. X Vhils from elToro Visual Dealers on Vimeo.

The process of art is always an interesting subject.  The beauty of this video is that the art in it is not simply the resultant images as much as it is the "how did they do that?" effect.  Considering the work was not actually produced using explosives, the use of video to animate the revealing of the works is an interesting tactic.  Without the slow motion video the work would simply be short (possibly dangerous to witness) performative pieces.  In an interveiw to Wired UK, Vhils speaks of his interest in materiality and unwrapping the layers of the built word.  He explains that the use of explosives exaggerates this exploration.

Check out this interview about process with Vhils, Wired UK

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Branding a Country : Geographic Advertising

After seeing the great video, "Inspired by Iceland" that shows off Iceland and it's people I started thinking about those "Pure Michigan" signs, and billboards on the highway that say "at this very moment in Manitowoc". Country, State, and City Branding.

The pure Michigan video has under 25,000 views (other Pure Michigan ones had even less), while Inspired by Iceland has over 100,00 onYoutube, and 30,000 on Vimeo. Maybe that's a statement to uploading video in high quality instead of poor low definition. Though I'm pretty sure it has something to do with Emiliana Torrini's song Jungle Drum, which will be happily on repeat in my mind for the rest of the weekend.

Branding a location an interesting concept. Think of the Maple Leaf, or how New Zealand pushed it's landscape after it showed up in the Lord of the Rings Trilogy as Middle Earth.

I've been to Manitowoc, it's great, I can vouch for it. This billboard however, makes me never want to go there again. If that's what's "happening" in Manitowoc... I'll pass thanks. It is a historic port city, there is a huge Budwiser brewery there... Come on guys.

Tom Harris

Friday, March 11, 2011

Mapping the 2011 Japan Tsunami with NOAA Data

Any major event that creates a data set is likely to be graphically displayed by people across the globe. How that data is handled and translated to a visual system varies. Some are visually pleasing, some are easily understood, and some try to be more visually pleasing by neglecting visual legibility. Below are examples of maps that display just when you can expect your beach to feel the surge coming at 500 mph from across the ocean.

Notice in the last one above there are 3 distinct shades of blue, each presumably separating a single hour of time, along with dashed half hour lines and solid three hour increments.  A bit confusing.

The top map uses mostly warm colors to display intensity, but the delineation between hues is not great enough for the eye to discern the exact strength of the wave at any given location.

The middle map, by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration displays it in a traditional way, but it may be the most easily understood, while not being the most eye catching or visually stimulating.

Here is the data set I would guess most of these came from.

The data also has already been used in video form to show just how the ocean is churning.

Tom Harris

Video of the 8.9 Magnitude Earthquake and Tsunami in Japan

Recently I had a talk with a couple of the contributors to this blog, we discussed the Internet and what easily accessible video has brought to the game. This is being made evident right now, though the 8.9 magnitude earthquake happened only hours ago in the ocean off Sendai Japan which is viewable by you or me here in the United States now.  Not all of the video was shot by journalists and news reporters, some was shot by any citizen with a camera or cell phone capable of shooting video;  meaning we can see what it looks like when you are in a grocery store during an earthquake of that magnitude:

Or when the Tsunami rolls ashore near the airport.

Or footage of the oil refinery blazing away from the quake, shot by syndicated news cameras yes, but still imediate:

Or this really amazing footage of the Tsunami sweeping cars and homes away.

I am astonished by how accessible the world has become.

Tom Harris

Thursday, March 10, 2011

The Power of the Internet and Frank Lloyd Wright

This is kind of a side note.

As some may know, I am a blogger for the Archinect School Blog Project (check it out).  Recently I posted an update of the classes that I am taking at the University of Illinois Chicago.  The post included an quick rundown of a project I am working on for an Architectural Theory class. (I will probably post the whole project on here when it is done.)

The research project is about structures that were never built in Chicago.  My portion of the project focuses on the National Life Insurance Building by Frank Lloyd Wright.

While doing some follow up research, and searching for information online I came upon a slough of new blog articles on the building.  What was funny, they all quoted my post on Archinect!  My research is accurate, but I find this amazing.  What is perhaps funnier is that there is a great deal of conversation on these other blogs regarding the merits of the building, but people actually know very little about it.

These bloggers were kind enough to link to where they were reblogging from so I will give them a little shout out.  It is very clear that they did not all get the post directly from my Original post but rather through each other, but the idea of proliferation in this way is so interesting.

Some real information about the building based on graduate level research.

National Life Insurance Building (1923-25)
Architect- Frank Lloyd Wright
Client- A.M.Johnson/National Life Insurance Co
Material-Cantilevered reinforced concrete floors, reinforced concrete pylons, insulated extruded sheet copper curtain wall “Suspended sheet copper screens”

Project Description:

When commissioned by an eccentric money man, Frank Lloyd Wright set out to design a new type of skyscraper. It was to be an “Architecture of Democracy.” Claiming that the building would be earthquake-proof (most likely a gimmick for the insurance company it was to house), the National Life Insurance Building would stand 25 stories tall at the North end of the Magnificent Mile. A set of four main transepts, the floors would be cantilevered off of groups of reinforced concrete pylons. With the load of the building taken away from the exterior FLLW was attempting to have the walls “cease to exist as either weight or thickness” with what we would now refer to as a curtain wall, and what he referred to as “suspended sheet copper screens.” These “screens” were to be per-fabricated off site. A concept that would also become the norm of skyscraper construction. Wright is also quick to point out that “there is no unsalable floor space in this building created 'for effect', and no features manufactured 'for effect'.” This was to be a tower of rationalism at a time when less then a mile away two Gothic revivalist towers where being erected (Wriggly and Tribune). Many believe that, had this building been constructed, it would have turn Wright's career around at a time when he was facing many tribulations in his personal and professional life.

There is more but we will save it...

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Women's Day

In honor of Women's Day

an image by Modernist Photographer,  Imogen Cunningham

Nude, 1939

Happy Women's Day

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Georges Rousse and the Durham Project

With the post from 2010 about Perspective Localized Paintings being such a hit I couldn't resist posting this video showing another artist and his team of volunteers doing some similar work.  The video segments toward the end really show what it's like to walk through one of these beautiful paintings.

The installation artist/photographer's name is Georges Rousse and the subject of the film is the Durham Project.  Please have a look at the website of the project to get a better feel for it.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Adrien Broom and Time With Guests

Tableaux has certainly never been my strong suit as far as the photographic arts go.  That does now, however, mean that I can't recognize beautiful work in that manner when I see it, and Time With Guests by Adrien Broom is just that.

The work on her websites spans several different traditional photographic avenues, but all has the feel of a single photographer, a clear vision.

She lists Gregory Crewdson as an influence in her work, along with a painter or two.  Elements of Crewdson can clearly be seen in this series, but in a fresh light.

The tradition of shooting stills that are cinematic has always fascinated me, the act of carrying out such an elaborately staged moment all for just that, a single moment.  Implying a plot and drama and depth of characters and situation all in a single frame.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Badger Ammunition Fire Escape Chutes

While talking about the previous post with Matt last night he mentioned that while in the military he was able to see much of the old Badger Ammunition plant in Wisconsin, and that most of the production buildings had slides like octopus arms that radiated from the buildings for a quick exodus if fire were to catch in the building.  I managed to turn up a single image showing the Nitro Glycerin building and it's numerous slides. 

The image was found on the website of a photographer named Jamie Young.