Corrine Vionnet: Photo Opportunities

Corrine Vionnet’s series Photo Opportunities is a collection of pieces on iconic landmarks, each one composed of hundreds of self-similar tourist photographs layered together into a new composition.

While the three essays she reproduces on her site focus on the sightseers/tourists and their consistent, shared, unimaginative “shared memory” view of the monuments, I am more interested in the layers of meaning that can be extracted from the finished pieces.

The effect of the dissolution and blur on these icons sometimes works to invoke  associations: Big Ben for instance is lost in the fog, while the Twin Towers are lost in grief.

The way that the photos are layered also creates some interesting readings, especially in the ones with very clear focal points where the pictures are registered. The cooperative tourist shots combined do what a single one cannot: make into a beacon the portrait of Mao in the Forbidden City, make a grinding gyre around the black rock at Mecca, or complete the Colliseum. Interestingly, there most photographers choose an angle that shows its damage — the aesthetic normative — and the small group that shoot from another angle fill in ghostily what the eye can only imagine.

And my favorite layer of meaning: some seem to consciously refer to or homage art history. Clearly the whole project is a variant of cubism, assembling different views, but the dynamism referenced in the Golden Gate Bridge composition is apparent: compare to Balla’s Dynamism of Dog on a Leash. Likewise, you can’t assemble hundreds of pictures of Mt. Fuji without referring to Hokusai. Her composition, like his series of prints, seems to show Fujiyama as being a constant, unchanging icon while the days, nights, seasons and crowds change around it. The blurry Eiffel Tower in a series of chromatic greys looks all the world like a piece of lost Impressionism – Caillebotte‘s pallete and Monet’s brush? And the texture at the bottom/foreground of the Matterhorn piece feels remarkably like the scraped brushwork of a late modern painter like Kiefer.

One of the primary instigators of early modern painting was photography’s effortless encroachment into the realist space painting had long occupied. With these recombined works, Vionnet collages cliché photography into something that recapitulates the project of modern painting: expressing different aspects of time, light and viewpoint, abstracting and dissolving its subjects into impressions, thumbing its nose at photography which can only represent realistically a single moment.

15 more plus essays at Vionnet’s site.

Tim Burton at the MoMA

We’ve said it before, and I’m sure we’ll say it again, but we are super into Tim Burton. Apparently the MoMA is too; they are housing a Tim Burton exhibition from November 22, 2009–April 26, 2010. I don’t really think there is anything to say other than that you should go see it. I know we would, if we were going to be in New York.

via Swiss Miss

Missed Connections

In a similar vein as Linzie Hunter’s illustrated spam and Cardon Webb’s redesigned posted fliers, Sophie Blackall has been working on a series of illustrations of missed-connections ads. I think there is something really charming about writing a missed-connection ad, though I’m somewhat curious if they ever work. These prints are as charming and sweet as the ads they illustrate and are available for purchase at her etsy shop.

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See a few more of our favorites after the jump.

via Greedy Girl.

Continue reading Missed Connections

transit map abstraction

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Tokyo Rail Map Poster and Calendar, zero per zero, 2008. Click for larger version.

I got really excited about this map of Tokyo’s complex rail system by Korean designers zero per zero today. It establishes a new abstraction vocabulary (arcs) for railway maps, which since Harry Beck’s 1933 Tube map (more on which below) have tended to use variations on his circuit-boardy angle system. And it uses chocolate brown, which I hope against hope will never go out of style again. And it has an underlying 12×31 grid and comes packaged with post-it notes sized to the grid squares: that’s right; you can use the thing as a calendar! It’s available straight from Korea here — San Francisco friends give me a shout if you want something, we’ll combine shipping! along with smaller folding versions with great info backs. And New York, Osaka and Seoul editions.

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A little discussion of some more great rail maps featuring Messrs Beck, Vignelli, Hertz, Jabbour and Good Magazine after the jump.

Continue reading transit map abstraction

Jenny Holzer: PROTECT PROTECT

We went to a number of museums on our trip, but hands-down the most interesting exhibition we saw was Jenny Holzer‘s Protect Protect.

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Jenny Holzer, “MONUMENT”, 2008.

Texts: “Truisms”, 1977-79; “Inflammatory Essays”, 1979-82. © 2009 Jenny Holzer, member Artists Rights Society (ARS), NY. Photo: Vassilij Gureev. Collection of the artist; courtesy Monika Sprüth Philomene Magers, Berlin and London; and Diehl + Gallery One, Moscow

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Jenny Holzer, “For Chicago”, 2008.

Texts: “Truisms”, 1977-79; “Inflammatory Essays”, 1979-82; “Living”, 1980-82; “Survival”, 1983-85; “Under a Rock”, 1986; “Laments”, 1989; “Mother and Child”, 1990; “War”, 1992; “Lustmord”, 1993-95; “Erlauf”, 1995; “Arno”, 1996; “Blue”, 1998; and “Oh”, 2001. © 2009 Jenny Holzer, member Artists Rights Society (ARS), NY. Photo: Attilio Maranzano. Collection Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, commissioned through the generosity of the Edlis/Neeson Art Acquisition Fund

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The show includes a variety of media, not only the LED signs that Holzer is best known for (shown above, but, as you might expect, the pictures can’t begin to do them justice), but also a series called Redaction Paintings which reproduce government documents about torture at large scale. The show is incredibly affecting; the matter-of-fact tone of the transcripts of marines discussing a war we are still engaged in can be a little hard to stomach, but are very important to read.

Here is an excerpt from The Whitney’s text about the show:

The works in this exhibition feature selections of Holzer’s writings from 1977 to 2001, as well as declassified pages from U.S. government documents she has used as source material since 2004. The exhibition’s subtitle PROTECT PROTECT derives from texts detailing plans for the Iraq war, yet it also relates to the problematic power of personal desire, as encapsulated in one of Holzer’s best-known statements: PROTECT ME FROM WHAT I WANT.

Whether she is using her own idiomatic texts, borrowing the words of international poets, or citing formerly classified materials containing policy debates, battle plans, and testimonies of American soldiers and detainees in U.S. custody, Holzer works between the public and private, the body politic and the body, the universal and the particular. Always timely, she provides a range of opinions, attitudes, and voices in works infused with formal beauty, sensitivity, and power.

Holzer is a favorite of ours from way back. She appeals to our love of type and also a social consciousness in artwork that is rare. From her Truisms, which were like incredible bursts of keen observation executed in a variety of media, through Lustmord, which dealt rather chillingly with text from the abusers and the abused (sometimes cut into skin or tagged onto bones) to this use of declassified torture documents displayed large or on flashing LEDs, she has consistently made thought-provoking use of texts.

To read more about the show, click here. Protect Protect is on view at the Whitney until May 31st.

Kiosk

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I would really like to take a trip to Kiosk. We tried to go the last time we were in NY, but sadly, it was closed. They sell an amazing selection of everyday objects that they collect during their travels. Their current selections are items from America, but on the website you can still find some of the items from past collections.