In their first collaboration, the High Line and the Shed invite the public to a sculpture hunt, in augmented reality. Do you see the ladybug? The floating ice cube?
On a torrid afternoon in June, Emma Enderby, chief curator of the Shed, and Cecilia Alemani, director and chief curator of High Line Art, walked side by side between their respective bailiwicks on the West Side of Manhattan, plotting the configuration of their first collaborative exhibition.
They were exultant.
“No night install,” Alemani said. “No cranes. That’s the best.”
Nothing would be decided until right before the opening. “We didn’t have to think about engineering or weight loads,” Enderby said. “You can just spend a leisurely day placing them.”
The exhibition, “The Looking Glass,” which runs from Saturday through Aug. 29, is a show in which all of “them” — the sculptures on view — are virtual, existing only in augmented reality, or A.R.
Using an app developed by Acute Art, a London-based digital-art organization, a spectator can point a phone at a QR code displayed at one of the sites — the giveaway of where a virtual artwork is “hidden.” The code activates a specific sculpture to appear on the viewer’s camera screen, superimposed on the surroundings. (Unlike virtual reality, or V.R., in which a viewer wears a device, such as goggles, A.R. does not require total immersion.) Most of the virtual art will be placed on the plaza surrounding the Shed, on West 30th Street at 11th Avenue, supplemented by three locations on the nearby High Line.
Acute Art is supervised by the third curator of the exhibition, Daniel Birnbaum, who, because of the pandemic, could only be present remotely. “The Looking Glass” is an updated and expanded reprise of another Acute Art show, “Unreal City,” which opened on the South Bank of London last year and then, in the face of new lockdown precautions, resurfaced in a monthlong at-home version. A teaser, with three of “The Looking Glass” artists, was presented last month at Frieze New York at the Shed.
“There is something charming about it being secret or not completely visible,” Birnbaum said in a phone interview. “It is a totally invisible show until you start talking about it.”
If “The Looking Glass” duplicates the sensation of Pokémon Go in 2016-2017, the search will be as exciting as the find. Whereas the title of the London iteration alluded to T.S. Eliot’s poem “The Waste Land,” in New York, the show gets its name from Lewis Carroll. “In today’s ‘Alice in Wonderland,’ the phone is the new rabbit hole,” Enderby said.
Birnbaum, a respected curator who was the director of the Moderna Museet in Stockholm for eight years before leaving to run Acute Art, enlisted the participation of 11 artists, including household names — Olafur Eliasson and KAWS — and such art-world favorites as Precious Okoyomon, winner of the 2021 Frieze Artist Award, Cao Fei, Nina Chanel Abney, Koo Jeong A and Julie Curtiss. Some of their works unfold over time and incorporate sound, while others are as unchanging as traditional sculptures.
Released from plinths, they can acquire new meaning from their unconventional contexts. Abney’s piece, “Imaginary Friend,” is a hovering, bearded Black man in high-top sneakers and banded crew socks, reading a book, with a halo around his head. “It’s a Black Jesus, I guess,” Birnbaum said. He observed that it would have a different impact if it appeared in a Washington political demonstration rather than on the High Line.
Eliasson, whose “Rainbow” in 2017 was a pioneering virtual-reality artwork, contributed a cluster of five pieces, from a series collectively titled “Wunderkammer”: a buzzing ladybug, a floating rock, a cloud, a sun and a clump of flowers that push up through the pavement.
“Very often, these digitized platforms are presented to us as if they are the opposite of reality, but I saw it as an extension of reality,” he said in a phone interview. “I’m a very analog artist, interested in the mixture of the mind and the body, and my first thought is, ‘This is taking away your body.’ It seems like escapism and open to hedonism.” On reflection, though, he concluded that since people are tethered to their phones, he would aim to reach them through the device in ways that are “sensitizing” rather than “numbifying.”
“Maybe we can get a message into the phones that the world is amazing,” he said. “In terms of what I hope to achieve, in what is left of public space — and the High Line is such a good example — there is the potential of the imaginary, the unexpected encounter, meeting someone you don’t expect to know and becoming friends. I think it’s about adding plurality and other stories onto the public space.”
Tomás Saraceno, the Argentine artist based in Berlin who worked in Eliasson’s studio early in his career, is even more determined to blend augmented reality with real life. Obsessed with ecological concerns, Saraceno is particularly enamored of spiders, and he has founded a research organization, Arachnophilia, to study them and the architecture of their webs.
For “The Looking Glass,” he created two virtual spiders. One, which will be on the plaza of the Shed, is a recreation of the spectacular Maratus speciosus, known as the Australian coastal peacock spider. The other will be at a secret location in Manhattan. If you send a photo of a real spider to the Acute Art app, the team will respond with the location of the other virtual spider, which will also be transportable to your home. “It is at the center of the whole thing,” Birnbaum said. “He likes the look of the A.R. spider, but he cares more that you pay attention to real spiders.”
For other artists, the possibilities of augmented reality permit different approaches to their longstanding artistic investigations. Curtiss, a French artist living in Brooklyn, paints and sculpts nude women. “My work is all about the gaze, and what I’m choosing to reveal and what I’m choosing to hide,” she said in a phone interview. Introduced to Birnbaum by Brian Donnelly, who is known as KAWS, Curtiss became excited by the chance to pursue this theme in a manner previously unavailable to her.
In mid-June, she was still working with the computer coders at Acute Art to develop her piece: a naked woman with long dark hair — one of the characters that she has presented in paintings — who will be placed in the environment. The model is faced away. “When you try to go around her, she will keep dodging, so you can never see her front,” Curtiss said. “And when you get too close, you go through her. That naked woman is exposed and vulnerable, but also, like a wall, she is protected. It’s playing off these opposites.”
In the aftermath of the pandemic, Birnbaum suggested, the popularity of virtual representations may accelerate. “Can they ever do fashion shows again?” he said. “Will people travel? I see this as possibly another model for exhibitions. I could imagine that the A.R. and V.R. and mixed-reality thing will be part of a global and local future art world. I will be surprised if the art world doesn’t change a little after the lockdown. We may be a little bit early.”
Although Acute Art is not at this point profit-making, its financial backers, the wealthy Swedish businessman Gerard De Geer and his son Jacob, are aware of the commercial possibilities. Acute Art has already created virtual pieces for Chanel and BMW, and is exploring ways to issue works in editions. “We haven’t really monetized things,” Birnbaum said. But he allowed that the unexpected NFT craze and blockchain purchasing have generated talk among some artists about financial opportunities.
One thing seems certain: Virtual and augmented reality are still in their artistic infancy. Acute Art acts as a technological guru, providing computer coders and engineers to bring the virtual creations of artists into being. “There is a little storyboard thing written, then we do a trial version, and they will come back and say, ‘The texture is too small,’ and, ‘It should be more red,’” Birnbaum said. “They get a test app, and they can play around with it and place it.”
“My interest is to see what we can do with this technology,” he continued. “Once there was photography and everyone thought it would kill painting. Then cinema and the video camera and the internet came along. In our own time, A.R. and V.R. are the new media. There is a period before it is commercialized when one can do experimental things. We are there now.”
Summer Stations art installations are coming soon to Kew Gardens and Woodbine Park this August – Beach Metro Community News – Beach Metro News
Winter Stations along Woodbine Beach has become Summer Stations in the Beach.
The transition began this week when the ‘ARc de Blob’ art installation made its appearance on Queen Street East at the entrance to the Beach’s Kew Gardens park.
The installation is a joint effort by an Austrian and British design team made up of Aleksandra Belitskaja, Ben James and Shaun McCallum. ARc de Blob’s designers describe it as “a colourful landmark, a point of orientation, interaction and refuge.”
The art installation was one of five originally selected to be part of this past February’s Winter Stations art installations along Woodbine Beach.
However, due to the increasing COVID-19 case numbers earlier this year, the event had to be altered to the point that no art works were installed along Woodbine Beach this year.
Instead, Winter Stations organizers made the best of the rapidly changing situation by displaying the winning art installations in other locations in Toronto, including the Distillery District, in the spring.
They also changed the name from Winter Stations to Spring Stations; and now finally to Summer Stations for the ARc de Blob, The Epitonium, and a third installation (to be determined) in the Beach.
The Beach BIA and Winter Stations are presenting the art installations in the Beach until Aug. 31.
The ARc de Blob is already in place, and thanks to a contribution from The Richards Group, two more stations are coming to Queen Street East — The Epitonium in Woodbine Park, and the third yet-to-be determined installation which is set to be completed by next week when Summer Stations officially launches.
The Epitonium is designed by the Iranian team of M. Yengiabad – Shahed M. Yengiabad, Elaheh M. Yengiabad, Alemeh M. Yengiabad and Mojtaba Anoosha.
It is described as a “giant seashell” in harmony with its location. “It’s a beautiful and functional landscape. The creation of this idea causes natural shelter to become a refuge. The design of this structure is inspired by epitonium, which is a type of seashell,” said its designers.
The Epitonium’s installation is pretty well complete as of this week and it is located at the north end of Woodbine Park near the Queen Street East entrance.
For more information on the art installations that were selected for this year’s Winter Stations, please see our earlier story at https://beachmetro.com/2021/01/22/winter-stations-2021-winners-named-but-exact-date-of-exhibition-on-woodbine-beach-yet-to-be-determined/
For more information on Summer Stations and The Beach BIA at Kew Gardens and Woodbine Park, please go to https://winterstations.com/ which will have full details up on the website next week.
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Art exhibit looks at a year from now – The Daily Courier
What can happen in a year? Lake Country-based artist and curator Wanda Lock delves into the passage of time and the cycles in our lives with a new exhibition that opens Friday at the Kelowna Art Gallery.
Titled A Year From Now, it presents 63 works she selected from the gallery’s permanent art collection.
“Where do you even start?” said “There are over 900 artworks in the collection to choose from. I needed something to help centre my approach and create a narrative that visitors could bite into. So, I started with a pot of tea. Then, I spent many, many hours browsing the collection via the Gallery’s online database.”
Ultimately, Lock decided to divide this introspective exhibition into five thematic groupings.
The first section gallery-goers encounter is Love is Blind,. Around the corner is Home is Where the Heart is. Best Laid Plans considers the nature of disruption and unforeseen circumstances. When You Crop a Photo, You Tell a Lie visits transitional moments and change. Lastly, To Everything, There is a Season returns to summer time in the Okanagan.
“I wanted to include a few of my favourite pieces (which didn’t all make the cut), but more importantly, I wanted to create an exhibition that would explore themes that reflect on the year we just came through, while looking ahead to the future with hope and reassurance,” said Lock.
A Year From Now features an eclectic presentation of work by Okanagan-based artists including Briar Craig, Fern Helfand, Jane Everett, and Jim Kalnin, along with Landon Mackenzie, Gathie Falk, Norval Morisseau, Carl Beam, and Wanda Koop, among others. Visitors will see art in a variety of mediums, including drawing, painting, sculpture, photography and more.
The exhibition also showcases five written works that were commissioned from local poets Carin Covin, Asheigh Giffen, Shimshon Obadia, Laisha Rosnau, and Michael Turner.
“We are always delighted to share artworks from our collection with regional audiences and the visitors who might be in the city. After all this art is yours,” said Nataley Nagy, eecutive director at the Kelowna Art Gallery.
“We hold these important pieces of art in trust for the City of Kelowna, on behalf of all of its citizens.”
A Year From Now: Works from the Permanent Collection can be seen until Nov. 21. The Kelowna Art Gallery is located at 1315 Water St.
Inaugural art festival to showcase the work of artists in southwest Saskatchewan – moosejawtoday.com
Since some tourists like to travel in September when crowds are smaller, an organization in southwest Saskatchewan wants to attract those people for an inaugural arts festival occurring in several area communities.
The Cypress Hills Grasslands Destination Area (CHGDA) organization has organized the first Southwest Art Fest, which encompasses multiple art genres such as painting, drawing, pottery, quilting, photography, film, music and other visual arts.
The event runs from Sept. 1 to 30 and gives artists throughout that area the chance to showcase their artwork. Artists are encouraged to find a venue in which to feature their material and vice versa.
The CHGDA has 36 partners in dozens of communities throughout the province’s southwest corner and southeast Alberta.
Blaine Filthaut, owner and artist with the Broken Spoke Fine Art Gallery and Gift Store in Maple Creek, explained that September is the best month for his business since “a different type of tourist travels at that time.” Furthermore, since there are few scheduled activities across the area, the CHGDA wanted to fill that month in an organized way.
“The concept comes from almost like a city art walk, where you go on a third Thursday of the month are walks at this location, and you go,” he said. “And on those concepts, usually what happens is an artist finds a venue or a venue finds an artist that wants to participate.”
However, an art walk is impossible for small towns, especially when they are scattered across more than 42,000 square kilometres of southwest Saskatchewan, Filthaut continued. This is unfortunate since there are “a huge amount of great artists” in the area.
“Like the whole area, I’m saying there are many artists not well known, and art as a culture in Saskatchewan isn’t the highest thing on the list, either, so this is also a nice way to be promoting the arts,” he added.
This festival also helps address the issue of towns holding activities and their neighbours not knowing about them. This event ensures all municipalities are aware of what’s happening.
The CHGDA has a map on its website listing all 36 partners and the communities where they’re located. This is important, said Filthaut, since some tourists like to engage in “map quests” where they use Google maps to find lodgings and restaurants in communities and then visit those places.
The organization’s area stretches from Leader in the northwest to Val Marie in the southeast. Although Swift Current is not included as a partner but is on Highway 1, the CHGDA approached art galleries in that community and convinced a few to participate in the festival.
The festival provides a safe venue to tour, meet and discover art in southwest Saskatchewan in a COVID-19-safe environment, said Filthaut. That area of the province is also vast and diverse and features many kilometres of highway that pass through the sandhills, the grasslands, Cypress Hills and communities with great sights to discover.
The Cypress Hills Grasslands Destination Area spoke with Tourism Saskatchewan about this event, he continued, and while the government-run organization loved the idea, it was too late to support it due to uncertainty surrounding the pandemic. Yet, Tourism Saskatchewan said it might jump on board in 2022.
Even though the CHGDA could not obtain a provincial endorsement, the organization is still excited to host the month-long festival.
“We’re looking forward to it. Everybody I’ve talked with, including from the artistic side, they think it could be here for a long time. It’ll just grow … ,” added Filthaut. “Once you get on the map and do a show, it just builds. But somebody’s got to start it, and this is the start.”
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