Posts Tagged ‘Art’

Community Service Mag

Here is a new Montréal-only mailing list I have high hopes for. Community Service chronicles upcoming art and design events in the city. I’m happy to have a non-social-media-based way of getting news about art events.

Subscribe Here →

Jenny Holzer's Lightline

I make a point on this blog of never worrying about my posts being ‘timely’. I post whenever I find something, and don’t much care if something is 2 days or 2 decades old (I also don’t track visits or incoming links in any way, but that’s another story). Sometimes, though, I luck into something relatively current, like my visiting artist Jenny Holzer‘s Lightline show at the Guggenheim on its 4th day.

The main attraction was the immense video screen that sent scraps of words flowing up the helix of the Guggenheim’s inner hall, in a reworking of the artist’s own 1989 show in the same space.

Skywriting was done outside the show, though I don’t know if it was related to the words inside. The shape echoes the work, though I don’t know who Alejandro is, and couldn’t angle myself to read more than this small excerpt.

And lastly, a bit of a spoiler, the very final words at the top of the Guggenheim:

Pottery Hammocks by Toshiko Takaezu

This whimsical installation was made by American artist Toshiko Takaezu, who realized that she could dry her pottery on hammocks without distorting their shape. Seen at The Noguchi Museum in Astoria Queens.

Isamu Noguchi's Expo '70 Fountain

I’m planning a solo trip to Nee York City this week, and on my list of activities is visiting the Brooklyn-based museum dedicated to Japanese-American artist Isamu Noguchi. As well as being an artist and designer (he designed this iconic coffee table) Noguchi was a frequent collaborator with Buckminster Fuller, who has appeared on this blog numerous times. Noguchi worked on the Dymaxion Car, which was Fuller’s somewhat ill-fated concept car which never saw wide production.

Pictured here is a fountain from Noguchi’s Expo 70′ installation. Photos via Noguchi’s archive.


I recently got to take part in a very small art performance for a single person, me. Montréal/Rome based artist Sarah Zakaib met with me in a coffee shop, told me stories of her extended family, and gifted me with a casting of a ring that one of her family members had smuggled out of Italy during World War II. It was an art performance for a single person. It was touching, personal, and refreshingly small. The other people in the coffee shop had no idea that anything unusual was happening at all.

Constellational Diasporas

A closeup of Anahita Norouzi‘s artwork Constellational Diasporas from the Montréal’s Musée d’art contemporain. Each glass orb contains an invasive Persian Hogweed seed, which is an invasive species here in Quebec.

Montreal Murals

Artwork by Kari Izumiya, photo credit unknown

Montréal has seen many, many pieces of public art pop up in the last few years, thanks in part to the Mural festival. These artworks are accessible, free to the public, and take art out of the institutional (dare I say elitist) art galleries. The city has started to curate a photo gallery of these murals, which number over 300(!). Worth a scroll to see some great pieces.

Visit the Gallery →

Design Concept: VR Synesthesia Simulator

Synesthesia is a phenomenon where some people experience their senses intermixing with each other. They might see sounds, or hear sights, or even physically feel words. It’s a mental condition apparently attributed to many great artists, from Vincent Van Gogh to Billie Eilish to allegedly even Beyonce.

I have always wanted to experience synesthesia myself, but I always assumed it would be impossible. Certain pieces of art can give me a fleeting sensation of it—Van Gogh’s paintings and Kanye’s 808s & Heartbreak come to mind. Visuals at a concert, when done well, can give a feeling of seeing the music. But that’s a sort of inferred collective synesthesia, where I can sense the impact of it on the work, but I don’t really get to experience it as someone with the condition would.

It occurred to me recently that augmented reality headsets like Apple’s Vision Pro, along with generative AI, could provide the technology to do a reasonable real-time synesthesia simulator. I’m adding it to the list of projects I’d undertake if I had unlimited resources, but for now it’s just a thought experiment.

The Vision Pro, along with generative AI, would fail to reproduce all iterations of the condition, but it could hypothetically reproduce the following types of synesthesia:

  • Grapheme Color Synesthesia, who see colours or shapes next to specific words or characters.
  • Number Form, who see particular forms or shapes for some numbers.
  • Chromesthesia, who sees sounds as colours or shapes.
  • Ticker Tape, who see strings of words scroll underneath people as they talk.

Here are some art/tech projects which explore other aspects of synesthesia. Google’s Play a Kandinsky is beautiful, but is again an interpretation of an artist’s view.

The game Audiosurf matches audio to visuals in a synesthetic way. A seemingly defunct smartphone VR app seemingly tried to accomplish the same concept, though it glitches on my phone and hasn’t been updated in 6 years. There are some fascinating video visualizations of synesthesia, like this YouTube video of a violinist who sees notes as coloured shapes.

My version would be real time, and importantly, individualized. You would choose the type of synesthesia you wanted to recreate, or even the specific artist whose synesthesia you wanted to experience, and everything you saw and heard would be filtered to recreate the look and sound of that type.

Technological Mandalas

Italian artist Leonardo Ulian makes some delightful mandalas out of electronics and other symbols of our digital world. Beautiful.

Visit the artist’s site for more →

Pussy Riot

I spent my day off visiting the wonderfully punk Pussy Riot show at the MACM. Members of Pussy riot did all the installation themselves, using tape and sharpies to mount their impressive photo and video documentation on the walls of the museum.

I couldn’t help but remark about the ridiculousness of it all. That a global military power could be obviously so bothered, and even scared, of a few women with guitars playing sloppy punk music in public places. It underlined the power cart can have.

It all meshed with my concurrent reading of another politically-inclined artist’s biography, that being Ai Weiwei. In this quote from his autobiography he talks about the role of art in dissidence:

To conventional culture, I said, art should be a nail in the eye, a spike in the flesh, gravel in the shoe: the reason why art cannot be ignored is that it destabilizes what seems settled and secure. Change is an objective fact, and whether you like it or not, only by confronting challenges can you be sure you have enough kindling to keep the fire in your spirit burning. Don’t try to dream other people’s dreams, I told them; you have to face up to your own predicament honestly, on your own terms. There’s a huge gulf between your aesthetic passions as an artist and the indifference of the real world.