Friday, April 16, 2010

The Genus of Genius

At some point all transcendent works of art and science are going to require some liberal combination of the two. While not every work of significance is required to reset boundaries, paradigms, and/or language, it's often these very things that are the result of such work. Academics call it cross-disciplinary, marketers say synergy, but to the creator it's just what makes the most sense.

Case in point: The vertical gardens of French botanist/environmental artist
Patrick Blanc. Besides turning the very notion of the garden on its side (he calls them Vertical Gardens), he's transforming gray urbanscapes and banal institutional spaces into lush micro-forests. Gardens to excite both the aesthete and engineer, and possibly the alchemist and magician as well.

The "garden" works something like in the way moss grows on rock: Plants are rooted into a synthetic membrane, gravity brings nutrient-infused water, and whatever isn't absorbed in its journey down the garden wall is recycled and used again.

Besides the obvious sculptural and textural aspects of the material there's a painterly quality as well; a bit of magic that allows the vertical gardens to inhabit a kind of two and three dimensional space simultaneously. But unlike mere decoration, it's this sacred element-of-life component that makes Blanc's work leap off the wall and into our every archetype of the sustaining and nurturing Earth Mother.

Or something like that. It just makes sense.

More information on Peter Blanc's vertical garden alchemy
here and here. And his impressive website.

Thanks to design*byproxy for the kind words and nice pics on the SK1 showroom in Venice. (Appreciation back to Susan Stewart Design for eyeloads of nice work here and here as well as her most lovely blog.)

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Walls and Bridges

Sometimes the solution is so simple it's too easily overlooked. But isn't that where genius takes its true flight? Exposing the essence that somehow eludes the common collective eye. This may explain why innovation is so often born of fortuitous "accidents."

To wit: Begin with various white walls, apply three miles of basic black masking tape, manipulate with bare hands and utility knife, and add to that an ingenious sense of form and composition. Then, magically, an innovation of wall-covering/planar manipulation is revealed.

Simple, right?

The inspiration for the use of masking tape (the material used here is custom made) came to the artist in a "flash" as inspiration often can (after many long hours of dedicated focus). Following years of experimenting with different mediums masking tape proved to be the transcendent vehicle. In developing the work the tape is shaped by tearing (revealed by the texture on the tape edges) and the removed tape is often reused and reapplied elsewhere. The artist refers to the process as line drawing with the intention of conducting and tuning the energy of the space.


The brilliant Sun K. Kwak from her show Enfolding 280 Hours at the Brooklyn Museum. (To see her process go here.) Her gift is not wall covering so much as its logarithmic potential.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Where wallpaper was; where it ought to be (again).

Wallpaper designed by British architect Owen Jones (1809-1874), the Frank Gehry of the Victorian era.

Jones was an early devotee of Orientalism, the rage of his age. He famously published a fanboy book of drawings on the Alhambra Palace in Granada that brought the virtues of Islamic decoration to Europe and the West.

Jones set his eye to textiles and silks as well. Imagine a stultified Victorian society impaled on walls covered just so. More at V and A images.