the thought project

Simon Hoegsberg:

Over a period of 3 months I stopped 150 strangers on the street and asked them what they were thinking about the moment before I stopped them. Using a mic and a dictaphone I recorded what they told me, then took a picture of them. 55 of the 150 thoughts are presented on this website as quotes. All quotes state exactly what was said durung the interviews. The interviews took place in Copenhagen, Denmark and New York City.

The end result is just awesome. (via TiC)

I don’t get it

I may have waxed rhapsodic about modern architecture in my previous post, but when it comes to modern art, I confess that my aesthetic sense is too grounded in… what do I call it? ah yes. Reality.

Here’s the perfect example: 500 art experts voted on what piece of art was the most influential in the past hundred years, and they picked Duchamp’s urinal. That was a simple commercial urinal, which the artist signed and put on display:

Continue reading “I don’t get it”

reboxed

The whole Modern Art movement to me can be summed up as, “boxes are cool”. I’m not being snarky; I really think that there’s a fundamental cubic aesthetic which is cool because of its clean lines really appeals to people. For some reason I am also reminded of the satisfying way in which all my boxes stacked nicely in the moving truck, too – with cubes, you can stack and assign and subdivide a volume in infinite ways. This also probably accounts for the almost primal appeal of Tetris. The boundaries between these sub-volumes don’t have to be explicit (as they are with cardboard boxes) nor do they have to be rigidly cubical – they can be two-dimensional or even swap back and forth between dimensions (like a living space that suddenly extends upwards into an atrium).

Of course Apple is a pioneer in embracing this cubical ethos; its products and packaging are famously clean-lined and cubical. People actually make a fetish out of “unboxing” Apple products! However, I think that consumer goods are a minor branch of modernist design; it’s really architecture where modernism rules and also serves as the primary vehicle. Of course Apple has its NYC store on 5th Avenue, with it’s all glass facade above ground. I think they were trying to be both modernist and also evoke The Louvre Pyramid at the same time. But as far as architecture is concerned, I think of Apple as an amateur. To get a sense of where the real innovation is happening, check out Dwell Magazine. For example, this incredible house in SoCal, built to take full advantage of the climate:

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That’s an outdoor dining room on the ground floor, and a guest bedroom above it with outdoor sleeping area. And check out the way they use a single piece of tempered glass as the window for the study as well as a railing for the upstairs bedroom!

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This kind of cool design isn’t limited to SoCal, but it does seem to be more prevalent in warmer climates. In fact a friend of mine is an architect in Houston (FS Design Build) and he has designed some amazing properties in the Museum District that have the same kind of open, clean aesthetic. Here’s an exterior shot:

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and an example of the open design of the interior – the kitchen and dining area:

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That’s another gigantic window at the far end of the room, spanning multiple floors. The whole place is just wide open from top to bottom. This is the kind of space that being the neanderthal I am, I’d probably fill with Ikea. Then again, if I could afford this kind of house. maybe I could afford some higher-end furniture, too. Still, Ikea is modernism for the masses, and the same cubical, clean aesthetic applies.

Picasso: Self Portrait with Cloak 1901

I lived in Boston from 1996-1998, working as a research assistant at MIT Lincoln Laboratory. During those two years I explored every nook and cranny of Beantown I could find; on foot, on bicycle, via boat, car, train, and even plane. I made it to Boston’s MFA a few times, including during the winter of 1997 when they hosted “Picasso: The Early Years, 1892-1906“. Of these, the following painting really grabbed my attention:

Picasso: Self Portrait with Cloak 1901

What was particularly odd about the painting was that at the time, I had very similar beard and hair, and was wearing a thick black coat as well, so there was a non-negligible resemblance. It was eerie.

What arrested me the most about the painting was the confident expression. There is no angst or concern in the face – Picasso seems to be looking forward in time, assured and optimistic. Given that I was fresh out of college and working at my first real job, living in a vibrant city like Boston, I felt an instant kinship.

Who knew I had such reserves of ego such that I could look at an artists’ self-portrait and make it all about me!

Chicago PicassoIncidentally, Picasso also has a famous sculpture in Daley Plaza in Chicago (my hometown). It’s been in my consciousness since I was a young child; I always imagined it to be a seated sphinx-like creature, that will come to life when you’re not looking.

Nyaako and Nyatta’s excellent adventure

“There are some things in painting which cannot be explained, and that something is essential.” – Pierre Auguste Renoir

I finished Cat Soup. I have to admit it was quite a trip. Acid trip, perhaps. In a nutshell, the story is simple; Nyatta rescues part of his sister Nyaako’s soul from Death and must embark on a quest to restore her fully. The two set out on the quest, and encounter God along the way. It’s very, very difficult to really say more about this title because it’s so surrealistic in nature; I quickly found that the best way to approach it was to treat it like a work of art and not a narrative. Continue reading “Nyaako and Nyatta’s excellent adventure”