Archive for the ‘Art’ Category

DIY Tree Art


The Chandelier Tree / This Is Colossal


The Chandelier Tree / This Is Colossal

For ages, trees have been a favorite subject of landscape painters. Their material has long provided substance for sculptors and crafters. Now, some contemporary artists are rediscovering the artistic effects that can be achieved with the humble tree. And, showing clear appreciation, these artists aren’t damaging the trees.

This Is Colossal tells us that Adam Tenebaum, a Los Angeles-based artist, was recently bequeathed a number of large chandeliers by a lighting-loving ancestor. Unfortunately, they were too large for his house, so he decided to create The Chandelier Tree, a one-of-a-kind installation in Silver Lake.

Here’s a documentary about the piece:

In Potsdam, Germany, street artists Daniel Siering and Mario Shu transformed an average-joe tree along a road into a startling illusion.


Daniel Siering and Mario Shu / Street Art Utopia

They wrapped the tree in plastic sheeting and then spray-painted the background landscape on to it.


Daniel Siering and Mario Shu / Street Art Utopia

The result looks like something from a magician’s act.


Daniel Siering and Mario Shu / Street Art Utopia

Lastly, artist Brittany Powell created these ephemeral moss sculptures on tree trunks found on a steep trail in California.


Brittany Powell / Low Commitment Projects

They are part of her series of “low-commitment projects,” which provide her and her friend a chance to create creative “schemes without a huge outlay of time, energy, or money.”


Brittany Powell / Low Commitment Projects

Powell said these experiments are the “materialization of mental sketches.”


Brittany Powell / Low Commitment Projects

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Bronx Queens Expressway / DLand Studio via Architect Magazine

For more LA in the News, check out LAND, ASLA’s newsletter. If you see others you’d like included, please email us at info@asla.org.

Sea ChangeArchitect Magazine, 3/17/14
“Susannah Drake’s unconventional path out of architecture school inspired her to establish this niche. A licensed architect and a licensed landscape architect, she graduated with master’s degrees in both disciplines from Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design.”

Brooklyn Bridge CrossroadsThe Architect’s Newspaper, 3/19/14
“After five years of study, meetings, and schematic designs, however, accessing the Brooklyn Bridge will soon be improved under a plan to revamp the Brooklyn Bridge Gateway Area streetscape, encompassing Tillary Street between Cadman Plaza West and Prince Street and several blocks of Adams Street, with widened sidewalks, improved bike lanes, and increased landscaping.”

Born AgainThe Architect’s Newspaper, 3/24/14
“In 2001, an electrical fire ravaged St. Louis’ National Memorial Church of God in Christ, destroying all of the historic structure except for its perimeter walls. Rebuilding the interior from scratch was not possible. Instead, as part of a broader plan to revitalize the Grand Center neighborhood, a local nonprofit hired New York–based Gluckman Mayner Architects with Michael Van Valkenburgh to help local architects John C. Guenther and Powers Bowersox resurrect the ruins.”

How to Fix New York City’s ParksThe New Yorker, 3/28/14
“Park equity is a relative newcomer to the roster of issues that New York City leaders must have a position on. The issue gained relevance last year, after State Senator Daniel L. Squadron introduced legislation, still before the state senate, that would take twenty per cent from the budgets of the ‘well-financed conservancies’ and redistribute it to poorer parks, matching these ‘contributing parks’ to ‘member parks.’ De Blasio endorsed the bill then but stopped short of reiterating his support on Friday, instead referring to the idea as creative.”

Predicting Future Biodiversity under Climate ChangeThe Guardian, 3/28/14
“They developed a model to predict future biodiversity as a result of changes to the underlying productivity of foundational tree species with global climate change. Their study drew upon many intersecting fields of study including community ecology, biogeography, and genetics. With these tools, they asked how climate change will alter the productivity of foundational species.”

These articles were compiled by Phil Stamper-Halpin, ASLA Public Relations and Communications Coordinator.

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Party Aadvark / all photos © Inge Hondebrink

Burger’s Zoo, the largest zoo in Holland, near the city of Arnhem, wanted to make a splash with the celebration of their 100th year. The zoo wanted to create a present for the people of Arnhem, a contribution in the form of art, said artist Florentijn Hofman at Bloomberg Businessweek‘s recent design conference.

Walking around the zoo, Hofman came upon the aadvark, a “really nice creature, with a long tail, big ears, and almost human claws.” This unique animal, “one of the last remaining dinosaurs in Africa,” can “dig a huge hole in about 2 minutes.” But they rarely do. They sleep about 23 hours a day.

So Hofman imagined what an aadvark would look like after a big party, after perhaps having too much wine. This aadvark still has his party hat on, but “he’s lying down on his back and enjoying a rest.”

The zoo wanted to put Hofman’s aadvark in a “triple A location,” but he nixed that idea, seeking a more intimate site. The city and the zoo came across a “former wasteland” in the city center, which landscape architecture firm Buro Harro had been working on restoring for some time. Everyone decided this was the ideal spot.

Hofman said a small-sized park was necessary to make the impact of the aadvark even greater. Buro Harro wrote in Landezine: “The combination of park and statue was perfect.” The aadvark, which is some 30 meters long and 12 meters wide now lies on his back in a “gently sloping, mini-scale natural park made of a soft bed.”

Construction was tricky given the site’s small size. Hofman’s giant sculptures are usually created on-site with spray-on concrete. This time, the 130,000 kilogram sculpture had to be created elsewhere and then trucked in 150 pieces. See a making-of video:

As the aadvark took shape, Hofman said he informed people in the area what was coming. “It’s their space. We went around showing drawings and used social media. We created nice designs to get people in the mood to party.”

One hour before opening, Hofman said, there was a line of 30 kids waiting to get on the tail and then climb up on to the belly.

At its height, the aadvark is five-meters high. “If kid falls off, something terrible could happen.” He said in contrast to the litigious U.S., the risk was allowed in Holland. Hofman said “everyone liked this work so we tried it out.” The artist himself has kids who are 5-6 years old. He said he wouldn’t let them play on the aadvark, but “a lot of parents did. It’s their own responsibility, and that’s a good thing.”

Why a party aadvark? Hofman said “my work is about creating joy, to connect and communicate. Places change when they put in a work of mine. People start laughing and get out of their cars.”

Another one of Hofman’s hilarious projects is his traveling gargantuan rubber duck. It has become a global phenomenon, appearing in Hong Kong, Osaka, and Pittsburgh last year.


Rubber Duck by Florentijn Hofman / Sparkalicious Wit

See Hofman discuss the aadvark and rubber duck:

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L is for Landscape


Landscape Alphabet by Charles Joseph Hullmandel/ all photos from British Museum.

Charles Joseph Hullmandel, who died in 1850, was one of the forefathers of British lithography. His name is on thousands of lithographic prints from the early 1800s. He was apparently well-known for creating a method for printing subtle shifts in tones and reproducing the effect of light washes. This enabled the print reproduction of Romantic landscape paintings.

Among Hullmandel’s thousands of prints is a fascinating series on the alphabet in landscape form. Each letter is a story. They are among the goodies found on the British Museum web site.

For the letter A, we see three figures around a fire at the edge of a pond (see image above). The outline of the letter is vegetated.

C is for a castle on a cliff, with waves crashing and clouds curling.

The letter E is a “ruinous gate,” a broken arch magically hanging in the air. Two men point at the ruin.

M returns us to natural splendor, with willows and spruce. Ducks linger under the trees.

The letter Q shows us a stone bridge over a winding river, with hills covered in trees.

W is another romantic ruin; this time a gate with trees growing away from it.

Z is a pastoral scene of a cozy hut with smoking chimney set within a forest.


Explore the full set.


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The one-of-a-kind Janet Echelman, who creates monumental net sculptures all over the world, just unfurled Skies Painted with Unnumbered Sparks, her largest piece yet for the 30th TED conference in Vancouver.


Skies Painted with Unnumbered Sparks / All photos courtesy Studio Echelman

With data artist Aaron Koblin at Google’s Creative Labs, Echelman went interactive, enabling visitors to this nearly 750-wide floating cloud to paint beams of light across the face of the mesh using their smartphones. Amazingly, the pulsing lights on the sculpture are made possible by embedded technology. The giant sculpture essentially acts as a “single full-screen Google Chrome window over 10 million pixels in size,” writes the design team.

The title of the sculpture, Skies Painted with Unnumbered Sparks, comes from a line in Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar. Echelman said: “it’s about each one of us being one of those stars – those sparks – and being able to paint the skies.”

The sculpture has 145 miles of braided fiber, tied up in 860,000 hand and machine-made knots to form intricate patterns. The piece weighs nearly 3,500 pounds, which is still light enough that it can be tied to many buildings, given there are so many foundation lines.

Digital elements are embedded within the mesh, which is made of Honeywell Spectra Fiber manufactured in Washington state. Echelman told Arch Daily, pound-for-pound, it’s “fifteen times stronger than steel but light enough to float.” Spectra Fiber is “ultra-high-molecular-weight polyethylene using a patented gel-spinning process.”

As Echelman explained in her talk at the 2013 ASLA Annual Meeting, collaboration is key to her work. She was worked with fabricators, landscape architects, architects, engineers, lighting designers — and now technologists — to realize her vision. Check out an exciting project she is doing with OLIN at Philadelphia’s City Hall.

Unnumbered Sparks will be in Vancouver until March 22 and then it will begin traveling to other cities around the world.

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Pamphlet Architecture #34 / Princeton Architectural Press

Buildings hold immense ranges of possibilities. Though specific uses may be suggested by the architect, the exact future occupation of a space can’t be predicted. In other words, architecture unavoidably deals with uncertainty. The graphical representation of architecture, however, typically displays a narrow range of predictable spatial occupations. Of course, architectural representation is restrictive for a reason: the visual representation of indeterminacy is a difficult task.

In Pamphlet Architecture 34: Fathoming the Unfathomable: Archival Ghosts + Paradoxical Shadows, architects Nat Chard and Perry Kulper explore provocative, open-ended architectural representation. With Chard working in the UK and Kulper living in Michigan, this project represents a long-distance collaboration. Each architect takes a unique approach to the representation of indeterminacy, culminating in an attempt to synthesize their techniques.


As the product of a long-distance collaboration, Pamphlet Architecture is more of an exhibition of two complimentary projects than a single cohesive effort. Kulper’s work addresses indeterminacy through strikingly complex, associative drawings. Employing architectural line-work, found imagery, and textual prompts, Kulper’s drawings don’t spell out meaning, but instead provoke many possible meanings through the viewer’s own visual associations. As opposed to architectural drawings that seek to eliminate ambiguity, Kulper’s drawings are intended to elicit a range of spatial outcomes.

Chard’s work focuses on the ways architectural experience is tied to the human body. At a basic level, architecture accommodates bodily functions such as waste disposal, temperature, and hygiene. An alteration to the human body, therefore, changes how the body relates to architecture and results in an alteration to spatial consciousness. In this sense, though most architectural drawings represent “an experience that is reasonably reliable for all,” a piece of architecture in fact holds a range of experiential potential tied to the unique physical presence of the individual.

Chard attempts to visually represent the relationship between spatial consciousness and the physical occupation of architecture. He does this through the photography of a series of surreal dioramas, or “instruments.” These instruments are build on simple metal tripod platforms, supporting folded picture planes representative of architectural space. Dolls, plastic animals, and other whimsical objects occupy the instruments, which resemble hallucinatory lunar probes. The weirdness of these instruments is intensified when Chard spatters them with paint.

Chard writes: “With the projection of a material, the splatter is the consequence of the way in which the paint (representing occupation) and the drawing pieces (architecture) meet.” In other words, the spatter of the paint on the illustrated picture planes represents an individual’s unique physical occupation of architectural space. The unpredictability of the spatter is indicative of the experiential indeterminacy latent in all architecture. By the end of the book, Kulper’s drawings are physically incorporated into Chard’s instruments, and the architectural spaces they represent are spattered by paint.


Kulper writes: “Liberation from traditional working skills, the production of unique objects, and the dominance of the visual required new aesthetic criteria less concerned with appearance and more concerned with ideas.” While Kulper and Chard’s works are visually impressive and can be enjoyed on purely aesthetic grounds, I find it difficult to believe this project is more concerned with ideas than appearances—all of these pieces strike me as meticulously crafted, aesthetically-driven art objects. While Kulper and Chard describe the project as conceptually driven, Pamphlet Architecture 34, with its paint-spattered, mannequin-piloted lunar probes and abstract, associative drawings, can occasionally read as an elaborate justification for cool-looking images.


Pamphlet Architecture 34: Fathoming the Unfathomable: Archival Ghosts + Paradoxical Shadows by Nat Chard and Perry Kulper / All images courtesy Princeton Architectural Press

Still, the visual representation of indeterminate conditions is an important issue, particularly to landscape architecture. While buildings hold infinite potential, their physical forms are fixed. Landscapes, however, are inevitably dynamic spaces. Unlike architecture, landscape architecture must not only address programmatic indeterminacy, but also physical indeterminacy. In this context, non-prescriptive representation becomes especially critical. Chard and Kulper should be applauded for their provocative and occasionally whimsical exploration.

Read the book.

This guest post is by Ben Wellington, Associate ASLA, designer, Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, recent Louisiana State University Master’s of Landscape Architecture graduate, and former ASLA summer intern.

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Birds of a Feather

Flock together. This proverb is very much rooted in nature given single species of birds frequently form flocks. Ornithologists have discovered that birds flock to protect themselves from predators, take advantage of choice foods, raise their profile among females ready to mate, or aerodynamically maximize wind currents. Some species’ flocks also form amazing murmurations, undulating swarms that ebb and flow.

To further examine this wonder of nature, artist Dennis Hlynsky, a professor at the Rhode Island School of Design, started filming the individual flight paths of birds to discover the broader patterns.

This Is Colossal tells us: “Hlynsky first started filming birds in 2005 using a small Flip video recorder, but now uses a Lumix GH2 to record gigabytes of bird footage from locations around Rhode Island. He then edits select clips with After Effects and other tools to create brief visual trails that illustrate the path of each moving bird.”

Here we see swallows:

And crows:

Then starlings:

Hlynsky has also looked at bird species out of the sky, like these ducks moving through the water. He writes: “Ducks are quite heavy… one can see by the paths they make they are sliding as much as paddling. This was shot at the Linesville, Pennsylvania, fish hatchery. It was an experiment aimed at the fish, but the mallard ducks were very aggressive.”

While the videos are clearly mesmerizing, they will also help ornithologists better visualize mass bird behavior. Slate writes, “information on flight behavior is valuable for field identification.” Up until recently, collecting large amounts of flight path data had been too onerous.

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Once named the “Fellini of photography,” David LaChapelle has left his popular commercial work behind to return to his original fine art photography. In a new series called Land Scape, LaChapelle created handcrafted scale models of gas stations and refineries and photographed them with hundreds of LED lights. The work is an eerie look at the unsustainable landscape of today’s global, industrial oil production and distribution system.

In the exhibition catalog, Shana Dambrot writes: “The gas stations and refineries that populate iconic locations are staged as architectural avatars of a planet coping with the stresses of peak-oil — even as the buildings’ dazzling spectacle and retro-future aesthetic distracts from the dangers of their function.” To build these incredible models, LaChapelle used cardboard and recycled materials, like “tea canisters, hair curlers, and other by-products of our petroleum-based, disposability-obsessed culture.”

In the Refineries set (see images above and below), LaChapelle turns a made-up facility for processing gasoline into a luscious if toxic display. “While decoding the construction materials and contemplating the surroundings provides delight, what the artist would like us to remember are the decidedly un-magical consequences of what occurs in the refineries.” We are, Dambrot says, both captivated and repelled with these scenes, which were actually shot out in California’s desert.

The Gas Station series was photographed in the rainforests of Maui, where LaChapelle lives. In these, “the rain forest envelops the fueling stations, acting as an organic force that is both generative and destructive; it represents the source of fossil fuels, but it also has the power to re-engulf these man-made creations.” These gas stations are otherworldly but also all too common.

See full size images.
These works are on display at the Paul Kasmin Gallery in New York City until March 1.

Image credits: David LaChapelle

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We Are Nature

Finnish photographer Christoffer Relander has released a new set of multiple-exposure photographs as part of his We Are Nature series. The photographs merge natural scenes with portraits of people, creating a “multiple vision.” Amazingly, Relander accomplishes all of this through expert layering of images “in-camera.” There’s no Photoshop.

He writes: “As in my previous work I’ve double and triple exposed (combined) man and nature in-camera, this time by using a Nikon D800E. Afterwards I’ve imported my RAW-files (yes, you can shoot multiple exposures in RAW-format!) to Lightroom to adjust contrast, tones, colors and in some cases adding a small amount of dodging and burning.”

The photos are like out of some Finnish pagan myth. Seen above is “Old as a Tree.” Immediately below, both the forest and model highlight the idea of “Breathing.”


This one is called, “If late autumn comes, can winter be far behind?”

In these examples, the models become increasingly transparent, becoming outlines as they fade into the trees.

While another transforms back into “Bark.”

See more full-size images at Relander’s website or purchase a print.

Also, check out Cloud Forest, evocative photos of the foggy Czech Bohemian forest, by color-blind photographer Kilian Schönberger.

Image credits: Christopher Relander

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In a follow-up to his one-of-a-kind, drawn ode to the Irish countryside, In the Wilds, artist and architect Nigel Peake is back with In the City, a set of equally gorgeous watercolor-drawings on all things urban. This new book is a result of his ever-careful examination of ten cities — Shanghai, New York, Antwerp, London, Paris, Oslo, Lausanne, Budapest, Istanbul, and San Francisco, explored on foot. Peake sees cities, wherever they are, as an aggregation of units: the smallest materials and patterns give shape to the larger ones (apartments, stores, and parking lots), and then greater collections (neighborhoods and boroughs). Streets and bridges also fascinate him, as they separate and define the units that make up the city, but are also central to its patterns. He is awed by the sheer diversity of textures in a city — and how they fragment and change over time, creating a new city in the process.

In his introduction, he says exploring a city on foot is really critical to understanding a city’s patterns: “When visiting a new city or returning to one still unknown, I sense the unfamiliar, from the thinness of the fonts in the signs to the size of the milk cartons in the fridges – the feeling of almost knowing something but not quite. I prefer to walk through a city. The rhythm of one foot after the next allows one to look, pause, and listen. To observe.”

He first observes surfaces, “saturated, shiny, soggy, new, ragged, old, scratched, metallic, hot, broken, opaque, cracked, soft, and ripped.” He said all these surfaces can “occur sometimes by curation and other times by accident.” Regardless, “each is different and beautiful.” Here he sees a color palette for a street in November:

Peake sees what’s similar among all different types of places – from courtyards to bookstores to supermarkets and flea markets. He writes: “Each is a small variation on the others – composed of similar elements and structures, but with a different name.”

He also defines places based on their sound, arguing that “sounds have a shape.” For a courtyard, he says the rain hits all the surfaces, but “everything makes a different sound.”

page65In a park, which “can be quiet but sometimes loud,” he hears “bat hitting ball, sirens, horns, birds (two types), and bicycles as they go downhill.”

The diverse textures of surfaces and places are often fragmented. Peake writes that “everything can be adapted and used in different ways.” Introducing the element of change through fragmentation, Peake writes that “things are exchanged and transferred.”

page83Given the city is too big to be one thing, it must be divided into “areas, boroughs, districts, and zones.” The only way to access these different pieces is via paths “that move around, between, through, and along it.” Here are some path variations (again, just aggregations of the same forms), and a comparison of bridges:


And, finally, Peake tells us that the city, by nature, is in a constant state of change. “The city is a recording of our moves. It is designed and made – used, scruffed, broken, amended, and altered.” Here, a road’s surface is patched up, adding another layer of change.

He leaves us with the idea: “things will change again soon.”

Explore the book and read the review for his first book, In the Wilds.

Image credits: Nigel Peake / Princeton Architectural Press

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