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Archive for the ‘Cool Stuff’ Category

Here are two wonderful examples of how the magic of music can dismantle the ordinary and invite people to interact in public spaces.

The first, located in Montreal, is a recent project by Canadian design collective Daily Tous Les Jours. It is a giant musical instrument comprised of 21 swings that trigger melodies influenced by the people swinging. This installation brings people of all ages and backgrounds together and creates a place for playing and hanging out in the middle of the city centre.

The second installation is in Odenplan, Stockholm. The Volkswagon Initiative financed the creation of a musical stairway, to see if people would rather have fun making music while climbing stairs or ride the escalator. The results seen in this film speak for themselves!

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French artist David Letellier has created an ephemeral and mesmerizing kinetic sound sculpture for Saint Sauveur Chapel of Caen, France entitled ‘Caten’. Letellier developed the work from 300 fine wires suspended from two ropes and given shape by gravity and the slow shifting of rotating arms connected to the four corners of the stringed fabric. The name is derived from the term catenary, which describes the plane curve formed by a rope hanging between two points.

The piece produces an interpretation of the first verse and four notes notes (do re, mi, fa) for the prayer ‘Ut Queant Laxis’ or ‘Hymn to St John the Baptist’ as the draped wires are slowly rocked. The sculpture mirrors the arches of the architecture and engages with them as the sounds of the piece bounce off of the high-roofed space. Letellier notes, ‘the low frequencies resonate in the space and emphasize the transcendental character of a place once dedicated to faith’.

As a stringed instrument maker, I am blown away by this one-of-a-kind instrument constructed of the same materials that give voice to all stringed instruments! See more of this artist’s work on his website. And enjoy more shots of “Caten” below.

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I have always considered the connection between a player and his or her instrument to be a sacred thing. What I had never considered was that the instrument itself could be sacred space. In a 2009 print campaign for the Chamber Orchestra of the Berliner Philharmoniker, Art Director Bjoern Ewers captured the insides of instruments, revealing the hidden landscapes within.

Inside of Guitar

The resulting photos blew my mind. I created stained glass for places of worship most of my life, and am convinced that the stunning architecture and play of light inside these instruments definitely qualifies as sanctuary. The interiors appear larger than life, with each instrument conveying a different emotion and sense of space. With music being the universal language, the architecture of a stringed instrument would make a stunning inter-faith chapel!

Inside of Stand Up Bass


For inspiration, art director Bjorn Ewers showed his clients an old photograph of New York’s Grand Central Station in which light pours through the highest windows in wide streams.

Grand Central Station

Through macro photographs taken inside the cramped spaces of instruments, the inner workings of a violin, guitar, bass, flute, and pipe organ appear vast and spacious, almost as if you could walk around inside them. While the softly lit interior of the violin exudes tranquillity, the staggered pipes of the organ are reminiscent of a skyline in a bustling metropolitan city.

Inside of Violin


Inside of Wind nstrument

Pipe Organ

Pipe Organ from above

So next time you are holding your guitar (or any instrument) in your arms, close your eyes and think about the space inside. Imagine yourself there. What an amazing sanctuary to contemplate the music uniquely yours to express, the songs uniquely yours to sing!

CONCEPT: MONA SIBAI/ BJÖRN EWERS
CLIENT: Stiftung Berliner Philharmoniker
AGENCY: Scholz & Friends Berlin
PHOTOGRAPHER: Mierswa-Kluska
ART DIRECTOR: Björn Ewers
COPYWRITER: Mona Sibai

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Meet Paul Villinski, a New York City artist with a lifelong concern for environmental issues whose work “frequently repurposes discarded materials, effecting surprising and poetic transformations.”

What first grabbed my heartstrings were his sculptures fabricated from two musical instruments. Their intrinsically beautiful shapes were taken to new heights by butterflies snipped from crushed beer cans from the streets of New York. Villiniski muses that “every one of them was once raised to someone’s lips.” It is a wonderful exercise to wonder who all these diverse people were who drank from these cans that were ultimately united in this transcendent art.

"Fable" 2011, Cello, found aluminum cans, soot, wire


"Fable"detail


"Rise" 2011, Electric guitar, found aluminum cans, soot, wire


"Rise" detail

“The butterflies operate symbolically, : metamorphosing littered beer cans into flocks of butterflies mirrors the act of transformation and rebirth that butterflies symbolize across all cultures” (the artist) The second pieces that caught my eye were also related to music….this time old vinyl records that were transfigured into birds and butterflies…not only stunning imagery but reminding us of how music has the power to make us soar.

My Back Pages, 2008, vinyl LP records,turntable, wire


"My Back Pages" detail


“Butterflies seem impossible. How can these ridiculously delicate creatures, apparently blown about by the merest breath of wind, actually fly many thousands of miles to migrate? How is it that an innate, intergenerational GPS guides them year after year to the same tree? Are we more like them than we suspect, or could we be?” (the artist)

"Diaspora" 2010, album covers, turntable, vinyl LPs, wire


"Diaspora" detail

I love the shadows that these images form as much as I love the actual art. My next favorite pieces were the ones created from found gloves because they reminded me of our Luna tribe….each unique from many walks of life, yet still connected.

In the poetic and hopeful words of the artist ” Lost gloves? The city is full of them. Having read this, you will see them everywhere. Do they stand in for the people who wore them? Instantly you wonder: whose was this – their sex and age and body type – their laugh? What work was done? You begin to construct entire identities, for the gloves are replete with memory, with personal history. They are almost the hands themselves, in ways even more telling.
Gloves from all ages, classes, occupations, races. Gloves from all walks. Here everyone wears gloves and loses them. Collected over the years and into artworks they make an informal census, a demographic of detritus.
They have qualities we fear coming to know: carelessly left behind, forgotten or discarded, weathered, damaged, exhausted and worn through, run over by life, homeless. Lost and found. So I bring them into the studio and into pieces and give them homes, with the others.
Some of the pieces are constructed from found work gloves only. These have a patina of the work performed while worn. They are freighted with untold hours of labor. To this I add my own labor.
The gloves are collected from the streets daily. The pieces are obsessively handmade. Entwined. Handstitched. They are about handwork and restoration and connectedness. Once they lie melancholic, now they are hopeful.”

"Lift" 1995, found work gloves,belts, hand stiching, steel armature


"Lift" detail


"Coat for Lonely"1996, found gloves, safety pins, steel stand


"Coat for Lonely" detail

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Steampunk Vibe


Steampunk is a sub-genre of science fiction, alternate history and speculative fiction that came into prominence during the 1980s and early 1990s. Specifically, steampunk involves an era or world where steam power is still widely used—usually the 19th century and often Victorian Era Britain—that incorporates prominent elements of either science fiction or fantasy. Works of steampunk often feature anachronistic technology or futuristic innovations as Victorians may have envisioned them. (Wikipedia)
Various modern utilitarian objects have been morphed by enthusiasts into a pseudo-Victorian mechanical “steampunk” style. The goal of such redesigns is to employ appropriate materials (such as polished brass, iron, wood, and leather) with design elements and craftsmanship consistent with the Victorian era. Here is a selection of steampunk guitars for your amusement and inspiration!

Thunder Eagle Guitars


Thunder Eagle Guitars 2


Abney Park Guitar


Jake Von Slatt


Molly Friederich


Steve Brook


Dennis Jones

But wait! There’s more!!!!!!!!

Steampunk Laptop


Steampunk Watch


Steampunk Monacle


Steampunk Headset


Steampunk Mouse & Flash Drive


Steampunk Cellphone


Steampunk Frankenstein PC Case

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