Archive for the 'Design and social tools' Category

Mega Engraving

Sergio Davila, Amsterdam — The beauty of the chaos in Mexico City is that anything can happen. The lack of regulations and the oligarchy of the government might be frustrating sometimes, however in a few special occasions is the perfect space for unique ideas to become real. Is quite likely that Mexico City would never have a regulation on graffiti making as the zero tolerance nowadays in Helsinki, therefore prohibition is not the answer for a mega city, it is otherwise orientation. City governments in this century should see the possibilities that cultural agency can bring, and one outstanding possibility for cultural agency is the PUBLIC SPACE artistic production. 

This technique is widely explored in the Netherlands, during the EXPERIMENTADESIGN festival in Amsterdam several designers were introducing a social behavior with their different proposals for public space art. For instance the ‘Moving Forest’, a piece by NL Architects, is thought to be an answer to the lack of green spaces in the contemporary urban environments, trees on shopping carts that people can rearrange and distribute around the city.

Moreover, the piece of Marti Guixé engages the participants in a common creation of a sculpture. The idea consist in a monolithic square surrounded by a bench and with chisels attached so that everybody can participate in the design development and modify it with their own ideas. 

These and other pieces in this festival are opening the conversation about urban issues and participation. This social art in public space is not only expressing beauty, it also engages the society in the discourse that the art piece aims to communicate. The possibility for city governments that are open to public space art production has a lot of potential. I mentioned in pasts blog posts what happened in Bogota when the government of Antanas Mockus decided to implement cultural agency in public space. The government in Mexico City has been also very inspired by these techniques and they have tried to mimic some of them, however every city needs to find their own methodologies:

The 15th of September is the celebration of independence in Mexico. In this day people normally celebrate on the streets, and the president is expected to come to the central plaza and pronounce ‘the shout’ a proclamation of independence and praise of the national heroes. This year the celebration happened as it should be in Mexico City, with the only difference that during the 15th and 16th of September 200 artists were called to participate in a ‘Mega Engraving’ throughout Reforma avenue. This Avenue is, by the way,  occupied normally by public demonstrations of syndicates and political parties, but in this occasion the pavement was not punished by the feet of masses in anger, instead it became the showroom of the Guinness record largest engraving.

Among the participants were some Novel prizes and famous artists like Leonora Carrington, Boris Viskin, José Luis Cuevas,  Vicente Rojo and also students from the art academy, writers, youth brigades and volunteers. The piece of more than one kilometer long became an space for cultural creation in a collaborative way, engaging the society in a deeper understanding of the national identity and teaching the use of engraving in a massive two days workshop assisted by huge plates and a road roller.

In my opinion we are still at the starting point of the exploration of the techniques that can be used for social enabled art and art in public space.

“Veiling the unveiled truth”: the conceptual art of Silvio Berlusconi

Antonio Scarponi – Italy. We all know that the Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi is a man of talents. First of all he is a man of spectacle, a perfect actor from the old school. He is able to dance, sing and his practical jokes are famous world wide. As an actor he also have very good make up artist in his stuff. He is also a good soccer coach as well as many other talents including the playboy skills he uses for his diplomatic aims. For instance he ‘seduced’, as he publicly declared, the Finnish president in order to elect the world capital of ham and Parmesan (the Italian city of Parma), as the European Capital of Food. We all know these skills, but recently in two occasion he demonstrate also to have great talent as conceptual artist.

Together with his Architect Mario Catalano, his consultant for the media design appearance, also famous for the design of the set of a sort of ‘soft porn’ TV show  from the eighties named ‘colpo grosso’ ( a sort of strip poker, see video below) they have decided use a Tiepolo painting as background for the press conference room of the Parliament. Tiepolo painting is titled “La verità svelata dal tempo” (the truth unveiled by time)

Recently they have noticed that the naked nipple of the allegoric figure representing the truth was distracting the attention of the TV audience. In the picture below you can see the press conference set with two representative members of the female gender of the Italian power. On the left there is the president of ‘Confindustria’, the association that represent Italian industries. Here you can also see the naked nipple. On the left image you can see Mara Carfagna, former show girl, now minister of the “equal opportunities” between the genders. As you can see the nipple in the right image has been covered. It is not photo-shopped, no, that is a solution that only cheap artist uses. It has been painted over the real thing!Well we do not want to say anything about Berlusconi as prime minister. The time will ‘unveil’ perhaps the wiseness of his political will, but as conceptual artist he definitely worths Duchamp. I find the idea of using Tiepolo painting as background for the press conference in the Parliament a brilliant idea. Especially with the iconographic symbolism that it has… “the truth unveiled by time” … excellent. But the real geniality of Berlusconi’s Art is to to cover the nipple that distract the TV audience! He plays with iconography of one of the masters Italian painting. “re-veil the truth unveiled by time” this is the title of Berlusconi’s Work. We can look upon it as manifesto of his politics. A genius.

But this is not the only prove of his wicked artistic talent. The girl on the right picture above was democratically elected as minister of the ‘equal opportunities’ between the genders. She was a very talented showgirl recently involved in a sort of ‘sex scandale’. Gossipers wants her as mister president lover, perhaps this is a bit of an exaggeration, more likely she is one of several, as we all know Berlusconi’s sensibility towards beauty. In fact the scandal apparently was about some telephone tapping of a theoretical conversation between her and another minister (woman) discussing mister president’s preferences about blow-jobs. We are not allowed to know details about this conversation, a specific law was designed to protect the public integrity of the political forces in order to protect them by the known communist forces of the magistrates that missuses their power to discredit Parliament representatives. And nevertheess is not our business not interests. So we are not allowed, now we want to know about this. But if there is some truth about the love affair, I would propose to democratically elect mister Berlusconi as one of the greatest conceptual Artist of our time. In order to elect as minister to the equal opportunities between the sexes one of his lovers, he really have to be a conceptual genius. In the picture below a picture of our minister before the public mandate.

Perhaps it is a bit courageous to say that Berlusconi is a great conceptual artist… perhaps we have to give time to time to “re-unveil again the truth” of Gianbattista Tiepolo nipple. Or maybe we have to unveil again the one of Mara Carfagna that it has been recently covered by tailleurs, a costume more accurate for her new public mandate?

What geography is really about

How to move a city

Martijn van Berkum, Rotterdam – – To whom it concerns: Icsid (International Council of Societies of Industrial Design) is organizing in partnership with the Swedish Industrial Design Foundation (SVID) and the community of Gellivare, the City move interdesign workshop dealing with the relocation and moving of people and societies.

The workshop will take place in the Northern part of Sweden and concerns the fact that heavy mining is threatening small cities to sink away. The workshop will deal with sustainability, urban planning issues, but also aims at exploring community practices. There’s an open call for architects, urban planners, artists, designers etc; application period closes the 31st of July.

Underneath a beautiful video of the moving of the Swedish mining town of Malmberget:

The market of last things: a point of view on Torino Geodesign

Antonio Scarponi, Torino – The Architectural Magazine Abitare launched a project called Geodesign in collaboration with the international event Torino World Design Capital 2008. The aim of this project is about connecting designers, community, and companies to design specific project related to a specific need of a specific community in a specific context: this is a geodesign practice. A competition was launched. Designers from all over the world applied with a methodological approach. Workshops were carried on with different communities of people in the city. An exhibition presenting the prototypes produced was opened on May 23rd in Torino, Pala Fuksas, Piazza della Repubblica 25.

I was one of them and now I am going to tell you a bit about the project we made.

Marco Lampugnani (co-author of this project) and I, applied with a methodological proposal for a free market called “Balon”. This is a special place. “Free” meas that anyone could go and sell stuff. Anything have a marked and a value there. You can buy the most meaningless broken chair, toy, spare shoe or hardware tool. If you have nothing to loose, in the sense that you do not have anything, but you collect something in the street – means that you have something to sell in the Balon market.

Every Saturday at five a.m. a battle for “the two square meters” begin. The negotiations of land occupation takes time and bitter blood. The association “vivi balon” is there to “rule” the place and make sure that anybody get hurts. Our task was to find a way to define the market plots in an ultimate way. The street is made of stones and paint is washed away very easily. They’d liked also to have folding trolley to deliver the goods and shelters to protect merchants from rain and sun.

In our proposal these are the tree elements of an instant kind of urbanization, as the market is, an instant place. We worked associated with two multinational companies: IKEA and Italcementi.

1. dices: a gambling game like an other. We started defining a tile to be graved in the pavement like a stumbling stone in order to design an element that could qualify the public space and spot the market position. The tile would have nine holes, say like a special dice. Closing the holes would allow to make a number. And by attaching them one next to the other, a number with one or more ciphers could be made. So trough the production of one single tile we would have the possibility to customize an infinite possibility of numbers by simply closing the holes with liquid concrete. The tiles would be arranged in the pavement in a way that they could spot a car park plot when the market is not in use as it happen during the week.

2. broder: “My name is buck and I am here to fuck”. Each tile has a square hole in the center. This allow to stick a vertical element produced by IKEA belonging to the series called “broder” (8€). With four of them one can clear a position. We used a shower curtain, also from IKEA to make a shelter. And by using the Broder hight extension, the shelter an inclination.

3. RIKEA: A manual without kit. So the folding trolley was called. We have assembled it using a “svingen” (a folding bed 25€) two IKEA bags sawed together (2€ each), three “broder” shelf and two bicycle wheels. Everything is assembled together with dry hardware, no welding and no drilled oles (pure brico-freaks).

Here follows some pictures of the exhibition.

The next issue of “abitare” will be released with a catalog of this event and a special report on Geodesign. Stay tuned.

George W. Bush Library

In order to commemorate his upcoming legacy, the George W. Bush Presidential Library will be build at the Southern Methodist University. The Chronicle Review invited it’s readers to propose an alternative for the library and draw it on the back of an envelope. The results, see video below, are at times hilarious.

Take the George W. Bush Underground Library for instance. It is a facility which provides cheerful functions such as a lounge where you can listen into any US phone call and the ‘we-do-not-torture’ torture movie theater.

I’d like to propose myself the George W. Bush Paranoia library, which would have sections such as ‘books we’d rather not like you to read’, the ‘why George W. Bush is always right books’ and of course the ‘books you are not allowed to read, because they might inspire you to think for yourself’ section cannot be missed.

Underneath are some of the highlights. You can visit the chronicle’s website to vote for the best design.


Museum restaurants

They are ‘tres chique’, over-stylish, over-designed, cosmopolitan and you can find the best ones in magazines like Vanity Fair and FRAME magazine; they generally serve good coffee, wonderful cakes and always sandwiches with mozzarella cheese; they are often considered relational art works, confirm the museum as a relational place and become cultural get-togethers for local cultural practitioners; they have dramatic views over the city, spectacular design and tend to have huge dimensions; they can be cosy and good places to read books; they are increasingly public and sometimes yield more visitors and income than the actual museum as such.
Museum restaurants:
(None of these photographs were taken by myself. I hope the photographers don’t mind since it’s not for commercial purposes.)

Continue reading ‘Museum restaurants’

Recent articles

“Veiling the unveiled truth”: the conceptual art of Silvio Berlusconi
Published August 3, 2008 by Antonio Scarponi

We all know that the Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi is a man of talents. First of all he is a man of spectacle, a perfect actor from the old school. He is able to dance, sing and his practical jokes are famous world wide [...] We all know these skills, but recently in two occasion he demonstrated also to have great talent as conceptual artist.
Made in Sweden
Published July 9, 2008 by Trial and error

On a recent journey we visited two well-known Asian landmarks: The Chinese Dragon Gate and the Royal Thai Pavilion, both located in remote places in Sweden.
From motorcycles to 3,5 million pieces of art
Published July 3, 2008, 2008 by Marja Salaspuro and Sergio Davila

Can classical conservative museum structure keep its historically layered architecture, rooms, collections and objects – and still attract the interest of the modern visitors, mainstream tourists and experience seeking travelers? A philosophical reconsideration around the purpose of museums in our era and the architect’s role as a curator.

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