The Wave of the Future

personal effects laurie lipton 2016

“Personal Effects (after Hokusai) 2016″, 5footx7foot8”, charcoal & pencil on paper. Click to enlarge. By Laurie Lipton.

Hand Crank Marble Machine

low-tech music“The Wintergartan Marble Machine, built by Swedish musician Martin Molin and filmed by Hannes Knutsson, is a hand-made music box that powers a kick drum, bass, vibraphone and other instruments using a hand crank and 2,000 marbles.”

Read more at Wired: Wintergatan’s ‘Marble Machine’ makes music with 2,000 marbles.

Cargo Cults

supercargo headphones“The John Frum movement on the Oceanic island nation Vanuatu is a classic example of what anthropologists have called a “cargo cult”— many of which sprang up in villages in the South Pacific during World War II, when hundreds of thousands of American troops poured into the islands from the skies and seas.

Cargo cults appear when the outside world, with all its material wealth, suddenly descends on remote, indigenous tribes. The locals don’t know where the foreigners’ endless supplies come from and so suspect they were summoned by magic, sent from the spirit world.

To entice the Americans back after the war, islanders throughout the region started building giant airplanes from wood, carving headphones and radios from bamboo and awaited the messianic serviceman John Frum. They prayed for ships and planes to once again come out of nowhere, bearing all kinds of treasures: jeeps and washing machines, radios and motorcycles, canned meat and candy. Their rituals included the non militant army TAU (Tanna Army USA), marching with wooden rifles.

supercargo 2The more naive will laugh about these imitations. But did the US soldiers truly understand their technology, their big agenda? The cult of the cargo is our world exactly: We perform meaningless routines we call work, in hope for future cargo. With a technology that could navigate us to the moon, we write LMAO. The western world itself is a giant cult of imitating things that somehow work: dressing in suits, using buzzword-vocabulary, mimicing old forms of art. The longing for godlike goodies on the horizon, the usage of things we don´t understand: it’s a big parable of desire.

Surprisingly the local performers of the Cargo Cults succeeded: By remaking western technology with bamboo, by re-enacting western rituals they attracted actual planes full of tourists and anthropologists.”

Quoted from “In John they trust” (Smithsonian Magazine) and “The supercargo manifesto” (Supercargo Tumblr). Pictures: Supercargo Tumblr. Thanks to Edwin Gardner.

The Illusion-of-Control Tower

The illusion of control laurie lipton

By Laurie Lipton.

The Full Moon Theatre

moonlight theatre

Under good climatic conditions and using specific technology, the full moon can be a powerful source of light.

Using technology inspired by solar energy concentrators, the “Full Moon Theatre” lights its performances using only moonlight. Moonbeams are collected, concentrated, and focused on stage.

The original Full Moon Theatre was built in Southern France and their plan is to create twelve Full Moon Theatres worldwide.

[Read more…]

Saving Food From The Fridge

food storage

Korean artist Jihyun Ryou, a graduate of the Dutch Design Academy Eindhoven, translates traditional knowledge on food storage into contemporary design. She found the inspiration for her wall-mounted storage units while listening to the advice of her grandmother, a former apple grower, and other elderly. Her mission: storing food outside the refrigerator.

[Read more…]

There is Life in Strangers, Giants and Machines

Dancing with diggers“IN SITU is a documentary directed by Antoine Viviani about the experiences of artistic activity in the city of Europe. At a time when the city seems to be increasingly saturated by noise and information, the film features artistic experiences alternately invisible, monumental, participatory or secret, which provoque our daily glance, and surprise us. IN SITU confronts the visions of these artists from different backgrounds with the input of ordinary people, philosophers, urban planners, architects but also viewers of the film, so as to try to identify what these InSitu experiments tell on our period, our urbanity.”

The film can be viewed in its entirity in English, French or German. Short review here. Thanks to Eva Maori.

Primitive Kitchen Timer by Ludvik Cjep

Kuechenwecker “This wooden chronograph works according to the principle of a kitchen timer. An interval from 0 to 60 minutes can be set on the yellow clock face. When the time elapsed a tinkling signal sets off at the Bottle on the upper right side of the timer. The forefinger of the blue hand under which the yellow clock face is gliding, indicates the time set, resp. the time left. At zero the finger falls into the notch at the circumference of the clock face. Hereby the whole arm is lowered and the blockage of the ringing mechanism is lifted.”

Kitchen Timer by Ludvik Cjep. Don’t miss his other work.

Related: “Automata: engineering for a post-oil world?“.

Metropolis II by Chris Burden

Metroplis II “The California artist Chris Burden may be in his 60s, but he is still playing with toys. The thing is, the older he gets the more outrageously complicated the toys become. ‘Metropolis II’ includes 1,200 custom-designed cars and 18 lanes.”

Cars as they should be: toys. Metropolis II by Chris Burden.

Art Can Save The World – But Then We Need More Artists

Strange-fish-sculpture by ptolemy elrington

These days, artists have no difficulty in finding free materials to work with. The same stuff can be used over and over again, for different purposes. One artwork can be transformed into another. Why can’t our industrial production system work the same way? Because it is automated and needs standardized parts. Mass production and re-use of scavenged materials don’t match, unless the materials undergo the (mostly energy-intensive) intermediate step of recycling.

Above: Hubcap creatures by Ptolemy Elrington (also see his lamps – why do we need new materials to make lamps? There is enough trash in the world to make lamps for another 10,000 years).