Resolution

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Image: Wikimedia Commons

Australia’s ARM Architecture designed the 31-story Swanston Square apartment building in Melbourne with custom-shaped white balconies against black windows, so that from a distance the face of Aboriginal leader William Barak emerges.

It’s situated to face the Shrine of Remembrance, which honors Australians who have served in war. “The site has this potential to be a very significant part of the public realm,” ARM founding director Howard Raggatt said. “The realization of the great civic axis of Swanston Street meant that we could acknowledge the Shrine at one end and then the deep history representation at the other.”

A Way Through

Japanese artist Motoi Yamamoto makes labyrinths out of salt. Working alone, he refines his initial sketches on computer and then builds them meticulously by hand, forming large, intricate mazes that fill entire rooms.

The final effect resembles the surface of the brain. Yamamoto lost his sister in 1994 to brain cancer, and he chose salt, a funeral material in Japan, “to heal my grief.” His first labyrinth had a single path from the exterior to the center; later works have offered multiple paths and often multiple entrances and exits.

After a work has been exhibited, he invites the public to help him destroy it and toss it back into the sea. “Drawing a labyrinth with salt is like following a trace of my memory,” he says. “Memories seem to change and vanish as time goes by; however, what I seek is to capture a frozen moment that cannot be attained through pictures or writings. What I look for at the end of the act of drawing could be a feeling of touching a precious memory.”

Works in Progress

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Claude_Monet_038.jpg

Because weather and daylight change continually, Claude Monet believed that any visual effect lasts for only seven minutes, much too brief to paint — he said he wanted to “render my impressions before the most fugitive effects.”

His solution was to work on multiple canvases at once, putting a new one on the easel every seven minutes or so to capture the effect he was after. Georges Clemenceau once found him in a poppy field juggling four different canvases: “He was going from one to the other, according to the position of the sun.” In 1885 Guy de Maupassant watched him stalking about Etretat; no longer a painter, “he was a hunter. He walked along, trailed by children carrying canvases, five or six canvases representing the same subject at various hours of the day and with varying effects. He would pick them up or drop them one by one according to how the sky changed.”

When Monet visited London in 1901 to capture the “unique atmosphere” of the city’s fog, John Singer Sargent found him surrounded by 90 canvases, “each one the record of a momentary effect of light over the Thames. When the effect was repeated and an opportunity occurred for finishing the picture, the effect had generally passed away before the particular canvas could be found.”

“I am chasing a dream,” Monet once said. “I want the impossible.”

(Ross King, Mad Enchantment, 2016.)

The Interlace

Designed by German architect Ole Scheeren, Singapore’s Interlace apartment complex was named 2015 World Building of the Year for its innovative form, which resembles 31 conventional buildings stacked atop one another, like Jenga blocks. Each block comprises six stories, but they’re stacked four high, so there’s a maximum of 24 floors, and nearly every unit has an excellent view. Viewed from above they form eight hexagons, each with a swimming pool, and the stacking ensures that light and air can flow among the blocks.

In Architecture Review, Laura Raskin wrote, “Architect Ole Scheeren hypothesized that dense urban residential living didn’t have to occur in an isolating skyscraper — and he was right.”

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:The_Interlace,_Singapore.jpg
Image: Wikimedia Commons

Forking Paths

British maze designer Randoll Coate produced this tribute to Jorge Luis Borges — a labyrinth of hedges shaped like an open book and spelling out the author’s name. (The original maze is in the writer’s native Argentina; Coate donated the copy above to Borges’ foundation in Venice.)

“Five years before Borges died, I had a dream in which I heard that Borges had just died,” the designer recalled. “And I thought to myself, I must make sure that Borges is not memorialized with one of those terrible statues — a depiction of angels or something. He has to be honored with something truly Borgesian, in other words, a labyrinth. That’s when I began to design it and think about it and dream up a shape for it — an extraordinary labyrinth for a man with an extraordinary mind.”

(From Francesca Tatarella, Labyrinths & Mazes, 2016.)

11/29/2017 UPDATE: Coate’s design is more sophisticated than I’d realized — from reader Daniël Hoek:

“The maze also contains a tiger, a walking stick, a question mark, the initials MK of his wife, and two hourglasses that spell the number of years Borges lived (’86’). After some effort I think I found all of those (the tiger is very cool once you find it –– you need to rotate the plan as in the attached image)”:

“PS. Another interesting tidbit: the maze in ‘The Garden of Forking Paths’ has the feature that you can make it through by going left at every turn. Starting at the top entrance and discounting any forced turns, that is also true of this maze, although that is a boring route that takes you around the maze and not through the center.”

Near and Far

Designed by Baroque architect Francesco Borromini in 1632, this gallery in Rome’s Palazzo Spada is a masterpiece of forced perspective — though it appears to be 37 meters long, in fact it’s only 8. The effect is produced by diminishing columns and a rising floor; the sculpture at the end, which Borromini contrived to appear life size, is only 60 centimeters high.

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Image: Wikimedia Commons

Ah

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A famous artist once painted an angel with six toes.

‘Who ever saw an angel with six toes?’ people inquired.

‘Who ever saw one with less?’ was the counter-question.

Life, June 12, 1890

Marine Warfare

Humans tend to abuse sea creatures, so digital artist Neil Mendoza gave them a way to fight back. As Smashie the fish swims around his aquatic habitat, he takes aim at the human habitat outside; the hammer drops periodically when a rotating cam releases it.

Mendoza created the project through Autodesk’s artist-in-residence program. You can build your own “fish hammer actuation device” with the instructions here.

He Who Falls

French acrobat and dancer Yoann Bourgeois created “Celui qui tombe” for the 2014 International Dance Biennial of Lyon. He calls the six dancers “a mankind in miniature.”

“It’s clear that if you do it ‘your way’ rather than the group’s way, you imperil and unbalance the joint venture,” wrote Luke Jennings in a Guardian review. “But you also get freedom. Or do you?”

Perspective

http://www.georgesrousse.com/en/archives/article/georges-rousse-in-ruesselsheim/

French artist Georges Rousse photographs anamorphic images in abandoned and derelict buildings.

When the scene above is viewed from the right vantage point, it looks like this:

http://www.georgesrousse.com/en/archives/article/georges-rousse-in-ruesselsheim/

This video shows him at work on a project in Miyagi Prefecture, Japan, in 2013: