Tuesday, 30 March 2010

typography tuesday

Or should I say TIEpography Tuesday? Shirting the issue? Maybe I should just stop right now.

'Tie-pography' from graphic designer Ed Nacional. Ed's site is currently being redesigned, so maybe it's best to check out his blog instead.

Monday, 29 March 2010

upside downside

New York-based Koran artist Jin Lee's Parallel Worlds brings our attention to part of buildings which, once highly decorative, are now largely ignored. That's right, ceilings! Teeny-tiny installations of furniture create, in Jin's words, a little wink in an otherwise disused space. A lovely reminder that it's always a good idea to look up.

All images from Jin's website, found via Three Thousand's weekly newsletter. 

Saturday, 27 March 2010

Intellectual snobbery reviewed

I have struggled with a problem for awhile now, and I think it is now time to talk about it. Okay, it's not all that serious but there have been internal debates within my head and it is frustrating. To me, what makes a good artwork, a respected structure, is the thoughts behind it. I am a big fan of conceptual-based anything. Understanding how a thought, a concept, an idea in a particular context (place, time, era) - something abstract in one person's mind ... become realised and can be shared. It is such power.

Over the few years in uni, with every project I have tried to make every single thing that I design and put down on paper mean something. No mucking around, no nonsense. Everything that is there is for a valid reason. It gets difficult, as you can imagine ... but it is the only way I feel comfortable and satisfied with my work at the end.

No mucking around, no nonsense, nothing arbitrary.

It is hard for me to enjoy things that are purely decorative, especially in architecture today where sustainability means minimal wastage. Come on guys, why plonk on a ten metre cantilevered roof when it isn't necessary and only means more materials and inefficiency in terms of structure.

I know I should take it easy - not everything has to mean something. I should calm down and not be so frustrated. Good news, then. Today I have made some progress, thanks to an article on Rupert Bunny in today's The Age (Saturday, March 27th, 2010). The author Andrew Stephens examines both ends of the pole - those who are a fan of Bunny and those who aren't. The latter accused Bunny of being "too decorative, too much a slave to fashion".

... hang on a second, I don't want to be one of them - it's terribly cynical. Its put me in my place.

Stephens then writes, "As for his being decorative -- well, what precisely is wrong with visual pleasure?". The director of NGV, Gerard Vaughan continues by saying, "Was he an inventor? No; never in fact", but that does not stop him from enjoying the artworks themselves ... "the pleasure of paint and colour and light ... gorgeous and luminous".

I have learned today that it is ok and completely valid to enjoy something that is purely decorative, even if something is "light on intellectual content".

Rupert Bunny: Artist in Paris is showing at NGV Australia (Federation Square) until 4th July.

Image from modmove.com

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

taking it to the streets

I can't remember if I mentioned it in my last post, but I like street art. A lot. 'm pretty privileged to live in Melbourne, where the street art culture is thriving. In New Zealand, where I grew up, tagging and bombing are all that there is to be seen, but in Melbourne, a simple walk through the laneways of the CBD and the backstreets of suburbs such as Fitzroy yield numerous examples of pasteups, stencil based works, and vibrant colourful murals. In the city, Hosier lane is an ever-changing gallery of street art, with international artists such as France's Blek le Rat and Fafi both adding pieces when they've been in Melbourne. 

I like street art because it provides a space for art to exist without the pretentiousness of gallery-culture, and the (sometimes) ponderous nature of art theory. It's a joyous, unrestricted expression of creativity. It's interesting to look at the different manifestations street art takes in different places - the way it shapes, and is shaped by the existing substructure and the social history of the city. I also like that in a world where our  public space is invaded by commercial imagery, street art is independant, not-for-profit imagery, taking that space back bit by bit. Reclaiming space, and inspiring and surprising as it does so.

Anyway, that's all preamble. Why am I telling you this? Because I want to share with you what I consider to be the net's best source of international street art inspiration: Wooster Collective. Started in 2001 by husband and wife team Sarah and Mark Schiller, Wooster's aim is simple: "to discover and document authentic art experiences." Many street artists whose names are now all too familiar to me (Blu, Slinkachu, C215, JR), I first discovered through Wooster, and thanks to the fact that fans from all over the world are all too happy to post in sightings, not only is Wooster the best place to see new and ephemeral art, it's also going to always be the first place you'll hear about new and interesting street art projects and collaborations. Ears fimly to the ground, folks.

The mages above are all my own, taken on the streets of Melbourne. For more goodness by the incredibly talented artists featured on Wooster, stay tuned.

Thursday, 11 March 2010

Some words and photographs

I would like to start off by disappointing you. This will not be a well-written and elaborate post like the previous one - my patience and thinking capacity are at an all-time low.

OK, hi! Where to begin ... I am 'the other half' of this blog, Zi (which is short for Zi Xin, by the way). For the past three years I have been studying architecture and now have a degree which is quite honestly, a little useless! Ha ha, no not really. 2010 is my year-out work experience year, which I will be starting in less than a month in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. I am quite excited, but nervous at the thought of full-time nine-to-five office work. Ideally I would to take 2011 off to work some more and prepare myself for my final two years studying the Masters of Architecture, but that does not seem likely. Long term wise, I am working towards an architectural career specialising in conservation and heritage architecture, and also small-scale architecture (residential, temporary ...).

I remember in high school being worried about not having an idea of what I want as a career, and not having a deep passion and love for anything at all. It is only in recent years that I have realised my love for all things art, design and military/social/cultural etc. history ... which is why Melbourne is kind of the right place for me right now. There are so much going on, so much talent seeping out of a tight-knit creative, and more importantly, accessible community. Malaysia will be interesting. Big change, and the Malaysia I know is the one I knew when I was 13 (when I lived there last). I am looking forward to discovering and be a part of it all.

Unlike Amelia, I haven't got any formal training in art or art history. Of course you could say that architecture is art, but lets not get technical, lets not start. I studied three years of art in high school and for HSC, but have always kept myself informed with art history books and things. I do still paint, draw, watercolour etc., but not as often and as much as I would like to. There are some pictures of these that I have put up on my other blog, but I will also post some up here in the near future.

I do like the idea of this collaborative blog - it means I am not completely out of the loop while away, and vice versa. I have to mention this though - I met Amelia on a art history uni trip to Rome. At the risk of sounding cheesy and kiss-assy, I have really learned a fair amount from her ... whether it be in photography (which she is excellent at), art (including and especially street/public art) and ... coping with being socially awkward ha ha. Only kidding.

OK - abrupt end. I'm going to eat some ice-cream, goodbye. (I also enjoy baking things, like blueberry and lemon friands).

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

on alphabetical order and introductions

Graeme Base, A, from Letterheads

Well, I guess I get to start things off, given the a-zi nature of this whole affair. I'm Amelia, the 'A' of this blog, also known as Meels. Ever since I was little, I've always liked that my name started with the very first letter of the alphabet, especially when teachers put us in lines or read out the roll (although pesky Alexandras over the years did spoil my fun somewhat). At risk of sounding supremely nerdy, I like how the letter a looks - both the symmetry of its capital form, and the hat-like arc of its typed, lowercase form - both of which are beautifully captured in Graeme Base's contribution to the recent Letterheads exhibition (more on that later though).

A is also good for me because a is for art, and frankly, art is what I am about. I am currently completing my honours in Art History at Melbourne University - writing a thesis on Italian Futurism, (not sure quite what that is? start by getting an eyeful here) and doing a coursework subject on Old Masters prints, both of which will likely crop up in my posts and preoccupations - and, whilst not doing that, trying to immerse myself in as much art as possible. That said, I'm not an artist myself, although I do dabble in a bit of amateur photography. Upon meeting new people, the conversation tends to go "Oh, art history? So you're a painter then?" No, folks, HISTORY of art. But I digress. 

I think my theoretical background helps me to approach new (and old) art with a critical eye. Each new thing I see gets assessed as to how it functions as a continuation of theoretical paradigms, how it draws on  and redefines these longstanding artistic traditions and lines of  inquiry. That may seem a little dry and scholarly, but for me it means I get to enjoy the way individual works of art bouce off each other in a neverending cycle throughout history. Nerdy, but fun! My mum is a product designer, now teaching high school design, so as a result I also have a soft spot for clever, original and eyecatching design, both at a graphic and 3D level. As someone who just waxed lyrical about how much she enjoys the appearence of her own initial, it's clear I love typogaphy too. 

So that's me, and those are the areas of interest I'll be bringing to this blog. The idea behind from a to zi is to bridge the physical distance (Melbourne and Malaysia) between two like minded friends (Amelia and Zi) through sharing creative inspiration and intelligent observation. Wow. Now that's out of my head and on the screen it's a fairly ambitious manifesto. But now it's out there - no going back. For now I leave you in Zi's capable hands.



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