Contemporary Art Research, Perth

Kinetic Street Art by Phil Gamblen, PerthFlux





Art Gallery of WA

Alex Spremburg, Recover




Howard Taylor, Twisted Figure


IMG_1222 IMG_1224


Galliano Fardin, Polarities 1





Galliano Fardin, Turn






Robert Hunter, Untitled


IMG_1233 IMG_1235



Ian Burn, This is Not Political




Robert Rooney, Superknit 2




Alexander Calder, Triangular




Paper Mountain Gallery, ARI






Toilet door (& wall), Perth Cultural Persinct



Year 12 Exhibition, Art Gallery of Western Australia










Studio Olafur Eliasson


I like to believe that the main part of my work lies in the experience of it.
And the thing that is exhibited or displayed?

It’s rather just a kind of machine.

An experience machine?


And if nobody sees the machine?

Then there is no experience and therefore no work – and I would be a mechanic instead of an artist. Although I don’t distinguish too much these days. An artist can be many things – an entrepreneur, policy­maker, activist, researcher, a gardener of sorts.


The Experience Machine

The Artist Interviews Himself, 1995/2015

Originally sent as a fax to Christiane Schneider, 5 December 1995, by Olafur Eliasson, and expanded in January 2015


Do art and experience go hand in hand?

Even attempting to answer this question would instantly put me into a totally predefined way of thinking.
Ha! The young artist speaking. A lot has happened to the concept of experience during the last de­ cade. It’s been hijacked by the experience indus­ try, commercialized, packaged, and offered for sale and consumption. We artists need to reclaim it by showing trust in the viewers and in the users of art. Experience doesn’t simply arrive from outside; it’s a meeting up of interior and exterior.






…Giving people access to data most often leaves them feeling overwhelmed and disconnected, not empowered and poised for action. This is where art can make a difference. Art does not show people what to do, yet engaging with a good work of art can connect you to your senses, body, and mind. It can make the world felt. And this felt feeling may spur thinking, engagement, and even action.

…Engaging with art is not simply a solitary event. The arts and culture represent one of the few areas in our society where people can come together to share an experience even if they see the world in radically different ways. The important thing is not that we agree about the experience that we share, but that we consider it worthwhile sharing an experience at all. In art and other forms of cultural expression, disagreement is accepted and embraced as an essential ingredient. In this sense, the community created by arts and culture is potentially a great source of inspiration for politicians and activists who work to transcend the polarizing populism and stigmatization of other people, positions, and world views that is sadly so endemic in public discourse today.

Why Art Has the Power to Change the World 

Blog post from January 23rd, 2016 by Olafur Eliasson as part of a series produced by The Huffington Post and The World Economic Forum to mark the Forum’s Annual Meeting 2016 (in Davos-Klosters, Switzerland, Jan. 20-23)

Joana Vasconcelos

“The nature of Joana Vasconcelos’ creative process is based on the appropriation, decontextualisation and subversion of pre-existent objects and everyday realities. Sculptures and installations, which are revealing of an acute sense of scale and mastery of colour, as well as the recourse to performances and video or photographic records, all combine in the materialization of concepts which challenge the pre-arranged routines of the quotidian. Starting out from ingenious operations of displacement, a reminiscence of the ready-made and the grammars of Nouveau Réalisme and pop, the artist offers us a complicit vision, but one which is at the same time critical of contemporary society and the several features which serve the enunciations of collective identity, especially those that concern the status of women, class distinction or national identity. From this process there derives a speech which is attentive to contemporary idiosyncrasies, where the dichotomies of hand-crafted/industrial, private/public, tradition/modernity and popular culture/erudite culture are imbued with affinities that are apt to renovate the usual fluxes of signification which are characteristic of contemporaneity.”

Via the Artist’s website





Piano Dentelle, 2008-2011

Steingraeber & Söhne baby grand piano, piano stool, handmade cotton crochet

100 x 150 x 206 cm

A grand piano and the stool which accompanies it are harmoniously covered with delicate crochet-work, with an almost kinetic and psychedelic effect, reflecting and reinterpreting, in the light of contemporaneity, concepts and practices which have fallen out of use. The use of a traditionally feminine work technique in the action of protecting, decorating and covering the whole of a musical instrument surpasses old-fashioned concepts and affirms the validity of the meeting between the traditional and the contemporary, the popular and the erudite.


via the artist’s website 




MARILYN (PA), 2011

Stainless steel pans and lids, concrete
(2x) 290 x 157 x 410 cm


The Hall of Mirrors, where sumptuous ceremonies and important events in the history of France were staged, hosts Marilyn, an elegant pair of high-heeled sandals, whose enlarged scale results from the repeated use of stainless steel pans and lids.

Verging toward gigantism, this accumulation creates a Gulliver effect, making the work stand in this vast hall as an ode to womens’ achievements both on the public and private spheres. The stainless steel in Marilyn – resistant like the armours of the warriors who fought in the Dutch War (1672-1678) and in the War of Devolution (1667-1668), Charles Le Brun’s subject matters for his ceiling paintings and medallions – and the mirrors that decorate the arcade team up in a disconcerting game of reflections, multiplying the space ad infinitum.

Positioned at the south end of Hall of Mirrors, the monumental pair of sandals refers the visitor to the accomplishments of the absent female figure, as grandiose as the glories celebrated by Louis XIV through the paintings of Le Brun, now reflected on Marilyn’s cold metallic surface.


via Seomi 





2014, Machester Art Gallery via Port Magazine



2014, Machester Art Gallery via Port Magazine

“On the north wall of a large room, on the first floor of Manchester Art Gallery,hangs ‘The Sirens and Ulysses’ (1837) by William Etty. It’s a large-scale nude, classic in every sense of the word. Adjacent to it sits an enormous, multi-coloured crochet breast (‘Big Booby #2’, 2011), inspired by ‘Allo! ‘Allo!, the risqué British sitcom set in Nazi-occupied France. “I Love ‘Allo! ‘Allo! says the latter’s creator Joana Vasconcelos. “They’re always trying to find ‘the Madonna with the big boobies’. This is my big booby. Finally I’ve found the right place to show it.”Time Machine, the new exhibition by the Portuguese artist, her largest in the UK to date, is full of these juxtapositions. Through the use of traditional Portuguese techniques and materials – crochet, lace, ceramics – she seeks to debunk the rigid pomposity of fine art, creating informal public art spaces. Contaminate is a dirty word, it conjures images of beef burgers minus the beef, or jars of dubious-looking drinking water scooped from murky rivers in developing countries, but that’s what she does.”




A Noiva (The Bride) by Portuguese artist Joana Vasconcelos, Venice Biennale 2005

The Bride is one of her most famous works. Taking the form of an 18th-century candelabra, it is made entirely of white tampons. Five meters high and over two meters in diameter.



Tomas Saraceno


“Tomas Saraceno is the inaugural Visiting Artist at MIT’s new Center for Art, Science & Technology (CAST). An artist trained as an architect, Saraceno deploys theoretical frameworks and insights from engineering, physics, chemistry, aeronautics and materials science.

His residency at MIT focuses on advancing new work for the ongoing Cloud Cities series, in which Saraceno creates inflatable and airborne biospheres with the morphology of soap bubbles, spider webs, neural networks, or cloud formations, which are speculative models for alternate ways of living. ”

via MIT


Galaxies Forming along Filaments, like Droplets along the Strands of a Spider’s Web, 2009. Installation view, 53. Biennale di Venezia, 2009, with the support of Fondazione Garrone, Genoa, Italy and Fondazione Sambuca, Palermo, Italy, special thanks to pinksummer contemporary art. Courtesy the artist; Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, New York; Andersen’s Contemporary, Copenhagen; Pinksummer contemporary art, Genoa; Esther Schipper, Berlin. Photography © 2009 Alessandro Coco



Tomás Saraceno (b.1973, Argentina)

After attaining his architecture degree at Universidad Nacional de Buenos Aires in Argentina, Tomás received postgraduate degrees in Art and Architecture from Escuela Superior de Bellas Artes de la Nación Ernesto de la Carcova, Buenos Aires (2000) and Städelschule, Frankfurt am Main (2003).
In 2009, he attended the International Space Studies Program at NASA Ames. The same year Saraceno presented a major installation at the 53rd Biennale di Venezia, and was later on awarded the prestigious Calder Prize.
In the last years, Saraceno’s work has been shown in international solo and group exhibitions such as Le Bord des Mondes, at Palais de Tokyo, Paris (2015), In orbit at Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen K21 in Düsseldorf (2013-15) and On Space time foam at Hangar Bicocca in Milan (2012-13), amongst others. His work has also been exhibited in public museums like The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York (2012), the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art in St. Louis (2011-12), and Hamburger Bahnhof, Berlin (2011-12).
Saraceno’s oeuvre could be seen as an ongoing research, informed by the worlds of art, architecture, natural sciences and engineering; his floating sculptures and interactive installations propose and explore new, sustainable ways of inhabiting and sensing the environment towards an aerosolar becoming.


Via the Artist’s website




Tomás Saraceno, “On Space Time Foam” at Hangar Bicocca, Milan, 2012. Curated by Andrea Lissoni. Hosted by Hangar Bicocca Foundation
© Photography by Alessandro Coco, 2012



Tomás Saraceno: In Orbit at Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, K21 Ständehaus, Düsseldorf 2013 © Photography by Studio Tomás Saraceno, 2013



Art Documentaries

Via ABC iview

Born to Fly: Elizabeth Streb Vs Gravity

In an introduction to Streb’s life and work that peaks with a series of breathtaking performances at the London Olympics, seasoned documentarian Catherine Gund constructs a layered evolutionary portrait of an artist.

LM : Amazing amazing imagery. Incredible to see human bodies using simple augmentation, gravity & movement to create mind bending, beautiful works of art. 

The dancers, although sometimes seriously injured in the process of actualising Elizabeth Streb’s practice, refer to a “magic” which exists in the world of this art form – creating an impression of “anything is possible”. 


Patricia Piccinini: A Dark Fairytale

A portrait of world-renowned Australian artist Patricia Piccinini, famous for her bizarre creatures. See a pivotal moment of change as she creates a new body of work that includes Skywhale – a massive hot-air-balloon.


When Bjork Met Attenborough

Award-winning musician Bjork and legendary broadcaster and naturalist David Attenborough tell the remarkable story of how and why music has evolved and explore our unique relationship with music.


LM : Illustrates the use of the patterns and formulas of nature within music by Bjork. Crystals of different geometry inspire different time signatures.

Bjork: “…4/4, which is like a square”
Attenborough: “Or in this case a cube”
Bjork: “yes”

Frei Otto



The Structure of Vagueness

by Lars Spuybroek


Around the beginning of the 1990s, Frei Otto and his team at the Institute for Lightweight Structures in Stuttgart studied what they called “optimized path systems.” Previously, similar to the chain modeling technique Gaudí used for the Sagrada Familia, they had experimented with material systems for calculating form. Each of these material machines was devised so that, through numerous interactions among its elements over a certain time span, the machine restruc- tures, or as Frei Otto says, “finds (a) form.” Most of them consist of materials that process forces by transformation, which is a special form of analog com- puting. Since the materials function as “agents,” it is essential that they have a certain flexibility, a certain amount of freedom to act. It is also essential howev- er, that this freedom is limited to a certain degree set by the structure of the machine itself.

The material interactions frequently result in a geometry that is based on complex material behaviour of elasticity and variability. Sand, balloons, paper, soap film (including the famous minimal surfaces for the Munich Olympic Stadium), soap bubbles, glue, varnish, and the ones I will be referring to here: the wool-thread machines. This last tech- nique was used to calculate the shape of two-dimensional city patterns, but also of three-dimensional cancellous bone structure or branching column systems. They are all similar vectorized systems that economize on the number of paths, meaning they share a geometry of merging and bifurcating.



Wool Thread Experiments | Frei Otto + The Institute for Lightweight Structures







Video: Frei Otto Experimenting with Soap Bubbles

15 March, 2015 by 

Translated by Katie Watkins




“The computer can only calculate what is already conceptually inside of it; you can only find what you look for in computers. Nevertheless, you can find what you haven’t searched for with free experimentation.” – From A Conversation with Frei Otto, by Juan Maria Songel


For Frei Otto, experimentation with models and maquettes was a fundamental part of his work as an architect. In 1961, he began to conduct a series of experiments with soap bubbles (featured in the video above). His experiments centered on suspending soap film and dropping a looped string into it to form a perfect circle. By then trying to pull the string out a minimal surface was created. It was these created surfaces that Otto experimented with.

Through these types of experimentation he was able to build forms and structures that were previously believed to be impossible. “Now it can be calculated, but for more than 40 years it was impossible to calculate it. I have not waited for it to be calculated in order to build it.”



Skeletons, Soap Bubbles and Spider Webs

 Insight, 27. March 2015

…After the rigid, weighty formalism of the Third Reich, post-war architecture in West Germany strove above all for lightness and openness, transparency and elegance. More than any other German architect, Frei Otto embodies this endeavor to create lightweight structures that, being derived from nature, make efficient use of materials – designs that are both stunningly beautiful and functional. His work was soon given labels such as “organic”, “Gothic” and “democratic.”

His first name, Frei, which also means “free,” matched his thinking. For him, an architect was simultaneously an explorer, an inventor, an engineer, a humanist and, above all, an interdisciplinary team-worker. Otto’s designs are all the product of collaboration. He worked with Rob Krier, Günther Behnisch, Christoph Ingenhoven and Shigeru Ban – some of the most interesting architects of the twentieth century. It says a lot for Otto that he engaged with the work of such very different architects and cooperated with them so successfully. He referred to himself as a “source of ideas” who “has built little and instead devises ‘castles in the air’” – an understatement if ever there was one.

…His designs, which followed the principle of “do more with less,” were simultaneously experimental, original and unprecedented. Otto’s sophisticated and almost sculptural lightweight structures, using cable nets, lattice shells, or other tensile constructions, made him one of the most important architects and engineers of the twentieth century. His thinking harmonized structural engineering with spatial composition in a way equaled only by Richard Buckminster Fuller in the 1960s and Santiago Calatrava today. Frei Otto was mostly inspired by natural phenomena such as skeletons, spider webs and bubbles – his works express both lightness and stability, fusing architecture with landscape, wall with ceiling, and interior with exterior.



German Pavilion at Expo 67 in Montreal (Photo: Burkhardt)



Working model of light scoops for the main station Stuttgart (Photo: saai)








The White Review

[Excerpts from]




…The paradoxically titled YIELDING STONE (1992), for instance, consists of a black lump of plasticine formed in the weight of the artist’s own body. The work is rolled onto the street where this highly malleable and greasy material absorbs whatever residue it encounters….

…YIELDING STONE does not mark the external world but is inscribed with it. Put differently,the work inhabits the world but is also inhabited by it. And secondly, unlike AUTOMOBILE TIRE PRINT, a ‘happening’ that took place only in the moment of its occasion, YIELDING STONE awaits its future actualisation.

…If the work is nostalgic it is not because it harks back to some idealised past but because it is nostalgic for the futureYIELDING STONE is in a perpetual process of becoming. Even as it sits on the gallery floor, isolated and quiescent, it is weighed down by gravity and absorbs the dust on which it rests. One might also say that it is marked, every moment, by the sensation of time.

The enigmatic materiality of this artwork is echoed in LINTELS (2001). Here sheets of lint – the grey stuff leftover in the filters of drying machines – have been hung on several rows of washing line, as though Orozco was hanging his dirty laundry in public. Beyond this bathos, what is of interest is the transience of the material used. Lint is made of human hair and dust, which is made of dead skin cells, as well as fluff. This is the detritus of quotidian life, the stuff we would rather forget about, infinitesimal traces of our own mortality. When compressed in the filter the material is held together, but only temporarily. Pablo Picasso once wrote that ‘art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life’. This work, however, will return to dust. The air must be full of it. Like YIELDING STONE, a work conscious of its temporal essence, LINTELS internalises its own impermanence. Construction becomes inseparable from dispersal. The artwork, then, is just a hiatus. Like life.

Yet, like the synecdochal nature of the works I have considered so far, the metonymy between spit and life is an odd one and warrants closer attention. In his CRITICAL DICTIONARY, Georges Bataille wrote the following definition of the term ‘Formless’, a definition that seems particularly relevant to a work like FIRST WAS THE SPITTING. Indeed, one wonders whether Orozco had it in mind:


For academics to be content, the universe would have to assume a form. All of philosophy has no other goal: it is a matter of fitting what is there into a formal coat, a mathematical overcoat. On the other hand to assert that the universe resembles nothing else and is only formless comes down to stating that the universe is something like a spider or spit.[2]


In FIRST WAS THE SPITTING the use of graph paper – a ‘mathematical overcoat’, stands in deliberate contrast to the formless accumulation of spit in the centre of the page. This could be interpreted as a re-introduction of the somatic and the aleatory into the hard-edged, mathematical reductivism of minimalism. This in turn could be read more widely as a reaction against the increased rationalisation of life in a ‘totally administered world’, to borrow Theodor W. Adorno’s now famous expression. At the same time, however, the graphite and ink markings which expand like constellations or rhizomes around each of the stains exist in a precarious balance. Sometimes the organic substance seems to dictate the composition. At other times Orozco has drawn over the spit and replaced the graph paper’s rigid lines, ‘fitting what is there into a formal coat’.


This is arguably indicative of attentiveness to the violence of a representational economy. In other words, the awareness that the formless cannot be manifested directly without giving it shape. Once the formless – the non-identical, becomes an object of reflexive consciousness, it loses its subversive quality precisely because it is identified as formless. This, then, is something like the contradictory endeavour that preoccupied many of the Surrealists: the conscious manifestation of unconscious drives.


Except that I believe Orozco is more aware of the paradox of representing the unrepresentable than the Surrealists were. This is not only because his works undermine the possibility of full representation, although this certainly forms part of it. Rather, is it because the artist purposely produces irresolvable tensions. Another example of a work that supports this argument is BLACK KITES (1997), a human skull covered in a strict geometric pattern of black and white rhombi. Like FINGER RULER DRAWING,here the Cartesian plane – the permanent idea, is adapted to the contours of the skull – the transitory substance. The oppositions that inhere in both these works: the organic and the inorganic; the corporeal and the cerebral; the rational and the irrational; the transitory and the timeless; and, in the case of BLACK KITES, drawing and sculpture (Orozco was to describe the work with the words ‘Object made image’[3]), are products of different kinds of articulations that produce as well as negate each other, deliberately subverting simplistic bifurcations. Where exactly is the interface anyway?


…The problem the works ultimately raise, I think, is this: can culture be political, which is to say critical and even subversive, or is it necessarily co-opted and subsumed by the social system of which it is a product?