Over the last few months I’ve become a big fan of Tom Sachs. If you’re not familiar you could describe him as an artist, a jack-of-all-trades, a thinker and a dreamer. You could also read his Wikipedia page to get the full rundown, it’s a good read. Tomorrow night he’s opening up a show called SPACE PROGRAM: MARS which seems pretty rad.
Artist Tom Sachs takes his SPACE PROGRAM to the next level with a four week mission to Mars that recasts the 55,000 square foot Wade Thompson Drill Hall as an immersive space odyssey with an installation of dynamic and meticulously crafted sculptures. Using his signature bricolage technique and simple materials that comprise the daily surrounds of his New York studio, Sachs engineers the component parts of the mission—exploratory vehicles, mission control, launch platforms, suiting stations, special effects, recreational amenities, and Mars landscape—exposing as much the process of their making as the complexities of the culture they reference.
At the same time he’s got this amazing collaboration with Nike called Tom Sachs: NIKECraft. The collab features an eclectic range of products – The Mars Yard Shoe, the Trench, The Marsfly Jacket, and the Lightweight Tote.
Nike design and Sachs applied materials that have never been used in sportswear, taken from automotive air bags, mainsails for boats and the space suit itself. Each piece is packed with functionality that would prove useful in the voyage through space. Zipper pulls that double as storage containers, paracord that can be fashioned as a tourniquet and embellishments like the periodic table of elements screened on the inside of a jacket – they all merge visual interest with purpose.
To say I want this whole collection would be an understatement. How cool would it be to walk around in space shoes?
I’ve had a recent affection for pottery lately, sort of an itch I haven’t scratched when it comes to inspirations. Seeing these tiny smoked-fired white earthenware pots with gold interiors makes my little obsession all the worse. These tiny vessels were created by Syma Small Works, a small pottery business from New York, who as far as I can tell only really have a small Etsy shop. I think what I appreciate most about these is the stark contrast between colors and textures. You have a naturally white surface which has been smoke fired, giving it an ashy appearance, which is then contrasted by the rich brilliance of the gold interior. This blend of surfaces gives the pots both a rustic but refined appearance.
Abstract expressionist painter Jasper Johns turns 82 today. I thought it would be nice to include him in gold week, and even though the painting above is titled ‘White Flag’ it still looks gold to me. The New York times wrote a nice piece about Johns back in 2008, I especially loved this quote regarding the art world.
Unlike so many contemporary artists producing in today’s overheated art market, Mr. Johns relies neither on dozens of assistants nor a computer to make his creations. He executes his work by hand. “It’s a different art world from the one I grew up in,” he said, relaxing in his living room in a pair of khaki shorts, a light blue shirt and sandals. “Artists today know more. They are aware of the market more than they once were. There seems to be something in the air that art is commerce itself.
“I haven’t really been a part of it, although I’m sure in some way I am. It just doesn’t interest me.”
Asked what influence he feels he may have had on those young artists, Mr. Johns paused. “To me,” he said, “self-description is a calamity.”
Considering that we are posting about gold all this week on The Fox Is Black, it seems kind of understandable that we’d come across a couple of bizarre things as we scavenged the web for the precious metal. Yet I’m not sure anything could have quite prepared me for this golden bicycle made by the Scandinavian design company AURUMANIA.
Hand built, plated with 24 carat gold and hand-adorned with more then 600 Swarovski crystals; the ‘AURUMANIA Gold Bike Crystal Edition’ costs €80,000 (roughly US $103,700). Understandably it is said to be the most expensive bike in the world, and with only ten in existence it’s a real collectors items. Originally released in 2008, AURUMANIA are still taking orders from their website, so if you have a few spare grand lying around you know what you can do with it.
This poster from Peter Tarka, a graphic designer and illustrator from Poland, combines two things that I’m not very good at, typography and 3D graphics. It’s simple phrase, ‘Look At Me Now’, is a beautiful mixture of tangled shapes all delightfully rendered in gold. It’s great because there’s such an eclectic mix of type as well. I love that the O’s are these great tetrahexahedron thingies, the M is this fantastic curl, and the W is a chevron looking symbol. Such imagination, so creativity.
When the town of Luckenwalde wanted to convert their old, dusty train station into a public library, they turned to ff-Architeckten. When the architects wanted a way to signify that this building had been transformed into something new, they turned to creating a giant, guilded parallelogram added to the existing structure. Although if we want to be entirely correct we should point that that a three-dimensional parallelogram is called a parallelepiped and the surface of this particular urban-scaled parallelepiped is clad in copper and not actual gold. But it’s still shiny! Photos above are by über talented photographer Andreas Meichsner.
Gold week started out with some luck as Gold Panda released a couple of new tracks this morning, ‘Mountain’ and ‘Financial District’. The tracks differ greatly from each other, embodying two different aspects of his sound. The first track ‘Mountain’ was named while he was flying over Mt. Fuji. With that image in mind you get a good sense of how the song might sound. The best word I can think of is “glistening”, like drops of water reflecting the sunlight. ‘Financial District’ though is lopping and synthetic sounding, and endless rhythm, a droning melody with a crunchy base. Here’s how Mr. Panda describes it:
Listening to ‘Mountain’ again on a trip to Japan over New Year, we flew directly over Mt.Fuji and it seemed to just fit what I was seeing out of the window. ‘Financial District’ was just the opposite of the vast expanse of the mountain I guess. Crowded, synthetic and shiny… repetitive – and of course both can erupt at anytime.
When I first started thinking about a week of gold the first person who popped into my head was Tobias Wong. The Canadian designer made a splashing his shortly loved life by creating work which he called “paraconceptual”. When I first started seeing Wong’s I had a lot of trouble with it. It was brash, it was unforgiving. I would ask my friends, “How is that art, he’s just gold plating plastic crap!” I didn’t get it.
A perfect example are his Coke Spoons, two of which you see above, mundane objects cast in gold. When I first saw these I was confused. The missing part of the story for me was the backstory, the reason why he chose the objects he chose. For example, the McDonalds coffee stirrer, an icon of mundane design, was frequently found in drug-related crime scenes. So they started slowly phasing it out, eventually replacing it with a new design.
What Wong did was gold plate the McDonalds coffee stirrer, imbuing it with the idea of luxury. What was a PR nightmare for McDonalds was elevated to something coveted by the rich. At the end of the day though, it’s still just a coffee stirrer, right? And that’s why it’s art. It questions the very fundamentals of our culture. Does the simple addition of gold to a product bring value to it?
No stranger to gold, he also created Gold Pills. Taking luxury to an absurd level, he filled capsules full of gold flakes so you can literally shit gold. It’s this kind of hilarity and commentary that made him such a genius, at least in my eyes. We can only hope the world is lucky enough to have another interesting character like Wong enter the product design world soon.