Designing & Prototyping tools for intervention: Letter Library + Gif Party

Styrofoam letter tests for our Letter Library Project (1)

Wednesday afternoon shifts into further work on testing the efficacy of the styrofoam letters being black. We’re trying to decide in anticipation of our Letter Library (A Collection of Alphabetic Interventions).

 

Styrofoam letter tests for our Letter Library Project (2)

Sara and Hiba painted.

Styrofoam letter tests for our Letter Library Project (3)

HELLO.

Styrofoam letter tests for our Letter Library Project (4)

Also, Kiki came by to help us paint the movable wall!

Styrofoam letter tests for our Letter Library Project (5)

And, Josh made these for a workshop he’s giving through our friends at the Arts Council Windsor & Region.

Styrofoam letter tests for our Letter Library Project (6)

The pile of cut-offs.

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After the letters dried, I went outside and started to do some test installation. The black works well in the space, but outside, the shadows can destroy some of the legibility.

Styrofoam letter tests for our Letter Library Project (8)

On lighter surfaces though, it works well.

Styrofoam letter tests for our Letter Library Project (9)

Those shadows are difficult though.

Styrofoam letter tests for our Letter Library Project (10)

From across the street.

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On glass.

Styrofoam letter tests for our Letter Library Project (12)

Inside, we discuss the possibility of keeping the letters white, but using a black background to help them stand out.

Styrofoam letter tests for our Letter Library Project (13)

This could work, but would be a huge pain installing. This remains unresolved.

Styrofoam letter tests for our Letter Library Project (14)

On to other ideas … we start wondering about creating a tool to assist with installing the letters in high places.

Styrofoam letter tests for our Letter Library Project (15)

An old dental tool and some tape for the test.

Styrofoam letter tests for our Letter Library Project (16)

It works fairly well…

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But, it needs refining.

Styrofoam letter tests for our Letter Library Project (18)

Some evidence of where the letters were punctured.

Styrofoam letter tests for our Letter Library Project (19)

Gash.

Styrofoam letter tests for our Letter Library Project (20)

So, Josh starts a redesign.

Styrofoam letter tests for our Letter Library Project (21)

And Sara left notes about what to finish up on the postcard.

Styrofoam letter tests for our Letter Library Project (22)

A detail of Josh’s latest design for our letter installation tool.

Styrofoam letter tests for our Letter Library Project (23)

For a quick demo, a dust pan will suffice.

Styrofoam letter tests for our Letter Library Project (24)

It will cradle the letter, but also act as a brace to help stick the letter to the wall.

Styrofoam letter tests for our Letter Library Project (25)

Josh testing.

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The scrap and push.

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Looks promising.

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It works!

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Josh demonstrates the techinque.

Styrofoam letter tests for our Letter Library Project (30)

Then, another revision…

Styrofoam letter tests for our Letter Library Project (31)

It’s though that we need the option to have a smaller surface to work with letters that will not stand up on their own in the dust pan scenario.

Styrofoam letter tests for our Letter Library Project (32)

Out the door…

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…more tape.

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A reaching test.

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Adjusting the placement of the letter on the screw.

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Attempt #2.

Styrofoam letter tests for our Letter Library Project (38)

And it’s up!

Styrofoam letter tests for our Letter Library Project (39)

The letter O.

Styrofoam letter tests for our Letter Library Project (40)

Josh reviews the rig.

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Then, loftier attempts.

Styrofoam letter tests for our Letter Library Project (42)

 

Styrofoam letter tests for our Letter Library Project (43)

 

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And, in closing … some animated gifs from Hiba, Kevin, and Josh’s scrape dust-pan attempts.

Styrofoam letter tests for our Letter Library Project (45)

 

Styrofoam letter tests for our Letter Library Project (46)

 

Styrofoam letter tests for our Letter Library Project (47)

Yes, it was a good day.

Project Launch June 21st: The Letter Library (A Collection of Alphabetic Interventions)

Save the Date: June 21st, 2012 at 7pm

CIVIC SPACE (411 Pelissier St, downtown Windsor)

On June 21st at 7pm, we’ll be kicking things CIVIC SPACE with the Letter Library (A Collection of Alphabetic Interventions). This open community project invites anyone and everyone to come borrow from our letterset to caption the city around them.

With Windsor at the edge of so many transitions, how might we collectively reclaim and create our own public narratives about the future of our city through this playful intervention?

Anyone participating will be issued a Letter Library Card and will able to sign out 12″ 3D letters from our collection to create their own temporary installation, document it with one of our single-use cameras, and ultimately help to build an archive of new captions for the city’s build environment.

More soon.

Early Research: Letters from Styrofoam (letter library)

These are early days for a spontaneous new project, but here’s how we’re starting. Rosina, Hiba, and I met on Friday and after going through our usual to-do list, we started discussing some new projects. These new projects are all going to be tied together, and we’ll be writing about what that tie might look like soon.

The starting point for this new project — maybe called the Letter Library Project, or maybe something very different — came from thinking about how we might collectively be framing the city of Windsor as it transitions (slowly) and what we might want to reframe, piece by piece. The city is once again at the top of the unemployment statistics, but there are some large infrastructural projects that are going to dramatically change the physicality of the city itself and in turn, the way we experience it, though it remains to be seen if this will actually change the city, or just reframe it for us.

And the background of this project might actually go back even a bit further, in terms of material, as Rosina and I had met earlier in the week to talk about working on some signage. Research led us to wanting to experiment with styrofoam — givens its rigidity and ease to work with.

We saw a lot of videos online of people cutting styrofoam into different shapes (and certainly letters) with hot wires, electric knives, and yes jigsaws.

We had a jigsaw and so we went to it. The styrofoam we got was packaged at Home Depot as basically made for crafts and very small home projects. We weren’t sure that it would be dense enough for the cuts — at the time, we had assumed that the denser (and pink) insulation type of styrofoam would work better, but it was too expensive to bother testing with.

Given the scale of what we’re planning to do, the cost would have been enormous, so we went with the cheaper stuff to just get a feel for possible scale and process, even if the material itself may need to be changed down the road. But, as you can see above, the jigsaw with a 24 TPI metal blade did the trick and cut the styrofoam with a decent level of precision without the messy edges we had anticipated.

Hiba and I both took some test cuts before deciding to attempt a more complex shape.

We selected the letter R for a test.

Hand-drawn for now.

Rosina made the cuts.

Easy.

Rosina with the saw.

Hiba arrived a few minutes later.

We had a test letter.

Another bonus of this type of styrofoam was the thickness allows the letter to stand up.

I think Rosina was really happy.

The cuts were fairly good, though we briefly wondered about finding a better way to avoid an angle on the edge of the letters — that is, the face of the depth of each letter would undulate a bit as we failed to hold the saw consistently at 90 degrees. A ban saw would be good for this, but it’s not essential.

I was trying to get a sense of how much we were moving the saw and what the effect was on the angle of the depth.

The letter R moves into the wild…

… and then returns for a quick coat of paint.

Spray paint would eat the styrofoam, but craft paint was no problem.

More painting.

The letter R dries.

Then, some duct tape.

Given how incredibly light-weight the styrofoam is, duct-tape makes for a great mounting device. On brick.

On wood.

On metal.

On a tree didn’t work as well, there wasn’t a lot of surface area for the tape.

So, that’s the very early stages of a new project. The next steps will be cutting out a bunch of letter templates with the vinyl cutter in card stock, stencilling, cutting, and then a painting party, and then the project launch. Assuming all goes to plan.

And then there’s this … more soon.

Everything I Wanted Is Right Here (street installation shot)

A little preview of our exhibition, Unrest Everywhere, up now at Eye Level Gallery.

More shots of the process and install soon, hopefully over the weekend.

Ephemeral Situations (fireworks & doves), Awarded

It’s always a bit strange to get so many random emails about great work, and so often there’s not enough time to really explore. Today, though, I’m glad I took a couple minutes to look this over.

The Szpilman Award is awarded to works that exist only for a moment or a short period of time. The purpose of the award is to promote such works whose forms consist of ephemeral situations.

Above, Péter Szabó lit fireworks and fired confetti-canons and smoke-machines for the workers who arrived early in the morning at factories and a bus-station in Romania and Hungary. As some of these factories were to be shut down soon, his labor of love towards the stressed and worried workers appears almost like an alien artistic ritual in the midst of a hopeless daily routine.

The winner of the award, Jaroslav Kyša uses doves as living barriers in the city of London by secretly scattering their favourite fodder in front of shops or across busy streets.

Outside the Planter Boxes

At the end of last month, 30 planter interventions were created by a group of Toronto-based artists, gardeners, and concerned citizens. These individuals each took a neglected planter and adorned it, modified it, or annotated its condition. This statement is made stronger by a collective approach to highlighting the issue of urban engagement.

The following is from the project’s website: “We all have stakes in our shared environments, and this public project directly engages with Toronto’s urban fabric. One of the primary intents of the Outside the Planter Boxes project is to encourage more direct participation and interest in our shared public spaces – to demonstrate that the public can play a more consciously active role in how our city is shaped.”

Via: Eyeteeth: A Journal of Incisive Ideas

Pictured above: Sean Martindale’s Planter

Continue reading “Outside the Planter Boxes”

REPOhistory: Lower Manhattan Sign Project

Stock Market Crashes by Jim Costanzo as part of REPOhistory’s Lower Manhattan Sign Project

I’m making my way through Gregory Sholette‘s epic Dark Matter: Art and Politics in the Age of Enterprise Culture. Writing as a participating artist and now dark matter art archivist / dare I say historian of sorts, Sholette writes on an incredible number of projects that work at the edges of the art institution in every sense.

Many of the projects explicitly connect art + everyday life + politics and Sholette offers a generous overview of the practices that build the foundation of dark matter in the art world that art institutions and art superstars rely on for their continued existence.

One of the (many) projects that caught my eye (and on which I’ll be posting) is REPOhistory’s Lower Manhattan Sign Project, which curated these alternative history/information signs into a number of public spaces across New York City.

From the project description: “Placed in front of the New York Stock Exchange, this sign challenges the myths of the free market economy and that stockbrokers jumped out of windows along Wall Street after the 1929 stock market crash. The sign documents that government deregulation and fraud led to market crashes and depressions at the turn of the 20th century, the 1920 and the 1980s.”

In thinking about the projects we’ve done and have considered before, these alternative public demarcation projects continue to feel not only relevant, but necessary. REPOhistory’s project was installed in the early 90s — it’s strange that that is now a long time ago and that urgency seems like a form of nostalgia.

Candy Chang’s Before I Die in NOLA

Josh posted on Candy Chang‘s last project, I Wish This Was, late last year and it was really inspiring. Such a simple gesture is such a powerful tool for re-imagining a community.

Today, I saw Chang’s latest project, Before I Die in NOLA — another lovely participatory public art project. Perhaps not quite as transformative as I Wish This Was, but the density in this project perhaps makes up for it.

Continue reading “Candy Chang’s Before I Die in NOLA”

Trespass: A History of Uncommissioned Urban Art

Anyone who has an interest in the world of guerilla street art probably already knows about the recently published Trespass: A History of Uncommissioned Urban Art. The book, published by Taschen of course, contains photographs of many ephemeral works that might have been easily lost forever. The street art movement is more than deserving of a dedicated book, especially one that encompasses more than four decades of temporary work.

According to Taschen, “Trespass examines the rise and global reach of graffiti and urban art, tracing key figures, events and movements of self-expression in the city’s social space, and the history of urban reclamation, protest, and illicit performance. The first book to present the full historical sweep, global reach and technical developments of the street art movement, Trespass features key works by 150 artists, and connects four generations of visionary outlaws.”

Image Above: Paolo Buggiani, Minotaur, Brooklyn Bridge, New York City, 1980