Street Installations by SpY

SpY - Balloons

SpY is an urban artist who has been practicing forms of intervention, mostly traditional graffiti, since the mid-1980s. More recently, he has chosen to work within the confines of urban elements, often playing with their intentions and using them as a “palette of materials”.

I suggest checking out this book for a nice overview of urban intervention art like this. Much of it has a strong element of humour, wit, or playfulness. To me, the strength of this type of work lies in its ability to ambush your everyday life, disrupt your routine, or at the least, make you reconsider what the things around us are made of.

Image Above: Balloons (2008)

via: Colossal

SpY - 0 Likes

SpY – 0 Likes (2013)

SpY - Live

SpY – Live (2012)

Panel Discussion: What is our Urban Imaginary?

On Thursday, Justin heads up the 401 for WHAT IS OUR URBAN IMAGINARY?

Thursday | December 6 | 7 – 9pm at the Kitchener-Waterloo Art Gallery

Join the conversation as we consider how building design, urban spaces, and creative interventions in the city shape our collective experiences and imagination. Guest panelists include artist Justin Langlois, co-founder and research director of Broken City Lab; architect and independent curator Scott Sorli, who teaches at the University of Waterloo and is co-founder of Toronto’s street window gallery convenience; and writer Steven Logan, a member of The Visible City Project that seeks to understand the different roles that artists play in imagining and helping to design 21st century cities. The discussion is moderated by KW|AG Executive Director Shirley Madill, an active proponent of art as a key strategy for urban renewal.

The panel features:

Shirley Madill: moderator, executive director of the Kitchener- Waterloo Art Gallery

Scott Sorli: architect, curator and co-founder of Toronto’s street window gallery convenience

Steven Logan: academic, urban researcher and member of The Visible City Project

Justin Langlois: artist, co-founder and research director of Broken City Lab

Urban Stargazing

Here’s a project which is particularly interesting for its subtlety. Designer Oscar Lhermitte created twelve groups of artificial stars and added them to the night sky of London, titling the project Urban Stargazing. Oscar and his team installed a group of lights on thin transparent lines. These lines were then anchored to nearby structures. I find the modification of an ‘image’ humans have lived with and interpreted for thousands of years is a pretty powerful statement.

This project “attempts to have us raise our head again up to the stars in the city sky by adding new constellations that narrate contemporary myths about London. They can only be observed by the naked eye at night time and from the ground they look so uncannily like the old constellations that you might never notice that any change has occurred.”

Via: We Make Money, Not Art

Continue reading “Urban Stargazing”

Dynamite Wildflower Guerillas

Guerilla gardener(s) started a website documenting their efforts. It’s simple and makes me very ready to embrace the impending summer.

They write:

throw sseeds some of them take some dont take some grow then somebody cut it down the bastards. why would someone cut it down i dont know.

if it rains too much the seds get washed away.

we went to the sign twice because we thought seeds didnt take but when we got there we found that some grew.  I was surprised and excited to see the plants there

At night I put seeds in an icetray & make ice cubes with sseeds in it.  In the morning I throw the icecubes out the window while im driving

when i see dirt.

They’ve kept a lovely map, noting when and where their plants are blooming.

Here’s to a very nature-filled summer.

Double Happiness

Here is a magnificent use of billboard space created by architect Didier Faustino. He has titled the work/installation/swing-set Double Happiness for pretty obvious reasons. Clever ideas like this usually don’t come from passivity towards the city, but an engaged, analytical, and curious attitude. I found this summary of the conceptual framework behind the project:

“Double Happiness responds to the society of materialism where individual desires seem to be prevailing over all. This nomad piece of urban furniture allows the reactivation of different public spaces and enables inhabitants to reappropriate fragments of their city. They will both escape and dominate public space through a game of equilibrium and desequilibrium. By playing this “risky” game, and testing their own limits, two persons can experience together a new perception of space and recover an awareness of the physical world.”

Via: Eyeteeth: A Journal of Incisive Ideas

Sergio Lopez-Pineiro’s “Olmsted’s Blank Snow” Project

Soon enough we’ll be getting into the thick of winter and Sergio Lopez-Pineiro–an assistant professor of architecture at the University at Buffalo–is not going to let the snowfall go to waste this year. He is planning a large scale project in Buffalo’s Front Park which involves plowing snow into 15 giant mounds, forming a pattern of oversized polka dots.

At 42 feet wide and 7 feet tall, these mounds will dramatically alter the landscape of the park and its nearby waterfront. The title “Olmsted’s Blank Snow” refers to the famed landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted, who designed Front Park with his partner Calvert Vaux. I have included more mock-up photographs below.

Continue reading “Sergio Lopez-Pineiro’s “Olmsted’s Blank Snow” Project”

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

Commanding: Urban Signs


Commanding is a group of artists/educators/students at NYU who hope to create a dialogue about the changing environments in which they live.

They post signs based on simple computer commands that relate directly to the gentrification, development and hopefully preservation of the neighborhoods that we interact with everyday.

A really basic idea, but quite effective to comment and critique, again another quiet project.

[via Make]

Urban Camping

urban camping

Architecture firm, Import Export, came up with a structure specifically designed for urban camping. The mobile architecture is meant to be dropped into urban spaces to provide new opportunities for for overnight city experiences.

There are a lot more photos that do the project better justice.

Long ago, we talked about urban camping, but we certainly never discussed this level of infrastructure. Maybe this project is slightly more realistic than the way I’m imagining urban camping in Windsor, but it’d be a shame if no one utilized any of the newly created acquired naturalized areas across the city for a makeshift campsite.

[via rebel:art]

Urban Mediations

urban mediations

Thursday, May 14 going to be an incredible day: Urban Mediations, a one-day symposium on urban media studies is taking place in Windsor. Co-organized by the University of Windsor’s own, Dr. Michael Darroch, the symposium will involve a collection of researchers, artists, designers, and activists talking about what it means to research the urban.

I’ll be speaking on Broken City Lab, and Danielle will be talking about architecture of urban refugees, among many other fine thinkers, doers, and writers.