At a certain time of day, usually in the afternoon, both of my dogs get up from a nap and stretch in unison. They do not plan to do this together but they do on several occasions. It’s a remarkable little sight that always reminds me of two little people bowing: it makes me feel like a king. Unfortunately, it is almost impossible to photograph this despite my best efforts. They are either not standing next to each other or it’s too dark. More often than not, the scene is too fast and my timing too imperfect: it is a moment I will just have to explain to people.
This is why photographer Tao Liu is particularly special: his work the result of pressing the capture button at the right time. Be it out of waiting or being really good at knowing when to take a photo, his photography is exciting in that it points out how ridiculous the most mundane shit in life can be. His photos are funny and relatable and, as you can see on his Flickr, quite abundant.
According to Peta Pixel, Liu is fairly popular street photographer in China—where he lives—and is a self-taught artist. His photography and style are born from his (assumed) former job as a water meter reader. He would take photos of little things that caught his eye on breaks and when walking to or from work. Obviously what he saw has hit something very relatable as he has become incredibly popular at pointing out life’s little idiosyncrasies.
If you recall almost a year ago, we shared similar work by photographer John Goldsmith. Both artists point out how ridiculous life can be and that, if you stop to take the time or simply look at something another way, you can have a good laugh at it. And, again: photography like this relies on expert timing. If I had an ounce of Liu’s capturing capability, I’m pretty sure I would have a pretty sweet double downward dog bowing photo Instagrammed by now.
This is ZeBar, a Shanghai hangout designed by 3gatti. 3gatti, led by Francesco Gatti, has offices in both Rome and Shanghai (one of their other projects in China won a competition for the design of a car museum in Nanjing). The project is a pretty straightforward construction of a computer modeling operation. The designers made an amorphous shape, and subtracted that shape from a series of parallel solid walls that fill the project’s boundaries. The effect of the stripes is very graphic and bold, but I would imagine the lines get a little more blurry after a few drinks.
One curious fact about the bar’s construction highlights a difference between construction norms in Europe and China. According to Francesco:
“In Europe the natural consequence of this kind of design will be giving the digital model to the factory and thanks to the numeric control machines cut easily the huge amount of sections all different from each other. But we were in China where the work of machines is replaced by the work of low paid humans. Using a projector they placed all the sections we drew on the plasterboards and then cut each of them by hand.”
The Chinese have a long history of space travel, dating back all the way to the late 50s. So finding a cool space suit definitely wasn’t a problem. The space suit above was created by Wu Ershan as a part of a series called Nomadic Plan in Outer Space. The suits are meant to represent the nomadic lifestyle of the Mongolian people.
I love how the space suit looks, almost like a space age bushido. The layered plates on the shoulders and legs are not only beautiful ornamentally, but also look like they could protect the wearer quite sufficiently. The porthole in the face mask along with the grill kind of look like a smiling face though, which is in contrast to the rest. Perhaps one day we’ll see something like these in 20 or 30 years?
Found through We Make Money Not Art
Some of you may remember from a while back the series of videos created by Albin Holmqvist for the EF International Language Centers, a series of stunning shorts that were told through language and beautiful imagery. I figured it would be a perfect time to revisit the Beijing centered episode, a really fun, romanticized view of a foreigner’s journey to Beijing. The series is so well done that they make any place in the world seem like the perfect spot for your next vacation, especially China.
Beijing-based artist and creative director Nod Young has a great portfolio filled with beautiful personal projects as well as commercial work for the likes of NIKE, Adidas and Coca Cola. My favorite piece of his might be this typographical project, The Puti Tree.
Based on the text of two poems from the Zen Buddhist tome Platform Sutra, The Puti Tree teaches “not to believe all that which exists, not even the reflection of ourselves in a mirror”. It’s a teaching that hopes to bring a state of Zen. According to the poem, one must attempt to release themselves from the perceived limitations of existence. For Young, this is also something that can help bring creative freedom. “It is difficult to achieve true creative freedom”, he said when discussing this work, “we are overly concerned with aesthetics and meaning.” For Young, these poems bring a sense of clarity. I feel he reflects this beautifully in the work, pairing down the words to their most basic visual elements.
More about Nod Young’s work can be seen on his website. Prints are also available on that page.
Nicholas Hanna seems like he gets bored easily. With a Bachelor of Science in Architecture from McGill University and a Master of Architecture from Yale, the guy has the knowledge and curiosity to make some really cool stuff, like the Water Calligraphy Device. Water calligraphy is a thing in China, where old guys chill out in parks with brushes on poles, writing beautiful marks onto the ground.
Nicholas has created the modern day equivalent. Rigging up a trike with a computer and some water jets, he rolls around the city writing bits of propaganda like, “Civilization comes from every individual, to contribute from every little thing.” It’s a really amazing idea, and it’s cool to see how people react as he passes them by. Although, I feel like if this sort of concept was brought to America it would be abused and used for evil purposes like Burger King advertisements.
To see the rest of the messages he writes, click here.
It’s hard not to love tilt-shift, and this video of Beijing by Pixcube Animation Studio is a perfect example. When I watch videos like this they make me think of moving postcards, like something you might see out of Harry Potter. The imagery tends to be pretty picturesque and the fact that you can’t really make anyone out adds to the iconic feeling of the images. I have no idea where any of these locations are, though. Can anyone help us figure out what we’re looking at exactly?
I’m really curious and excited to see this new documentary by Alison Klayman about Chinese artist Ai Weiwei and the repercussions that his outspoken life has caused. You may remember his work most recently from the field of hand-painted sunflower seeds he exhibited at the Tate Modern Turbine Hall in London. The documentary follows the artist, exploring his life and motives in order to dig deeper to see the life behind one of the most liberal men in China.
From 2008 to 2010, Beijing-based journalist and filmmaker Alison Klayman gained unprecedented access to Ai Weiwei. Klayman documented Ai’s artistic process in preparation for major museum exhibitions, his intimate exchanges with family members and his increasingly public clashes with the Chinese government. Klayman’s detailed portrait of the artist provides a nuanced exploration of contemporary China and one of its most compelling public figures.
For more information about the documentary, click here.