January 23, 2011

Random art

I think having grown up in Singapore gives you this really weird mentality and view of the world. Besides the fact that public education in Singapore, unlike many parts of the world and sadly including Berkeley, is a super well-funded, excellent system (and so we as Singaporeans take good public education for granted and whine about having to study so hard at school- the alternative is not being challenged academically or extracurricularly, or not being able to participate in international competitions, etc, so I will never again whine about how hard the education system in Singapore is), we also take for granted that streets will be clean and safe and pretty all the time. When I go for lectures and realize that there is OLD GUM under the desk, it is seriously the most uncomfortable and disgusting knowledge in the world!! It's like- I can't put anything on my lap (because the top of it may touch the old gum), when I flip the desk back down, I can't let it touch ANYTHING of mine, I have to cross my legs super carefully in case the gum gets on my jeans etc. So when I read of this guy who actually PAINTS old dried gum (which is, btw, STUCK ON THE FLOOR), my first reaction was: EWWWWW.

But then it became: wow okay that's quite cool, even though it's still pretty gross.

Ben Wilson transforms gum stuck on the floors of London into art by actually painting the old gum stuck on the floor. According to Kuriositas:

"First he finds a piece of gum (not too hard in London) which is obviously old and has little moisture left inside it. He heats it up with a burner and then lacquers it, which hardens the gum and creates a suitable surface for his acrylic paint. His special treatment ensures that the gum and paint come together in a way which gives his art something approaching permanent street presence."

These are my favorites!!

Isn't this crazy? (picture for size proportion comparison). I can't imagine bending over that teensy tiny canvas for hours on end to create art that not very many people would notice/ care about. But maybe that's what art's about? The sole purpose is just to create and put your work out there in the hopes that someone will see it and be touched by it. I know if I saw this on a sullen, rainy London day I would be super excited and happy...

London people, go look out for this on the floor!!

This reminds me of so much interesting art, like when we were at MoMA in New York over winter break and I kept spotting these tiny scrawled messages around exhibits:

Which was super nice and provided a nice counterpoint to the famous works of art that were being displayed. Especially since it was winter
(and FREEZING: we were in New York during the cold blizzardy days. The night before we were supposed to leave for Washington D.C., we went to watch Billy Elliot on Broadway and emerged to an EMBANKMENT of snow. We trudged home nearly bent over at a 90 degree angle because the wind was gusting snow horizontally at our faces and the wind chill was 7 degrees, which means that any exposed area of skin would get frostbite within 20 minutes. Insert space for mildly horrified silence.)
But anyway, the last one really got me envisioning spring and thinking about how gorgeous Berkeley's trees would look in the spring, when the tree beside Crossroads (the dining hall that I frequented all freshman year) would be in full, yummy white bloominess and it made the cold slightly more cheerful.

I think guerilla art is so interesting!! There's so much of this going around now and I like how art has become a much larger democratizing force. Like you don't have to be hanging in the Louvre or be Italian to be considered an artist. Some people seriously hate Duchamp but I am really enjoying this new public ownership of art, like that you don't have to be in art school to be an artist, and that you can use art to make the world better and not just to hang in some white walled museum where you have to pay an entrance fee to view it (I mean, of course there's space for that, but I like that we're moving away from that into a more democratic medium of expression)

I think that's why, out of all my friends, when yarnbombing started happening in Berkeley I got super excited! (Nobody else really cared. Sigh.) Because suddenly the lamp posts around Berkeley were getting gussied up with pretty yarn!
(All images from the Streetcolor blog)

Outside the Ferry Terminal Building in San Francisco; isn't it adorable? I like all the pompoms. I was really lucky to see this because I don't think it's there anymore and I hardly ever go to that part of SF! (though I should- I haven't had Boudin's in super long, i.e. THE best New England clam chowder outside of New England)

Outside Sproul Hall, along Bancroft (saw this last semester on my way to school! Blue and gold represent!!) But after it started raining (I think we had one tiny storm last semester, but nothing compared to the ridiculous storm that we got Fall freshman year or the constant rain all last spring), it started looking a little sad and I think it eventually got taken down ):

Outside Venus on Shattuck, where we had brunch today! I had a super delicious scramble and had the BEST MUFFIN OF ALL TIME. Seriously, it was so good. Usually I hate muffins because they are dense and hard, but the Venus muffin was SO GOOD, all moist and fruity and crispy on the outside!! D had realllyyyy good stuffed french toast with poached pears. Yumm, makes up for not being able to get a table at La Note (my other #1 top brunch place, even though my brother the neanderthal hated it when we went there on his last day in Berkeley).
But I didn't get to see it today, I think it's been taken down already ):

One of my dreams for CREATE is that we'll be able to start doing fun community art projects like these to make Berkeley a prettier place to live in, or remind Cal students that life really is full of beauty even if you do have to search a little harder to find it (especially during midterm season...) I think Singapore has a movement like this too, where an anonymous guy/girl puts up postit notes around random places in Singapore with cute graphics and slogans, which I think is super sweet!

Yay I like art. I wish I could be a History of Art major AND a business major (still crossing fingers on this though) AND an English major. Actually...since I'll be doing 3.5 years, I may be able to squeeze in a HA minor????? That's only 2 more classes a semester!! omg the world has opened up so much with one more extra semester, now I think I can even take French!!!!!

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