Mind the Gap

It sounds like the Olympics this summer are going to be an amazing event. The British do know how to put on a show…

While I was looking for photos of the stadium, I came across this proposal for an installation in Trafalgar square. I am almost certain this design was not chosen to be executed, but the write-up that the architects did is pretty perfect.

This is the work of DCPP, a Mexican architecture and design firm. From their website:

Mind the Gap is a temporary information pavilion for the London 2012 Olympic Games, located in Trafalgar Square in the heart of London.

Every athlete talks of a feeling – an experience – that can be defined as the moment of truth.  This is the moment on the track and diving block before the sound of the gun, the second before a penalty kick, the moment before the whistle. 

It is this moment when the decision has been made and there is no turning back.  It is a moment that only lasts a fraction of a second, but during which time stands still, the hopes of millions and the weight of history upon you, the moment you have been preparing for your entire life. 

We want visitors to the London 2012 Olympic Games pavilion to experience this feeling, this moment of truth.  We have created a space that forces the visitor to take a step into the unknown, embodying the point of no return where reality is distorted and time stops. 

We want to create a space that captures the complex emotions of uncertainty, anguish, emotion, and agitation, wrapped up in a threshold that must be individually broken in order to complete the experience.

To capture this moment we created an elevated circular structure composed of five intertwined rings.  From each ring falls a curtain of water, producing a threshold that visitors have to cross, presenting each person with the challenge to take a step into the unknown. 

Once the threshold has been crossed, visitors enter into a sensory space that is completely different than before.  The water here acts as a filter that modifies our perception, our senses are heightened and altered in the interior.  The water curtains will also act a projection screens for all the major events and highlights. 

The construction is light and simple, a ringed steel structure that holds the hoses and faucets and the vertical supports that keep it elevated.  All water is collected at the bottom and pumped back up and there will be plenty of refreshing mist for hot days.

Right?!? I was a competitive swimmer for 10 years, and that moment right before the race starts truly is an eternity that lasts a fraction of a second. I love this project and the ideas behind it, but I imagine there would be some major infrastructure to construct and maintain. It was probably cost prohibitive.

But what an amazing idea.


All images from the DCPP website

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Giant Windchimes

This is Chimecco; a huge set of windchimes.

One of the first decorating things that I did the last time I moved was to rehang my windchimes. I love hearing them chime in the breeze, it is just so peaceful.

It is one of the things that makes my new house feel like home.

Part of the appeal of this work is how hidden it is. If you don’t know it is there you can start walk across the bridge without noticing. However, the vibrations of your footfalls activate the chimes.

It is the work of English architect/designer Mark Nixon, and was part of Sculpture by the Sea in Aarhus, Denmark. From Nixion’s website:

Chimecco hides silently beneath the bridge in the forest until activated by human movements or the wind causing it to sing, dance and play with the senses.”

I like that, playing with the senses, that is what I want from all the art I see.


All images from Mark Nixon’s website

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A Body in Motion

I love the Olympics. The pure athleticism, the patriotic spirit; the peaceful games are one of the best things that we do as modern humans.

I have been watching the trials this week, and we are in for an amazing summer games. I can’t wait.

These sculptures are by Peter Jansen. They really do capture the human figure in motion.

Like Olympians the figures in these sculptures are striving for perfection in their movements.

All images from Peter Jansen’s website.

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Illuminated Verticals

When I was little the airport was a magical place.

My first visit was to pick up my grandma after she visited the Kansas City relatives. I don’t remember my brother being there so I am guessing I was about 3 or 4. We got there early and waited for her at the gate. It was night and the lights outside were beautiful. My parents told me that the luggage would be put on a shuttle and we would go get it downstairs. Of course my only experience with the word ‘shuttle’ was the space shuttle. So, I thought they were going to put my grandma’s suitcase on a rocket. It totally makes sense.

When I was in high school Denver opened the new airport. It was (and still is) beautiful. So, now I am spoiled. When I fly to Colorado I get to fly in and out of a fun, clean, lovely airport. When I get home to LA, I fly into a mean, dirty, unlovely airport. I dislike LAX so much it taints homecomings. Whether I am sad that my trip is over, or ready to be home, or however I am feeling the overwhelming emotion is dread. Dread that I have to deal with LAX.

I joke that it is like a third world country. You stand surrounded by diesel fumes, guarding yourself from pickpockets, everything is filthy, no one speaks English, it is loud and disorganized, and of course I am always exhausted.

Please don’t tell me that I should fly into another airport, all alternatives are very far away; LAX is realtively close, and the tickets are almost always cheaper. When I am planning a trip those things seem to matter, but the cost is at least 30 minutes in the passenger pickup lane.

After I am finally in whatever shuttle or van or friend’s car that is taking me out of there, there is a reward. The huge illuminated columns that were installed in 2000. They cycle through a rainbow of colors every night. They are supposed to help make the airport more welcoming. They can’t be seen from the pickup lanes or baggage claim area, so they are actually more like a happy send-off into the city – after you leave the actual airport.

This post isn’t actually about those columns, but that is what this pavilion design made me think about. Then I got started thinking about airports…

Anywhoodle… This is the GS Caltex (a Korean oil company) pavilion for the 2012 Korea expo in Yeosu, South Korea. The huge, illuminated verticals are meant to represent a bamboo stand. The ‘blades’ surround a mirrored structure and light up in ways that mimic various weather and natural conditions, like rain, waves, fire, lightning and wind.

This is the work Atelier Brückner,an architecture and exhibit design firm based in Germany.

Because the lights are so active, the video shows the impact much better than the still photos ever could.

This pavilion is awesome. I wish LAX were completely covered with a gigantic bamboo stand that lit up in interesting ways…


Photos from Designboom and the Atelier Brückner website

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Motion and Mechanics

A few years ago I designed a Rube Goldberg machine as part of a stage play. It was huge with lots of spinning bicycle wheels. One of my inspirations for the spinning components was the work of kinetic sculptor David C. Roy.

I stopped by his site this week and what do you know, he has made some great pieces in the last five years. In fact, his work just gets better and better.

This piece is called Cognition.

While lovely to see when they are still, the sculptures come alive when they are moving. They are powered by a tightly would spring, like an old mantle clock. When fully wound many can run for hours.

He makes some that are freestanding, but most are wall art. This is Quandary.

This one might be my favorite.

Or this one…

Totally mesmerizing…

all photos and video from David C. Roy’s website www.woodthatworks.com

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Finding Glasses

I wore glasses for 21 years. I needed them to see anything. Contacts were not a viable option. Without the glasses I could only see shapes, light and color – no detail at all. If I dropped them on the floor, I could not see to pick them up and had to find them by touch.

I got laser eye surgery (not Lasik) a few years ago, and now I romp through the ocean waves with a light heart. It’s pretty great.

Still. Glasses were part of my identity for so long. I still think of myself as a girl with glasses.

I think this piece by the Russian street artist P183 is hilarious. He made it last winter in Moscow. It looks so lighthearted and spontaneous.

The kids sledding off to the side look pretty fun too.

photos from here and here

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Climbing Trees

A few days ago I sat in the park by LACMA reading a book and watching a few kids try to climb a tree. What they lacked in dexterity and experience was made up in enthusiasm. Their parents hovered ’round, arms stretched up, ready to catch or to lend a steadying hand.

When I sat down on the bench there were no kids in sight, but I had noticed that the tree was a good climbing tree. I had considered climbing it myself, but I had seen security guards earlier and I doubted they would look kindly on the crazy lady in the tree. But kids are free to indulge in their climbing whims. I miss tree climbing.

I moved into a house with a good climbing tree in the front yard when I was 2 and a half. I don’t remember the first time I climbed up into its branches. I could never climb the rope that hung from my elementary school gym’s ceiling, but was always good at tree climbing. It made me feel strong and (after I realized that other kids were scared) climbing made me feel fearless.

Most recently, I climbed into a friend’s avocado tree. I can think of no better reason, but after I was back on the ground my friend told me that no one else had ever gone up the tree to harvest avocados. Adults just don’t seem to climb trees very much, which is a shame.

This is L’Arbre aux Echelles which translates into The Tree with Ladders, by French artist François Méchain. In his artist statement he writes that the work is “a poetic invitation to look at the world from another point of view, from further away, from higher up.”

I like a lot – seeing the world from a different point of view is traditionally the purview of artists, but anyone can do it.

This piece is on the grounds of Château de Chaumont by the Loire River, in France. I wonder if visitors are allowed to climb up the ladders. Maybe, the French seem less concerned about things like that.


First photo from here, second from here, third from here, last from here.

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A Collection

Growing up, my grandmother had a huge printer’s box on the wall of her dining room. It was full of interesting bits and trinkets that she had collected. Pretty much every piece had a story to go with it. It was a great visual memory box.

I have a collector’s spirit, in that I have a hard time letting go of anything that looks cool. I am actually really careful about what I let into my home, because once it’s here, my inclination is to hang onto it. The great thing about these boxes is that rather than hidden away in some drawer, you can display and see the memorabilia.

Lynne Parks makes these ‘assemblages’ from found objects. It is very much in the same spirit as my grandmother’s printer’s box.

I love the doll eyes that she has placed in many of the boxes – they look like they are peering out of the murk.


My favorite part is the juxtapositions of everyday objects and antiques. When you treat scraps with reverence it redefines what has value.


All images from Lynn Parks’ website

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A Room of Rainbows

I am fascinated by Victorian glass palaces.

This is Palacio de Cristal (the crystal palace) in Madrid, Spain. It is now used as a temporary exhibition space.

Artist Kimsooja added iridescent film to every window and mirrors over the floor.

Sometimes the simplest effect is the most stunning.

all images from Kimsooja’s website

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Bits of Debris

I am blessed to be able to look at the world and see possibilities where others only see junk. However, I stand in awe of the eyes that look at the recycle bin and see this:

Aurora Robson takes discarded plastics (bottles, caps, bags, cups) and creates lovely, ethereal sculptures. Her finished work looks nothing like her raw materials.

They have been compared to sea creatures, microscopic organisms, plants from outer space… Basically organisms that exist in a world where gravity is not as problematic as in the terrestrial realm.

The ability to make true beauty out of nothing is a talent that few possess.

All images from Aurora Robson’s website

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