Saturday, July 30, 2011

architecture | Miami Architecture Rises Again

Downtown Miami is enjoying a resurgence at long last. An over abundance of condos jammed in all at once pre-recession, threatened to drown Miami in yet another boom /bust rotation that this humidity-soaked environment is apparently famous for.

The plethora of sparkly new condos were rented out at reasonable rate awaiting the upswing which is now occurring. This sudden influx of new, young blood is kick-starting the previously unloved central location into a “whoosh” of new restaurants, shops and entertainment.

Surprisingly to many, original and interesting architecture is still front and center in this fairly young city. Miami was officially Incorporated in 1896 with a whopping population of 300. I took a stroll around recently, armed with camera, to record a soupčon of old Miami architectural design.
Alfred I. DuPont brass elevators

Alfred I. DuPont Building, completed in 1939, formerly a bank; it now holds court to special events after a series of historic renovations on it’s Depression Moderne style of architecture. Designed by the firm of Marsh and Saxelbye, the DuPont sports hand-painted cypress wood ceilings, detailed scroll work, and brass elevator doors bas relief adorned depicting native flora and fauna.

Olympia / Gusman ticket booth and marquee

Olympia Theater / Gusman Center for the Performing Arts lobby ceiling

Olympia Theater - This silent movie palace opened in 1926. The Moorish architecture, marvelous acoustics and ceiling simulating the night sky also achieved fame by becoming the first building in the South to be air-conditioned. Now known as Gusman Center for the Performing Arts, it transports the audience into experiencing old world charm in downtown Miami. It is one of the few “atmospheric” theaters designed by architect John Eberson still existing today.

Ingraham Building brass elevator logos

Another recently renovated 1926 structure, the Ingraham Building was designed by the architectural firm of Schultze & Weaver, designers of the famous Waldorf-Astoria in New York and the Biltmore Hotel in Los Angeles in the Chicago Style of Architecture.

Ingraham Building ceiling

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Exhibitions NYC | Fabric as Form at Jack Tilton

Fabric As Form, on view through the end of July, includes a quite diverse collection, including work by Scott Andresen, Lynda Benglis, Louise Bourgeois, John Chamberlain, Henri Pierre Danloux, Honoré Daumier, Francisco José de Goya y Lucientes, Albrecht Dürer, Nicolas Edelnick, Madame Gres, Zaha Hadid, David Hammons, Wenzel Hollar, Bill Jacobson, Christoffel Jegher, Titus Kaphar, Torii Kiyomasu I, India Lawrence, Issey Miyake, Barbara Morgan, Senga Nengudi, Brie Ruais, Katsukawa Shuncho, Martha Tuttle, Richard Tuttle, Rembradt van Rijn, James Welling, Charles White

Tonight the Jack Tilton Gallery also hosted a book launch for "L.A. Object & David Hammons Body Prints" including an exhibition of the artist "body prints" series and of other artworks included in the book.

Monday, July 18, 2011

performances | Elizabeth Streb - On the Fly

It’s hard to swing a new handbag without hitting an Elizabeth Streb performance on the streets of Manhattan this month……..and I mean that in the warmest and most supportive way. Choreographer Streb is daring, energetic, and goes way beyond the image conjured up as “dance’. Her performers fly through the air with the greatest of ease….. off high platforms and scaffolding in mind-bendingly athletic performances.

Along with this past weekend’s Battery Park event, “Human Fountain”, by the Streb dancers, the previous weekend found them in Gansevoort Plaza with their new work “Ascension”, commissioned by the Whitney Museum to highlight the museum’s new site being constructed nearby at the HighLine.
“Ascension” revolved around a 20 foot rotating ladder the nine performers ran up, down and catapulted off, in a perfect execution of the strength and skill of Streb’s troupe.

Streb, Inc tours throughout the U.S. and Internationally. Streb Lab for Action Mechanics resides in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.
Fearless leader, Elizabeth Streb, was awarded the MacArthur Foundation Genius Award in 1997. She is a tour de Force in action and mind.
Make a note on your latest techno-calendar to attend Streb’s Park Avenue Armory event, “Kiss the Air” in the Armory’s huge Drill Hall, December 14th – 22, 2011. For information and ticketing go to
Two pertinent videos to watch:
ASCENSION and Elizabeth Streb discussing the performance.

Friday, July 15, 2011

camminando + performances | The Dance of Physics

Human flowers and “extreme” playing with gravity: the themes of Extraordinary Moves at the Battery Park City Marina in a memorable pre-sunset event in the Hudson River waterfront, from the River to River series of free events.

Australia Strange Fruit, a fusion of dance, theater and circus, presented the New York City premiere of The Three Belles. The dancers climbed to their perch —13-foot-high poles 15 feet above ground, on what appeared to the audience below as rigid steel poles. After reaching their perch the three belles pulled up their bellowing gowns, as a flowering corolla. What appeared as a rigid pole became a flexible swaying stem in a beautiful extravaganza of seemingly like human flower.

Master juggler Michael Moschen performed Triangle, an acrobatic fusion of movement, coordination and in a spatial relationship between human body, form and flying balls, of course.

And then evening got transformed in a gravitational field as in Einstein’s space-time-gravity —at least in my perception— when the STREB Extreme Action Company performed Human Fountain. Inspired by the Bellagio Fountains in Las Vegas, the action piece involved performers “falling” from a 30 feet high scaffolding “to create cascades of airborne liquid muscle. The outcome is a mixture of slam dancing, amazing human flight and wild action sport.” The choreographer Elizabeth Streb, whose company is based in Williamsburg and holds classes for all ages, charmingly introduced the work and the dancers, taking a few questions from the audience including “Are you afraid of heights?”

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Events NYC | Geometry, Nature and Environmental Awareness

Last night at Eyebeam a series of multimedia presentations accompanied the launch of Book of Ice by Paul D. Miller a.k.a. DJ Spooky. Book of Ice is one facet of DJ Spooky ongoing multimedia and multidisciplinary project on Antarctica —the only uninhabited continent, belonging to no single country and with no government. Miller’s book merges a fictional manifesto with scientific concepts and historical facts, using photographs and film stills, original artworks and re-appropriated archival materials: the theme is how Antarctica can liberate itself from the rest of the world.

The author started his presentation introducing concepts which immediately captured my attention: "ice is a geometric form" and "network effect". The accompanying images were also familiar: fractals configurations (Koch snowflake) and Wilson Bentley photographs of snowflakes —themes of one chapter of my upcoming book Form Geometry Structure | from Nature to Design. Miller emphasized the importance of system thinking and the elegance of symmetry in nature, quoting the “elegant universe” from Brian Greene’s string theory. Miller spoke of sonification as a sonic metaphor embodying geometry in transverse and longitudinal waves, and showed the Terra Nova trailer: an interpretation of how sound and the planet interact. Mentions of recursions and concepts from Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid the book by Douglas Hofstadter —described by the author as "a metaphorical fugue on minds and machines in the spirit of Lewis Carroll".

The video imagery was presented with a live string quartet, Telos Ensemble, playing Miller’s compositions. Miller's presentation was also accompanied by interactions with Green Patriot Poster project curator Edward Morris.

An important evening, emphasizing the relationship between nature and geometry, and how their harmonic synergy we can have a better relationship with our planet.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

camminando + vernissages | World Making in the Hudson Valley

At the same time (July 9, 18 EST) two visual arts events in very close geographical locations of the Hudson Valley (both in Columbia County) were suggestive of "worldmaking".

In Hudson, Carrie Haddad Photography presented Mars: Adrift on the Hourglass Sea by the artists collaborative Kahn & Selesnick As typical of Kahn & Selesnick's work, the photographs narrate stories at the borderline between science fiction and surrealism, where technological landscapes marry a dream world.

The other "worldmaking" event happened a few miles away, at Art Omi, presenting Augmented Reality at Peeling Layers of Space Out of Thin Air: Augmented Reality installations by Architects including design by Vito Acconci Studio, Asymptote, Kol/Mac, Studio Daniel Libeskind, Metaxy, Thomas Leeser Architecture, SHoP, and Cleater Studio. The exhibition was curated by John Cleater.

Augmented Reality (AR) provides a real time integration/augmentation of perceptions from a physical environment with computer-generated sensory input, such as sound or three-dimensional graphics — differently from Virtual Reality (VR) which creates computer worlds completely separated from the physical environment. Several applications of AR were developed in the 1990s but recently, thanks to the widespread presence of smartphones, AR is gaining back popularity.

I was not very impressed by the AR design at Omi, which seem disconnected with the existing site, not differently from many of the sculptural work at Art Omi, which lack of site specificity. As a land artist myself I strongly believe in the connection between an intervention —either physical or virtual— and the landscape. Nevertheless I admire the curatorial effort, and if you have an Iphone or Android phone available (prerequisite to see the work) and are in the Hudson Valley, you should visit the site.

For more information on AR and VR you can see my 1996 book Designing Digital Space, the first book dealing with VR application in architecture. Information on AR at or on the Omi show at

The sunset was real!

camminando NYC | Walking Through Williamburg, B’lyn, A View From Outside

Williamsburg gives the impression that it could spontaneously combust into a fit of creativity at any moment. Equally, there is a fear it could explode into a giant Duane Reade/CVS before our very eyes. The teen-age years of Williamsburg are upon morphs between many personalities, moods and ages as one meanders amongst the blended neighborhoods. As a mere visitor of some regularity, I made a few impressions in an all-day walk-about recently.

Lured by the waterfront Saturday Food-a-thon dubbed, “”Smorgesburg”, I picked through 50 vendors of daring concoctions to find just the right combo to amuse my bouche. With mission accomplished I could proceed beyond the culinary arts:

Pierogi Gallery, 177 N. 9th Street,is tricky to locate as the doorway and signage is “subtle”, but worth traversing the block once or twice til spotted. This “early adopter” opened in Wiilamsburg in1994, taking it’s name from a dumpling common in the Eastern European community that has populated the area since WWII.

28 artist participate in the current exhibition SUBJECTIVE/OBJECTIVE (til July 28th).

(photo:Untitled, Dawn Clemets, sumi ink on paper. Foreground- Study for Bases of Fallen Idols, Jonathan Schipper, cast marble)

An addendum to Pierogi, The Boiler, 191 N. 14th St. Brooklyn is a former factory boiler room with 40 foot ceilings to accommodate larger installations and performance pieces. Pierogi enjoys a reputation of some gravitas in the NY’s art community.

Fitzgerald Jewelry, is a 10 year old gallery and jewelry school located in an old button factory near McCarren Park. Jewelry artists, both professional and student come to work and exhibit in Fitzgerald’s. Owners Michael Fitzgerald and his wife, Hiroyo are at the helm.

174 North 11th St,

(photo: Cecelia Sozzi,student & exhibitor; Michael Fitzgerald, and Gabriella Ortiz, assistant & student)

228 North 12th St, adjacent to McCarren Park.

Exuberant street art/architecure abound on Williamsburg streets.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

camminando MIAMI | Pyrotechnics: a Nocturnal Art

Though I can view fireworks from afar over the waters of Biscayne Bay (and usually do) from my balcony on Miami's South Beach, I ventured a half hour walk with a friend to the beach this 4th of July . I laid flat out on the sand to view them literally raining down upon me, filling in my entire visual space as the the humid breeze enveloped the night. It was inspirationally exhilarating to be consumed by the vibrance and pure exuberance of the event. I was giddy with immersion and made a mental note to make a greater effort to be "in the moment". Wielding a new small Canon digital camera in lieu of my cumbersome SLR I experimented with "writing with light" as I moved the camera about with shutter open. It was fun and ponied up some interesting images, instead of the usual fare.

Invented in China during the Han Dynasty (approx. 200 B.C.) and used to scare away evil spirits,fireworks were originally for New Years Eve celebrations. Mainly made of gunpowder-filled bamboo shoots, they are still made in a similar manner, substituting stiff paper tubes for the bamboo. Disney began to use compressed air instead of gunpowder just a few years ago.

The first 4th of July celebration was 1777, to instill hope and patriotism in U.S. citizens still besieged by the Revolutionary War.

Gunpowder has also been used as a medium for artists: Cai Guo-Qiang from Fujian Provence, now living in New York, began using gunpowder as material after September 11th. His work was exhibited in the 2000 Whitney Biennial, 1999 Venice Biennale. I recall a loud but stunning exhibition at the Guggenheim, 2008. He sprinkles different grades of gunpowder on handmade Japanese rice paper, cutting the fuses in a specific manner to control the energy before lighting it in front of an audience, The end result is a “drawing” of ash residue on the paper.

Cai was director of visual and special effects for the opening and closing ceremonies of the Beijing Olympic Games

Monday, July 4, 2011

camminando | MA: Water Power at Bash Bish Falls

Bash Bish Falls

180 degree view from Sunset Rock

On the East trail to Bash Bish Falls

View from the Summit: Massachusetts to New York

A steep descent