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Jan 31, 2013

Outdoors with Anish Kapoor

Outdoors with Anish Kapoor

ArcelorMittal Orbit

This weekend’s screening of “New Form at the Farm: Anish Kapoor’s Dismemberment Site 1 at the Peabody Essex Museum chronicles Kapoor’s largest permanent outdoor sculpture to date at Gibbs Farm in New Zealand. But Dismemberment Site 1 isn’t his only large outdoor piece. In fact, the sculptor is well known for his large public works. We’ll share a few here, from the simple and remote The Eye in the Stone in the northern reaches of Norway to the mammoth and controversial ArcelorMittal Orbit, part of London’s 2012 Olympic Park.

Many of Kapoor’s outdoor sculptures are what he calls “Mirror Objects.” The most famous of these is Cloud Gate, otherwise known as “The Bean,” in Chicago’s Millenium Park. Though Kapoor dislikes the work’s nickname, it is an extremely popular sculpture, drawing tourists and film crews alike. In fact, several Chicago-set films have used Cloud Gate since its completion, including Source Code (Duncan Jones, 2011), The Break-Up (Peyton Reed, 2006), and The Vow (Michael Sucsy, 2012). The work itself is shaped like a bean, and is highly reflective on all sides. Its shape allows visitors to pass under the sculpture, adding to the interactivity of the already reflective piece. On Kapoor’s website you can find some cool plans and drawings for the work, too.

Other Mirror Objects include the various Sky Mirror pieces. These are both permanent and travelling pieces, concave mirrored discs often placed at an angle or hammered irregularly so that they both reflect and distort. These can be found permanently at The Nottingham Playhouse in England, and The Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia. Other versions have appeared in exhibitions at the Rockefeller Center in New York, Kensington Gardens in London, and the Brighton Pavilion Gardens for the Brighton Festival in England. Last year a similar mirror object was attached to a wall at the Storm King Art Center, and one is currently in place as a part of Koelnskulptur 6 in Germany.

Dismemberment Site 1, while similar to several of Kapoor’s other works (mostly indoor works, such as Marsyas at the Tate Modern 2002) is another beast altogether: huge and red and constantly changing in relation to perspective, it both complements the famous mirror objects and doesn’t merely reflect the landscape: it transforms it. Find out for yourself at Saturday’s screenings, 11am and 2:30pm.

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CommentsCategories Art DocFilm Environment Events January 2013 SciArt Social Media UK US World

Jan 30, 2013

Art Docs for the Tots

Art Docs for the Tots

It's never too early to get your children interested in innovation, collaboration, engineering, and the design process! The scale, playfulness of design, color, and the aspiration of great art all make “New Form at the Farm: Anish Kapoor’s Dismemberment Site 1” a great documentary for kids. It’s showing this Saturday at 11am and 2:30pm at the Peabody Essex Museum, so the timing is perfect too! To gear up for these screenings, we thought we'd share other documentaries about art that the whole family can enjoy.

Legendary documentary filmmakers Albert and David Maysles (also hailing from Boston) have a slate of films about the large-scale outdoor works of artist Christo and his wife Jeanne-Claude. From “Christo’s Valley Curtain” (1973) to “The Gates” (2007), the collaboration between filmmakers and artists has meant that many of these temporary works, and the struggles behind them, are preserved for future audiences. While Kapoor’s Dismemberment Site 1 is a permanent installation in the landscape, “New Form at the Farm” likewise captures the difficulty of getting artwork of such proportions built. Other films in the Maysles/Christo vein are “Running Fence” (1978), “Islands” (1986), “Christo in Paris” (1986) and “Umbrellas” (1994). For older kids, Albert Maysles also made a more involved film about the planning and building of LA’s Getty Center, called “Concert of Wills: Making the Getty Center” (1997).

If your kids are into design and architecture, they would also love “Eames: The Architect and the Painter” (2011), a film directed by Jason Cohn and Bill Jersey about designers and artists Charles and Ray Eames, narrated by James Franco, which is streaming on the PBS website.

Or, if you think your kids might be more interested in watching other kids achieve artistic heights, there are some great films about children in the arts. “First Position” (2011) is a film directed by Bess Kargman, documenting a handful of entrants in the Youth America Grand Prix, a ballet competition. The film focuses on the stories of the competitors, and the hard work and sacrifices necessary for these kids to follow their dancing dreams. “Mad Hot Ballroom” 2005, directed by Marilyn Agrelo, is another film about kids dancing, this time in the New York based city-wide elementary school ballroom dance competition.

Films are definitely a fun way to introduce children to art and artists. Even more so, films about huge,  temporary, or faraway artworks allow kids to experience the process of thinking up great art, and then making it happen. Show your kids how to think big, following Anish Kapoor’s example. We hope to see you Saturday at the Peabody Essex Museum for our screenings of “New Form at the Farm”; admission to these screenings is FREE with museum admission. Hope to see you there!

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PEM Museum listing:
Boston Central Listing - Family activities - includes some reviews:

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CommentsCategories Art DocFilm Environment January 2013 SciArt Science UK US World

Jan 28, 2013

Dismemberment Site 1: A Collaboration between Artist and Engineer

Dismemberment Site 1: A Collaboration between Artist and Engineer

How exactly did Anish Kapoor manage to build Dismemberment Site 1? This question is part of the appeal and fascination of the huge sculpture, and our documentary short film “New Form at the Farm” helps to explore the process of conceptualization and creation.

Kapoor and Gibbs worked closely with engineers and architects who could take their dramatic ideas and make them material. Kapoor’s frequent collaborator, Cecil Balmond, is himself an exhibited artist, and is well known for his collaborative work on large sculpture and sculptural architecture projects. In fact, after Marsyas and Dismemberment Site 1, the two won a bid to build the permanent sculptural aspect of London’s 2012 Olympic Park: the result, an interactive, massive (tallest sculpture in the UK), and intriguing sculpture called the ArcelorMittal Orbit.

Balmond, educated in Sri Lanka and the UK, worked with reknowned engineering, architecture, and design group Ove Arup Group for many years before moving away to form his own Studio, based in London and Columbo. His work combines geometrical concepts of spatial organization and natural occurrences such as fractals, with high-level architectural design. In fact, while with Arup he founded the Advanced Geometry Unit, dedicated to research and design.

Certainly having a brilliant designer and engineer on his side like Balmond has helped Kapoor to develop and realize his visions. In fact, huge sculpture of this kind almost always requires the work of engineers. As the engineer interviewed in “New Form at the Farm” explained, there’s not much practical structural difference between a car park and Kapoor’s sculpture. But as we know, the results are wildly different!

"New Form at the Farm: Anish Kapoor's Dismemberment Site 1" screens twice at the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem MA on Saturday, February 2nd, 2013. The first screening is at 11am and the second screening at 2:30pm. The screenings are FREE and open to the public. Please join us.

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Jan 22, 2013

#SCIART Current Events: Boston and Beyond

#SCIART Current Events: Boston and Beyond

Photo Credit: David Maisel’s History’s Shadow

Thanks to everyone who submitted to our BLUR Art & Science Pinterest Contest! Here are some ongoing and upcoming events in the world of Art and Science for you to check out:

Ongoing at FACT Liverpool: Noisy Table, an interactive ping pong table which emits sound as games are played, and Winter Sparks, a show in which four new media artists play with electricity and Tesla coils (both shows until February 24).

January 24: DIY BIO led by Romie Littrel at the Broad Art Center in Los Angeles

January 24: Maya Lin speaks at the Central Library in Copley Square, Boston

January 24: Brazilian animator Guilherme Marcondes presents the work from MIT Game Lab workshop at MIT Museum

January 28: Science on Screen at the Coolidge Corner Theatre presents Wes Anderson’s Rushmore (1998) with a talk by Steven Schlozman, MD

January 30: A Symposium with Gallery talk by Swiss Landscape Architects at Boston Architectural College

February 6: LASER event at Stanford University with talks on various subjects as well as an exercise to encourage discussion of ongoing art and science projects. (Next event April 4.)

February 14: Chemical Romance workshop led by Christina Agapakis at Broad Art Center in Los Angeles

February 15: Compass Points: Joël Tettamanti opens at the MIT Museum with work that focuses on the impact of humans on their environment and landscape.

February 16: Ocean Stories: A Synergy of Art and Science at the Museum of Science, Boston.

February 25-March 24: Encounters Between Art and Science, an exhibit at The British Library by artists on the Art and Science MA programme at Central St Martins - the work is all inspired by the Library and its science collections, and runs alongside Inspiring Science, a series of events and workshops which runs from March 11 to March 24 at The British Library.

Various events held by the American Academy of Arts and Sciences can be found here, taking place in California and Cambridge, MA.

Various events held by the UCLA Art│Sci Center and Lab

For more ideas about exhibits in the coming year, the Smithsonian blog Collage of Arts and Sciences has some recommendations too.

So check out some of these events if they’re near you while we wait for the BLUR contest results!

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CommentsCategories Art Boston DocFilm Environment Events January 2013 SciArt SciComm Science Social Media UK US World

Jan 15, 2013



Dismemberment Site 1 at Gibbs Farm. Anish Kapoor. 2009

Our documentary film “New Form at the Farm: Anish Kapoor’s Dismemberment Site 1” will be having its World Premiere this week at the RISD Museum in Providence, RI. At the premiere we will also be showing our 2004 film “Seeing the Landscape: Richard Serra’s Te Tuhirangi Contour.”  Both of these films explore the planning and execution of large-scale sculpture projects within a landscape, and both are set on Gibbs Farm in New Zealand, but what about other sculpture parks around the world?

While Gibbs Farm is 1000 acres, two of the next biggest sculpture parks in the world are around 500 acres each and feature internationally renowned artists: The Storm King Art Center in New York state and the Yorkshire Sculpture Park in England. Storm King features work by artists Richard Serra, Mark di Suvero, David Smith, Magdalena Abakanowicz, Andy Goldsworthy, and Isamu Noguchi, while Yorkshire includes work by Henry Moore, Andy Goldsworthy, Sophie Ryder, and Barbara Hepsworth, and is free of charge. Both are must-see parks for anyone interested in large-scale sculpture. Further afield, Norway has several parks, including two which feature work by Anish Kapoor (Artscape Nordland and Kistefos-Museet Sculpture Park) as well as the largest park dedicated to the work of a single artist, the Vigeland Museum and Sculpture Park, which features the work of Norwegian sculptor Gustav Vigeland. In South Africa, the NIROX Foundation Sculpture Park, which is set in the Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site, aims to “advance Africa’s place in the global contemporary arts” and provides a residency program, temporary exhibits, and a museum in addition to the park. On Naoshima Island in Japan, the Benesse Art Site Naoshima offers both outdoor and indoor commissioned and site-specific work, and visitors can experience the art over a series of days, as the Site also includes four hotel facilities, renovated by architect Tadao Ando.

Guilin YUZI Paradise Sculpture Park (

Some newer sculpture parks include the Jupiter Artland in Edinburgh, Scotland, which includes commissioned work by Andy Goldsworthy, Antony Gormley, and Anish Kapoor. The park opened in May 2009. The Guilin YUZI Paradise Sculpture Park in China also recently opened to the public after an extensive phased construction, and, alongside its spectacular surrounding landscape, represents an exciting addition to the field. In Brazil, the Insituto Inhotim has a superb collection of sculpture and contemporary art which features Brazilian and international artists. Their gardens, recently officially made Botanical Gardens, hold the biggest palm collection in the world.

In Santa Barbara, CA, David Bermant’s incredible collection of sculpture melds science, technology, and art, and can be found exhibited in locations throughout the city of Santa Barbara.

Researchers at the University of Birbeck, London, with the help of San Francisco Bay Area sculptor James Benbow Bullock, have created an International Directory of Sculpture Parks. Though by no means exhaustive you can browse by location or search by park or artist name. So if you’re looking for an art pilgrimmage this site will help.

In the meantime, if you are in New England this week, you can enjoy the lush vistas of Gibbs Farm without getting on a plane at our RISD Museum World Premiere of “New Form at the Farm,” where you can learn more about Anish Kapoor and Richard Serra’s exciting work in New Zealand. January 17th @ 6:30.


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CommentsCategories Art Environment January 2013 SciArt UK US World

Jan 3, 2013


2012 was a busy year for ASKlabs: filmmaking, social media, researching new ideas and stories, and an excellent film premiere. We participated in our first hackathon, went to our first Meetup, and made our first microdocumentary (super short film). Additional 2012 highlights include artist Tom Sachs' "Mission to Mars" installation at the Park Street Armory, Ai Weiwei at the the Hirshhorn Museum, Lauren Greenfield's documentary film "Queen of Versailles," meeting popular science author Steven Johnson, attending the World Congress of Science Producers conference in DC, and being safe inside a Faraday cage while being zapped with 1 megavolt of electricity.

We completed our film “Lightning Dreams: The Electrum at Gibbs Farm,” in February and had an excellent film premiere event at the Boston Museum of Science in November as part of their "When Art Meets Science" film series. San Francisco high-voltage engineer Greg Leyh appeared in person and Daniel Davis dazzled our audience with an amazing show of electricity in the MOS Theater of Electricity; the event was lauded in the Boston Globe and sold out.  Audience members and MOS staff all agreed that our event “Lightning Strikes” exceeded every expectation. We are extremely grateful to our friend and supporter, Boston artist and inventor (and sometimes museum consultant) Steve Hollinger for making this happen. Thanks to Lisa Monrose and Jennifer Garrett at the Museum of Science. West-coast and European premieres of the film are being planned for 2013. Stay tuned for details.

ASKlabs continues to develop films that increase public awareness and knowledge of global climate change. One greatly impacted area is the coral reef ecosystem. For that project we travelled to Cancun, Mexico to film the underwater sculptures of Jason de Cairnes Taylor which are seeded to help coral regenerate. The film will be completed in Spring of 2013.

In August, ASKlabs produced the microdocumentary “Putting it Together: The Modular Car” about group of MIT students leveraging crowd-sourced innovation to build a fuel-efficient modular vehicle - this car is to be developed in 2014 will do better than 200mpge. Filmed on location at MIT's Edgerton Center, thanks to Camilla Brinkman for helping to make this happen.

We jumped into transmedia when the Zeega/Tribeca Film Festival Hackathon accepted our interactive documentary concept about the late 19th century War of Currents between Edison and Tesla; during the day-long Hackathon we created films with other media-makers and artists using the novel new browser-based editing software developed by Jesse Shapins and his crew at Zeega in Cambridge. 

ASKlabs is currently in the midst of the BLUR pinterest contest - people from around the world are submitting Pinterest boards of images that say "beautiful science." We’re excited to bring the international emerging art/science community together as we approach the January 15th deadline for submissions.

At the close of 2012, we are developing what we believe is the perfect science-art documentary. We’ll reveal more as soon as we can.

We hope to see you at one of our screenings or events in 2013, please follow us on Facebook and Twitter: @ASKlabsAlberta. Thank you for your enthusiam and support always!


Alberta Chu

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CommentsCategories Art Boston DocFilm Environment Events January 2013 SciArt SciComm Science Social Media UK US World