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Posts Tagged ‘art’

My guilty pleasure is Overwatch, the fast-paced shooter in which you take control of a hero with a range of abilities and work with your five teammates to secure an objective. In the process, you defeat an enemy team drawn from the same hero pool.

The game has been so successful that it has become professionalised, with the worldwide Overwatch League providing a focus for those players who have turned gaming into a career. Others, like Jayne and Emongg, make livings as coaches and streamers on platforms such YouTube and Twitch, showing off their prowess and advising the rest of us how to improve. They have loyal followings of tens of thousands.

What makes it exciting, is that the medium allows playing fans to engage directly with people they come to admire. Last night, two of my regular hunting crew, Xgod and Lokajosvea, one in Denmark and one in Sweden, were coached by Jayne, from Canada, watched by me, in the UK. For them, it was like an actor and Star Wars fan getting to rehearse with Mark Hamill or Harrison Ford.

Games like this inspire all sorts of creativity, from memes to animations to fan fiction. One expression of such inventiveness is cosplay, with France winning the most recent official Overwatch Cosplay Battle.

My attention though was caught by Irina Meier and Team Russia, the winner of the Community Favourite. They built a full mech suit for D.Va, the hero that I main when we play competitively, that Irina could climb inside.

There are some truly brilliant creatives associated with the gaming industry. The inventiveness and sheer artistic talent of all those involved is worth taking time to appreciate.

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There’s nothing quite like commuting on the London Underground to test the patience of most of us. Those who are more creatively-inclined have found an artistic outlet for their stresses. These are shamelessly lifted from Fotoz Up.

All credit to the mischievous travellers who created them – and those that snapped them with a chuckle as they were held at yet another red signal.

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As a kid, I was hooked on computers. (Yeah, okay, I still am.) When I got my third computer, a ZX Spectrum +2, I spent several days programming it to play Mozart’s Rondo Alla Turca.

That was pretty much the height of my artistic endeavours. Since then I have toyed with the idea of making music, downloading software for the PC and apps for my phone. I have thought about making films in game (like the superlative Winter, an old favourite of mine from Everquest 2, showing just how powerful these game engines can be). I’ve toyed around with creating pictures, too, or morphing photographs. I don’t have the stick-ability though. Writing, it seems, is where creativity is at for me.

Stickability is not a problem for Hal Lasko.

A 97 year-old WWII veteran from Ohio, Hal’s creative eye saw him drafted in to create specialist maps for bombing raids. After the war he became a typographer, creating fonts for printers from scratch. In retirement, but still needing to scratch that creative itch, his family introduced him to Microsoft Paint. And that is what he uses now to create his pictures.

But it’s not just that Hal is 97. He is also legally blind. Each picture is created pixel by pixel, zooming in to a level he can see. The result is a spectacular mix of pointillism and 8-bit art.

His age, his condition, not to mention a life that has spanned WWII, Korea, Vietnam, Gulf I, Gulf II and Afghanistan, tell me that some of us should learn to make a hell of a lot more of the remarkable opportunities we have. Time, perhaps, to stop looking for reasons why we can’t and time to realise we can. More often than not it’s down to us.

Hal is selling prints of his art online in aid of veterans programmes. Enjoy this small selection below.

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And if you want to find out more about Hal, take a look at this excerpt from a documentary made some years ago by Josh Bogdan.

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Every now and then Michael Condron emails those who’ve taken a previous interest in his sculptures with news of his latest creations. You may recall that he is the artist who created the sculpture “Progression” for Basildon Town Centre, which was later moved by the local council in an act not far short of municipal vandalism:

"Progression" - Michael Condron

“Progression” – Michael Condron

He has certainly been busy, creating a series of exciting and beautiful designs for very varied audiences. The gallery below uses the pictures in his newsletter, reproduced here with permission. I am also cribbing his text for the descriptions.

  1. The History Tree is a collaborative public art project with Anne Schwegmann-Fielding for Kent’s new central library & archive.   Rising up the library wall is a polished stainless steel sapling, sculpted to depict life through all seasons. LED lighting illuminates the artwork at night, with strands of colour leading up the trunk of the sculpture. Work is now under way on the paved “shadow” tree, extending across the paving at the foot of the wall artwork. Its leaves are engraved metal, with text and images to reflect the history of Kent and the thoughts and memories of its people.  These stories were gathered through a programme of art workshops across the County. Participants drew, wrote, etched and sculpted their experiences of Kent in a variety of media.
  2. As part of the History Tree project Michael has created a flurry of mosaic leaves to set along the frontage with gorgeous coloured glass mosaic. A way-marking scheme is to follow, with leaf trails along pedestrian routes to the new library.
  3. He was commissioned to make a sculpture for a Civil War heritage site in Newark.  The “Queen’s Sconce” is a large 18th century cannon emplacement earthwork set up by the royalist defenders of Newark.  Usually, these things were destroyed by the victors, but thanks to a bout of plague at that time, the attacking forces moved on sharpish.  So Newark has one of the best surviving examples of this structure in the UK.
  4. After consulting with Newark’s museum services and local residents, he developed a design and created the Royalist Cannon.
  5. The surface of the artwork is a decorative design using images and phrases from the Royalist side. Heraldic emblems from King Charles I’s and Newark’s town crests are combined and woven together to form the surface detail.
  6. He was also asked to create artwork for the new footbridge that links the monument to the “mainland”. In the design a chained portcullis representing the Parliamentarians flows towards the centre of the bridge, meeting strands of fleurs-de-lis, ermine and other imagery from Charles I’s coat of arms at the “sconce” end.  The curve of the bridge is based on the trajectory of a cannonball.
  7. Molecular is a commission for King’s College Hospital in London
  8. Each sphere in Molecular is made up of a variety of figures supporting each other. This artwork was developed with Acrylicize, a design company he worked with on his Braintree Hospital sculpture.
  9. Finally, he created a piece for Standlake primary school in Oxfordshire. The children made drawings for their new Peace Garden and the sculpture incorporates their ideas in its surface detail.

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Colossal has examples of French artist Isa Barbier’s incredible installations of feathers, suspended on virtually invisible lines. The ingenuity of many people defies imagining and these works of art are mysterious, ghostly and beautiful.

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A slo-mo highlights reel from the Danish TV show Dumt & Farligt (“Stupid & Dangerous”) has been posted online. A series of madly hypnotic stunts, usually involving some form of explosive energy, there is something beautifully hypnotic about the results. Shot at 2500 FPS, you get to witness aspects of motion that you would never ordinarily see.

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If you’ve not yet come across them, the drawings of Kelvin Okafor are something else. They are pencil illusions, stunning graphite recreations by eye from photographs, each taking between 80 and 100 hours to complete.

The talent of some people is simply extraordinary.

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Street artists have a unique eye for taking things that most of us walk past, or regard as ugly or broken, and making them into something very different. Funny, surreal, thought-provoking and sometimes just beautiful, there is a tremendous variety of street art out there around the world.

It can provoke passionate discussion, with some dismissing it as merely an excuse for graffiti. Somehow, though, I think it is more than that, saying something about the urban areas in which we live, and giving value back to things that have lost their value and (sometimes purpose) through decay, damage and vandalism.

One of my favourites is OakoAk, described on his own website as a “French artist who likes to play with urban elements”. His work is simpler than some, often eschewing perspective illusions and instead going for the comic,  occasionally tugging a heart-string.

Here’s a selection of some of his most recent, courtesy of Bored Panda:

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Some people are just amazingly talented. Here are examples of the work of three artists that took my breath away. They each use our environment in very different ways.

Jessica Drenk was born and grew up in Montana, developing a tremendous affinity for the natural world around her, background that has had a very deep influence on her art.  As reported by arts blog This Is Colossal:

Drenk’s most recent sculptures are a series called Implements, each of which begins with a mass of standard No. 2 pencils that have been tightly glued together. Using an electric sander she then molds the piece into a form that seems more likely to have originated in a dark cave or deep within the ocean than from a school desk. Of her work she says:

“By transforming familiar objects into nature-inspired forms and patterns, I examine how we classify the world around us. Manufactured goods appear as natural objects, something functional becomes something decorative, a simple material is made complex, and the commonplace becomes unique. In changing books into fossilized remnants of our culture, or in arranging elegantly sliced PVC pipes to suggest ripple and wave patterns, I create a connection between the man-made and the natural.”

drenk-3Haroshi is a self-taught artist from Japan. This skull, made from recycled skateboard decks, is just awesome.

haroshi-1Finally, Vadim Zaritsky is a former army office turned artist and entymologist – and uses the wings of dead butterflies, found either beside the road or thrown out from collections. In his own words on Oddity Central:

“Butterfly collectors know that some wings are considered – collectors call it trash,” Zaritsky says. “If the wings are damaged, if they have partially faded, specialists would usually put them aside. It’s a shame to throw them away but you cannot use them either. In time, the bits may become infested with pests and you have to throw everything away anyway.”

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Once upon a time in a galaxy far, far away…

Or something like that.

It was actually 1983 and Langdon Hills, Essex – and two friends, Bob and Ben, dreamed of becoming astronauts.

They used to sneak off to the school library in Lincewood Junior School  to look at space books. They wrote to NASA. They wrote space stories and they made space project books.

Then one day reality bit, as it tends to, and the dream died. One got embroiled in politics and the other joined the army (no prizes for guessing which I didn’t do!).

However, just at the time that Ben and Bob were dreaming space, Soichi Noguchi was in his penultimate year at Chigasaki-Hokuryo High School, about to study Aeronautical Engineering at Tokyo University.  In 1996, while Ben was stepping into Parliament for the first time, Noguchi was selected to train as an astronaut.

Noguchi was later lucky enough to travel to the International Space Station. His official NASA biography  is enough to make a Ben or a Bob green with envy:

SPACE FLIGHT EXPERIENCE: STS-114 Discovery (July 26-August 9, 2005) was the Return to Flight mission during which the Shuttle docked with the International Space Station and the crew tested and evaluated new procedures for flight safety and Shuttle inspection and repair techniques.  Noguchi served as MS-1 and EV-1 and performed 3 EVAs (spacewalks) totaling 20 hours and 5 minutes.  After a 2-week, 5.8 million mile journey in space, the orbiter and its crew of seven astronauts returned to land at Edwards Air Force Base, California.

Noguchi next launched aboard a Soyuz TMA-17 spacecraft on December 21, 2009, from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, docking with the International Space Station two days later to join Expedition 22 crew.  He became the first Japanese to fly on Soyuz as left-seat Flight Engineer.  For the next 161 days, Noguchi lived and worked aboard the International Space Station as a Flight Engineer on Expedition 22/23, accomplishing Kibo full configuration assembly complete.  The Expedition 23 crew returned to a safe landing in central Kazakhstan on June 2, 2010.  In completing this long duration mission, Noguchi logged 163 days in space.

Whilst in space, Noguchi took a series of amazing pictures which he tweeted from the ISS. Below is a selection of some of my favourites.

In the mean time, neither Bob nor Ben have lost their interest in space. Bob assures Ben that he is delaying his visit to Jodrell Bank until Ben can get up there.

And both can take heart from the fact that Soichi Noguchi is at least seven years older than either of them and so there’s time yet for them to get their butts up to the ISS.

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