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April 7, 2014


From Benjamin

I’m no fan of computer games, even the non-violent “Tetris”  types, as I find them socially isolating and boring. And I’ve always thought that architect César Pelli’s Cira Centre, built next to the historic Beaux Arts 30th Street Station in my home town of Philadelphia, to possess all the elegance of a very large, overturned, paper bag.
Well, on Saturday the graceless curtain wall of the latter was transformed temporarily into the playing screen for the former as Drexel University computer professor Frank Lee hacked into the LED lighting system of the building to play a  29 story-high version of the vintage arcade game, as part of Philly Tech Week,and in honor of the game’s 30 anniversary.  While the project of commandeering private property to play a childish game of blocks is surely a silly prank, the self-indulgent and criminal aspects are, in this case I think, counterbalanced by the excitement of a public happening, and the considerable, if transient, aesthetic improvements.


building elusion

April 1, 2014

coco mad comp

From Benjamin

“Where is She Now?” is the name, and the theme, of the new commercial for Chanel’s “Coco Mademoiselle” fragrance.Directed by Joe Wright, set to the evocatively titled Zombies song, She’s Not There, and starring Keira Knightley as a glamorous, white tulle-sheathed woman who teasingly disappears from a party of black-clad revellers just when her would be suitor, (Russian actor Danila Kozlovsky) nearly catches up with her, the ad seems to suggest that the joy of seduction is less about finding true love (or sex) and more about escaping them.
Either descending an impossibly precipitous staircase into an enormous, ambiguously shaped, room; hiding behind the veil of a textured glass screen; magically dissolving into thin air in a sprinkle of sparkles; or zipping under a bridge in a vintage speedboat, all without losing eye contact with her paramour, the temptress might be a fabulous & desirable phantom – the personification of a tantalizing and elusive scent. On the other hand, she might just be a cipher.  The imagery is beautiful, and the packaging, alluring. But at a cost of $7,681.60 for a 900 ml bottle, one hopes to be sure it’s not… empty.



building resurrection

March 29, 2014


I had this work in my “to think about” folder since it exploded on-line at the first of the year. A wiley artist Mr. Finch makes objects and worlds out of discarded textiles and potential taxidermy. These are not new ideas but the innocence of his process is interesting. He is literally stitching things up to be revitalized. This caring for a discarded element is new, anti-consumerist and a pure activity…on to the rest of the day.

print building

March 27, 2014


I want so much to like this project but there is just something???? A joint intervention or let’s just say it a styling of a modern new apartment with some evocative ideas. Artists Elizabeth Duffy and Cheryl Yun have appointed the apartment that is DM Contemporary with some high conceptual ideas. Duffy has produced a number of decorative ideas with the pattern of the inside of a banking envelope, Yunhas made bikinis out of fabric that has catastrophic events digitally printed on them. I get it but what does it do beyond,beyond. If I were their teacher I would have them really collaborate and make decorative pillows out of wild-fire fabric. A finer example of making disturbing images into beauty, see the film on printmaker Amos Kennedy and review his artist book, Strange Fruit.

bauble building

March 24, 2014

indiscreetCompFrom Benjamin

“Indiscreet”, director Stanley Donen’s elegant 1958 trifle of a romantic comedy, features Ingrid Bergman as an accomplished stage actress thrust into an affair with the possibly married, NATO economist Cary Grant. While the characters are beautiful, polished & famous, they are also shown to be normal, open and approachable. As though to offset the hard-to-believe ordinariness of the players, the sets & costumes are as opulent, colorful & urbane as any of us would hope and expect these people to deserve. Of particular note in Bergman’s London flat is the expensive looking, rather neutrally hued furniture, enlivened by bright & saturated multi-colored pillows and salon-style picture matting, along with (real) paintings by Picasso, Roualt, John Piper and Raoul Dufy, all in rooms that are subtly articulated with lightly stained, but Baroquely shaped mouldings, casings and trim. Gowns and outfits are by Christian Dior. So while the pacing and plot are the movie equivalent of easy listening, the visuals are a fully orchestrated concert well worth attending. Art Direction by Donald M. Ashton, Set Design John Graysmark.

flora building

March 23, 2014


On a very decent blog Interior Monologue, I recently found this inspiring article about wallpaper designer and printer Marthe Artmitage. Her practice did not get into full swing until her family was grown and at 83 she is on the top tear list of “must haves” for decorators everywhere. I was reminded of my grandmother’s house with each room carefully designated by wallpaper, the pink room and the yellow room. She seemed to assign the grandchildren’s temperment to a room; I really wanted to be in the pink room but was often assigned the brown one….(I was quiet and moody). Historian Amanda Vickery discusses the cultural reading that Victorian Wallpapers could avail themselves. Visitors to a home could map the family’s resources through the type/brand/source of paper.

tower building

March 22, 2014

sash cord studies photo by michael poppSorry I could not resist the associative formal quality of this body of work to Andrea Graham’s work from yesterday. And evidently,Brooklyn based “coilmaster”, Doug Johnston has an architecture degree. His web site maps his thinking on spatial issues and I predict that larger scale coil space is the next endeavor.