Posts Tagged ‘Art & Entertainment’

Free Download: The Owl Calendar 2010

Click to view a larger image

Click to view a larger image

Our final project for Design Fundamentals, other than our design journal, was a calendar. We needed to show a change over time or some sort of metamorphosis while also displaying the 2010 calendar.

I started sketching some cute, boxy little owls, and created a little love story between the two of them. I didn’t know how I’d display the calendar part, but I started to think about making the calendar a part of the tree. After many different experiments on how to do this, what shape the tree should be, where the branches should be and how the story should fit around it, I came up with my final design and put it down in pen and colored pencils.

There are plenty of other small touches in the final design for you to look out for like a little hedgehog, a mouse and bumblebees. I had a lot of fun designing this and drawing it out.

If you’d like to download a high res version, just right-click the link below and select “Save Link As…” Please use it for your personal use only and don’t resell or reconfigure it. Do feel free to share with friends. And let me know if you’ve downloaded it and are enjoying it in the comments.

2010 Owl Calendar, High Res: owlcal-francinekizner.jpg (4.22MB)

2010 Owl Calendar Computer Background, 1280 x 800: owlcal-background.jpg (788KB)

Computer Background version -- Click to enlarge

Computer Background version -- Click to enlarge

A Day of Immersive Art on Pittsburgh’s North Side

Paths to the Park, Pittsburgh

I finally got to head back to Pittsburgh for a second visit and I arived in the city on the brink of summer. Everything in lush and green, the sun is out and my allergies are making my nose run and eyes itch.

Like my last trip, I’ve had a good amount of time to wander about on my own, so I decided to check out some of the sights I missed on my last brief trip. Friday, I took a nice walk to the North Side and headed to the Mattress Factory, a museum down an alley that specializes in large-scale installations from contemporary artists.

There was an inyeresting wood sculpture exhibit by Thaddeus Mosley that made me feel like I was walking through a semiurban forest of undulating yet stoic tress.

There was another exhibit almost entirely in the dark by James Turrell that played on perceptions of light, shape and space with a floating red projected cube that you realize is just a corner in a room, and a flat purple rectangle that you come to realize is an entire room lit up and shown through a frame. It was creepy walking around in the dark by myself, especially listening to the creaky footsteps from the floor above and other building noises, but it was also interesting and immersive.

Infinity Dots Mirrored Room by Yayoi Kusama

Infinity Dots Mirrored Room by Yayoi Kusama

Another near exhibit was two mirrored polka-dotted rooms designed by Yayoi Kusama that I walked through with my shoes off.

Mattress Factory Slideshow

While at the museum I saw information on a new interacive art project, Paths to the Park, which paired North Side students with people at locals arts and community organizations and had them walk to the park in West Commons wearing chalk shoes to show their trail. The walk was going on that evening, so I went to check out the event and watched people coming into the parks leaving neon green trails, talked to some people involved with the project and even tried on the chalk shoes. They were harder to walk in than I thought they would be. (Paths to the Park Flickr Gallery)

Chalk Shoes for Paths to the Park

Chalk Shoes for Paths to the Park

Since I had some time before Paths to the Park started, I also stopped by the National Aviary where I saw a bunch of birds, including 2 of the biggest in the world — Andean Condors — as well as cute little penguins, rambunctious flamingos and some pretty parrots. I got there too late to catch any of the day’s shows, though, so there wasn’t quite as much to do as I’d hoped. (National Aviary Flickr Gallery)

A bird at the National Aviary

A bird at the National Aviary

When I finally headed home, I got to walk by PNC Field where the Pirates were playing. I fought foot traffic on the bridge from downtown as the only one walking away from the game. Next week, when I’m back in town, we’re going to see about getting tickets to a game.

6th Street Bridge by PNC Field

6th Street Bridge by PNC Field

Check out more Pittsburgh photos on Flickr and Facebook


East Hollywood ArtCycle

Yesterday, Evan and I headed over the East Hollywood ArtCycle to check out the scene and see some art. While it wasn’t quite as large an event as we’d imagined, it was still quite nice. There were bands and other groups performing — our favorite that we saw was a band called Confessions of a Corn Silo.

There was plenty of food, from bake sale type stands with delicious looking vegan cupcakes, cookies and brownies (I’m pretty sure there were some non-vegan varieties as well), to local cafes and gelato shops. We had some really delicious Guinness Chocolate gelato, and were intrigued by the other very inventive flavors.

There were also, of course, various artists showing off their work, and there were bike tours that would take you around the neighborhood. Unfortunately, neither Evan nor I have a bicycle at the moment, so we couldn’t partake in the cycling fun. A lot of people did bike over to the event, and there was a great hipster-cyclist vibe, with people on double-decker and other tricked-out bikes.

Local galleries were also open, so we could look at some more art. We didn’t get to too many galleries, but we really enjoyed the Fake Gallery, which had a rather funny exhibition by “fake” artists, complete with placards giving great personal bios of artists like Roy G. Biv, the color-blind paint tester. The centerpiece of the fair was a large, undulating wooden sculpture (a small portion of which is photographed with Evan, above.

Another neat part of the fair was that they had the guys from Grinding Gears custom screen printing making t-shirts on the fly. I actually brought my own shirt to be printed on, and was able to choose from about 5 designs. I chose a design that had lyrics from Tom Waits’ song, “Broken Bicycles.”

I also got a very cute necklace from Kiki Designs. It was hard to choose just one from the creative and beautiful array of jewelry. I bought the necklace directly from Kiki herself, who was really nice, and it came in a takeout box!

Check out more photos from the event in my Flickr gallery.

Data + Art at the PMCA

Last night, Evan and I went to the opening of the Data + Art exhibit at the Pasadena Museum of California Art. The show explores how data can be explored, visualized, filtered and even set to music for the sake of understanding, expression or art.

The opening display was a collage mosaic of photos, charts, medical diagrams and more with the quote, “Humans will very likely generate more information this year than in the cumulative history of our species.”

The exhibits were all thought-provoking and were striking in how different they were. They ranged from micro-etching to 3-D photos of Mars to light- and wind-powered drawing devices. The drawing devices were some of my favorites.

The light-powered one, Phototropic Drawing Device by David Bowen, featured two small robots with charcoal on their feet waddling and hopping around a large sheet of paper. They would change their direction depending on which lights were on, and they looked like two mini moon rovers searching for something.

The wind-powered drawing machine was completely different, but equally charming. The same artist, David Bowen, attached autumn leaves to long wires weighted down with rocks that had a piece of charcoal attached and would create small wind drawings. The drawings were created in Hungary by Lake Balaton. The devices as well as many of the drawings were on display, and it seems that nobody could resist blowing on the leaves to try to encourage a drawing right in the museum.

There were also some interesting music exhibits. One was a piece called Jiyeh by Jonathan Berger that took satellite imagery of a Mediterranean oil spill off the coast of Lebanon and correlated the changing contours of the spill into musical notes and phrases, which became the foundation for the composition.

Another music exhibit translated data from tumor biopsies to different noises, with benign cells represented by various bell noises and malignant cells represented by percussion sounds. The idea behind this piece was that mapping data to sound, pixel by pixel, will allow you to listen to a higher dimension of data that cannot necessarily be seen.

Though we’d seen something similar at MoMA in New York, we still couldn’t help but be mesmerized by the giant flight map of all the flights in a single day in the U.S by Aaron Koblin. The map would switch between cities and also show a full-country view. Watching the planes take off and land and do their turns was interesting, as was seeing ones coming from Europe and Asia, some traveling over the north pole.

There was also an interesting Flickr-driven display by Jim Bumgardner. For one piece, the artist took all the photos labeled sunrise and sunset and put them on a graph showing the day of the month and the time of day. For the other piece, the artist took all the photos labeled breakfast, lunch and dinner, and plotted them according to the time of day they were taken. The photos were made translucent, the brightest spots are when the most photos were taken. I love that from the graph you can see that breakfast has some popularity all day while lunch and dinner and much more time-specific.

Though I couldn’t take any photos that would do them justice, there were some neat 3-D photos of Mars, the closest you can get to feeling like you’re on the red planet. And there was also the original pixel-by-pixel hand-rendering of the first close-up Mars photo ever sent back to earth.

Another display I found interesting was a graphic representation of the size of Napoleon’s army as they headed to Russia and retreated from Russia, losing nearly the entire force on the way. The map-based graph by Charles Joseph Minard represented the number of troops in the thickness of the line showing their march, and to see it go from a robust swath to a thin line was quite impressive and an interesting way to graphically show a historic event.

One display I felt needed more explanation was a piece called Spam Architecture by Alex Dragulescu that apparently took input from spam emails and translated them through some algorithm into a 3-D drafting program to create structures. It didn’t give much information as to how the structures were created, and though they looked impressive and the piece was quite enjoyable, it’s hard to imagine how spam could translate into 3-D spaces, most of which actually looked structural, or at least like boxes with extra pieces added on. I’m curious to learn more.

There were also displays of solid smoke, MRIs of a developing quail egg, which showed the development of the skeleton and internal organs in amazing detail, and an entrancing light-through-water seismic display that encouraged visitors to step on or tap the metal plate the water bowl was perched on to create different light images on the wall.

Another neat display, called 10,000 cents by Aaron Koblin and Takashi Kawashima, was a large $100 bill that was divided up into 10,000 rectangular pieces, each drawn by a different person paid 1 cent using Amazon’s Mechanical Turk distributed labor tool. The idea was that the cost to produce the piece was $100, and on close inspection, you’ll see that not everybody followed directions when it came to drawing their square — there are cat faces and stick figures and other anomalies in the bill.

I’d highly recommend this exhibit, so head on over to the PMCA at 490 East Union Street in Pasadena. Admission is only $7, and it’s free the first Friday of each month (so February 6 should be a freebie). The exhibit runs until April 12, and there’s also a neat exhibit of David Sharf’s microphotography called Micronautics that’s worth a look.

Someone Once Told Me “I’m a Nose Man”

Back in October, I was asked to participate in an online photography and storytelling project called Someone Once Told Me, started by Mario Cacciottolo. He showed up at the Coach and Horses for Tuttle Club on the one day of my trip to London I was able to make it, and he asked just about everyone in the room to write someone someone once told them on a piece of paper and then to hold that up for the camera.


Check out the photo on SOTM as well as my audio commentary

Some people put down serious words of wisdom. I, for some reason, immediately thought of one of the most bizarre things someone had told me: “I’m a nose man.” Now, I’ve always been self-conscious about my nose, as I’ve been teased about it and told it was big since I was a kid, so to have a strange older man approach me in a bar and tell me that he loved my nose and that he was a nose man threw me off quite a bit. I had no interest in this stranger, but the strangeness of his comment stuck with me.

I believe on his second shot at picking me up, he came on even stronger and that “That’s a nose I could settle down with”! Whoa, buddy, we were at a cheesy karaoke bar in Newport Beach. Not a time for grand nose-themed gestures.

I must say, though, I’m honored to be part of the project, and excited to finally see my photo up on the site. I think it turned out quite well.

Getting Out of London City Center: Oxford, Eltham and Chiselhurst

Oxford


Oxford

On our London trip, one of our goals was to actually spend time OUT of the city since we hardly ventured out when we were living there because we were so busy, and Evan wasn’t able to go with me to Oxford, Cambridge or Brighton. Our first day trip was to Oxford. We hopped on the Oxford Tube at Notting Hill Gate and less than two hours later, we were standing in the middle of Oxford’s High Street.


eBoy LA poster; photo from eBoy site

We started by going into the church right in the center of town and climbing up to a lookout point where we were able to see the whole city. Then we wandered by the Radcliffe Camera and the library, and stopped in at the Blackwell’s art and poster shop, where we bought a great poster of LA by eBoy. It had all sorts of LA landmarks, zombies, SWAT teams and more done up in a fun, colorful old-school arcade game style. The shop also had plenty of other cool posters, cards and books.


Christ Church College Quad

Then we went to visit Christ Church College, walked around town some more, and got gooey, warm and delicious cookies from Ben’s Cookies in the covered market. We also saw a whole, headless deer hanging from the wall. It was more than a little disturbing. There was also a goat in a similar position. We did, however, see some live deer in Magdalen College’s field, and had a nice walk around its pretty grounds, which are right on the river. It was too cold and rainy for punting, though.

Eltham Palace

My friend Janet invited us out to her neck of the woods — Bexleyheath — to see some of its sights, so we met her at the Eltham train station about 30 minutes outside of London, and went to visit Eltham Palace. The place is an Art Deco palace-turned war command center-turned historic site, built on the same spot as one of Henry VIII’s childhood home. It was rainy, so we didn’t get to tour the grounds and gardens much, but we did go through the many living rooms, bedrooms and funny exhibits on the family’s pet lemur, including not one, but two stuffed lemur dolls. We took along the free audio guides, but they proved excessively verbose. Though the segments would start off well and had plenty of interesting information, each room’s story seemed to last for ages. Thankfully, there were signs we could read, instead. I just wish the weather had been better and we could have had a picnic.

Chiselhurst Caves


Me with my oil lantern in the Chiselhurst Caves

After our morning in Eltham, Janet brought us over to the Chiselhurst Caves, man-made caves in a hill that were started 4,000 years ago by the druids, then continued by the Romans and the Saxons. The caves were used to house 15,000 people during the WWII air raids, and they currently host frequent role-playing events, though in a separate section from the main tour. Stil, you can’t help but notice the LARPers dressed in everything from caveman to wizard costumes as you pull up to the small visitor’s center.

We paid for a tour, and descended into the caves with a big group of people and a guide. We grabbed lanterns, since most of the caves don’t have lighting, and started our tour through the cold stone walkways. We passed by the church, the stage, lots of spots for triple-decker bunk beds, a druid altar, a well and a hospital. The guide told us about what life in the caves was like during the war, its mining history and its quite honestly creepy ghost stories. They also took us by a “cave monster” on our way out!


Chiselhurst Cave Monster

It was great to see a part of London we’d never experienced and get to some tourist sites that we’d never read about in our guidebooks — and that some Londoners don’t even know about. Thanks, Janet!

12 Days in Istanbul

Sorry I haven’t written in a while — the keyboards in Istanbul are a bit hard to type on because some of the letters and punctuation marks are in different places, and I just haven’t spent too much time in front of the computer lately. Good thing I’ve been writing about my days in a journal. Here are some of the highlights…

blue sultanahmet mosque istanbul
The Blue Mosque

July 13, 2008

After our adventures in Jordan, we headed over to Istanbul on a very annoyingly timed 3:30 a.m. flight, which left us with no sleep for the night and brought us into Istanbul so early in the morning, we had to wait about 5 hours for our hotel room to be ready. In our waiting time, we had breakfast at our hotel, Hotel Tashkonak, on the rooftop patio, and took a short walk through Sultanahmet, the old part of the city where the Aya Sofia, the Blue Mosque and plenty of the other tourist sites are. Then once our room was ready, we slept the rest of the day.

July 14, 2008

Once we were well rested, we started exploring Istanbul in earnest. We started out with the Little Aya Sofiya, which is a pretty church-turned mosque with a graveyard surrounding it and a pretty domed roof. Then we visited the tomb of a bunch of sultans, which we happened to come across. All their individual grave markers/sarcophagi were standing like little houses under a domed roof.

Next we went to the Blue Mosque, or  Sultanahmet  Mosque, which is one of the most beautiful sights in the area. It has soaring minarets, domes everywhere you look and a lovely courtyard and garden. Inside it looks like a pretty standard mosque, though it does have some nice tile work, with mostly blue floral designs on the tiles. I’m glad I bought a head scarf when I was in Egypt so I didn’t have to use a loaner.

We couldn’t go in the Aya Sofiya, which is right across from the Blue Mosque, because it’s closed on Mondays — we explored it a few days later — so we headed across the street to the Basilica Cistern, an ancient roman cistern with a hodgepodge of columns taken from across the city and a vaulted roof. There were some carp swimming around in the water, and in the far corner, there were two columns whose bases were upturned Medusa heads. The theory as to why one is on its side and the other is upside down is that the Romans, being Christians, meant to show that they were just using the blocks as building materials, not worshiping false idols.

Continuing our super-tourist day, we went to Topkapi Palace, a huge complex for the sultans and their families. The treasury had an interesting collection, with lots of rubies, emeralds and diamonds, and there were some very elaborately tiled walls in the harem. It was also neat to learn about the palace’s history, complete with scheming concubines, murdered princes and the sultan’s mother ruling the roost while the sultan walked around in silver-soled shoes.

We also walked around the hippodrome, which isn’t much to see, except for two obelisks, a column and a fountain. It functions more as a pedestrian thoroughfare and makes a pleasant place to stroll.

basilica cistern istanbul
The Basilica Cistern

July 15, 2008

We decided to head out of the city for a day to explore the Princes’ Islands, a set of 9 Islands in the Sea of Marmara where people from Istanbul keep summer villas. The only transport allowed on the small, hilly islands are bicycles and horse cards, though there are some motorized vehicles allowed for the police, garbage men, etc.

We went to the biggest of the Islands, which we got to by ferry, and got some ice cream straight away, since it was a hot day. Then we started our walk to the monastery up in the mountains, which ended up being more of a church than a monastery, but maybe we missed something. The walk was really lovely — the big houses had huge gardens, and because of all the trees, we had lots of shade. There were also great views of the sea, the other islands and Istanbul.

When we finally got up to the monastery area, we had a nice lunch, explored the small Greek Orthodox church where people had left little trinkets, like watches and jewelry, in hopes that their prayers would be answered. There were also lots of white bags, papers and cloths tied to the trees and bushes on the path leading up the hill, which apparently also symbolize prayers.

July 16, 2008

We woke up to rain for the first time on our trip, but by the time we had breakfast and set up a lunch date with a friend who lives in Istanbul, it had stopped. Before lunch, we decided to tour Aya Sofiya, which is much more impressive from the inside than the outside. Outside, it looks old and staid compared to the blue mosque, but inside, it’s all gold and there are some incredibly detailed mosaics in its gallery. It would have been amazing to see it in its original glory, with its large open spaces and soaring dome, which were unfortunately obstructed for us by scaffolding put up for reconstruction work.

By the time we were ready to leave, there was a thunder-and-lighting storm raging outside, so we ran to the nearby tram stop, getting soaked in the process, and trammed and funiculared to Taksim to meet our friend who took us out to a lunch of traditional Turkish food. We had dishes like “The Imam Fainted,” a tasty cold eggplant dish, dolmas, stuffed peppers and pureed eggplant. I also had Turkish coffee with dessert — strong and bitter as expected.

July 17, 2008

It was time to see something of contemporary Istanbul, so we went to the Istanbul Modern, a great museum that showcases Turkish modern art. We were introduced to plenty of talented artists we’d never heard of, and toured the temporary “Design Cities” show, which showcased important works from cities that influenced popular design over the years. The museum also has a fantastic cafe overlooking the Bosphorus, though it seems like just about every restaurant in Istanbul has some sort of water view, which is always a nice touch. The rest of the day’s tour included a trip up Galata Tower and down the Kamodo Steps.

July 18, 2008

We thought we might avoid it because of our crazy experience at the bazaar in Egypt, but we ended up going to the Grand Bazaar and the Spice Market anyway, and boy were we surprised. It wasn’t crowded, the shopkeepers didn’t hassle us too much, and the shops had some really interesting and colorful items. We also went in to a bunch of mosques, though at this point they all started looking a bit the same.

July 19, 2008

We had a nice relaxing day of sleeping in, then sat at a tea garden eating ice cream and baklava and playing checkers for most of the afternoon. Evan beat me every time.

July 20, 2008

We went to tour Dolmabahce palace — another home for the sultan’s, though newer than Topkapi and in a European style. The grounds were beautiful, with manicured gardens, fountains and little ponds with lily pads and an expansive view of the Bosphorus. Touring the interiors of the buildings, though, we needed to go as a group with a guide. The groups were pretty big, and the palace’s big rooms echoed and made it hard to hear our guide. We also kept running into the group ahead of us. Still, the building was impressive, with huge chandeliers, carved ceilings and a lot of trompe l’oeil painting. Touring the harem, our guide did a better job, though we had some rogue tourists who kept arguing with her and trying to strike out on their own.

After getting lunch at a vegetarian restaurant near Taksim, we took the metro to Levent to go to the mall. The Kanyon mall was huge, modern and gorgeous. It’s an indoor-outdoor multi-level space with posh shops, curving walkways and a spherical movie theater. We shopped a bit and saw Hancock — with an intermission that included commercials (not cool to interrupt a movie so abruptly like that and then make us watch even more ads!).

July 21, 2008

Lazy day lounging at the hotel, researching Thailand and reading. We ordered in food with the help of the super-nice staff at the hotel and spent a lot of time using their free lobby computer.

bosphorus
View of the Bosphorus

July 22, 2008

It was time to get out of the city again and go on a Bosphorus tour. We caught the ferry at Eminonu and took it up to Anadolou Kavagi, where we climbed up a hill to a ruined castle, where we had great views of the Bosphorus and the Black Sea, which were both a  tranquil turquoise blue.

When we got down from the mountain, we caught a bus down to Kanlica where we had a strait-side lunch featuring the town’s delicious yogurt, which really was better than any of the yogurt we had elsewhere in Turkey. We watched plenty of ships passing by and even saw a dolphin. By the time we were done with lunch, it was too late to visit any of the other sites we’d hoped to get to — just about everything around Istanbul closes at 4 or 4:30 — so we hopped on another bus to Uskudar, then took the ferry back to Eminonu.

We walked along the coast back to our hotel, passing swimmers and sunbathers on the rocks (there’s no beach there).

July 23, 2008

One of Evan’s brother’s friends who we’d met for drinks earlier in the week played tour guide for us all day. She brought us to a Greek Orthodox neighborhood where we visited a church and an impressive large high school on top of a steep hill. We also toured Bosphorus University, which as its name suggests has some beautiful views, then had a long and relaxing lunch at a waterfront cafe in Ortakoy.

We spent the rest of our day in Istiklal, hanging out in a cafe reading while avoiding some rain, then going out for a makeup birthday dinner, since in Jordan we never had one, at a rooftop restaurant.

July 24, 2008

With our flight to Thailand in the evening, we had one last day to spend in Istanbul and I knew what I wanted to do — go to a hammam/Turkish bath. Evan didn’t want to come, so he went on his own errands while I headed to the Cemberlitas Hammam, right near the Grand Bazaar. The Hammam dates back to the 1500s, and the men’s side is supposed to be grander than the women’s, though it was still a neat experience.

The main bathing room has a warm raised central platform, where most of the activity takes place. I started out relaxing there in my bath sheet while others were getting bathed around me, staring up at the small circular skylights in the pink domed ceiling, and soon an attendant came in to give me my bath. There was lots of water, soap and scrubbing with a loofah mitten. There was also a bit of a massage and I also had my hair washed in an adjacent alcove. The most surprising part of the experience, though, was that the attendants don’t really wear much clothing. Like only bikini bottoms. The guide book did not prepare me for that — I thought I was the only one who was going to be exposed.

Well, I chalked this one up to being an interesting cultural experience, and I despite some initial anxiety, ended up enjoying myself and feeling squeaky clean and relaxed by the time I was done.

Evan and I spent the rest of the day relaxing at the Dervish Tea Garden, drinking tea and playing backgammon. I won every time.

When it was time to finally leave, we had a nice time at the airport, hanging out in the Turkish Airways lounge, which was really nice (we somehow managed to fly business class to Thailand — our longest flight!). There was a business centers with computers to use, a big dining/drinking area, a separate kids’ room, a TV lounge and a sleeping lounge. The flight itself was fine — we both slept most of the way — though Turkish Airways has the worst business class food I’ve ever had, worse than most economy meals I’ve had. There were at least huge TVs, and on their flight monitor, we could check out the front and rear views from the airplane — it was quite cool to see it approach the airport and land!

Check out our Istanbul photos in Evan’s Facebook album.