Remember these guys? They’re like the equivalent of Transformers for individuals with a softer, more fanciful imagination.
Those with sharp memories will recall that the Magic Garden kits included little cardboard cutouts of mountains, trees and grass (treated with a mysterious solution) that you could set up on a tray. After dousing the cardboard with magical liquid, bright blooms began to grow. Soon you had a fuzzy Japanese garden, complete with nuclear-pink cherry blossoms, acid-green grass and a snowy mountain peak. Now it reminds us simultaneously of The Point!, cotton candy, toxic waste and clown hair. Awesome.
Combining several good ideas (light, DIY, prehistoric beasts) into one package, ThinkGeek offers their DIY Dinosaur Lamp in Triceratops, Diploducus and T-Rex models. The kit comes with a bundle of supple white plastic sheets which, with the aid of an instruction sheet and you, transform into luminescent dinos.
Although the project initially appears fiendishly difficult to assemble, it is actually pretty easy to figure out. There are holes and slots, and one goes in the other. Do this a bunch of times and pretty soon you have a light-bearing dinosaur to call your own. Or to give as a gift. Also makes a nifty centerpiece for your next triassic-themed party.
Furry Puppet Studio is exactly what it sounds like: a magical laboratory where puppets are born! At least that’s what it seems like from their website, which is replete with images of stupdendous, diverse puppets and nifty glimpses at the process that brings these creatures to life. In their “Workshop” section, we’re treated to photos and descriptions of various stages in the puppet-making process. The Furry Puppet blog takes it a step further with some tantalizingly brief looks at works in progress, including video screen tests and disembodied robotic eyes in action.
Is puppeteering the new knitting? Will D.I.Y. puppet shows follow in the footsteps of indie craft fairs? Let’s hope! We could use some more puppets in the world today.
Son of a cinematographer and a child therapist, Jan von Holleben must have been destined to create visually striking depictions of childhood fantasy. In his series Dreams of Flying, the photographer takes an old-fashioned approach to staging gravity-defying acrobatics. Hollenben’s work is Gondry-esque (though maybe it’s the “Ghostbusters” shot leaving that impression) in its lo-fi sensibility, favoring D.I.Y. fun over glossy special effects trickery. Check out his latest series, Journey to Everywhere for more adventurous kids, make believe and optical illusions.
When you think of Warped Tour, the first thing that comes to mind usually isn’t “rad art!” Well that’s all about to change, thanks to outta-this-world artist Jesse Spears. At each leg of this summer’s tour, Jesse’s been creating unique wall-sized canvases for the aesthetically inclined fans of NOFX and Less Than Jake to leave their mark upon, and documenting it all for the blog So Many Walls.
The result has been a plethora of peace signs, hearts, and anarchy symbols, to be sure– but the mere concept of creating D.I.Y. art at a punk show has got to be expanding life’s possibilities for the youth of Charlotte, North Carolina and Camden, New Jersey. Jesse is all about encouraging kids to participate and be creative for the pure enjoyment of it, ditching insecurities and judgements at the door. Don’t take my word for it– watch her philosophy in action in this clip (made by the Beautiful Losers crew) about a workshop in which Jesse helped high school students express themselves with paint, cardboard, and pom poms.
Flashback. Remember when your mom made dinner and it was something gross? And you were all, “I don’t like tuna casserole.” And she was all, “Tough bananas. If you don’t like it, how ’bout YOU cook dinner?”
This line of logic is frustrating to young children but imminently satisfying to older ones. After all, we don’t exactly have the skills to fend for ourselves at a young age. But once you grow up and figure out how to make your way, doing things yourself is often the best way to get them done right.
Bon Bon Kakku takes the concept and turns it into a community. The site encourages visitors to design their own fabrics for viewers to see and vote for. If the fabric is popular enough, it will be manufactured and sold on the website.
The cherry on the sundae is that the available designs are really good. It’s enough to reinvigorate your belief in the merits of crowdsourcing. And in the case that you’re not super keen on any of the designs, you can always submit your own. “If you have never found nice fabrics to buy,” the website asks, “why don’t you design them yourself?”
Video artist and sculptor Ryan Trecartin’s D.I.Y. digital opuses are overwhelming in their labyrinthine visual complexity, reaching new aesthetic depths through a deluge of multi-layered raw footage spliced together faster than we can process what we’re seeing. As a device, dazzling viewers with an over-stimulated cyberdelic assualt is nothing new– but the key to Trecartin’s success is his indelibly strong grasp on the fragmented cacophony he creates. His execution is so meticulous that, combined with the excellent performances (especially the artist’s own), lovingly hand-crafted production deisgn, and hilariously lyrical dialogue, Trecartin’s videos become viscerally resonating trascendental experiences.
The impulsive, manic logic ruling the otherworldly language of Trecartin’s videos is an unsettlingly distorted one, to be sure, but not to the point of becoming indecipherable. Watching a Ryan Trecartin video flexes the same mental muscles that help you decode a 13-year-old’s instant message, or unravel the mysteries of an autistic outsider artist’s cryptic canvas. The generation currently coming of age possesses mutant superpowers of critical thinking– a propoensity for shifting semiotic fundamentals without flinching– thanks to the unassuming interference of the Internet. Ryan Trecartin is making art that allows us to put those fledgling powers to work.
Trecartin’s latest epic, Sibling Topics: (Section A and Section B), is the centerpiece of The New Museum’s triennial celebrating artists below the age of 33, Younger Than Jesus. The exhibit, which closes July 5th, also showcases work from Cory Arcangel, Cao Fei, Brendan Fowler and dozens of other trippendicular pretty young things. Check out Trecartin’s feature length 2007 video below, I-Be AREA.