Royal Academy Turns to Kickstarter to Bring Ai Weiwei to London

World renowned Chinese artist-activist Ai Weiwei will be traveling to London. This is big news in and of itself, as Ai's passport has been held by the Chinese government since 2011, when he was detained for 81 days for a contested tax bill. Although he was released, his passport was not returned at the time. Last week, though, he posted the above photo of himself on Instagram with the message, "Today, I got my passport."

Ai has never let boundaries stop him, politically or even physically. He's created international site-specific works without setting foot outside China, including "@Large," his recent large-scale exhibition about incarceration at San Francisco's infamous prison turned national park, Alcatraz Island, that he planned and executed remotely. For his forthcoming exhibition, his first major institutional show in Britain which will open at the Royal Academy of Arts in London on September 19, 2015, Ai has also planned remotely, but this time, he'll actually be able to attend his own show in person. 

But because The Royal Academy is an independent charity, it's turned to Kickstarter to fund this monumental show, which will feature a courtyard of reassembled trees. With a goal of £100,000, the RA asks funders from around the world to "Join the global conversation about art and activism; transcend national boundaries as people all over the world help us make this happen." This is RA's first crowdfunding campaign. Tim Marlow, the RA's artistic director told The Guardian, that although using Kickstarter is a "gamble," “It is not a major risk for us and I’m quite confident it will happen. I think a lot of people will be interested in the idea of supporting Ai Weiwei and being a patron of the arts." 

The Guardian further explains another reason that the RA turned to Kickstarter was timing – the show was scheduled so quickly that there wasn't enough time for conventional fundraising. But did the RA underestimate the power of fundraising? The Kickstarter campaign still has about two weeks to go and has not yet hit its goal.  

Image by Ai Weiwei via Instagram

Can You Censor an Artist from Performing as a Hologram?

Hip-hop artist, Chief Keef, has found a clever way to perform for his fans in concert without actually having to be there in real life. He performs as a hologram.

Well, sorta. It's not actually a hologram, but a kind of video projection created by a company called Hologram USA, that raised Tupac from the dead, as Gizmodo explains. According to The GuardianKeef plays as a hologram to avoid arrest, as he has several arrest warrants against him in Illinois, and he's been called "an unacceptable role model" by Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel, who claims he has "promoted violence." Keef's reputation as a menace to society has prevented him performing, even as a projection. This past Saturday, Keef's holographic performance in Hammond, Il at Craze Fest was shut down by police.

Keef's team hinted on Saturday that he'd be performing as a hologram at a secret location in Chicago, but later confirmed he'd be at Craze Fest, 25 miles outside of Chicago. The concert was a benefit to raise money for a fellow rapper and a 13-month-old child, who both died in a shooting incident, with a message of "Stop the Killing."  

Saturday's incident has brought on a larger discussion of censorship and the arts. Can and should an artist who's been deemed a threat to society be banned from performing, even as a holographic image? I think the artist community at large will probably all answer with a resounding "No." 

 Via: The Guardian; images via Instagram

  

Cleonique Hilsaca Explains Why Digital Artists Still Need Sketchbooks

"Animals with Sweaters" from "Objects of My Affection"

"Animals with Sweaters" from "Objects of My Affection"

Today Georgia-based Honduran artist Cleonique Hilsaca released her third digital collection on NeonMob. "Objects of My Affection" are colorful and whimsical illustrations depicting 100 of Hilsaca's favorite things, including animals in sweaters, making zines, visiting cemeteries, and bike rides.

"Bumblebees" from "Objects of My Affection"

"Bumblebees" from "Objects of My Affection"

Hilsaca, who moved to Savannah, George from Tegucigalpa, Hondura to attend Savannah College of Art and Design, is a freelance illustrator. Her graphic style is character-driven – mainly focused on a girl with a big poof of long, curly black hair, a cartoon version of the artist as a young woman. 

"Curiosity" from "Objects of My Affection"

"Curiosity" from "Objects of My Affection"

Although Hilsaca mainly creates her work in digital format, one of the most important tools she uses is the sketchbook. She told me, "Since I work mostly digital at this time in my career, I don't get to experiment much with other mediums and techniques but the one thing I do often is sketch. Sketching and inking my drawings in my many sketchbooks aids me in idea exploration and eases my hand into drawing and inking the way I want my work to look like. Working on my sketchbooks makes working on the computer much easier as my idea is fully explored and then I just need to recreate it on the screen."

"Bike Rides" from "Objects of My Affection"

"Bike Rides" from "Objects of My Affection"

For Hilsaca, sketchbooks are also a way for artist to slow down the pace of the digital world, to make time to not only make the best work, but to learn more about themselves and their style. "Many people are eager to have finished work as often and quickly as possible and forget that the best of art took patience and time to put together," she explains. "If I were to teach someone something that I feel is helpful to remember it'd be to carry a sketchbook wherever you go (you never know when inspiration will hit you!), to treat your sketchbooks as a work of art, as seriously as you would a finished piece, but with the freedom of exploring your lines, shapes, textures and colors in any way you want. It is a place to discover yourself and translate that into your finished work. For people that are still trying to identify with a 'style,' sketching your way through sketchbook after sketchbook will let you find your voice, a voice that was always there to begin with!"

"Winter" from "Objects of My Affection"

"Winter" from "Objects of My Affection"

Time and space for reflection is also important to Hilsaca because it's not something artists are taught in school, but something they have to create for themselves. "In school you learn to follow the guidelines of every project and the direction of the teachers about our work. This is great when it comes to working with clients, keeping deadlines and sticking to each projects guidelines, but what they don't teach you, as it is not something they can teach, is how to figure out what YOU want to create and be disciplined enough to make it happen."

"Working" from "Objects of My Affection"

"Working" from "Objects of My Affection"

Self-discipline is not easy, but it's what makes you a stronger artist. "Most of your development as an artist won't happen in class, but in your tiny room, full of books, sketchbooks and scraps. With a dim light, fiercely drawing at midnight with a belly full of coffee and snacks. When you doubt yourself the most, but you still keep going. When you fall, and don't think twice to get up. When your work doesn't look like the image in your head, but you get closer every time."

"Travel" from "Objects of My Affection"

"Travel" from "Objects of My Affection"

"I always worked outside of class and even though my work never looked quite like I wanted it to, I knew I was getting closer. I couldn't see improvement until six months to a year had gone by. I've learned to be patient with myself and to enjoy every step of the way. To work on projects that I love, no matter where they may end up or nowhere at all. And the best thing I've learned for myself is that I am not working for others, I am creating for me and me alone and if I love what I'm doing, I'm sure others will too because if I don't, how can I expect them to?"

These Tattoos By Paolo Bosson Were Created Completely Freehand

French tattoo artist Paolo Bosson of BIRIBI in Lyon France has made a name for himself for his improvisational tattoos that have been shared via Instagram and Facebook. Without using sketches, stencils, or pens, Bosson freehand inked these beautiful art pieces directly on the skin. His pieces are mostly black ink linear illustrations, drawn with an incredibly well-controlled hand of playfully weird and unique modernist characters, like Picasso-like women in leotards, skull-grasping yetis, and vampy mouths with legs. 

Along with freehand, Bosson also creates incredible flash images on his Instagram.

Test Your Color-Matching Skills with This Addictive iPhone Game

Images from Specimen video on Vimeo

Images from Specimen video on Vimeo

As that infuriating viral photo of the black and blue (or was it white and gold?) dress taught us last year, when it comes to color, your closest friends can end up labeling something a completely different hue than what you see in front of you. As if to further needle — oh, we mean test — that debate on how we perceive color, animator Erica Gorochow released Specimen, a very cool minimalist game that challenges users to match a rainbow of neon jellybeans with shifting backgrounds before the timer runs out.

Gorochow has explained that she conceived of the free game as something people could play on the subway, but — warning here — there's a danger of missing your stop if you follow these vibrant blobs across your smartphone for too long. You may think there's nothing to matching colors released into a petri dish from an eyedropper, but once these shade-shifting chameleons switch hues at increasingly faster speeds, it becomes harder to tell exactly which green, or blue, or purple that damn background has become. Tap the correct match and you earn chroma coins or patterned boosters, along with the confidence of knowing your color intuition comes correct. 

New York-based Gorochow is a pro at motion design. She has done work for Red Bull Music Academy and The Creator's Project, and she did the animation for Rihanna's "Rude Boy" video — which is where she met developer buddy Sal Randazzo, who helped her conceive and create Specimen. (They also worked with programmer Charlie Whitney.)

The game has also inspired a mini-clothing line collab with Print All Over Me. In an interview for PAOM's newsletter, Gorochow said that although she hopes to give users sweet gamer sugar-highs, she also has deeper questions that the data from the game could possibly reveal: "How does NY vs LA see color? Europe vs Asia?" she asks. "Specimen is fun, first and foremost. But we hope it has the potential to reveal something otherwise invisible."

For those of you who live in New York, you could really make Gorochow's day if you just play the game on the F-Line, though. She told Motiongrapher that she'd love to spy a fellow commuter tapping away at Specimen next to her.

Download your free copy of Specimen here.