April 04, 2008
May 30, 2006
Please don't be confused: this is not a painted tree. No no no... we're not interested in something as boring as that (and neither is the tree). This is a tree sweater! Or, as Carol Hummel, its creator calls it... a Tree Cozy. The tree will be enjoying its new hand crocheted outfit for a period of two years at Cleveland Heights City Hall in Severance Town Center. Meanwhile I can't help but wonder... how? How did she slip this tree into its fancy new clothing?
We are all impressed. You, me and the tree.
top photo ©2005, dabbler
April 24, 2006
War + Pink = Peace
What is it with the color pink? It seems to be so heavily laden with meaning; tenderness, feminity, love, sex, warmth. Add all this up, throw it on a tank or any other weapon of war, and what do you get? Peace? That's right, peace. War (or tank) + pink = peace.
Let's apply our simple equation to a few real world tanks and watch the magic happen.
If you had taken a walk to the corner of Pages Walk and Mandala Way in London in 2002, you would have been greeted by the threatening view of a a large green/gray T-34 (a tank). There it is before you: a menacing ghost of battle, of death – a monster waiting (hiding) in the weeds. Children walk by quickly. Old men look away with hands over old wounds. And so you turn and leave and never return. Too bad. You will never see what is about to happen.
Later that same year the tank is painted pink by artist Aleksandra Mir and is dubbed Pink Tank. Instantly it is transformed. It becomes cute and small. Approachable, funny, sexy. Above all, it becomes a statement of peace.
And now people flock to the tank. There it sits, a virtual playground for graffiti artists, a work in perpetual
progress. A weapon transformed into a statement of peace, love and open mindedness...
London's tank was not the first to become pink. Perhaps the pink tank that started it all was Prague's tank No. 23. In 1968, the Soviets had just entered the Czech capital with loads of big mean T-34s. They mounted one up on a pedestal in the city square (just to let everybody know who was boss). And there it stood until 1991, after the fall of the Soviet empire, when David Cerny, a local artist, decided he that wasn't crazy about the whole thing. So he painted it pink.
The Czech Army had a difficult time figuring out what all of this meant but they knew they didn't like it and so they repainted green. Too late. This whole pink thing had already caught on big and parliament deputies re-repainted it pink, in support of David Cerny's original statement.
Cerny's pink tank was clearly something very un-Soviet. They were big and powerful but their residual tank became diminished and pink and pretty (flowery-pretty). In this case, our equation, again applied to a tank, became a powerful statement: powerful enough to get Cerny temporarily arrested and powerful enough to cause the stubborn Czech Army officials to eventually throw up their hands and remove the Soviet symbol (which was a delight to almost everyone).
Other Pink Tanks
It turns out that the symbol of a pink tank has become such a powerful statement that protesters will go to great extremes to come up with one, as can be seen in this parade (below), where those involved constructed their own fake tank. This is obviously second best; the contrast between the harsh realities of war and the color pink can be mostly lost.
War + pink may also equal Gay Pride. This equation is much more complex. I'm not even going to approach it...
And now for one of my pink tank favorites; the pink form-fitting blanket-wearing tank! I really love this one, it's absolutely weird and spectacular and it adds so much to the pink tank symbology. A hand knit blanket – here's something we cozy up under at night. It brings us warmth. Comfort. It has rich sentimental value and our maybe our grandmother has made it for us. We hold it and think of her. Negatives: the blanket can be easily destroyed or removed. Also, it takes a very time to crochet this sort of think; I can't imagine making one for a battleship. Or the Pentagon (though Christo did wrap the Reichstag with cloth and it was freakin' amazing)!
So What Can the Equation Do For Us?
If we like war, I suppose we should stay away from pink (no one's going to take a pink infantry very seriously). But if you don't agree with war, or a particular war, then you may want to get out your buckets of paint (or crochet hooks) and get to work! The equation works. It may even be as symbolically as powerful as tea+indian costumes+Boston Harbor=really pissed king (but probably not). War + pink = peace. So paint. And prepare yourself for the coming peace (keeping your pink fingers crossed).
The above image is of the USS Balao, painted pink for the Blake Edwards 1959 film Operation Petticoat, starring Cary Grant and Tony Curtis (thank you, Alli).
Note: War + pink = peace is only a simplified equation. The real equation is much more complex but I'm not smart enough to figure it out. It involves levels of power and complexity of symbology. For example, a pink missle is effective but if the Little Boy atomic bomb were painted pink... this would practically yell and scream peace (though unfortunately, it would clearly be an act of vandalism). If we raise the bar even more, a pink oval office might instantly end any war. But a pink American flag? Though the flag may imply military strength, it also implies a complex mix of other things; coloring it pink might diminish all of these complex meanings, diluting any desired impact of the pink in the first place. Conclusion: one needs to be methodical when one is dealing with pink.
Note 2: The top-most Land Rover is the Pink Panther British Special Air Service's Desert Land Rover, one of the few real pink military vehicles I was able to find. Another was a flotilla of destroyers painted Mountbatten Pink in WWII. Know of anymore pink military vehicles? Let me know.
(many of these tanks came via the incomparable: boingboing)
February 16, 2006
Water calligraphy by an anonymous man in Beijing. His kanji would begin to fade in just 30 seconds (and I wish I knew what he was writing)!
Reader Comment: Tian says,
Writing with brush and water is a common practice for people to practice their calligraphy. I used to do it when I was in primary school since it was much cheaper than actual ink and your parents wouldn't yell at you when you were making a mess... The single character is 暑 which means "hot weather" aka. summer.
(via: Andrew Yoon)
February 15, 2006
I've just spent about 20 minutes smiling and staring wide-eyed at these photographs of performance artist Li Wei. You must take a look!
Update: Though Li Wei used to be a painter, he gave that up a few years back for performance art. These are not retouched photos. Each performance takes place in front of a live audience (I added a photo below to demonstrate). His work is also conceptual, which can be problematic; the Chinese authorities often don't like his kind of concepts and have shut him down on occasion.
Update 2: Li Wei's site has inexplicably gone down.
(via: bohemian rhapsody in blue)
The bottom photo was taken by a tourist who happened upon one of Li Wei's (very cold) performances.