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March 30, 2006

Balancing on a Hair


You should know about this pagoda in Myanmar for any number of amazing reasons. First, it sits on a big rock. Second, as you can plainly see, the rock itself is totally gilded in gold and looks like a shot out of a some spectacular nonexistent sci-fi film.

More importantly still, the great rock of the Kyaik-htiyo pagoda is balancing on the precipice of a larger rock. And when I say balancing, I mean really balancing; the area of contact between the two rocks is unbelievably small. So please don't push...


However, barring any natural disasters, the pagoda probably isn't going anywhere anytime soon. The stone hasn't moved for hundreds of years; perhaps the single hair of Lord Buddha, upon which the pagoda is erected, is somehow keeping this gargantuan rock from slipping away...?


Kyaik-htiyo – 3 large photos
1912 Photograph of Kyaik-htiyo

(via: geisha asobi)

March 30, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (9) | TrackBack

Ephemeral Exclusive


Amanda Spielman, the genius behind New Ephemera, has been kind enough to visit Tinselman and reveal exclusive cultural secrets from her mythical city. We welcome her comments (from the previous New Ephemera post):

Each October New Ephemera holds a Dark Chocolate Festival where chocolatiers from all over the world come to taste and to educate themselves. For 12 days, dark chocolate is made available for free to everyone in the city. Of course, New Ephemera also produces an excellent milk chocolate, but it's the dark chocolate that inspires awe.

Not having any information about the location of the Dark Chocalate Festival, I deduced (rough guess) that it may place somewhere within the red areas that I drew on her map. But probably not. I hope that Amanda will further enlighten us on this and more exciting ephemeral truths!

March 30, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack

March 29, 2006

Thinking of Urville


The very first plans for the city of Urville were made out of Legos by a 5 year old boy with Aspergers. Today, the 28 year old Gilles Trehin still works away on his imaginary city, evolving it into something that seems very believable. As Trehin says,

I made many (200) drawings of Urville and I wrote a historical, geographical, cultural, and economical description. I also have a book project called "Sight Seeing Tour of Urville" that I'd love to publish. My greatest pleasure is to be invited to give a lecture on Urville because I can make it exist!

There's a interesting short film about Trehin; view it here. Please take a look! Also, his Urville book is now for sale (though it won't be coming out until later this year) and, if you really like his work, you can even purchase one of his original hand drawings.

Cities Tinselistic

(via: Athanasius Kircher Society)

March 29, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

March 28, 2006

Fleeting Fulfillment


Welcome to the town of New Ephemera, a "radiant landscape", a "magical vacation", far from the cold drudgery of everyday existence. As the tourist pamphlet says,

New Ephemera exhilarates, awakening the senses to new experiences as well as to those things usually taken for granted. Stroll down its cafe-lined streets, admire its monuments and great works of art, absorb the sun on its beaches... Stay awhile and you will see why New Ephemera is called City of Fleeting Fulfillment.


Oh, but it gets better. The city's leading industries are winemaking and bookbinding. A visitor can take delight wandering the halls of the vegetation museum or maybe just take a dip in the Subterranean Honey Baths. Plastic trees are banned in New Ephemera (the punishment for possession of fake foliage is a heavy fine and potential imprisonment) and bicycles are the primary mode of transportation.

I'm almost sad to say that New Ephemera isn't a real place. It is, as it's name implies, a fictional destination and the project of design student Amanda Spielman. Spielman created a tourist pamphlet to hand out to morning commuters on a Manhattan-bound train in an attempt to lift the spirits of a dull commute. She didn't anticipate the reaction and was surprised when over 20 people called, asking about vacation details to New Ephemera!

To learn more about this exquisitely executed fictional location, read this short article at Metropolis Magazine. Or take a look at the PDF of Spielman's original pamphlet (and print copies... confound your friends)!

Calcata, Italy, a crushed web of tunnels, stairs, twisting paths, balconies and archways, is a real city that may be more inticing than New Ephemera...


March 28, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (7) | TrackBack

The Republic Gets Blurry


The Republic of Tinselman has been on ongoing experiment and research tool. As far as I know, it's the first web-based state in the world. This is very attractive to me, not only because it blurs the definition of what a republic is but also because it blurs the line between the real and the fantastic.

In my continual effort to blur things, I have created the first Republic of Tinselman stamp. The beautiful thing about this stamp: it can actually be used to send letters through the U.S. Postal service even though it clearly states the name of our web-based nation, The Republic of Tinselman. Very exciting times, dude.


I love the post office. My mailman is very nice. And he delivers the mail on Saturdays when it's freezing cold and raining. I'm sorry I have to take advantage of them like this but PhotoStamps personalized U.S. postage is just asking for this type of abuse. But will PhotoStamps accept the design? There was nothing about "web-based republics" in their content restrictions. I'll keep you up to informed as the drama unfolds.

And if you're a citizen of the Republic and you'd like get all fantastic and blurry on your envelops, click on the larger image above and use the illustration as the basis of your new PhotoStamp. (A signifigant other also works nicely.)

March 28, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack

March 24, 2006

Beckoning Mars with Idioms


I've seen some photos of this book tower but had not heard much about the artist, Matej Kren, and his reasons for building it. Was it simply an attempt to break a Guinness World Record or was the tower, as I suspected, a shrine to his Martian overlords, whom he was at last beckoning down to fulfill their long-delayed master plan of destroying all of planet earth (but they were thwarted just in time, when the tower was disassembled a day early)?

Surprisingly, neither is true (according to Kren...). I was also surprised to learn that there have been at least three of these book towers built so far... one in Sao Paolo, one in Prague and one in Jerusalem. I'm not sure how many more. Kren contructs the towers from books published in the country in which one is to be built. And so the works absorb a local context, integrating the content, history and vernacular of that country's local culture. Ergo and so forth and... that's why he's titled his multiple work concept Idiom.


Though Idiom was Kren's first (and most recent) book sculpture, he's created a number of variations on the theme. Click on the small photos to take a look.

And if you have more info on Kren and his beckoning towers, please let me know.




Passage Description – Matej Kren
Tallest book tower in... Malaysia?

March 24, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

March 21, 2006

Love and Paint


Rising up out of the desert near Niland California is Leonard Knight's whimsical vision of paradise: waterfalls, flowers, streets of gold, fields of rich green grass and towering pines. It virtually blankets a small hill and still, he continues to build.


This world of his has an unquestionably surreal quality, not just because it's made out of adobe and paint, but also because almost everything is constructed out of bible verses and Christian catch-phrases. "God is love" is painted everywhere. And though this sugary coating is interesting, I personally find the darker bits more intriguing. For example, his sculpted "love" looks like it might hurt if we were to touch it. And one tunnel seems to be filled with tremendous neurons (does Knight unknowingly feel trapped inside his own brain?).

Of course, there is no correct interpretation for his world. One thing's for certain... almost everyone who meets him utterly enjoys him (and his free postcards). So if you're ever in Niland, stop by and say hi. At the very least, take a look at some of the photos below (you owe it to Knight).



(click photos to enlarge)

Reader comment (from boingboing): Bart says,

We've gone out to Salvation Mountain several times, each time showing more friends and family what Leonard has done. That entire southeast region of the Salton Sea has many interesting stops including Slab City (snowbirds and squatters community on a deserted military base), Bombay Beach (half underwater) and the numerous bird preserves (one dedicated by Sonny Bono). Quite an interesting place. I recently snapped a bunch of photos while out there.

Salvation Mountain – Photos
Mountain Man – Photos II
Salvation Mountain – Photos III
Interview with Knight – 1998
Salvation Mountain – QTVR
Previous outsider art posts

Salv13 a

Salv_10 b

a. Download marker for Google Earth.
b. Knight has so far used 100,000 gallons of paint.

March 21, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (6) | TrackBack

March 19, 2006

All Hail the Gummi


Twenty or so of these rubbery Jellio GummiLights, scattered everywhere around your house, may begin to embody your adoration for the Gummi Bear. At seven inches high, they are conveniently battery powered (lasting 20 hours) and, of course, glow like glorious beacons of Gummi-Bear loveliness.

4 lbs cube of edible Gumminess

(via: MoCo Loco)

March 19, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (18) | TrackBack

Killer Robot vs. Robot Killer


[Ah... poor Bad-dog.] Let me go on a walk... please???

Welcome. We are the vision of Finnish artist Oona Tikkaoja: a blend of ancient myth, fairy tales, Japanese monsters, textiles and thread.* But we have been lonely of late.

Recently mother (Tikkaoja) visited us. She gave us all hugs and told us the good news: we would soon have children! She is sewing some shiny plastic-cloth creatures for new exhibition (we drank champagne and ate cavier to celebrate... what fun, what fun).

She did not hug Bad-dog. She spanked him with a newspaper and made sure his knots were tight.



Killer Robot Records – Tikkaoja's record label
Birth of the Japanese Monster – Previous post

March 19, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 17, 2006

There and Gone


Take a look at the work of Florentijin Hoffman. It's the kind of whimsical stuff that provokes almost everyone (or, if the grown-ups just don't seem to "get it", their kids definitely will). It's perhaps the temporary nature of most of his work that causes it to be that much more meaningful.

As Hoffman says of the above work, Beukelsblue, in Rotterdam, which has recently been demolished:

By redecorating this block, which was built in the first years of the 20th century, people start looking again at what was and is there, and maybe thinking about what they will get in return. It also puts in perspective blocks of houses as such, architectural 'fashions' and demographic processes like city migrations, by making those blocks look like toy houses or archetypal buildings or an architect's maquette.


Conceptually speaking, Yellow Street is another one of my favorite works of his, simply because the work transforms Shiedam, the poorest city in the Netherlands simply by painting a so-called "yellow brick road" that leads to city center. As Hoffman says, "It throws a new perspective on the situation; this street will never be the same again."


In all of Hoffman's work, he alters the scale, color and life span of very typical things: dogs, toys, a neighborhood and, in so doing, we (the participants) are taken unawares; there are no preconceived notions for a giant red dog or a stretch of blue houses. And through that we're forced to take a child-like view of our new Hoffman-altered world.

Tirana-rama, city of color – Previous post
Bulldog Colossal and more big animals – Previous post




His work brings to mind Christo's bold statements. I've never personally seen any of Christo's work, but watching the impact of his work on his crew and "participants" in this series of documentaries was inspiring.

(Hoffman link, via: we-make-money-not-art)

March 17, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack