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Craig Dorety: Division

Light animation sculptures inspired by ocular migraines that examine our visual limits

by Nara Shin in Culture on 18 April 2014

Contemporary Art, Jim Campbell, Oakland, Electronics, LEDs, Technology

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Opening on Saturday, 19 April 2014 at Oakland's Johansson Projects is an exhibition of hypnotic sculpture animations that will have your eyes watering—after you realize you haven't blinked in a few minutes. In "Division," San Francisco-based artist Craig Dorety is examining visual limits and perception, bringing our own neurological shortcomings to our attention.

Dorety isn't a typical visual artist; he chose to study mechanical engineering (holding a Bachelor of Science degree) and electronics as a means to create art; taking a different path than his father, who worked at IBM and Sun Microsystems in Silicon Valley. Instead of sculpting with clay or found objects, Dorety builds custom electronics that express the complicated, bigger ideas he's developed from experiencing occasional ocular migraines and also synesthesia (he also happens to be a classically trained musician who builds his own sound objects and synth kits).

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Dorety titles his work like a taxonomy of sorts: Geometry—Subject. For example, the shapes in "Offset Circles—Fruits and Vegetables" look like a horizontal slice of a Russian nesting doll or a hard-boiled egg. Behind alternating layers of aluminum composite material and PVC sheets, a micro-controller at the heart of the work reads color information from a digital image grabbed off the internet (in this case, fruits and vegetables) and displays the image, over time, on separated and diffused layers of full-color animated LEDs. The result is an illusion of lights organically moving and pulsing through the rigid shapes, and changing color—breathing life and spontaneity into a cold, technological feat. Other titles reveal different geometrical structures and images grounded in the natural, like "Quadrilateral Hyperbolae—Tropical Fish Tank" and "Aproned Squares—Lush Green Jungle." The embedded YouTube videos convey that these pieces are not static images; the sculpture animations range from 10 to 20 minutes in length.

Through these unique sculpture animations, Dorety is attempting to simulate the visual distortions he experiences during his ocular migraines, so others can see it too. "I see rippling shapes that seem to be comprised of geometrically shaped pixels, like tiny fractals," he says. "These sculptures are illustrated enlargements of what they look like to me, and how they behave. They are self-referential shapes, nested inside themselves." Dorety has done quite a bit of research into the visual cortex, learning that our vision isn't a continuous field of color, but is divided up by the brain for processing. He gives the example of James Turrell's Ganzfeld works, which use similar principles, but notes that Ganzfeld explores the complete field and not the divided.

"I think also a lot about quantum mechanics, and how our universe is comprised of discrete elements. Not only that, but those discrete elements are actually just collisions of wave energies, or interference. Basically, we are distortions. So when I see these pixels of perception, it makes all that more real to me."

The show will also feature a collaborative piece titled "Inverted Pixel Array—Street Scene NYC," created with Jim Campbell. "In this work, we are exploring the interface between the liminal (or barely recognizable) and the completely abstract," says Dorety, who has been assisting Campbell for six years as a design engineer. "Just how far can information be filtered and reduced before it becomes totally obfuscated? It worked; sometimes the imagery is not resolved, other times there is no question as to what is in the imagery." Pushing the boundaries of the two artists' exploration in low-resolution art, this piece brings to mind the moving, blurred forms seen in past Campbell works like the "Home Movies" series or "Ambiguous Icon #2 Fight."


"Division" opens on Saturday, 19 April 2014 and runs through 14 June at Johansson Projects, 2300 Telegraph Ave, Oakland, CA.

Images courtesy of Craig Dorety

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Milan Design Week 2014: The Quietly Colorful Home

Nacreous and matte takes on the pastel color palette found in a variety of furnishings

by Karen Day in Design on 18 April 2014

Color, Furniture, Home Furnishing, Lighting, Milan Design Week 2014, Pastels, Textiles

From fashion to photography to furniture, recent years have seen a shift in the creative world's overarching palette from highly saturated primary colors to a soft range of light corals, sea foams, baby blues, pale yellows and pinks. Some tones lean toward a more shimmery, nacreous vibe that melds well with iridescent glass, while others are definitively matte pastels that serve as harmonious accents in a neutral setting. Whether designed to complement the ongoing copper inflation or in response to our apathetic high-tech world, below is an assortment of quietly colorful design wares that we spotted during Milan Design Week 2014.

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With a set of steel sliding drawers sandwiching a pink marble top, Marco Guazzini's "Flamingo" console is a reflection of his research on movement. When the two drawers are pulled to opposite ends, Guazzini sees an "S" shape, reminding him of a flamingo's curved neck, which inspired both the name and color palette.

Modeled after a sine wave's regular tempo, the "Sine" clothing rack by young designers Kyuhyung Cho and Erik Olovsson keep clothes evenly spaced with its squiggly top rod and belts, scarves and small accessories organized thanks to three different styles of hangers.


Dutch couple Scholten & Baijings recreated their 2009 Tilt-Top Table (originally conceived with Mathieu Meijers) for Danish design shop Hay in the idiosyncratic colors the duo has become so known for—deep pastels and perfectly tinted neons. The top of the tri-legged table can be unlatched for easy storage.


For Wallpaper Handmade, two Prague studios teamed up for fantastic results. Designer Rony Plesl worked with Czech glassworks Verreum to create a range of silvered glass containers complete with a leather handle. Plesl is known for his talents designing with glass, and Verreum is equally recognized for their contemporary take on the traditional method of silvered glass-making, in which they use only high quality, pure silver to create the double-walled designs.


Czech designers Jan Plecháč and Henry Wielgus flawlessly married "the elegance of crystal with the rusticity of a wooden form clinched with iron nails" in "Moulds," a series of serene glass pendants with the LEDs inserted directly into the scorched oak mold. Designed for Lasvit, the display of overblown shapes in soft colors speak to the tradition of glassmaking in regard to the heat and energy involved in the process.


Dutch designer Roos Gomperts showcased an update on her "Foam & Glass" series, which she originally conceived in 2013 and exhibited during Dutch Design Week. She tells us the new series see an improvement in the design: the glass is now blown in molds instead of by hand and the coloring in the foam will last much longer. "For me it was important to show the structure of the foam, and the possibilities in shape with this material. And of course foam and glass fascinated me in combination because foam is often used to protect glass, and now it becomes part of it."


Arjan van Raadshooven and Anieke Branderhorst—the duo behind design label Vij5— worked with Mieke Meijer of NewspaperWood and designer Floris Hovers to create a new version of the Tabloid Table (part of a range of furniture and accessories they've been developing over the years). To achieve an element of color in their material created from newspapers, they used paper from variously hued dailies. The coffee table is made from Italy's pink La Gazetta dello Sport (and supported by Hovers' pink steel frame), while other pieces are made from Italia Oggi, Asharq Al-Awsat and the Financial Times.

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Designed by Luca Nichetto in collaboration with Lera Moiseeva, Sucabaruca is a ceramic pour-over coffee set created for Canadian design shop Mjölk. The series of conical shapes includes a hand-engraved pot (or decanter) at the base, a large cone as the filter (which fits on top of the pot) and then three rounded cups. The set comes in a few colorways with the pastel set representing the characteristics of Japanese architecture.

Veteran designer Inga Sempé continues Hay's reign as leaders in subtly colorful home wares with Pinorama, a pinboard coming soon to the Danish design shop. The metal grid Pinorama comes in a range of colors, but the pastel rainbow turns this into what the Parisian designer calls "wall furniture" that is just as nice on its own or filled with keys, pictures, important papers or anything that needs pinning.


Textile designer Mae Engelgeer's "Yeah" rug integrates her signature aesthetic typically imbued in more traditional fabrics with Berber and Boucherouite style carpets. The multi-tone color-blocked rug is hand-knotted and produced in Nepal by Dutch rug manufacturer Marc Janssen, from 100% wool.

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Les Volieres by Italian designer Cristina Celestino for Seletti brings an outdoor material inside. The grid wire storage units are crafted from iron rod and painted iron sheets, and feature adjustable glass shelves which reflect the objects resting on them.

Slovenian design students Dea Kaker and Eva Ferlan—who work under the label DeaEva—created "Pina," a collection of hand-turned wood vases and candleholders inspired by the dancer Pina Bausch. The pastels are balanced by strong geometry in the totem-like design for a contemporary take on an ancient form.


Studio WM, which is Design Academy Eindhoven grads Wendy Legro and Maarten Collignon, use their respective specializations to create ideal combinations of form an d function. Their lighting projects are as clever as they are visually pleasing, and their Lucent Mirros are made with dichroic glass so that the translucence and appearance change depending on the source of illumination.

Product shots courtesy of respective studios, installation photos by Karen Day

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1800 Milenio

The limited edition Cognac-finished tequila

by David Graver in Food + Drink on 18 April 2014

1800, Cognac, Jalisco, Liquors, Mexico, Milenio, Proximo Spirits, Spirits, Tequila


First produced in limited quantities back in 2000, 1800 Tequila's Milenio is now returning to shelves in a second edition of their wildly successful super-premium tequila. Fine Blue Weber Agave undergoes an extensive extra-aging process before further maturation in French oak cognac barrels to make this high-end tipple. This translates to a robust nose of Cognac before a refined, exquisite sip of a very unique tequila. The additional aging adds a dynamic—almost verdant—character, not only blending with the existing vanilla and cinnamon flavorings found within the tequila, but also by creating an entirely new experience all the way through to the finish. Its deep amber color also calls to mind cognac, and acts as a reminder that this extra añejo can be enjoyed as a stand alone sipper.

Milenio is the finest spirit in the 1800 roster, with its blue agave roots grown on family-owned ranches and bottled in Jalisco, Mexico—sharing owners with Jose Cuervo and Maestro Dobel. While being full-bodied, the complex balance within the spirit lends itself to a delightful and easy high-end option for tequila drinkers looking for a new adventure.

1800 Milenio will be available at select stockists this April (with a wider release slated for May) for $125.

Photos by David Graver

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