Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Exhibition: Beasts! (2006)

Beasts! was an exhibition that opened in December 2006, curated by Gabe Kean and myself at Kean's studio/gallery Belle & Wissell. The exhibition was based on a book of the same name edited by Jacob Covey (Fantagraphics, Unflown). The exhibition and the book were "released" at roughly the same time.

Beasts! the book featured 90 different awesome artists creating their conceptions of various folklorish and mythical beasts from the cobwebby reaches of the human psyche. Amazing artists, amazing book.

For the exhibition, Gabe Kean and I wanted to be able to showcase some of the original artwork by the artists in the book, but also create a unified space that would act as a Beasts Central, so to speak. Gabe and I are very interested in the art of exhibitry and how the accoutrements of exhibitions (the graphics, text panels, casework, presentation, etc.) are just as vital to the success of the exhibition as the "artifacts" themselves. So often you see art exhibitions with amazing artwork accompanied by shittily-made object tags or a xeroxed, taped-to-the-wall artist statement. Horrible. Why not make everything look awesome.

So, Gabe and I split up the space into 4 components. 1) a flavorful intro wall, 2) an assemblage of original artworks, 3) a Beasts-centric map of the world, and 4) an interactive projection kiosk that feeds you all the content from the book in an unique way.

Gabe Kean and Aaron Hedquist created the projection interactive, I created the map wall and associated graphics, and we all collaborated on the rest, including general look, feel, graphic implementation, and install.

The opening was packed. See below for details.

(Below) - this is the graphic that I designed so the visitor could interact with the map wall. Each of the beasts featured in the book are indicated on the graphic, which correlates to data points on the map. There's also tons of pseudo-intellectual bullshit and in-jokes to fill in the rest of the white space. I love this graphic. I think it'd make a swell poster. I have the files if anyone wants to pay for it.

Exhibition opening (below) as visitors interact with map wall.

Adam Grano (below) exploring the projection interactive. The bummer with these photos is that the projection seems rather dim, which at least at night during the opening it was not.

Full view of the map wall (below) - I think these photos were taken after the map graphic fell off the wall and was slightly damaged (even with all the velcro we used!)

Another view of the map wall (below). The map graphic was stolen from some web vector image. I made a black positive onto a transparency and projected it onto the wall with my overhead projector. Then it was traced and painted with two coats of paint at a shade lighter than the wall color. Data points and numbers were vinyl and added by hand.

Assemblage of original artworks from the book (below):

Intro wall (below), including the Jacob Covey-designed Beasts! logo. Sign painter and all-around awesome artist Sven Sundbaum chalked out the logo on the blackboard and hand wrote all of the artist names.