Sunday, July 24, 2016

Creative Obliteration of Corporate Logos

Enough with all of the branding, a misbegotten idea that works very well for the businesses involved but a sadly humiliating prospect for human beings who are reduced to little more than ambulatory billboards. And let's not even discuss the type of branding that sends the signal to everyone else: "I have lots and lots of money as indicated by the logo appearing prominently on this item of clothing."

It is time to obliterate corporate logos and stand proud as the raw, unlabeled human beings we were meant to be. I have played with this idea before in an earlier post: Geek Chic: QR Code Patches (click for a complete how-to). There the idea was to take advantage of all of those wonderful nearly-new men's shirts at thrift stores that are sadly marred by logos (often of failed software start-ups here in the Bay Area). Simply cover the logos over with QR code patches that you create yourself to send whatever message you want. I believe the one below, if scanned with a smartphone, will say, "Eat the Rich."

QR code patch: "Eat the Rich"

The person for whom I converted a lot of those QR code shirts has clearly gotten the message. Or rather, he has gotten the message and now considers logos distasteful. He recently handed me a Smith & Hawken vest, purchased new, with the request that I cover the logo somehow.

Patching in progress over brand logo

I leafed through a packet of random iron-on images I had created in the past, and decided to go with the following, found in an old Scientific American magazine at a thrift store.

Three ways of tying your shoes

I cropped the image and converted it to sepia tone and then printed it onto iron-on paper (remembering, of course, to reverse the image before printing so that, when ironed, the words read correctly).

A little bit of stitching, and Smith & Hawken was no more.

Sewing on patch with iron-on image

The recipient of this handiwork is currently hiking around Yosemite, happy in the knowledge that he is not a walking advertisement for a clothing company.

Time for you to go out and start obliterating a few logos on your own.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Just Passing Through: Installation Art with Found Materials

Weekend picnickers and partiers at Lake Merritt in Oakland often employ folding metal gazebos — the kind you see vendors using at farmers markets. When I saw this gazebo-gone-wrong lying abandoned on the lawn of the park a few doors down from my apartment building my first reaction was annoyance. Clearly someone couldn't figure out how to fold the damn thing back up again so they trashed it and left it behind.

Folding picnic gazebo gone wrong

Then, while sitting at a bus stop across the street from the metal wreck I thought, gee, that shape is really kind of interesting.

The lines are so intriguing it actually looks sculptural. So... I decided to embellish it just a bit to create an installation piece that was already 95% installed.

I had recently collected a bunch of feathers left on the ground around the lake from the annual Canada Geese molting season. I decided to use an old Ohlone technique for working with feathers. They used them to create skirts and capes. I used them to embellish the metal structure. The feathers and how-to regarding the Ohlone technique are shown below.

Feathers ready for hanging

Ohlone technique for creating a hanging loop on a feather

Finished loop with string tied on

The concept behind this installation is expressed in the title, "Just Passing Through," as explained in the signage below.

Sign printed on card stock, attached to metal limb of piece

Sign wording

The final step was to tie the Canada Geese feathers to the metal limbs of the piece, creating a kinetic sculpture.

Any day when you can turn an annoyance into art is a very good day indeed. And... the entire thing vanished a day later, presumably carted off by city workers or the Parks Department, turning the whole thing from an installation into a very short-lived performance piece. Do I mind? No. Like all the components involved, it was just passing through.

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