Tag Archives: sculpture

Toyo Project 1

ANYONE CAN CONTRIBUTE TO THIS PROJECT. But yeah, you probably had to be there: LES in the 80s.

I have videos of No Se No performances and Toyo talking about life in the Lower East Side. (Thank you, Cowboy) If anyone has ideas on how to transfer Beta (Beta, not Betacam) tapes into today's technology, please get in touch. Thank you.


I started this to bring attention to Toyo's photographic work and to see what would happen. Yes, I can write, but maybe I don't need to write anything. There is already one book about the Rivington School. Probably other people have more interesting things to say. Toyo's own memories and stories are treasures. I entered into this thinking that if I did write, I'd write about Toyo's images in a very impersonal manner, to counterbalance his intimacy. Topics like dates and short biographies, how Toyo constructs images, the challenges of film. Then, out of the blue... He sent some picture of me.


OK... Let's get something out of the way. This series of blog posts is not about me. The first three introduce Toyo and myself, but after that... who knows? I graduated from RIT with a BFA in Photographic Illustration, with a minor in Film and Video. I graduated early, in March 1983. I was having a party and I told a teacher about it. He said where you going? I said New York City. He said what are you going to do and I said I don't know. He showed me a fax. Call them. If you work there, you get access to equipment. That's what it's all about. That was on a Friday. They wanted me to come in on Monday. I arrived in Brooklyn, sat by the river with my good friend Pat and wondered about the Manhattan skyline. We were waiting for another good friend, Ben to show up. We were going to stay at his loft.

The next morning Ben's girlfriend took us on the subway to Rivington Street. It was cold but there was a street market in the park we had to cut across. I imagined fruits and vegetables, maybe cooked chicken or something. We got closer, we were in the middle of it. The ground was completely blue, covered with empty syringe wrappers. Heroin. My interview was just on the other side. We walked through, I went up the stairs, started work the next day. That place was called Young Filmakers/Video Arts. The address was 4 Rivington. Later I moved right around the corner, onto the Bowery.

No Se No was at 32 Rivington Street. I left for a two week stay in Japan in October, 1984. The energy of what I experienced--and so much more, bursts out of every image Toyo has created. I am writing this from Kuala Lumpur, on July 18, 2017. I am seeing some of these pictures of myself... for the first time.


Toyo Project 2 is here.

Hummingbird vs. Helicopter

The following is inspired by a piece by Gerald Leow on display as part of his solo exhibition at Chan+Hampe Contemporary until June 25.

On a material level, Manifold is simple: a dynamic, radiating metal sculpture made of copies of the same jagged line. These lines are like flattened appendages of a predatory insect, or sentences written in a spiky font. The pieces are colored asymmetrically; seven tones shifting between purple and orange. Manifold is bold, yet delicate-- an opening and a threat. Leow has been quoted as saying that he wanted to create works which are poetically violent. He has succeeded. Manifold is a beautiful but deadly tropical flower, 76 x 76 x 17cm.

The “edginess” of the sculpture is literal; the aggressive shapes on the edges of the lines form negative spaces which complete the piece. These edges are appropriated from the font and logo used by Judas Priest, a heavy metal band. Leow, who studied sociology, has a body of work based on the logo and the conceptual possibilities of heavy metal subculture. With Manifold, however, the link to heavy metal is not obvious, thankfully. Appropriation can be a one-trick pony; what is insightful and magical initially can later become an unrewarding burden for both artist and audience.

The exhibition’s title adds another dimension. I am Time Grown Old to Destroy the World refers to a comment Robert Oppenheimer made in 1945, when he witnessed the detonation of his brainchild, the first atomic bomb. The phrase is from the Mahabharata, specifically the Bhagavad Gita. A passage of 700 verses, the Gita documents the exchange between Prince Arujuna and Lord Krishna as they discuss war, duty and moral confusion.

contemporary sculpture in Singapore

Manifold from Leow's exhibition at Chan+Hori Contemporary Gallery in Singapore

Southeast Asian artwork made of mild steel, automotive paint and western pop culture. It is real.  It has universal significance. Manifold is an artwork worthy of its most serious sources of inspiration: the Mahabharata and the atomic bomb.


I am elaborating upon this essay, including other projects of Gerald's as well as some of our collaborations and personal experiences. The result will be included in red dot SAD which is updated periodically.

i ate tiong bahru limited edition glass sculptures/JDMIS/certificate of authenticity

iatb-glass-signing-at-jdmis I am honored  that the Jewellery Design and Management International School have agreed to oversee the certificates of authenticity for the edition of signed(etched) glass artworks in the crowdfunding campaign now on ZingoHub. (You can learn more about JDMIS here.) As stated on the crowdfunding page,  a total of eighty-eight glasses will be signed with an etching pen and numbered. A certificate of authenticity will be enclosed with each glass. I have known Tanja Sadow, the dean of JDMIS, since I arrived in Singapore in 2002. I know that many jewellery-making success stories are associated with the high standards of JDMIS and I am thrilled that JDMIS has agreed to oversee the authentication process of the i ate tiong bahru glass artworks. iatb-cup-certificate-of-authenticity    

You and I, talking about crowdfunding the i ate tiong bahru glasses

For the next month, I am conducting a crowdfunding campaign on ZingoHub. The goal is to raise money for a small commercial run of glasses that would be sold to stores, as well as to create a limited edition of signed glasses. The campaign is here. YOU: You have samples... and stores that are waiting... Stephen Black: Yes, the samples were necessary to show stores and people exactly what I want to make. Friends and strangers that I met in the Tiong Bahru Market were very supportive. Online postings were also well received. And,at the time of this writing, I have an order for 70 glasses from a company which is also selling the i ate tiong bahru book. YOU: How many copies of the book have you sold? SB: Almost 2000, which qualifies as a national bestseller in Singapore. iatb-book-on-white-paper YOU: Even with that cover that doesn't even have your name on it? SB: Yep....and with zero advertising and almost no mention of the book by the media.It sold because of positive word of mouth... YOU: And now you want to make i ate tiong bahru glasses? SB: Yes! And T-shirts and an audio book and aprons and organic baby wear and cheese graters and dog chew toys and skateboards and hand towels and perfume. All rehyperpostcontextual synthesitic objects that are edgy and challenge the consumer to blur the boundaries and push the limits of the postcolonial, postmodern postadot paradigm... YOU: I don't know if you are joking or not. SB: Well... Freda D and her perfumes are mentioned on my blog... YOU: If I give you money, how do I know you will deliver? SB: I need to make these glasses. One store is waiting for them, and once I know this project is a success, I can approach other stores... These glasses are my art: they are conceptual, functional and beautiful in a simple way. I want to share them with people. The book was written to be an artwork and a labor of love...the glasses extend the project in an unexpected but natural direction. Plus, there are very few things that can go wrong. I know where to get the glasses, know where to get them sandblasted. The campaign sets a minimum target of $650, but if I exceed that I can do a larger run or do better packaging or even do advertising... YOU: Do you have any terrible videos about this project? SB: One terrible video about the i ate tiong bahru glassware project coming up!   YOU: Well, that was terrible. You should sleep more! And who recorded that audio? SB: Yes, I will sleep more. And, there is a better video here, on the ZingoHub iatb glassware page. YOU: OK..thanks for that link... I will check it now. ME: Thank you very very much for considering to support the i ate tiong bahru glassware/limited edition postmodern readymade functional sculpture campaign! If you have any more questions, just ask in the comment section below! Any ideas on how I can create great rewards are also appreciated! ONWARD!   Stephen Black              

Mee-Young Photography Project: internal logic

This is one of a series of essays on my relationship with, and thoughts on, using photography to create art. My collaboration with the artist Mee-Young Arkim is a starting point and a reference. The first post is here.

abstractfloating form

Collaboration between Mee-Young Arkim and  Stephen Black, Bali, 2016

The elimination of self. Not necessarily a goal in art, but when the self becomes minimized, the experiences and interpretations of  the viewer are allowed to flow where they may. The idea of an artist creating a work without a sense of self is impossible of course; all art is self-portraiture.

Perhaps "surprise" is the element that I am attempting to describe. Yes, Mee-Young had given me a briefing, albeit an open one. Yes, I was perceiving the work as a reference to the water found in rice fields. And yes, I became very conscious of recording the physicality of the moment: the rising sun, the changing light, the cool darkness of the stones and the way the pieces caught the delicate shades of the sky.

“No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader. No surprise in the writer, no surprise in the reader.”

Robert Frost

But then , while holding my fingers against the shutter speed and aperture controls, I remembered a simple technique, blur. The high contrast scene before me was ideal for a slow shutter speed and a carefully moved camera. I selected a  slow shutter speed and perceived the scene before the camera differently. I put the camera on my knee, pressed the shutter--and moved.

It is unfortunate that I am not now able to use a better monitor and software to really pull out the subtleties that the RAW file of this image contains. Even so, the image is a source of strength to me. When I look at it, I am allowed to wander. And yet I am reminded of standing by the side of a rice field in Bali with a Korean artist, as we interacted to create something that supported and illustrated her original concept. This image may be a failure in that it does not obviously pay homage to the magnificence of a rice field flooded with water. I enjoy it greatly however,  as it has its own internal  logic. To me, it represents the A-or-B wobbly logic of Possibility.

The Thumb-shaped Kway

Cultural identity

Edible sculptures by Stephen Black. Traditional Chinese ang ku kueh shaped like a thumbprint

I'm a kway, you're a kway. (Occupy Tiong Bahru: February 18, 2012) The small front room constantly played Hong Kong martial arts movies dubbed in Mandarin. This was a piece entitled Mother Tongue, by Green Zeng. In the room next to that was the Belly of the Beast, by Mark Wong, whose piece featured a small black teddy bear playing a deathmetal sound artwork with a deep voice growling the "...for richer and for poorer, in sickness and in health' lines read at weddings. The growling was accompanied by the sound of a pounding heart, droning guitar and an occasional scream. I was in the kitchen, serving kway. It was great to interact with so many people. I gave out 200 pieces of way. My project was simple , a collaboration with Kim Lam Hong Confectionary, a family that has been making kways for at least three generations. By next week we will created a kway with a design based on my thumb.The thumb kway will be an edible sculpture. It may also symbolize individuality, cultural identity and gentrification.And yes, there are prints for sale. There is more information here: https://sites.google.com/site/artbooksandkway/press-materials-and-background-info-for-kwaytology What follows are the notes which I did not refer to/read from..Please note that these are my personal notes, a kind of rough draft , and that I have not credited the sources. THESE ARE NOTES, NOT A FINISHED SPEECH/TEXT//a work in progress.... NOTES FOR PROJECT IAKYAK @ Occupy Tiong Bahru I’m A Kway, You’re A Kway Five parts: self –introduction, history of kways, description of this project, conclusion, eating... Jokes....(...are there any jokes about kway?) What is small, red and whispers? ... A HOARSE RADISH..." "What do you get if you pour boiling water down a rabbit hole? Hot cross bunny." "Why did the tomato blush? Because it saw the salad dressing." "How do you make an apple turnover? Push it down a hill." "Two peanuts walk into a really rough bar. Unfortunately, one was a salted." "Waiter, waiter, what's this fly doing in my soup? I think it's the backstroke, sir." SELF INTRODUCTION American from Ohio, artist, writer, photographer, video maker http://www.scribd.com/doc/79168211/Stephen-Black-2012-resume In Asia for a long time, Singapore since 2002. mention Book Merah,Tiong Bahru book and Its May publicationhttp://www.facebook.com/groups/148936017061/http://www.facebook.com/groups/150392581680539/# https://sites.google.com/site/artbooksandkway/ KWAY HISTORY( from Wikipedia) Kuih (also kueh, kue, or kway; from Hokkien: 粿 koé) are bite-sized snack or dessert foods found in the Malay Archipelago as well as the Southern China provinces of Fujian and Canton. Kuih is a fairly broad term which may include items that would be called cakes, cookies,dumplings, pudding, biscuit, or pastries in English and are usually made from rice or glutinous rice. Chinese kuih, written as "guo" (粿) or sometimes as "gao" (糕), are usually made from ground rice flours. Many of the kuihs are made especially for important festivities such as the Qingming Festival or Chinese New Year, however many others are consumed as main meals or snack on a daily basis. Example of these kuih include:[1] Red tortoise cake (Chinese: 紅龜粿; Pe̍h-ōe-jī: Âng-Ku-Kóe) is a small round or oval shaped Chinese pastry with soft sticky glutinous rice flour skin wrapped around a sweet filling in the centre.[1][2] It is molded to resemble a tortoise shell and is presented resting on a square piece of banana leaf. As suggested by its name, red tortoise cakes are traditionally red in color and has a sticky chewy texture when eaten.[3] Red tortoise cakes are shaped like tortoise shells because the Chinese traditionally believed that eating tortoises would bring longevity to those who are eating it and bring about good fortune and prosperity.[4][5] Considered to be auspicious items, these sweet pastries are especially prepared during important festivals such as Chinese New Year as offerings to the Chinese deities. Red tortoise cakes are also prepared for occasions that are culturally important to the Chinese such as a newborn baby's first month or birthdays of the elderly. Eating red tortoise cakes during these times are meant to represent blessings for the child and longevity for the elderly.[4][6]In modern times, red tortoise cakes continue to be important food items during Chinese festivals in many countries such as Singapore, Malaysia, China and Taiwan. However, eating red tortoise cakes in these countries is no longer restricted to special occasions for red tortoise cakes are also commercially available in many pastry shops and bakeries. There are two main components in red tortoise cakes, the skin and the filling. The skin is made mostly from glutinous rice flour and sweet potato whereas the fillings are made from precooked ingredients such as mung bean or grounded peanuts and sugar. After kneading and molding the ingredients together, the red tortoise cakes are steamed on a piece of banana leaf. In countries such as Singapore, these pastries are popular snack items and are especially popular with children because of their sweet and savory taste. In fact, many bakeries in Singapore have created red tortoise cakes in a variety of assorted flavors, including jelly and red bean, to cater to all tastes and preferences n Chinese culture, the color red is traditionally used as a symbol of joy and happiness whereas the tortoise symbolizes longevity, power and tenacity.[2][7][6] As such, red tortoise cakes are of a high cultural significance and value amongst the Chinese people. They are typically associated with auspicious occasions and are especially prepared during birthdays and religious festivals to symbolize blessings and good fortune. [edit]Lunar New Year Chinese New Year is the most important festival in Chinese culture as it represents the start of a new year for everyone where people could reconcile and welcome the new year in hope for peace and prosperity. During this festival, the Chinese people would pray for good fortune and sweets such as rice cakes and red tortoise cakes are offered to the Chinese deities on ritual altars. These ritual offerings are made in the hope that the sweetness from these cakes will leave a sweet taste in the mouths of the deities and they will bless the people with a prosperous year ahead.[5][4] [edit]Jade Emperor's Birthday The Jade Emperor is one of the most important gods in chinese folklore. He is believed to be the ruler of heaven and his birthday falls on the ninth day of the first lunar month.[5][8] To celebrate his birthday, the Chinese people will conduct prayers in his name and prepare food within Chinese temples or Chinese households as ritual offerings. In Chinese culture, red tortoise cakes are considered must-haves amongst the food items that are to be offered to the Jade Emperor on altar tables. Because the number 6 is considered an auspicious number in Chinese culture, red tortoise cakes are placed on the altar table in multiples of six such as 12, 24 or 36 in the hope that he will bless the people with good fortune and prosperity.[5] PROJECT DESCRIPTION ABOUT THE TITLE I’m OK, You’re OK Seventies best 15 million copies Dr. Thomas Harris Perhaps mention the history of OK, the word itself...O Kway!I'm Ok, You're OK... a Seventies reference/..Another Seventires reference, Planet of the Apes.Ape shall not kill ape. Kway shall not kill kway INSPIRATION 1.Joseph Beuys and other artists who work with the community to create projects. I think the tree is an element of regeneration which in itself is a concept of time. The oak is especially so because it is a slowly growing tree with a kind of really solid heartwood. It has always been a form of sculpture, a symbol for this planet.3 The planting of seven thousand oak trees is thus only a symbolic beginning. And such a symbolic beginning requires a marker, in this instance a basalt column. The intention of such a tree-planting event is to point up the transformation of all of life, of society, and of the whole ecological system...4 From the 7000 Oaks Project 2. Ferran Adria/ El Bulli and Documenta 12 The mystery of Ferran Adrià's role in Documenta 12 has finally been solved. As La Vanguardia reports, the star chef will participate from afar, by keeping a table for two open to exhibition visitors at his restaurant El Bulli on the Costa Brava, outside Barcelona, every night of the show. The lucky two will be chosen randomly by Buergel in Kassel and offered airfare, along with a meal at El Bulli. The award-winning restaurant, which is fully booked for the next year, will officially become an auxillary site of D12—known as "the G pavilion"—during the hundred-day event in Kassel. "Instead of us coming and cooking here (in Kassel), which was impossible," Adrià told reporters, "we transferred Documenta to Cala Montjoi"—nearly a thousand miles away from Kassel. "Cooking cannot be 'musefied'—it is an artistic discipline that needs its own scene," explained Adrià, who admits that some might be disappointed by his no-show in Kassel. "In the end, the visitor decides what is art and what is not." GOALS At first , the following ideas were considered: A new food based on the traditional foods of Tiong Bahru. Work with traditional food makers and the new chefs in the neighborhood- perhaps a simple molecular version of a traditional dish Sustainability, local produce. Challenges: worst time of year- Christmas and CNY KWAY moves to the forefront because the other ideas are too logistically complex. Louis and Lim Lam Hong in my neighborhood, friendly and openminded second/third generation http://146angkukueh.blogspot.com/ New flavors and new designs CNY is/was a challenge. CNY is/was a challenge. CNY is/was a challenge. CNY is/was a challenge. CNY is/was a challenge. CNY is/was a challenge!!!! Design, however, moves forward as this I can do this by myself. Tuesday new design will be ready Premier next week Ongoing project THUMBPRINT symbol of individuality , yet anonymous Hong Guan Tan worked on the design as well as the red dot poster The business man Mr. Hirst. The world’s biggest show. http://www.thedailybeast.com/newsweek/2012/01/15/damien-hirst-s-spot-paintings-take-over-the-world.html To take in the whole work I’d need to hike to the dealer’s two other venues in Manhattan, and then fly to Gagosian branches in Los Angeles, London, Paris, Geneva, Rome, Athens, and Hong Kong. Hirst, the British art star who turns 47 this year, has spread 331 of his signature dotted canvases, out of some 1,400 he made, across Gagosian spaces around the world. By appropriating Hirst's commercial designs, kway is decontextualized from tradition and becomes associated with a sophisticated successful art practice, ie "edgy." CONCLUSION So.. I’m A Kway, You’re a Kway Ultimately, this project is about identity, especially the issues of self-identity and community identity. Kways can function as signifiers of this neighborhood’s identity; kway is, perhaps, a symbol of what makes Tiong Bahru Tiong Bahru. This statement acknowledges the fact that food, especially the market, gives Tiong Bahru its character. Architecture also does this, of course, but because of conservation policies, the physical structures of Tiong Bahru are unlikely to change. Kway shares the following characteristics with many of the foods which are associated with Tiong Bahru: - Kways are created by second or third generation food makers. These people have experience. Loyalty to, or at least a strong personal interest in, the food. -Kway makers and traditional food makers are a part of the neighborhood. - Kways are inexpensive.... rents increase. Kways and other inexpensive foods not only are a value to everyone, they play a large role in the lives of those with small fixed budgets and/or low income. To summarize, kway symbolizes the social and cultural environment of Tiong Bahru. When the price of doing business increases and the traditional customer base decreases, the kway makers are at risk. If a kwaymaker's children decide not to continue, this means labor must be hired-yet another cost. If handmade kway in Tiong Bahru disappears, it may indicate a future in which mass produced foods or non-traditional foods become dominant.This project is not a rant against tasteless gentrification, it is a celebration of tradition, diversity and uniqueness using the colors, textures and flavors of kway. It is my hope that by increasing the awareness of kway and what it represents that Tiong Bahru can better define its identity and those characteristics which make it such a unique place.

GRAND STOP (collaboration with Daniel Bainbridge)

If you clicked the link above, you know that Glossi.com no longer exists, unfortunately. The collection of images put together for Glossi really captured one of the most enjoyable at art experiences of my life. Dan had the talent and the space; I just had a lot of energy. Dan's sculptures and the stuff I found combined in the most beautiful ugly funny serious way possible.

I have to post the rest, make the time to do a portfolio.

post modern nativity scene
Grand Stop Installation (one of several installation views)