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Cranbrook Academy of Art (Doug Johnston)

 

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Sep '05 - Apr '07

 
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    Back to life (pt. 1)

    Doug Johnston Mar 13 '07 2

    hey!
    Its been almost an entire year since i've posted to this school blog. sorry to anyone who has been wanting more info about life at cranbrook. Today, after a few months of snow, ice, grey skies, and below-freezing temps, its 72degrees, slightly breezy, and sunny outside.

    I'm working in the library today, as i do for 4 hours every tuesday. Its great because i have a regular time to check out and return books, and working to check in and out books and videos puts me in contact with many books i would have not looked for on my own. Today i am checking out 4 vhs videos: "folds blobs and boxes", Jpana, 3 generations of avant garde architects", "a day with zaha hadid", and "excavations," which is a video documentation of a project done by 3 former architecture students here who cast a van upside down in concrete in the parking lot then removed the van piece by piece after the concrete cured. The project is documented also in the Pamphlet architecture book "gravity", and on the artists' website.
    I'm trying to watch all the videos i can before i graduate in may and potentially move away from the great library here.

    So a lot has happened in a year.... i'll try to bring this blog up to speed as much as i can without spending too much time.

    So there were 2nd semester reviews in march 2006. we have 3 big formal reviews here: 2nd semester, 4th semester, and degree show reviews. During the 2nd and 4th semester reviews about half of the artists in residence and the director of the academy meet with you 1-on-1 and discuss/crit your work. It happens in 1 day, with reviews for the whole academy happening over 5 days (2 dept.s a day). Its a really amazing time, both of these happening during the spring semester, which coincedentally is all the more active and busy semester. The academy really comes to life and its great to walk around each day and see everyone's work.
    My 2nd sem. rev. went well i think. I had a lot of great criticism and encouragement, though i only was able to speak with the interim scultpure a.i.r. for about 10 minutes. Almost all of the a.i.r.'s told me to look at AVL (atelier van lieshout) because they felt my work has similar tendencies but lacked a coherent voice for the diverse work, like that found in AVL's work. As a result i sent AVL an email with my CV and a few images of my work and ended up working for them in Rotterdam over the summer. I post more about that later, but for now you can check out my pics on flickr (still haven't uploaded all of them yet).

    Other things i made last year:
    A haircutting cart. This was made from mostly scrap material, a bike i purchased for $3 at a thrift store, some basic haircutting supplies, and a Robocut haircutting system hooked up to a small shop vac. I replaced the tank on the shopvac with a clear cheese-balls tub.
    I rode the cart aronud a few suburbs of detroit, offering free haircuts to people and their pets. During 1 day i directly made offers for free haircuts to about 50 people and 10 pets... but no takers. Thoughi hoped to actually give some free publice haircuts, the point was visibly making the offer public. Haircuts are a somewhat universal need, and are interesting to me because they are somewhat intimate (someone is touching and altering your body) while at the same time being very social (we usually engage in conversation with our barbers/stylists and other people in the shop/salon during the process). Bringing this level of social intimicay to the streets of the detroit suburbs where a street-based public/social life seems to be non-existant.
    here are some photos:
    hair on the move
    haircuts in the forum gallery.
    in the gallery
    free hairkuts
    riding around town, offering free hairkuts.

    I also began working on the shelter-in-a-cart competition hosted by Designboom. In the end i became more fascinated with the cart design as an object that could facilitate a wider range of programs... in fact that bacame my focus, pure facilitation. I loved the idea that cart could become a mobile piece of property, mobile land. This idea is not new but its great in that its simultaneously subverts and supports many fundamental principles of occidental culture. My cart design was partially a collaboration with my friend Janolof Nygren, a student in the 2d department here, an avid cyclist, and and amazing graphic designer.
    The design was largely influenced by the front-end tricycles i saw and bacame obssessed with in Lima, Peru. In Lima these are an essential part of the formal and informal economies - amazing amounts of goods are transported and exchanged on these carts.I wanted to make one which could function as a trike and as a stand alone cart, so i worked on a hinge detail which allowed almost any standard 10-speed or city bike to be hooked up to the cart. There were a lot of issues to resolve and many were left unresolved in the end. I think mostly my desire to to do the competition was fueled by my desire to make one of these carts, specifically one adapted for nomadic city habitation. In the end i made a steel and OSB prototype, which worked fairly well, but was to heavy and needed much more detail development. I think a real model would consist of an aluminum frame with HDPE or fiberglass-composite panels (maybe fiberglass on both side of carboard sheets, like this).
    photos:
    cart
    cart frame (clamped)
    The project wasn't submitted to the competition, but looking through the entries there were a few designing using similar schemes. Now the cart is sitting in my garage waiting to be chopped up and recycled. Someday i'll build more functional version... i need to invest in welding equipment first.

    ok that's all the time i have for now... this will be continued in pt.2 and 3, then i'll write about my summer in holland, the fall semester, winter break, and everything from this semester.

    check out the other blogs by current cranbrook students:
    architecture dept

    by the way, we all know the current cranbrook website design is terrible and they are apparently working on a new academy website, which was supposed to be online in november... but still no changes.



     

     
    • 2 Comments

    • Helsinki
      Mar 15, 07 5:05 am

      welcome back! Interesting to hear something about your AVL-experience, somehow I had an impression of them as a cult-militia-like movement (+ irony) - people actually going there to live and not just work - but that might be just their public image or an earlier "attitude". They are a bit hard to pin down...

      cacala
      Jan 26, 10 5:01 pm

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