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August 29, 2014

Patents: The Zipper

Unzip the Kink with Collage Artist Trey Wright

“My favorite zippered item is a pair of black leather boots—they’re a bit too 70s porno style for day wear, but I love the loud, screeching sound the industrial zippers make,” says Texan visual artist Trey Wright who created today’s pop serenade to the almighty zipper. Whether you’re looking to conceal, reveal, or quite simply, seal, the zipper has been an undeniably practical, and sometimes decorative, part of our everyday for over a century. Patented on August 29, 1893 by American inventor Whitcomb L. Judson, the “clasp locker” was the precursor to the modern zipper, which made its first appearance in 1913, when Swedish engineer Gideon Sundback, improved upon the original design. Then in 1934, Japan’s Tadao Yoshida launched YKK to become a billionaire fastening-magnate, all from the dependable zip. “I wanted to capture the ease of a zipper,” says Wright, who also discovered its musical charms while on set. “The sound of the zipper and the act of zipping something can be quite entertaining, sexy and funny.”

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Spotlight

E.V. Day: SNAP!

The New York Artist Straps Down Da Monsta at the Philip Johnson Glass House

E.V. Day envelops Philip Johnson’s jagged Neo-Expressionist building Da Monsta in kinky red rope for new work, “SNAP!” The first site-specific exhibition to be held at the acclaimed spot is captured by the New York-based photographer Vincent Dilio, revealing pop-savvy concepts that punch a striking metaphysical hole in the bucolic Connecticut landscape. It had already been Johnson’s take that “the building is alive,” and with the exterior evocative of a spider’s web and the interior’s ambient purring chambers filled with a feline-inspired tension, it seems to be living up to its billing. NOWNESS spoke to the prolific sculptor, whose work is housed in permanent collections at The Whitney and the Smithsonian Collection, about her creative processes and her muse, the city of Los Angeles. 

What was your key inspiration for this work? 
E.V. Day: It began with the building itself, whose very name implies a narrative—a monster! I wanted to address it as a living creature, a wild one that swallows you through its entrance and induces vertigo because there are no right angles in the structure. I wanted to play with that energy using taut lines, fishnet stockings, and suspension.

Tell us about the purring chambers. 
EVD:
Philip Johnson would reportedly pat Da Monsta on its right side like a horse each morning. After spending several weeks with the building, I began to feel an affection for it as a character, as opposed to it simply being a building with character. I wanted the sound and the vibration of the purring under its floor to enhance its ‘creature-ness.’ When you sit in the installation and feel the purr, the beast is sleeping and you feel safe. At least for a moment.

As a New Yorker, how have you developed such an affinity with Los Angeles?
EVD:
The compression of NYC grips you like Spanx—it definitely feels spring-loaded here. However, I have pined for LA since I lived there for two years in the early 90s. LA, as the manufacturing center of pop culture and its inherent bounty of problematic social, political, and environmental issues works as an eruption of active content for my art. 

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Spotlight

Paul Vanstone: Marble Giant

The British Sculptor Opens the Doors of His London Studio

“Marble has the same qualities as human skin, absorbing and reflecting light,” says British sculptor and Henry Moore Award-winner Paul Vanstone. Playing with scale, texture and traditional marble carving techniques, the former apprentice of Anish Kapoor carves figurative pieces that have exhibited in Tate Modern, British Museum and the V&A. Setting up studio near one of London’s distinguished sculptural landscapes, the 19th-century Kensal Rise Cemetery, the artist’s space captured here by photographer Leon Chew is filled from corner to corner with busts, tools, and unfinished monuments, all coated in a fine layer of marble powder. After graduating from London’s Central Saint Martins and the Royal College of Art in 1993, Vanstone made a pilgrimage to Carrara, located in the northernmost hills of Tuscany and veritable home to marble work since the days of antiquity. “Marble has to be worked in such a careful way compared to other stones,” he adds, having spent time with the stonemasons of Rajasthan in North-Western India to hone his medium. “There can be a lot of difference in the feel of the stone across the same block.”

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