New new things

“Design Life Now” at the ICA, Tom Sachs, Steve Miller, and “Women Artists of India” at Brandeis
By RANDI HOPKINS  |  September 18, 2007
Joseph Ayers, “First-Generation Biomimetic Underwater Ambulatory Robot (Robolobster)”

“Design Life Now: National Design Triennial” at Institute of Contemporary Art, 100 Northern Ave, Boston | September 28–January 6 | 617.478.3100 | “Tom Sachs: Logjam” and “Steve Miller: Spiraling Inward” at Rose Art Museum, 415 South St, Waltham | September 25–December 16 | 781.736.3434 | “Tiger by the Tail! Women Artists of India Transforming Culture” at Kniznick Gallery, Women’s Studies Research Center and Mildred Lee Gallery, Rose Art Museum, Brandeis University, Waltham | October 2–December 14 | 781.736.8102
Robolobster, an underwater crustacean with eight plastic legs, fiberoptic antennae, and an industrial-strength plastic shell, is a groundbreaking example of the new science of biomimicry, which seeks to develop technological solutions to the many problems of landlubbers by mimicking biological organisms and processes. Robolobster, for instance, can explore the ocean floor and report back on objects like mines. Invented by Dr. Joseph Ayers, a marine biologist and neuroscientist at Northeastern University, this gleaming denizen of the ocean blue takes a star turn as one of more than 80 featured objects in “DESIGN LIFE NOW: NATIONAL DESIGN TRIENNIAL” which opens at the Institute of Contemporary Art on September 28. The exhibition showcases outstanding work — all created in the past three years — in product design, architecture, furniture, film, graphics, new technologies, animation, science, and fashion. Trends include technology’s growing interest in emulating the natural world (Robolobster, and also Nike’s Free running shoe, which simulates the natural motion of bare toes) and a renewed appreciation of hand-crafted and do-it-yourself design, something that’s evident in the popularity of items from FlatPak prefab housing to Readymade magazine.

No stranger to commercial design, Tom Sachs has been examining — and remaking — objects from the world of consumer culture and the public domain for more than 15 years. Opening at the Rose Art Museum at Brandeis University on September 25, “TOM SACHS: LOGJAM” offers 12 installations that provide insight into the artist’s working process; they include a handmade working refrigerator complete with beer and a functioning toilet and sink with toilet-paper dispenser. Also opening at the Rose on September 25, “STEVE MILLER: SPIRALING INWARD” is the artist’s first solo museum exhibition in the US. Miller has been working with Nobel Laureate Rod MacKinnon to translate MacKinnon’s research in biochemistry into visual images; he creates painterly links between Picasso and Warhol and contemporary laboratory imaging techniques.

Opening on October 2 in the Rose Art Museum’s Mildred Lee Gallery and in the Kniznick Gallery at Brandeis’s Women’s Studies Research Center, “TIGER BY THE TAIL! WOMEN ARTISTS OF INDIA TRANSFORMING CULTURE” has painting, sculpture, drawing, photography, and video art by 17 artists whose work addresses social and cultural issues experienced by contemporary Indian women. Public programs in support of the exhibition include an International Symposium on October 2 and 3, a “Women Filmmakers from India” film series beginning October 11, and a trip to Northern India scheduled for January 2008.

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Related: 2009: The year in art, Brandeis shutters art museum, Jewishfilm.2010, More more >
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