April 24, 2010

Making Meaning

Andy warhol eating a hamburger:

By creating a four minute video of himself eating a hamburger, Warhol - among many other things - transformed an act of ordinary stature into something quite extraordinary.  It's been suggested that Warhol was mocking his status as a celebrity artist, but perhaps he was just showing us that no matter how hard he tries, he will never be able to create something that is not valued.  He consumes a hamburger, we consume his art; he is "famous," we equate his work with value.

But just how much can the value of an object be pushed? And once value is increased, does it not become that much more desirable? Is "high" art really just "low" art with a mislabeled price tag, sold to an unsuspecting public?

Monica Narula of Delhi-based Raqs Media Collective explored just this topic in a 2006  installation where viewers encountered a stack of postcards in a museum quality display case in front of a large sign reading "please do not touch the art."  The ordinary, unassuming postcard transforms into an object of desire - accessible yet inaccessible all at once.
My point in all of this is that the making of meaning can be more important than meaning itself.  An object is only as beautiful as you are led to believe.

April 15, 2010

You're In Boot Country Now, Son

Behold, a decorated suburban ranch building. It brings to the commercial strip a refreshing mash-up of dazzle camoflauge and country nostalgia, Boot Country is a western themed store specializing in cowboy boots & hats for suburbanite cowboys (a fascinating demographic). Nevertheless, we need more aesthetically experimental buildings such as this:

An example of well-designed cow patterning: a large centralized spot conveniently covers an unsightly vent.

A bit of the stylized cow patterning from the prominent front facade made its way to the side of the building as if to thank the curious onlooker for exploring the depths of the building.  This is the best vantage point to take in the diagonal "work" themed yellow-black striping.  The pattern is mirrored along the center peak of the gable roof, wrapping smoothly around the building without breaking stride. 

A nice roadside sign with typography that bends and curves to fit the shape of a boot.

April 13, 2010

Adventures at Carnival Island

Carnival Island has been open for only two months, yet is quickly becoming an iconic local establishment.  Locals may recognize the Carnival Island name as it was open in years past, however this year a greatly expanded menu has helped to create an entirely new experience.  What is most satisfying about Carnival Island is their commitment to the local community.  Nestled among car dealerships, community colleges, and big box retailers, Carnival Island's unlikely location is one of  it's biggest strengths.  The corporate office park like setting provides a convenient dining option for nearby businesses and students.  This summer, the restaurant plans to provide extended hours to serve a crowd of baseball players from nearby ball parks. 

The approach to Carnival Island is most deceptive. Things that will run through your head while navigating to this miniature sized carnival food eatery is: 1.) Google Maps have deceived me; 2.) Car salesmen must love carnival foods; 3.) The restaurant is desperately in need of a sign as big (or bigger than) their building. 

Ice cream stands have a long history of uniquely attractive aesthetics and Carnival Island does not disappoint.  The overall design of the building is just as unexpected as the eatery's location. It is essentially a mobile home outfitted with restaurant equipment and flashy decoration. A water theme dominates the design of the exterior: applied wavy water graphics (perhaps inspired by Cincinnati's official flag?), an offset steamboat paddle wheel-styled roof canopy, all surrounded by Boise State blue landscaping pebbles.

Alternative design ideas could have incorporated faux palm trees, and/or steamboat gothic extreme ornamentation.

And what about the food? I opted for the "Carnival Fries" because of their catchy name and the footlong hot dog sans chili due to the fact that I would be eating while driving (a tricky act made all the more dangerous due to the elongated size of my meal). I passed on the ice cream, which gives me a good reason to return in the summer.

All in all, Carnival Island - in all of it's authenticiy and mystique - has the potential to become a suburban equivalent of Los Angeles' famous Pink's Hot Dogs  What is needed is more experimentation with the menu, and an expanded identity (specifically it's signage & packaging is lacking).  If you're in southwest Ohio, check it out.

April 6, 2010

Carnival Island

Driving through a landscape of parking lots and aging big box retailers, I discovered utopia, otherwise known as "Carnival Island." Coming soon, some thoughts and images about one of the most bizarre places I've seen. In the meantime, enjoy these: