Category Archives: Future Living Projects

Future Living Projects 011010101010011011

Back in 2001 and 2002 I started thinking about how I wanted installation shots of some of my work in a gallery space even though I had no space to do this in. I hit upon the idea of making my own miniature gallery that I could shoot my work in and set out making it using foam core. I fantasized about purchasing a tiny light socket to enhance the realness of the situation but after going to several doll house stores found that they really don’t make them. For the initial project I wanted to use photographs that I had made and I wanted to make them look larger than they really were. They were photographs that I had taken off of the TV and were from the ATARI 2600. When the cartridge isn’t put into the console properly the result is a glitch of vertical bands of color that can be altered depending on how you manipulate the cartridge. I liked the randomness of this process and the “abstractions” that it created. I cut all of my photographs to the same size keeping the most interesting parts of the photograph. I made my gallery using tape to keep it together and made sure to make a glass door for it. I called it 011010101010011011 or something similar and even though I lost all of the original information for it, I’m pretty sure that this was an early Future Living Projects piece and may have been the first to use its name in the title. I installed the photographs on the walls of the gallery and took a series of installation shots of it. I never did anything with the resulting documentation and shelved the idea thinking that it was a dead end road. Recently I’ve been thinking about digging it out and using it to shoot some miniature work in. Here are the photographs that I took of it.

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A Theory of Progress Gouache Painting and Pencil on Paper

I took a picture of an interesting looking light when I was in the Catskills earlier this week. The light caught my eye (actually there were 3 of them) because it was made of colored cubes that had mostly faded over the years due to neglect and sun bleaching. I decided that I wanted to make a painting out of the photograph and thought that maybe I would use gouache paints; every now and again I like to use gouache because of its vivid colors and flatness of texture. I printed out the photo and traced it onto a piece of thick watercolor paper by rubbing graphite on the back of the printout, putting the watercolor paper underneath and taping it, and tracing on top. I plotted out which cubes were going to be which color so that the same color wouldn’t be next to itself. I decided that I wanted to use 4 colors: red, yellow, orange and blue. There were 16 squares showing which was the perfect amount to have 4 of each color. I started to paint using the red gouache but when I went to go paint the orange I had an idea that it looked like a brightly colored sculpture. I decided to make it a sculpture instead so I erased the post that was attached to it and filled in the cubes where the post used to be. I adjusted my colors again to account for the new cube by making 5 blues and finished painting the rest of the colors. When I was done with the colors I used pencils to fill in all the lines and shade the sides. I experimented with making a shadow on the ground but decided against it in the end. I also didn’t bother to shade the colored squares on the shadowed sides since I like how it looks the way it is.

This is definitely going to fall into Future Living Projects territory. It’s funny because I’ve been thinking lately about how the human eye is so attracted to color and vowed to make colorful pieces just to make a point about how gullible we are. I thought that this would be a good proposal for Socrates Sculpture Park but the deadline was last week. I’m going to make a small scale model of it and paint it to see how it looks;I’m thinking that I’ll probably make it out of mat board. I think that the final large sculpture will be made using plexiglass that’s painted on one side and steel if I ever get the chance to make it. This is similar to an idea that I had back in 2001 to make color panels in the same way but only made one before moving on to other things. I’ve been thinking that I’d like to make these panels again but make them so that they exist somewhere between sculpture and painting.

Here’s the gouache painting and pencil on paper.

A Theory of Progress Gouache Drawing By brian Higbee and Future Living Projects

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A.A.P.R.’s Ideal Model Homes for Living in the 21st Century

I ‘m planning on making a series of collages that use the paintings from the Associated Artists for Propaganda Research within photographs from real estate magazines. The series is called A.A.P.R.’s Ideal Model Homes for Living in the 21st Century and will be used by both Future Living Projects and AAPR. I sometimes like to cross reference my projects and for this one I thought that it would be interesting to have Future Living Projects making artwork for the AAPR. SInce the AAPR will most likely never be shown in a fancy home like the ones shown in the real estate magazines, I thought that I could create my own “mock-up” installation showing how they would look. Here is the first one that I made. This one shows Corporate Freedom in the Age of Reason.

AAPRS Ideal Model Home for Living in the 21st Century (Corporate Wars) By Brian Higbee, Future Living Projects and Associated Artists for Propaganda Research

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Pure City/ Sigma 6 (Small Scale Model 1,2 and 3)

In 2008 I started working on another cityscape using old computer parts called Pure City/ Sigma 6. I wanted to develop a more comprehensive floor sculpture for Future Living Projects that matched Epicenter City which I made for the Associated Artists for Propaganda Research. I started by collecting some out-of-date computer and ripped them apart to salvage their insides. After pulling out the insides I washed them and spray painted them using a white primer made by Do It. This off-white turned out to be the same white that I would use for all of the artwork made for the Future Living Projects by having the same color mixed in acrylic latex. I made 2 versions quickly so that I could have documentation for a larger version. The first one is 1.5″x6″x6″ and is made using white museum grade matte board as “sides”. The second version is 11″x22″x22″ and was made with a pre-made insertable pedestal that I had made for an earlier piece called The Shadow (Small Scale Model).

After making these 2 models I started collecting as many computers as I could and was lucky enough to acquire a complete car-full from the Brooklyn Children’s Museum which happened to be getting rid of a large quantity of them. (Thanks Glen!) I ripped all of them apart and brought all of the unused cases to a recycling center to be recycled. I kept all of the small speakers and lights, thinking that I could maybe use them for a future project. As a side note, I’ve often thought about using lights and maybe making my floor pieces interactive but have always decided against it thinking that it creates too much of a “spectacle”. I like the idea of using lights though and think of the time that I visited the large model of the Johnstown Flood at the Johnstown Flood Museum in Johnstown, Pa when I lived out there. They use lights and sound on the large model landscape to help explain the timeline of the ensuing disaster to great effect.

After I took all of the computers apart I washed out all of the dust and spray painted them white. I wanted the final version to be huge, maybe 12″x12″ in the end but I also wanted it to be variable depending on the space that it was exhibited in. The piece sat unfinished for quite awhile since I couldn’t get anybody to show it. In 2010 one of my roommates moved out and I quickly scrambled to build a large version of Pure City/ Sigma 6 in the empty space. I have a lot of wood lying around my studio from past projects so it wasn’t hard to put some sides together and a base to build on. I built it as quickly as I could and took photos while I had the chance. I’ve never shown it in a gallery space and the parts now sit in boxes on top of my bathroom. I imagined it as part of a larger installation that would include The Architect’s Tomb, Journey Into the Realm of Reason, From Dusk To Dawn, At the Gates of Dawn, New Dawn Fades, the ICB series and the pieces from I Was A Landscape In Your Dream. Below are the 3 versions that I made.

Pure City:Sigma 6 Small Scale Model (Version 1) by Brian Higbee and Future Living Projects Pure City:Sigma 6 Small Scale Model (Version 2) by Brian Higbee and Future Living Projects Pure City:Sigma 6 Small Scale Model (Version 3) by Brian Higbee and Future Living Projects Pure City:Sigma 6 Small Scale Model (Version 3) Detail by Brian Higbee and Future Living Projects

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Jacque Fresco

I’m in Orlando, Florida for the weekend and decided that I wanted to take a trip down to Venus to see Jacque Fresco and the Venus Project. I had watched a movie about him called Future By Design back in October and wrote about him and his project here. It’s only about 2.5 hours away and the website said that he gives tours on Saturdays. Supposedly you get to tour some of the prototype houses, see models that he’s built and hear him talk about his ideas for living in the future. At the end you also get some DVD’s and a book which would be exciting to have. I wrote to him to make arrangements to visit but unfortunately Jacque had an emergency medical situation and needed to cancel the tour that weekend. Hopefully everything is Ok and I’ll be able to visit and take the tour sometime in the near future.

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The Architect’s Tomb and The Architect’s Tomb (Small Scale Model)

The Architect’s Tomb is a sculpture that I made back in 2009 and is 6″x19″x62″. I started by making a quick drawing in order to work out the proportions and to anticipate any logistical problems. After that I made a small balsa wood model of it called The Architect’s Tomb (Small Scale Model) since the final sculpture would take a while to make and would need a lot of preparation to complete. The balsa wood model was easy to make since I could cut all of the wood with a sharp knife. I made the window in the front out of glassine to mimic the frosted glass that I planned for the larger sculpture. In the end the lights and the power source were the most difficult since I needed to install them in such a small space. I wanted to imbed the power source within the sculpture but found that this was impossible and instead opted to use an external battery connected via wire to a small light bulb from a flashlight.

After I built the model I decided to go ahead and build the sculpture at full size. The first obstacle was the size of the fluorescent lights that were available which was four feet so I had to adjust all of my proportions according to these limitations. The second challenge was the front face which needed to be rounded out with a router. My initial sketch had a lighted geometrically cornered rectangular face but I quickly decided that I wanted rounded corners to make it more “futuristic.” I needed the sculpture to be as thin as possible so I adjusted for the thickness of the fluorescent light housing unit and had all of my wood cut according to this size. I cut out the face with the router and put it together. I painted it with F.L.P. white and then purchased a piece of frosted glass and secured it to the inside of the box; I made sure to secure it in such a way that it could be replaced easily in the future in case the glass was ever damaged. I then attached the fluorescent lights to a thin board that was covered in aluminum foil that fit snugly inside the box. I put handles on it so that it could be pulled out easily and attached blocks on the inside so I could screw the board with the light on it into it. One of my main concerns was the distribution of light within the box as it was transmitted through the glass, so I made sure that I had an adequate amount of tin foil inside to help dissipate the light (I didn’t want any hot spots.) I also attached a long white 20′ cord to it that could be wrapped up inside in case I needed to plug it into an electrical outlet that was far away. I made a small hole for the extension cord in the back on the right side; I dreaded doing this but I needed to make the piece as flat to the wall as possible. The last thing I did was to create a cloth backing for it so that the light wouldn’t shine out the back and then attached some rubber “feet” to the bottom to help elevate it off the floor.

I don’t remember how I came up with the idea for The Architect’s Tomb other than wanting to make a large flat white light box that existed somewhere between a piece of furniture and a sculpture. I really enjoyed seeing it when it was finished, and enjoyed the process of making it since I challenged myself into accomplishing certain goals that I set for myself (like using a router.) I’m disappointed that I never got to exhibit this piece and it sits in the back of my studio wrapped in plastic. One day maybe.

Below is the sculpture and the model, which is only an inch tall.

The Architect's Tomb by Brian Higbee and Future Living ProjectsThe Architect's Tomb (Small Scale Model) by Brian Higbee and Future Living Projects

The Architect's Tomb Sketch 2007

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At the Gates of Dawn, From Dawn To Dusk and New Dawn Fades

Here are 3 paintings that I made in 2010 and 2011 that are all enamel on canvas. I made the original colored pencil drawings for these back around 2001 and 2002 when I was starting to come up with some ideas for the Future Living Projects. I had originally wanted to design paintings for the future using colors from the 1970’s. The ideas for these colors came from early experiments that I did with pale blue and orange enamel latex paints on the back of plexiglass panels. When the panels were turned over the paint became flat and mimicked the panels that I would see on the sides of schools and other brightly colored buildings from the 1970’s. The panels that I made seemed to exist somewhere between sculpture and painting and I wasn’t sure at the time how these were even art and never completed the project. In the end I made only 2 panels and completed a series of computer generated drawings that illustrated the different colors as they would look when finished. I decided at the time to switch to the designing of paintings instead which provided a more traditional platform for my art making ideas.

I generally don’t like the idea of designing paintings but use the term deliberately. I feel that design is the antithesis of what art should be about. One solution that I had was to have somebody else design my paintings for me; I would essentially become only a worker. This idea appealed to me and I felt that I had reached a new forbidden area of creativity in which the artist would become liberated from design and could be creative solely as a producer of ideas and context. I thought of this as the logical extension of what Marcel Duchamp was achieving in Tu m’ and later John Baldessari for his series Commissioned Paintings which both employed other artists to paint for them. (Is it a coincidence that they both had artists painting pointing fingers?)

So I designed the paintings myself and decided that I wanted them to be long and thin to coincide with an earlier architectural project for Future Living Project’s which imagined a future with thin horizontal buildings. The first painting that I made from the colored pencil drawings was At the Gates of Dawn and was only 12″x48″. I wanted to use glossy enamels for this project since I had never used them before and wanted a change from my usual painting practice. The orange that I mixed for the painting was a color close to what I had originally used for the earlier colored panel project. Here are the final 3 paintings. The first 2′ At the Gates of Dawn and From Dawn To Dusk are 24″x84″ and are stretched over panels. The last one, New Dawn Fades, is 18″x79″.

At the Gates of Dawn by Brian Higbee and Future Living Projects From Dusk To Dawn by Brian Higbee and Future Living Projects New Dawn Fades by Brian Higbee and Future Living Projects

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The Problem of a Compounded Abstraction (The Field)

Here is a sculpture that I made in 2010 called The Problem of a Compounded Abstraction (The Field). This is another piece that I consider to be a floor sculpture and is 24″x48″x48″. I had the idea for this many years ago but never made it; I wanted to make a landscape with a circle crop in it. I started by looking at pictures of crop circles on the Internet to try and figure out how they look. The most important thing I found were the lines that the tractors make in the fields when they mow; I planned for these in order to make a more realistic looking landscape. I made this the same way I’ve made all the rest, by painting the board green, applying watered down glue and adding mixed railroading foam grass. The only difference was the design of the concentric rings, which I made by cutting circular strips out of sticky paper in order to block out the tan paint that I had painted underneath. I used this same technique for the lines using tape.

The title takes its name from Robert Irwin and the original title is Notes Towards a Model: The Process of a Compounded Abstraction.

From the book Seeing is Forgetting the Name of the Thing Seen:
“He used the phrase “compounded abstraction” to describe the progression that is involved when people try to make sense of the world… In Irwin’s view, sensemaking moves through six stages, beginning with perception (synesthesia of undifferentiated sensations). The undifferentiated perceptions begin to take on meaning in the second stage, conception, where people isolate unnamed zones of focus. In the third stage, form, these zones begin to be named. And in the fourth stage, which Irwin calls formful, the named things are deployed relationally and are arranged in terms of dimensions like hot/cool, loud/soft, up/down. So far there is some fluidity in the process and some possibility of reversing and redoing and relabeling. But at the fifth and sixth stages, people begin to act as if the labels were immanent and discovered rather than extrinsic and imposed. In the fifth stage, which Irwin labels formal, patterns of relations begin to be reified and treated as entities. For example, the formful relation of up/down now gets reified into the more formal relationship of superior/subordinate, master/slave. And in the sixth stage, formalize, the reifications dictate behavior and become taken-for-granted fixtures around which people organize their activities. By the time people formalize their experience they are essentially estranged from direct perceptual experience. At each step in this sequence of compounded abstraction, details get lost, the concrete is replaced with the abstract, and design options get foreclosed.”

The Problem of a Compounded Abstraction (The Field) by Brian Higbee and Future Living Projects The Problem of a Compounded Abstraction (The Field) Detail by Brian Higbee and Future Living Projects

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Future Living Projects

Since I’ve been writing so much about the Future Living Projects I figured it was a good idea to share a statement that I wrote about this particular project. Here it is:

The Future Living Projects is a Brooklyn based collective which was developed as a way of directly addressing the growing concerns of living in an uncertain and unpredictable future. The two possibilities which the Future Living Projects entertain include both a post-apocalyptic, desert laden wasteland and an overcrowded and overpopulated vast metropolis. Both possibilities explore the general problems of space and the continuing struggle for environmental domination. In the future the struggle for space will be the struggle for survival.

By involving itself with the development and construction of buildings for future living, the Future Living Projects has the ability to explore the many kinds of architectural styles which are shaped by environmental and cultural conditioning. The models used for these constructions depict a broad variety of architectural structures including public sculptures, alternative-energy based family homes, corporate buildings and several structures for the sci-fi fantasy movie MEGA-CITY VI. The paintings made by the Future Living Projects are minimal and favor a horizontal composition to delimit the boundaries of vertical growth.

Something that I excluded that was part of some earlier statements was that the Future Living Projects was developed as a subsidiary of the Associated Artists for Propaganda Research, an earlier project. This meant that all FLP projects would be under the umbrella of a political context and would essentially place the AAPR as a “parent” organization; I was interested in mimicking the language of contemporary corporate structuring.

I started developing ideas for the Future Living Projects sometime in 2001 and 2002 in order to expand outside of what I was doing politically with the AAPR. It’s initial set up was meant to create a context that was based around architectural design from the 1970’s who’s interests were in the future. Like the AAPR, I wanted to create a project that could use drawing, painting, sculpture and web media for common recontextualized goals but would not necessarily need to be political in nature. Some of the earliest work included computer generated color panels, some color pencil drawings for horizontal paintings (some of these I didn’t make until 2010) and some models for the fake movie MEGA-CITY VI, which was also the name of my band at the time. The first public exhibition of a Future Living Projects piece was at the Carriage House out in Islip, NY. The installation/sculpture was officially exhibited under the name Associated Artists for Propaganda Research and the title of it was Future Living Project’s Planned Residential Development. It was the first time that the two names were exhibited together and shows the blurriness of the two concepts at the time. The Future Living Projects wouldn’t really become its own entity for many years. Here is a statement for Future Living Project’s Planned Residential Development and below that some images of the piece. It was hung on the ceiling which is why it appears to be upside down in the last two photos.

Sometime in the near future the irreversible effects of urban expansion will reach a critical peak. Forced minimum wage labor and the increasing concentration of power and wealth will ultimately disintegrate and alter the economic climate permanently. As this system begins to slowly collapse, the population will become increasingly stratified between the overcrowded and economically poor metropolises and the vast rural and suburban landscapes which surround them. Caught on the very edge of capitalisms inevitable defeat, the suburban and rural populations have no choice but to cling to war as civilizations last hope for prosperity. Until their eventual destruction, they will be sustained only by the distractions of survival and the propaganda system that aims to keep the failing empire alive.

The Future Living Project’s Planned Residential Development is a large six foot by fourteen foot model landscape hung from the ceiling in the entrance of the Islip Art Museums Carriage House. In the middle of the landscape is a two foot crater surrounded by two rows of small suburban houses which are built at the very edge of the craters rim.

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Burning From the Inside

Burning From the Inside is another painting that I made in the winter of 2011 and is 12″x48″ and is acrylic on canvas over a wood panel. It gets it’s name from a Bauhaus (the band) song and is also the name of their last album. The painting was made with simple shades of grey. The innermost vertical row is white and the outside is #3 Golden Grey. The shades are, from outside in on each side, #3,#4,#5,#6,#7,#8 and white. Starting from the inside, each vertical row outwards is 1.5 times the size of the row before it. The narrow vertical black lines are each .25″ inches thick and act as a border between shades. The result is an optical illusion, causing the painting to pulsate and wave.

Here are the lyrics for the song.

Running without aim
Through the razor weeds
That only reach my knees
And when I’m lying in the gray sleep
I don’t know how to walk the boards
I open my eyes and look at the floor
And now I don’t see you anymore

There is no choice
We make a point
To counteract a threatening hand
Close my hold
Let’s be near, let’s be near the atmosphere

Running without aim
Through the razor weeds
That only reach my knees
And when I’m lying in the gray sleep
I don’t know how to walk the boards
I open my eyes and look at the floor
And now I don’t see you anymore

Any more
Any more
Any more

Burning From the Inside by Brian Higbee and Future Living Projects

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Filed under Future Living Projects, Minimalism Elite, Painting