Tag Archives: FLP

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 I started by collecting some out-of-date computer and ripped them apart to salvage their insides.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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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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“From Safety To Where…?”

From Safety To Where…? is a painting that I made in the winter of 2011. I was interested in revisiting perspective as a compositional concern in a similar way that I had done for Journey Into the Realm of Reason. If is 24″x84″ and is gouache and acrylic latex on canvas stretched over a wooden panel. I had first explored the use of gouache and acrylic latex on an earlier painting and decided to use this technique again. I started by rolling on off-white acrylic latex, which is the same white that I like to use for my Future Living Project’s projects. I then gridded out my composition symmetrically according to a pre-determined exponential mathematical spacing formula. Starting from the center, each vertical line is 1.5″ inches the distance from the last. Starting from the middle, each horizontal line is 1.5″ inches the distance from the last and extends to the horizontal axis of the next distance, resulting in outwardly angled lines. I used black gouache to fill in the lines that were a quarter of an inch in diameter and when I was finished, blurred the edges between the black lines and the white background to create a slight hazy effect when looked at closely.

From Safety To Where…? gets its name from a Joy Division song.

Here are the lyrics for the song.

No I don’t know just why.
No I don’t know just why.
Which way to turn,
I’ve got this ticket to use.

Through childlike ways rebellion and crime,
To reach this point and retreat back again.
The broken hearts,
All the wheels that have turned,
The memories scarred and the vision is blurred.

No I don’t know just why,
Don’t know which way to turn,
The best possible use.
Just passing through, ’till we reach the next stage.
But just to where, well it’s all been arranged.
Just passing through but the break must be made.
Should we move on or stay safely away?

Through childlike ways rebellion and crime,
To reach this point and retreat back again.
The broken hearts,
All the wheels that have turned,
The memories scarred and the vision is blurred.

Just passing through, ’till we reach the next stage.
But just to where, well it’s all been arranged.
Just passing through but the break must be made.
Should we move on or stay safely away?

From Safety To Where...? by Brian Higbee and Future Living Projects

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Journey Into the Realm of Reason

Journey Into the Realm of Reason is a 36″x84″ painting in 2 parts that I made in 2009. I designed it on the computer first, taking into account the composition and the colors that I wanted to use; I was interested in creating a composition that used perspective as a design element. I went to the art store and found some cheap enamel paints. I picked out a wide variety of colors that I liked, including black. After I had my colors I used Photoshop, which I used for my original design, to fill in the spaces with the colors that I just bought. I made both sides different and made sure that the same color wasn’t used in an adjacent space. Although I designed the 2 sides differently, I realized later, after I was done painting it, that I had instead used an earlier mock up of the painting which used the same side twice, only in reverse. Most of it is still this way except for a few spaces that have been altered. I tried to use all of the colors equally and because they were cheap enamels, I had to paint most of the colors with 5 or 6 layers of paint to make it solid. The title comes from Superstudio who used this title back in 1967. Here is what I wrote about it a couple of years ago:

Journey Into the Realm of Reason takes its name from one of Superstudio’s theoretical concepts for architectural investigation. As a reductive tool for learning, this “Pigrim’s Progress” aims to expose and then remove the prevalent but unnecessary properties of architectural design, leaving a guide for a stripped yet necessary aesthetic.

I decided sometime this summer that this design would be great as a stained glass project. It would need to be around the same size though to account for the black lines that connect the glass pieces. It would be large and I have no room to store it. Maybe one day. The painting has been hanging above my couch ever since I painted it. It fits perfectly.

Jouney Into the Realm of Reason by Brian Higbee and Future Living Projects

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Future Living Project’s Good Design Is Good Living

Today I framed 10 collages titled Future Living Project’s Good Design Is Good Living. I made them at the very end of 2011 and framed them with some cheap white frames that I found at IKEA. Not the best frames or the best mats (not archival) but I figured that it was better than nothing. The title is a little self mocking and the collages themselves were meant to mimic the look of radical architectural theorists of the 60’s and 70’s. Like Rem Koolhaas’ Exodus, or the Voluntary Prisoners of Architecture, The Strip, Project, Aerial Perspective and SuperStudio’s Continuos Monument, I was interested in presenting a discourse on the relationship of the object/architecture to the political and social subject. I wasn’t particularly interested in depicting an overall unifying system of meaning but rather in showing an assortment of contexts between individuals and their surrounding landscapes. For some of the collages I used computer print outs of my own paintings as visual elements. The Invention Of The Isotropic Surface uses a part of Journey Into the Realm of Reason and All Things Future Living Projects uses From Safety ToWhere…? and At the Gates of Dawn. For all of the collages I first found black and white landscapes that I scanned, cropped and scaled to size. I then printed them on quality drawing paper. I had an assortment of cut out images from old magazines and a book on Ralph Lauren that I used as source material. I arranged these elements according to how I thought they best completed the overall composition; I tried to keep the amount of cutouts that I used to a minimum for each collage. The individual titles were all meant to reflect what the final collages represented and were all made using a list of vocabulary words that I had from some of John Miller‘s writings; I kept the list in order to better help remember their definitions. Here are the titles, in order, for the five works below.

Future Living Project’s Good Design Is Good Living: Prologue- The Monument (Continual)
Future Living Project’s Good Design Is Good Living: The Invention Of The Isotropic Surface
Future Living Project’s Good Design Is Good Living: The Capital Is Yet To Be Seen
Future Living Project’s Good Design Is Good Living: This Life Is No Longer Yours
Future Living Project’s Good Design Is Good Living: Epilogue- Our History Is Not Yet Written

Good Design is Good Living-Prologue-The Monument (Continual) by Brian Higbee and Future Living Projects Good Design Is Good Living-The Invention Of The Isotropic Surface by Brian Higbee and Future Living Projects

Good Design Is Good Living- The Capital Is Yet To Be Seen by Brian Higbee and Future Living ProjectsGood Design Is Good Living- This Life Is No Longer Yours by Brian Higbee and Future Living ProjectsGood Design Is Good Living- Epilogue- Our History Is Not Yet Written by Brian Higbee and Future Living Projects

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I Was A Landscape In Your Dream (Small Scale Model) and Drawings

I’ve been wanting to make I Was A Landscape In Your Dream for a couple of years now. In 2010 I made a small chipboard version that is 1.75″x8.75″x8.75″. It is made of 25 layers. I started it by cutting 25 pieces of chipboard that were the same size and sketching out the top layer and then cutting it out with an angled mat cutter. I laid this over the second layer and drew a line as close as I could (within an eighth of an inch) to the layer above and cut that out. I did this until the shape was too small to cut. I made the piece thicker by adding uncut layers to the bottom.

I enjoyed making this because it reminded me of a project that I made in art school for my three dimensional drawing class. It was a very intense class and focused on developing rendering skills for drawing in perspective. We learned how to accurately draw objects in three dimensions, cast shadows properly, shade (using the proper pencil for even shading without using too much pressure), use a knife, and eventually, build objects. One of the assignments included making small square designs out of chipboard. The rule was that no layer could overlap another and the edges had to be clean (not cut with a dull knife). I think we had to make somewhere around 20 of them and use the best 16. It was a hellish class and the students in the class that semester would be in the studio late at night working on their assignments all week and weekends. It was worth it though since I learned how to draw imaginary 3 dimensional objects with shadows and learned how to use a cutting knife. For one assignment we had to design an object by drawing it first with shadows as it would look on a wall, separate the layers and cut them out of Masonite and then put it together, wood fill, sand and paint it without any layers showing. My friend Jim and I cheated though by using a type of paint that made it look like stone, which also conveniently covered up the mistakes. I got an A on the assignment but he banned the use of that paint the next year. I’m glad I still use these skills, including “cheating” sometimes. Now it’s called problem solving.
Anyway, I plan on making a larger version of I Was A Landscape In Your Dream out of wood that will be 11″x22″x22″. It will eventually sit under a glass table so it functions as both a sculpture and as a piece of furniture. I sort of dislike the idea of using art as a design element so I was interested in this cross-over in my own work, and think of it as being a little tongue in cheek. For 2 summers now I’ve planned on making it, needing the warm weather to do all of my cutting and sanding, but its cold again so I might not make it until next year. It’s a logistical problem since I need all of the wood to be exactly the same size so that the edges will create perfect sides in the end. I think I’ve figured out how to make a jig for this using some wood and a circular saw. I may paint it white in the end which will require wood filling and sanding.

I also made a series of drawings that I consider contour drawings of I Was A Landscape In Your Dream that preceded the original chipboard version. The idea for this was more conceptual, in a classic sense, meaning that I set up ground rules for how I would make them and then let their final outcome be dictated by the rules. So I decided on a size and then started by making as straight a line as I could across the top free hand. I then went back and made another line underneath the original line, trying to follow as closely as I could to the line above. I did this until one side reached the bottom of the page for one series. In another series I continued until the whole page was full. I did some in blue ball point pen and some with black ball point pen. Some I did horizontal and some I did vertical. Some I turned upside down. After 16 of them I stopped, feeling that I explored this idea as far as I could. I really like the look of blue ball point pen although it is not very archival and will fade in the sun very easily.
The title is taken from a song of the same title by the band Of Montreal.

I Was A Landscape In Your Dream Small Scale Model by Brian Higbee and Future Living ProjectsI Was A Landscape In Your Dream(Drawing #1) by Brian Higbee and Future Living Projects I Was A Landscape In Your Dream(Drawing #6) by Brian Higbee and Future Living Projects

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Sursum Corda “Lift Up Your Hearts” (Panels 1 and 2)

Sursum Corda “Lift Up Your Hearts” (Panels 1 and 2) is a 2 part piece that I started in 2009 and finished in 2010. Both panels were first painted with special Future Living Projects white acrylic latex and then gridded out into half inch squares with pencil. They are each 36″x48″ in size and made with 6,912 squares totaling 13,824 squares all together. The left panel shows a dish used for receiving information and communications from space and the right panel shows the surface of the moon. I had both images in an archive of images that I’ve wanted to use for a long time. The surface of the moon image I was originally going to paint and use as a backdrop for an Apollo 11 model that I built, but has since been destroyed. For that model, I was interested in exploring ideas that had to do with a sort of reverse propaganda system where information is used by people in order to support conspiratorial ideas. In this case, it was about people who believed that we have never been to the moon, like the movie Capricorn One starring OJ Simpson. I did a lot of research on this phenomenon and was fascinated by how convincing some of the stories were that denied that we had ever been to the moon. The piece consisted of an old Apollo 11 model that looked like it was from the 70’s and a surface of the moon that I made out of plaster of Paris and spray painted grey. At the time I was also working on a series of drawings about space exploration called A History of Space and Communication (1926- ).

The title Sursum Corda “Lift Up Your Hearts” (Panels 1 and 2) is taken from a call and response prayer used in the Christian Church. I thought of the left panel as an image of something that is looking and the right panel as a dull response with no answer. Furthermore, I like the idea of the image being pixilated since it echoes the digitizing of information as it travels through space. Finally, I liked the idea of bringing a religious aspect to a purely scientific situation. This is one of the few pieces that I’ve used for both the Future Living Projects and the Associated Artists for Propaganda Research, feeling that it fits into both contexts.

Sursum Corda (%22Lift Up Your Hearts) Part 1 and 2 by Brian Higbee, Future Living Projects and Associated Artists for Propaganda Research

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