Pioneer Works: Thinking Differently Together

Pioneer Works is an artist-run cultural center that opened its doors to the public, free of charge, in 2012. Imagined by its founder, artist Dustin Yellin, as a place in which artists, scientists, and thinkers from various backgrounds converge, this “museum of process” takes its primary inspiration from utopian visionaries such as Buckminster Fuller, and radical institutions such as Black Mountain College.

Pioneer Works encourages radical thinking across disciplines by providing practitioners a space to work, tools to create, and a platform to exchange ideas that are free and open to all. We are driven by the realization that humanity is facing unprecedented social, intellectual, and spiritual challenges; our programs explore new ways of facing those challenges by using the arts and sciences dynamically as both a lens and catalyst. When humanity comes together and combines the ideas and talents of many, we have the ability to engineer what once appeared to be impossible. [source]

Images from The CryptoFuturist and The New Tribal Labyrinth
Atelier Van Lieshout

Second Sunday – April 14th, 2019
[Second Sundays is a free event series including open-doors to artists’ studios]

Industrial Design || Electronic Superhighway

The industrial lines within the National Portrait Gallery, paired to perfection with the outlines of the United States on

Electronic Superhighway: Continental U.S., Alaska, Hawaii, 1995-96
forty-nine-channel closed-circuit video installation, neon, steel, and electronic components
by Nam June Paik

Electronic Superhighway is Nam June Paik’s tribute to the United States, his adopted homeland. Paik, born in Korea in 1932, moved to New York in 1964 and lived in America until his death in 2006.

Though the outlines of the fifty states are familiar, Electronic Superhighway challenges the viewer to look with new eyes at the cultural map of the United States. Each state is represented by video footage reflecting the artist’s personal, and often unexpected connections to his artistic friends – composer John Cage in Massachusetts, performance artist Charlotte Moorman in Arkansas, and choreographer Merce Cunningham in Washington. Some states he knew best through classic movies – The Wizard of Oz appears for Kansas, Showboat for Mississippi, and South Pacific for Hawaii. Sometimes he chose video clips or assembled flickering slideshows that evoke familiar associations, such as the Kentucky Derby, Arizona highways, and presidential candidates campaigning in Iowa. Topical events such as the fires of the 1993 Waco siege or Atlanta’s 1996 summer Olympics create portraits of moments in time. Old black-and-white television footage and audio of Martin Luther King’s speeches recall Civil Rights struggles in Alabama. California has the fastest-paced imagery: racing through the Golden Gate Bridge, the zeros and ones of the digital revolution, and a fitness class led by O.J. Simpson. A mini-cam captures images of Superhighway’s viewers and transmits those images to a tiny screen representing Washington, D.C. making visitors a part of the story.

Nam June Paik is hailed as the ”father of video art” and credited with the first use of the term ”information superhighway” in the 1970s. He recognized the potential for media collaboration among people in all parts of the world, and he knew that media would completely transform our lives. Electronic Superhighway – constructed of 336 televisions, 50 DVD players, 3.750 feet of cable, and 575 feet of multicoloured neon tubing – is a testament to the ways media defined one man’s understanding of a diverse nation.

National Portrait Gallery, Washington, D.C.

March 22nd, 2019

The Bittersweet Past of Domino Park

The Dancing Cranes and Disappearing Act you saw yesterday and the day before, are some of the historic features that render a walk along the Domino Park all the more fun.

The 80-foot tall Gantry Cranes were used to unload bulk sugarcane from freight ships for storage at the Raw Sugar Warehouse, 21 columns of which stand in their original place along the Elevated Walkway (not pictured).

The bridge with the misters performing the Disappearing Act, stands in front of the Syrup Tanks, four of the fourteen large-scale tanks that were used to collect high volumes of liquid sweetener generated in sugar processing, dating back to the 1950s.

And the magnificent industrial brick giant you see below is none other than the Domino Sugar Refinery, closed in 2004 after 150 years production of the white sweet crystals we now love to hate. The entire building is undergoing renovation, with the facade being preserved in its entirety and the interior converted into ”creative office space”.

The Domino Park website shows many of the park’s features today next to black & white photos of their original use accompanied by historical notes, from where the following  excerpt:

“Because of its ease of access by larger shipping vessels, Frederick C Havemeyer Jr. selected this area in 1856 to establish the F. C. Havemeyer & Company refinery, which would eventually become known as the Domino Sugar Refinery. At its peak in 1919, the Domino Sugar Refinery employed approximately 4,500 workers from a wide range of backgrounds and ethnicities.

Immigrants from Germany, Poland, Ireland and other European countries — and in its later years — Puerto Ricans, Dominicans, and other people of Caribbean descent as well as African Americans all endured difficult working conditions at the Refinery in search of opportunity and prosperity. While the Refinery figured prominently in the explosive growth of Williamsburg’s industry and economy, it is the diversity of community surrounding this site that has become its lasting legacy.”

August 21st, 2018

Over the Roosevelt Island Bridge

Crossing on foot the Roosevelt Island Bridge doesn’t take long; it is one of the shortest ones – around 2,880 feet or 880 metres only – in the area, connecting Roosevelt Island with Astoria. It is the only way to reach the island by car or on foot (without using the aerial tram or subway) but we only met a couple of vehicles and people. Crossing it proved to be an excellent idea, following the underwhelming experience in Socrates Sculpture Park. The industrial views and welcome quietude of an early afternoon more than made up for it.

August 26th, 2017

Stop. Study Time!

Drawing, Design for Musaphonic Clock Radio in Blue, 1958. Richard Arbib (1917-1995) for General Electric Company (Schenectady, New York)

Drawing, Design for Musaphonic Clock Radio on Legs in Green, 1958. Richard Arbib (1917-1995) for General Electric Company (Schenectady, New York)

The Kem (Karl Emanuel Martin) Weber Group Sideboard and Chair, 1928-29. Sage green painted wood (sideboard); painted wood, synthetic leather (chair). AD-65 Radio designed 1932 by Wells Wintemute Coates , manufactured 1934 by E.K. Cole Ltd.

Desk, ca. 1933. Designed by Paul T. Frankl. Table Lamp, 1933. Designed by Gilbert Rohde. Poster, Philips, ca. 1928. Designed by Louis Christiaan Kalff for Philips


From  The Jazz Age: American Style in the 1920s, an exhibition at the Cooper Hewitt, April through August 2017

July 30th, 2017