Bits: 04.16.09

Umbrella sculpture by OzCollective, via Crooked Brains, which offers a compendium of umbrella artworks

• A bit like "droplifting," designer Nick Hum has been buying thrift-store t-shirts, silkscreening on them and then returning them to the stores.

Zak Smith quoted in Plastic Water (via): “For the last eight years, if not longer, people have felt like this: our country -- and most of our planet -- has been taken over by Martians. Insane, gibbering beings driven by greed and bloodlust, and arcane religious beliefs rule and fight with each other over our planet with weird weapons, while below, we homo-sapiens try to survive any way we can in a haywire of cynicism and wrecked civilizations and technologies that come on like viruses. I cannot think of anything more alien than whatever drives are seething in the heads of Cheney and Bin-Laden and Putin and Wal-Mart.”

Self portraits by nude models as they sit for painters, via Jörg Colberg.

• Curator Peter Eleey discusses The Quick and the Dead, "an exhibition about the things we don’t know, the big questions and deep mysteries in life, and our desire for experiences that transcend those we have every day," which opens Apr. 25 at the Walker: "I find great beauty in works such as Jason Dodge’s simple bundle of cloth sitting on the gallery floor. The artist asked a weaver in Algeria to make it for him using the length of yarn it would take to go from the surface of the earth to where the weather ends -- essentially the border with outer space. Though it leads your mind to the outer reaches of the atmosphere, the cloth turns out to be much smaller than you might think. But I don’t think the works in the show clarify anything -- like Jason’s cloth, they instead offer expansive ways of thinking about things that are much bigger than themselves."

• The return of U.S. soldiers killed overseas has gone undocumented more than 5,000 times since the beginning of the war in Afghanistan. On Apr. 5, the remains of Air Force Staff Sgt. Phillip Meyers came home, and for the first time in 18 years the press was allowed to photograph it. The Big Picture offers a selection of photos showing the sobering yet stirring scenes from the return of fallen U.S. war heroes to home soil.

• An urban sketcher has created a Google Map of drawings throughout Barcelona.

• Hey: buy some pixels at Rhizome's 50,000 Dollar Webpage, equal parts "fundraiser, art collaboration, billboard, classified ad and community builder."

• LA artist Mark Bradford is giving a free artist talk at the Walker Art Center this Sunday.

• NASA's Chandra X-ray captures an image of the Helix planetary nebula, dubbed "the hand of God."

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