Exercise Games

This is a picture of me. As you can see, I am not what one would call an "exercise fanatic." There is no buffness, no rippedhood, no six-pack anywhere evident on my soft, cuddly bod. This has alot to do with my early experiences of physical education, and my consistently persistent predilection for the more spiritual forms of conceptual calisthenics.

This probably explains my close to lifelong pursuit of ways to make exercise fun.

Several many years ago, I decided to make that particular passion more manifest, and began designing games and actual toys that would somehow make exercise, if not less painful, at least more playful. I imagined a "fitness arcade" which later became more publicly manifest in Dance-Dance-Revolution and Wii Fit. Though I had nothing to do with these products, I nevertheless consider them manifest substantiation of the various joys and benefits of Exercise Games.

About a decade ago, I started looking for something more accessible - something people could make out of junk, if they were so moved. Today, I decided to share one such concept with you in the hopes that it may stimulate you to: 1) make your own, 2) invent other such devices, or at least 3) contemplate the potential benefits, both physical and financial, of the exercise-game connection.

There's a puzzle called Tower of Hanoi. It involves moving discs from base to base. The key word here is moving.

Here, for your amusement and inspiration, my video elucidation of how to transform this fascinating puzzle into what can only be called an "exercise game," and equally only, a "fitness toy," or even "body/brain puzzle."



from Bernie DeKoven, funsmith

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Extreme Recycling - revisited



From Tony Hall, son of the Extreme Recycler

via Bernie DeKoven, funsmith

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A Brief History of Bottle Trees

Here's a story about a Bottle Tree, similar in visual splendor and recycled remarkability to the The Recycled Plastic Bottle Tree Hangings of Russia, but of a reportedly totally different tradition:
Glass 'bottle trees' originated in ninth century Kongo during a period when superstitious Central African people believed that a genii or imp could be captured in a bottle. Legend had it that empty glass bottles placed outside, but near, the home could capture roving (usually evil) spirits at night, and the spirit would be destroyed the next day in the sunshine. One could then cork the bottles and throw them into the river to wash away the evil spirits....Thomas Atwood, in History of the Island of Domi (1791), made particular note of the bottle tree as a protection of the home through an invocation of the dead. Atwood writes of the confidence of the natives "in the power of the dead, of the sun and the moon---nay, even of sticks, stones and earth from graves hung in bottles in their gardens."
And I thought they were just for fun.

And I still think so.

via FunSon

from Bernie DeKoven, funsmith

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AfriGadget

Home made checkersTake a closer look at this checker set. Nothing but a random collection of bottle tops and a piece of cardboard. And yet, it's checkers, and it's most clearly as playworthy as a checker set should be.

This is the lesson that AfriGadget teaches us, post after post after post: that we can make do. We can make do beautifully.Even without the newest and jiggiest. We can make do. Especially when we have to. Which, given the current state of the world, is something we should strongly consider making part of the basic curriculum, if you know what I mean. Courses in ingenuity and junkwork.

Founded by Erik Hersman, AfriGadget is edited by a team of African bloggers, and was recently selected by Time Magazine as one of the 50 Best Websites of 2008. You'll want to know more about Erik. Here's a recent interview.

from Bernie DeKoven, funsmith

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Tape Cassette Skeleton - symbolic fun

Brian Dettmer made a skeleton out of cassette tape cassettes. If you want to know how, all you have to do is look at the pictures. If you want to know why, well, there you go.

The kind of fun embodied by Brian Dettmer's Tape Cassette Skeleton has a very strong, but complex taste. The skeleton thing gives it that musty, dank, fear-like flavor. The tape cassettes add a minty, breath-freshening, born-again aftertaste. The re-use of tape cassettes to build a skeleton gives new life to the cassettes, while using them to create an image of death brings a hint of humor to the whole thing.

A significantly symbolic fun that proves to be, all in all, quite savor-worthy.

via in4mador.

from Bernie DeKoven, funsmith

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Horny Toad Invent-a-Sport Contest

A Handheld Skating and Snowboarding Sail, for example, would most definitely exemplify the kinds of new invented sports for which the Horny Toad Invent-a-Sport Contest was conceived.

The site features an inspirational collection of games to get you started. You'll probably notice that almost all of the images are of adults engaged in deep explorations of wackiness. See, for example, Crazy Croquet with its cinder block wickets, Richieball (see the official Richieball site for the full rules,) and the highly evolved, Box Ball-like game of Smack Ball.

The contest has already begun. The entry deadline is August 10.

The world is waiting for you.


via Hugh McNally (ex genius)

from Bernie DeKoven, funsmith

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Air Bear

Clips of Joshua Allen Harris' playful and junkishly subway-powered inflatable street sculptures have been making several circuits of the blogosphere of late. Most deservedly so.

This one, aptly named Air Bear by harrisdanger, is a garbage-bag polar bear. It is multi-dimensionally delightful: lifelike, artful, surprising.




via Noise, Laughing Squid, and various other junk-art savvy sites.


from Bernie DeKoven, funsmith

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The First Annual Vienna Beach Eco-Fest

If it's June 28th, and you're somewhere near Venice Beach, CA, then come on down to the Venice Eco-Fest 2008, where you will find:

• Over 100 exciting Eco-Exhibitors with important planet preservation tips
• Sun-powered Sound Stage - All day music, dance, poetry (see schedule below)
• Kid’s Explor-o-rama with exotic animals, and interactive stories, music and FUN for all ages
• Graffiti Artists at work using eco-friendly paints on the world famous Venice art wall
• Food Court with delicious vegetarian delights
• E-Salvage Recycling Truck in Ross Parking Lot for LARGE e-waste
Bring your used: Computers & Monitors, Laptops, TVs, Stereos, DVD & VCR Players, Scanners,
Fax Machines, all kinds of Electronic Accessories, computer and cell phone batteries, etc.
• E-Salvage Recycle Bin on the Beach for SMALL e-waste
**Bring your used: Cell Phones & Accessories, Cell Phone Batteries, Laptop Battery only
• Filtered Water Stations - BYO reusable water bottle!
• Million Trees Campaign Tree Give-away
• Green Outposts for recycling/waste/and compost
• PLUS-- Free Bike Valet on the handball court!
If only they had thought about including a JunkFest, it woulda been perfect.

Via Dr. Toy


from Bernie DeKoven, funsmith

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Junk Robot Burial Army

robots made of junkRobots. Robots made from junk, like these, from Lockwasher.

I was first introduced to the wonders of junk robots by the artist Liz Mamorsky when I was developing the prototype for card gameThing-a-ma-Bots.

My fascination with the play value of junk in general, and this junk art form, in particular, has just taken one more small step for Berniekind.

Speaking of giant leaps for mankind, I am now imagining a Terracotta Army, you know, like all those statues of soldiers in formation they found in China? - only made of junk art robots. Huh? How's that for something you'd go to a museum to see (and be proud as heck to see) your very own home-made junk robot join the ranks of?





via Neatorama

from Bernie DeKoven, funsmith

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Ironic Fun

The title of the collection of images is Extraordinary Art from Metal - another remarkable collection from the remarkably collectible people at Dark Roasted Blend. Of this particular collection, the Dark Roasted Blenders comment: "Todesfee has collected in this set whimsical sculptures made from not so funny material: scrap military metal, left from the Yom Kippur War (Mount Bental was the site of large-scale tank battles in 1973)."

Thus, we uncover yet another fun flavor, one which I find myself impelled to name "ironic fun." Scrap iron, don't you know, from tanks and stuff of military horror, transformed into a funny, junky sculpture of two cartoon-like figures, trying to shake hands, and yet, because of their very ironically iron-like nature, doomed to fail.

from Bernie DeKoven, funsmith

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Make a Ball, Have a Ball

child making ball out of scrap material
Click here for a short presentation on the art of DIY fun.


Alternative ball-construction technology here. (via sacred son).


from Bernie DeKoven, funsmith

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Children Will Play

Frances Henson VanLandinham's Children Will Play: Games and Toys from Simpler Times is a collection of "childhood memories," gathered from family, friends and neighbors, most of whom grew up during the depression, when times where perhaps simpler, but definitely far more difficult than most of us currently enjoy. Hence this lovingly illustrated collection describes handmade toys and homemade games - folk games and toys that are truly inspirational accounts of play and love, creativity and spontaneity, of imagination and free-range joy.

I quote from the introduction: "Children will play under almost any circumstances. I've observed children at play while cold and hungry. Even while living in an abusive environment, children play. Children don't have the verbal skills to communicate their pain and suffering, so they express pain as well as joy through play. Children play through times of social upheaval. During wars and natural disasters, children play."

The book describes how to play Appalachian jump rope, how to make corncob darts, milk can trains, bark sleds, plantain dolls, stick cows, hollyhock dolls, handkerchief dolls. It is full of stories of almost heroic celebrations of Christmas, when there was barely enough money for food.

It is a history of the human spirit. Something to treasure. Something from which to draw inspiration and hope. And it could very well open new pathways to fun, for all of us.

It can only be ordered ($12 plus $2.00 US shipping) from the author. Send your check or money order to Frances Henson ValLandingham, 812 Poga Road, Butler, TN 37640. Call 423-768-2261 for more information. Email FrancyMay34@aol.com



from Bernie DeKoven, funsmith

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Ruffles Flyer

Take a look at the airplane this guy made one day at lunch "from the bag that held my potato chips and the toothpick that was in my sandwitch."



Junkyard Model Airplanes
.

Airplanes, made out of found office junk. Cool-looking airplanes that really fly.

A whole nother Junkyard Sport, don't you think?

via Make Blog

from Bernie DeKoven, funsmith

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Backyard TV

Here's a moment of inspiration as seen on a Backyard TV. I quote:
"Daniel took the TV outside and smashed it in. Then we all got out the paints and started making the TV beautiful. What a great family project. I don't think I need to explain why we did it. Most of you already know how we feel about media and advertising. I believe we waste way too much time with it on. It's so tempting to plop down in front of it when you are tired from life. But why are we so tired? Why don't we have the energy to do the things we really want to do? Maybe if we weren't staying up late watching the tv we wouldn't be tired the next day:)"

via Sacred Daughter
from Bernie DeKoven, funsmith

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Eine Kleine Plumbingmusic

In September of 1936, a man named "Red Jones," whose claim to fame was manifest in the variously lovely musical instruments he made and played - out of pipe tools and fittings - managed to attract the attention of no less a publication than Modern Mechanics.

I learned this recently, from J-Walk Blog and a site called, eponymously, Modern Mechanix.

And it made me think about how old of a tradition this thing is, this art, one must call it, of repurposing, of playing with, of finding and creating and sharing delight - with, junk.

from Bernie DeKoven, funsmith

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JunkFest

From CNN, aired Dec 2 and 3, a quick clip describing my first ever JunkFest - a celebration of play, community, arts and athletics - honestly.

You can read more about it here, and watch the clip right actually here.




from Bernie DeKoven, funsmith

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Hand-Painted Toilet Seats

Hand-Painted Toilet Seats - another testimony to the transforming power of the playful mind:



via friend and fellow player, The Presurfer

from Bernie DeKoven, funsmith

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Underpants Tug-of-War - Could Pantyhose be Far Behind?

Yes, my friends, it's true. It's what you've been waiting for for so many years that you forgot you were waiting. It's: Underpants Tug-of-War, at last!

Apparently (until some well-versed translator can explain otherwise), you get two pairs of panties (and/or underpants), joined by a single string (or perhaps elastic something). You and your partner place these panties on your respective heads, and proceed as illustrated.

My guess is that you lose your panties, you lose the game.

Oh, the fun, the silliness, the sheer, suggestive ribaldry of it all.

I, however, when I put together the words "game" and "panties," find myself having fond memories of yet another game, which I would explain, except that it's not relevant, other than its pantyhose-on-the-headness, as illustrated herein, , which, in turn, makes me think that one could everso easily make one's own Panty-tug-of-war-like game out of a pair of pantyhose, or perhaps two.

Pantyhose-Tug-of-War. A new, playworthy, and clearly Junkyard-type Sport. And you read about it here.





via Neatorama

from Bernie DeKoven, funsmith

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from the World Play Toy List

"These funny clowns are made at the spectacular Foz do Iguacu (Iguassu Falls), which sits at the point where Brazil meets Argentina and Paraguay. Here, there are always beautiful, lush green plants growing everywhere, so no wonder the kids there have incorporated grass into their toys! Meet the Grass Head Clown, which is often decorated with the colors of the rainbow, the same colors created from the mist of Iguassu Falls which falls along 350-foot cliffs of river. The child who made this particular toy used all recycled materials: a pair of her mother's old' stockings, a piece of scrap ribbon, sawdust she found lying around her father's wood shop, and a small handful of grass seeds. As a result of assembling all this "junk" together, she has a toy that's fun for any boy or girl to make and play with . . . especially if they like to cut hair! These toys have become so popular in Iguassu Falls that some of the children make them and sell them to tourists who come to see their town. So they are not only toys, but they are also a way for the children to make a little money of their own.

"We like to call the Grass-Head Clown the original Chia Pet!"



found on World Play Toys, by Bernie DeKoven, funsmith

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Driftwood Horses

Heather Jansch makes horses out of driftwood. Driftwood. Lovely, lovely junk from the sea. She explains:
"I was tired of following in other peoples footsteps. I had been working with copper wire and the sculptures were like Da Vinci’s line drawings but lacked the power I wanted. One day I while I was out my son could not find any kindling wood to light the wood-burner and had chopped up a piece of ivy that had grown round a fencing stake, he had left behind a short section that I immediately saw as a horse's torso of the right size to fit straight into the copper wire piece I was working on. The next question was where could I find more or similar shapes and the answer was of course driftwood."
Need I say more?



from Bernie DeKoven, funsmith

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Of Gas and Whimsy

Friend in play Bruce Williamson writes:

"On my trip last June I walked by this propane tank just down the road from the friend's cabin where I was staying. It's always fun being surprised by someone's whimsy just when you are least expecting it!"




from Bernie DeKoven, funsmith

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The Persistence of Playfulness - a folk art tour of Kansas

"Kansas," did you know, "is a national leader in grassroots or self taught folk art."

Did you further know that self taught folk art is probably one of the best examples of what I sometimes, but not often call "the persistence of playfulness"?

For example, in Erie, Kansas one can find "the wonderful metal sculptures of the Dinosaur Not So National Park."

While in Lincoln County, Kansas are "J. R. Dickerman's fabulous Creature Creations form an 'Open Range Zoo' along Highway 18."

And in Lucas, Kansas, the "Garden of Isis by Mri Pila...5 rooms of art made from doll bodies, toys, kitchen utensils and other recycled materials."

A short scroll down the virtual lane of the Kansas Grassroots and Folk Art collection will explain all.


from Bernie DeKoven, funsmith

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Found Sound: Dictionarioke

They call it "Dictionarioke.org." They explain:
"Pronunciation: 'dik-sh&-"ner-A-O-ke dOt-Org
Definition: This site features parodies of popular songs using karaoke-style backing music with vocals provided by audio pronunciation samples from online dictionaries. All of these songs are available for download in MP3 format on our main index page."
My favorite: "Dr Seuss "Green Eggs and Ham."

It's kindofa junkyard thing - using what one such as I might be sorely tempted to call "found sound."

It is for fun.


from Bernie DeKoven, funsmith

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Cardboard Tube Fighting League

The Cardboard Tube Fighting League, despite appearances and adult-like anticipations, is a highly disciplined, well, maybe not highly, but at least somewhat disciplined play fight.

I exemplify by citing the admirably explicated rules:
  1. First Rule of CTFL: Don’t break your tube. In a duel, the last person with an unbroken tube is declared the winner. In the event that both participants break their tubes at the same time, the game is a draw, and both duelists are considered losers.
  2. No stabbing. Lunges involving tubes are never allowed under an circumstances. Participants who exhibit this behavior, will be ejected from the entire event.
  3. Try not to work the face. Hitting people in the face is heavily frowned upon and can force your ejection from the event.
  4. Once your tube is broken you must stop fighting.
  5. To participate you must be using an official CTFL tube, which will be provided at the event, and have signed a release waiver.
  6. You may not block your opponents tube with your arms hands or legs.
  7. Your tube must always be held near the bottom. Holding your tube in the middle at any time is illegal.
See this for more photos, videos and stuff.

via Laughing Squid

from Bernie DeKoven, funsmith

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Junk and Whimsy (cont'd)

catbishop's Recycled Assemblage photoset, is what you might call it. Wonderfully faith-restoring signs of playfulness, is what I see. Junk, genuine junk, like, for example, a dirtbike gas tank, a bocce ball, a jigger, and two gooseneck lamp bases, transformed into a, well, duck. Or something enough like a duck to be clearly ducky, duckish, and ducklike.


from Bernie DeKoven, funsmith

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The Recycled Plastic Bottle Tree Hangings of Russia

Recycled, plastic bottle, tree hangings - somewhere in Russia, boquets of plastic bottles hang like chandeliers from tree branches. They are silly. They do not cast light. And yet, they shed light. They are beautiful, and they restore hope, and connect us a little more intimately, transnationally, to the very thing we all are playing for.

via Street Use

from Bernie DeKoven, funsmith

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ArtCar Fest - A Whole Nother Junkyard Sport

It's the The Art Car Fest! "The West Coast's Largest Gathering of Art Cars!" And you're looking at "Tom Kennedy's 'Ripper the Shark & Max the Fin Truck'" - Tom Kennedy being one of the artists whose presence will grace the First Annual Redondo Beach Junkfest.

The West Coast's Largest Gathering of Art Cars!, for goodness sake!

"The unique aspect of our medium," say the Fest-designers, "is that we bring art into the world every day as we drive our vehicles to work, to the store and on the highway." Very fun stuff, these art cars, transforming reality, like all good art.

ArtCars. Another kind of Junkyard Sport, it seems to me. A whole nother kind.



from Bernie DeKoven, funsmith

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Big Rig Jig

This, in case you were wondering, is called the "Big Rig Jig," It was created by "Brooklyn artist Mike Ross and crew of artists at American Steel in Oakland. Big Rig Jig was one of the art installations funded by Burning Man this year as part of 'The Green Man' theme."

Here's the artists' statement: "Our source objects are fundamental to the world’s oil distribution infrastructure, and are pertinent examples of our culture’s unmatched production of carbon dioxide. By altering these symbolically rich objects, the sculpture is a celebration of humankind’s raw power on earth, a visual metaphor for non-sustainability, and a contemplation of our unique ability to recognize and change our most destructive actions."

Here's mine: It takes a practiced and playful eye to imagine how two old trucks could become a monumental two-headed snake. Yes, yes, it is a monument that plays with power and fear and waste. But, most of all, a monument to the power of fun to transform and embrace even the rawest edges of our world.

via Laughing Squid

from Bernie DeKoven, funsmith

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Shoe art

Sensory Impact editor Adnan Arif writes: "This multimedia art installation titled 'Human Nature' by Federico Uribe (see "Installations") ... (gives) a new lease of life to discarded shoes, Uribe has reconstructed a forest environment and animals including rabbits, gorillas, cheetahs, and swans. Created completely from Puma shoes and laces, these 'animals' are a spectacle in themselves as well as triggers contemplation of our environment."

And I comment, as I am wont to do: Puma sneakers. One can't help wondering if it's perhaps beyond coincidence. Puma sneakers. Being used to create (other) animals. In fact, I think image #10 might be a Puma-puma, gorily eating some other hapless sole.

It is delight upon delight, this art, this beauty, this achievement, this masterfully re-purposed silliness.

(don't miss his collection of "torsos" made of things like clothespins, screws, pencils, pennies....)


via Neatorama via Sensory Impact

from Bernie DeKoven, funsmith

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The Best Homemade Mini Golf Course Ever

It is always gratifying to see evidence of the spirit of Junkyard Golf manifesting itself on the edges of the Internet.

Here, from YouTube, The Best Homemade Mini Golf Course Ever

Note how the designer keeps to the "assemblage" spirit of Junkyard Golf - not really securing anything to anything or ataching anything - just putting things together.

Not also the devotion, dedication, degree to which this whole silly thing is taken seriously.

  • Hole #1 - " up the hornby railway track , around the hotwheels bend & fired into the hole"
  • Hole #2 - " up and around the three loops and then fired into the hole"
  • Hole #3 - " up the hornby track down the videos and fired into the hole"
  • Hole #4 - " along the piano, some how. oh yeah, then fired in...
  • Hole #5 - " up the hornby track and fired up the tube and into the hole"
  • Hole #6 - " up and then down the hornby track, then fired into the tube and then in the hole"
  • Hole #7 - " up the hornby track and fired off the sofa into the hole"
  • Hole #8 - " up the tube and then fired back down the tube into then hole"
  • Hole #9 - " up the hornby track then fired against the tube, the tube falls over and the ball rolls along the piano into the hole"

see also: The Best Homemade Domino Golf Course Ever



via Junkyard Sports

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More Food Art

Food as art is a concept that should be at least as close to one's heart as it is to one's stomach.

I know, I know, I've written about this before. But I was recently reminded of the art/food/fun connection again when I got a response to a Craigslist ad I had written for "found object artists." I was looking for artists who wanted to show their work at the First Annual Redondo Beach JunkFest, and one of the responses I received was from a fellow named Bryan Au who thought that his work with raw foods would somehow prove JunkfFst-worthy. "Raw foods," I thought to myself, "how very much the opposite of junk food, and yet how perfectly this art fits into the whole JunkFest concept. I clicked. I read. I laughed. I loved.

For more food art, see also this and these and perhaps for desert some of this, followed by a bit of this.

Then there's Edible Robotics.



via Neatorama, etc.


from Bernie DeKoven, funsmith

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Toilegami

Toilet Paper Origami (also called toilegami) is the origami-style folding of toilet paper. There are two ways to do toilegami:
  • fold the toilet paper while it is still on the roll,
  • or fold a single sheet of toilet paper.
And there are beautifully delicate toilet paper wedding dresses, too.

All makes sense, if you think about it long enough.


via the Toilet Paper Origami Resource Center

from Bernie DeKoven, funsmith

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The Whim of Combination

Found-object/assesmblage artist Barbara Irwin writes:
"One of the reasons that I enjoy creating found object/assemblage art is that it allows me to use anything and everything, old or new. My assemblage work stems from what I call 'whim of combination.' Sometimes things come together quickly and easily and other times it takes weeks, months, and years, to find that missing piece that ties it all together. I use objects that I find in antique shops, thrift stores, and garage sales, or that I find in the street and in people’s curbside junk piles....I love found object/assemblage art because allows me to look at an object and imagine a new way of using it. For me, found object/assemblage art is total play, total fun, and total joy. I get so much satisfaction out of giving something a new life. The more we see, the more we see that there is to see. The only limit is our own imagination."


from Bernie DeKoven, funsmith

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Repurposing the World for Play

Kevin Kelly's blog Street Use is "a solo effort to record the way in which people actually use technology versus how engineers imagined it would be used." Kelly might be familiar to the wiser children of the 60's and 70's because of his involvement with the Whole Earth Catalog. He "launched (and co-edited) the new Whole Earth Catalogs: The Essential Whole Earth Catalog, The Whole Earth Ecolog, the Fringes of Reason, and Signal: a Whole Earth Catalog of Communication Tools."

But, despite his many projects and works of wonders, it is his Street Use blog which hits closest to our shared home, we who engage in repurposing the world for play.

Enjoy.


from Bernie DeKoven, funsmith

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Shoe Tossing

Many are the theories that embrace the various phenomena known by some under the general rubric of Shoe Tossing. Yet, from the various manifestations of shoefiti to the remarkably collective testimony of the shoe tree, no single explanation has emerged. Is it an act of vandalism, of desecration, or perhaps some more hopeful sign of the human spirit emerging from its own trash heap?

Some, as the writer of the Roadside America article on shoe trees (op. cit.), see shoe tossing as a semi-noble artistic pursuit, starting "with one dreamer, tossing his or her footwear-of-old high into the sky, to catch on an out-of-reach branch. It usually ends there, unseen and neglected by others. But on rare occasions, that first pair of shoes triggers a shoe tossing cascade. Soon, teens are gathering up their old Adidas and Sauconys, families are driving out after church with Dad's Reeboks and grandma's Keds. The shoe tree blooms with polymer beauty. A work of art like this may last for generations, tracing our history by our sneakers . . . as long as the tree doesn't die."

As for me, I prefer the happier, less trodden shoe-tossing sport, known by the Fortunate Few as Shoeshoes.

from Bernie DeKoven, funsmith

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Shadow Sculptures from Junk

I found this amazing shadow sculpture "(made from junk by Tim Noble and Sue Webster, Dirty White Trash [With Gulls], 1998 | six months’ worth of the artists' rubbish)" by following a link contributed by Instructables memberiamnotsancho while checking out this wonderful Instructables instructions, as it were, on how to make shadow sculptures out of junk.

All of which is to point to yet another amazing artistic exploration of junk, and junkly exploration of art, and manifestation of the transforming power of play.



via Boing Boing


from Bernie DeKoven, funsmith

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Painted Peanuts

You are probably not aware of the nascent filmic extravaganza called "Going Nuts," a stop-motion film in which "a prestigious fairytale illustrator is hired by the psychiatric hospital director. His job there will be to decorate the hospital walls with his drawings to improve the place’s atmosphere. It seems like an easy task but things get complicated when the sketcher discovers a dark corridor from where chilling screams come out." And now informed by the clarity of the preceding synopsis, you may still be taken by surprise by the discovery that the illustrator is, himself, a nut. And he's not the only one. In fact, all the characters in the film are nuts. Peanuts.

Yes, you heard me correctly. Peanuts. Hence the title.

Hence, also, the topic of today's post - a most visually snack-worthy contest, whose results are herein featured, inviting the masses to submit their own, hand-drawn, peanut characters.

Another taste of whimsy, and art, and a junklike, commercially-sponsored rejuvenation of the spirit of play.



via Neatorama

from Bernie DeKoven, funsmith

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"The flea market is my church and my temple"

Kris Bordessa, Funspotter, points out that many of the works you saw in that video of Florence Avenue, Sebastopol are by Patrick Amiot and Brigette Laurent.

Going to their site is an experience of art, inventiveness and humor - wonderfully refreshing, inspiringly positive. Which at least partially explains why Patrick has composed a calendar called Folk Art for Schools to help raise funds for the local school system.

I found this quote in an article from the San Francisco Chronicle. In it, Amiot gives us a glimpse of the almost spiritual joy with which he transforms the world: "I'm a junk specialist...I try to buy as little as I can. Nothing beats the flea market. It's my church and my temple. People throw stuff away that I consider valuable. I can do so many things with it. They chuck it in the garbage one day. I transform it, and then they want it in their front yard."



from Bernie DeKoven, funsmith

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Further Journeys into Junk

Because the roots of Junkyard Sports are as firmly embedded in junk as they are in sports, I've found myself exploring the web, searching for the kinds of Junk Art (yes there are kinds) that seem to be most closely related in spirit to Junkyard Sports.

Pepto the Clown, depicted here, is exemplary of that kind of Junk Art. It is from the work of Ben Hawkins, a.k.a. Whimsical Rubbish. Whimsical Rubbish. Rubbish, perhaps, but whimsical - the kind of whimsy that is both the art and heart of Junkyard Sports.

Searching for more such junkish whimsy, I wandered through the back roads of Youtube, eventually finding myself strolling down Forest Florence Avenue, Sebastopol. From there, I was transported to a place called GarbagePatch - a rural Iowa farm pond near the Neil Smith Wildlife Refuge in Prairie City, Iowa. Upon concluding my visit to the garbage garden, I clicked over to the densely amazing Cathedral of Junk in Austin, finally ending my journey in Australia, where I watched this Documentary on Steve Oatway, Sculptor.

Having exhausted myself in the visual vicissitudes of video voyaging, I found refuge in the Flickry vaults of our collective conscious. There, among the myriad, I discovered many obviously whimsical manifestations of Junk Art, similar in spirit and depth to the aforementioned collection of Whimsical Rubbish, at a place called "Trashion Nation."

Home now, I can share with you these mementos of my virtual travels, perhaps to reintroduce you to the whimsical wisdom that at one time inspired you to create your own art, permitted you to invent your own sports. It is right there. Everywhere. Play on, fellow traveler.


from Bernie DeKoven, funsmith

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Junk art as a spiritual practice

Ann P. Smith "spends her days making little robotic like figurines from broken electronics and machine parts." Little robotic like figurines that, apparently, gallop, and growl.

From the playful perspective, Smith's art is a near heroic achievement - a transmutation of the broken and useless into intricate expressions of life. It is a graphic expression of the same spirit that makes Junkyard Sports so deeply fun. There's something about it that redefines us. Something that frees us to see the world, and each other, anew.




via Metafilter

from Bernie DeKoven, funsmith

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Watch Part Mortorcycles

Using watch parts to create miniature motorcycles becomes, in the hands of José Geraldo Reis Pfau, a form of high play.

As you look at the many examples of his art, you can see the exacting playfulness of each of his creations - the power of a vision that can transform watch batteries into headlights, wrist watches into wheels, parts of watch bands into seats, watch gears into engines. These tiny marvels, some scarcely larger than a couple of paper clips, demonstrate the discipline and skill that are requisite complements of true playfulness. The same kind of skill and discipline that we see in miniature when we watch children transform blocks of wood into towers of the imagination.


via Presurfer

from Bernie DeKoven, funsmith

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Junkyard Symphony

They call themselves Junkyard Symphony. Their motto: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Rock. Their instruments, junk.

Junkyard Symphony - Recyled Circus

They play, they perform, they juggle, they teach, they bring people into a world of music and playfulness and mutual delight.

"For rhythm workshops students learn the importance of rhythm in music and life. In a drum circle fashion using buckets as drums, Junkyard Symphony teaches the basics of rhythm such as tempo, beat, and dynamics. They also cover the values of quarter notes, eight notes, half notes and whole notes and the students learn a series of syncopated rhythms. Add in a cheer box and a few rhythmic games and the workshop becomes a "Stomp" for students!

"For recycling workshops, Students learn how to make instruments from reused materials such as a maraca from a plastic water bottle and macaroni or a rain stick from a paper towel roller and beans."

They are the inventors of Rhythmball:

"On each side of the court are two gongs with a basket. Two players stand on each side of the court, and a drummer on the sidelines keeps the beat on a junk drum kit.The rest of the two teams also stand on the sidelines. The object of the game is for the two teams to rebound the rhythmball off the gong and into the basket on the opposite side of the court, but there is a catch. The rhythmball must hit the gong on beat 1 of a 4 or 6 beat cycle to get full points. The ball must also be passed every beat one for the play to continue."

And their music, played on junk, ranges from raucous to ethereal. Yes, I said ethereal. Listen to them, for example, playing and singing "Dream a Dream." And dream with us, how we might reuse junk to create musical games, recycle junk into song.

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from Bernie DeKoven, funsmith

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Sports Inventors

Sports Inventors. They are meant to be a joke. You can even see how much of a joke they take themselvs as by watching their video.

Lacrastickball But, you see, we who are the promulgators of Junkyard Sports, we know that such jokes are the very stuff, the very meat, the very core of new and meaningful paths to peaks of playful performance.

As in, for example, Bowling Shotput, as illustrated in the video.

Not to mention Lacrasticball, as also illustrated here.

I select but a few of my favorites from their collection of half-formed, undescribed, yet clearly inspired conceptual leaps:

  • Crocockey - English croquet meets full-contact hockey.
  • Darchery - extreme barroom darts played with a mini crossbow.
  • Double Racketed Tennis - six-foot-long pole with a racket head attached to each end - doubles with half as many people.
  • Escalator Surfing - the Zen of surfing balance performed while standing on a descending escalator step.
  • Extreme Tetherball - three-tiered professional tetherball.
  • Fat Abner - oversized baseball bat for easy contact. (After baseball inventor Abner Doubleday).
  • Golfzilla - aggressive full-contact golf with running, blocking, tackling, and bigger holes for more hole-in-one's.
  • Hackie Bag - beanbag chair-size hackie sack.
  • Horseshoe Tag - players wear spiked helmets and try to ring toss one another.
  • I Got It Mitt - oversized baseball mitt for the visually challenged.
  • Jet-Ski Jousting - just like the medieval equestrian competition except played on jet skis.

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Plastic Bags in New York City

Plastic Bags in New York City is one of several art projects by Richard The. Before you read further, take a couple minutes to watch the movie. Note, especially, that the only people who pay attention to this wonderfully junk-enabled wonder are those who are naturally given to such wondering.

The artist comments:
"The main idea was to use the Marilyn-Monroe-Effect: Above the subway track there are grids on the street. Once a train runs through a very strong flow of air is blown up.

"The chosen objects to get lifted by this wind were plastic bags. The subway line, which connects very different parts of the city, was supposed to be visualized by several plastic bags, each from on of these districts (i.e. green line: spanish harlem, upper east side, chinatown etc.)

"Thus the subway line, which can not be seen on the street, would be made visible, but also the different (sub)cultures and communities which exist in these neighbourhoods."

Via We Make Money Not Art


from Bernie DeKoven, funsmith

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Maze Zing

Maze Zing mazes are made of real objects. Exactly like the Gone Fishin' maze in this illustration, actually made out of actual fish hooks. Fish hooks!

Created by Jeff Montayne, these mazes are testimonies to the man's playfulness, patience, and ability to scrounge. He explains:
"The mazes were set up for the picture and then taken apart immediately after. Most of the objects in the mazes were purchased through Internet auctions and from local stores. I am looking forward to hunting through yard sales for items as I continue to create more intriguing mazes. I got the idea for creating the mazes one Saturday while reading books with my little cousins, Kayleigh and Taryn. We exhausted our collection of picture puzzle books and began searching the house for items to make our own picture puzzles...Using my digital equipment, I spent a Saturday building and photographing four picture puzzles to entertain Kayleigh and Taryn. I didn’t want to recreate what someone else had already done, so I began experimenting with my own styles. The four pictures I created kept the kids amused for a while but I quickly learned that my work would never be finished. They wanted more and more. Thus, Maze Zing was born."
The mazes in Maze Zing represent many small, but brilliant contributions to the World Maze. Montayne's discovery that little bits of stuff can make great mazes, that different stuff has different properties which lends itself to different kinds of mazes, that the digital camera makes temporary things permanent...each and all opened new doors for maze play. And Montayne's willingness to be guided by his cousins' playfulness demonstrates once again how children can lead us into new forms of art and play, and how love can make it so much worth doing.

from Bernie DeKoven, funsmith

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Bent Objects

It's called "Bent Objects," and it's an invitation to play, and to make art, and to be silly. It is a gift. From a man named Terry Border.

He explains: "I'm an artist trying to be discovered by the masses. I make up things in my head, then try to make them with my hands."

Clear. Unpretentious. Fun. Empowering. Discover him.


via Ze Frank, funspotter

from Bernie DeKoven, funsmith

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The Box Doodle Project

In Kris Bordessa's blog, Great Solutions to Team Challenges, she does me the great honor of not only blogging my Festival of Junk concept. Kris is the author of an importantly playful book called "Team Challenges," and I even managed to interview her in a FunCast not too long ago. So it's not too surprising that she would grok the idea of a Festival of Junk so thoroughly. She writes:
Beyond the financial feasibility of this, it's an opportunity to bring some environmental awareness to a community. Not only is there an element of reuse, but there's an element of NON-use. In other words, if the activities use scavenged and found items, it WON'T require new products to be purchased and consumed.

And, kids participating in an event like this will learn how to think beyond the usual bounds of playthings and discover the joy of cardboard and bottle caps. Or should I say REdiscover? The joy of cardboard boxes is well-known to toddlers, but as they become little consumers, they learn that the box is garbage and expect something grander to entertain them.
And I am touched and close to overjoyed, not only by the discovery that Kris has so compassionately captured the politics and purposes of the Festival of Junk, but also by her taking it one step further with her mention of a most admirably silly venture called "The Box Doodle Project."

The Box Doodle. Lovely, supremely junkish in concept and spirit. Box Doodler David Hoffman explains: "the rules are quite simple: rearrange a box to make any kind of figure or object. Make the most of least." It's inspiring, really, to see the collection of whimsical, cardboard-backed delights contributed by artists of all callings. For our immediate gratification, there's even a virtual Box Doodle Tool, taking the concept beyond cardboard entirely, should we, for some reason, find ourselves so called.


from Bernie DeKoven, funsmith

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The Junkyard Sports Fundation receives its first donation

An anonymous donor, our first, sent in this box containing a significant collection of stretchy foot things. We are honored and humbled by this act of unselfish sharing (the foot things were washed), and hope in like manner to be able to share our bounty with those in need.

from Bernie DeKoven's FunLog

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Odd Music

There are probably more connections between junkyard sports and the arts than there are between junkyard sports and, um, sports. The same drive to transform the "useless" into the playworthy, the same spirit that transforms plastic bags and scrap into a soccer ball, the same need to engage, explore, express - can be found in junk sculpture, junk jewelry, junk fashion, and especially, wonderfully, in junk music.

You know, of course, about the junk-playing, dancing art of Stomp, and maybe you even know about the Taiko-like celebrations of junk-made instruments, creativity and choreography of Scrap Arts Music, but for a taste of what junk-inspired musical innovation leads to, take a long look at Odd Music. Spend maybe 15 minutes, or hours, exploring their gallery of traditional and invented instruments. Yes, the art and craft, the discipline, the hundreds of hours that went into the creation of each instrument - these all may seem a far cry from the slapdash improvisations that lead to the creation of things like the Junkyard Golf Club. But the spirit, the need to break from the constraints of the "official," the taking up of the freedom to innovate, even within the confines of the most traditional of forms, the ingenuity that inspires us to make our own, out of whatever, simply because we want to play - these are all, most gloriously, the same.

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"...and I am a spreader of gum"

This work of art is composed entirely of gum. Yes, chewing gum. GumArtist Jamie Marraccini explains: "...I've created 23 works totaling more than 30,000 pieces of gum. I've now come to the realization that the gum justifies the art. The fun is in the chewing and the art is an expression of the fun. Just remember, gum is not chewed for health or sustenance. People chew gum for pleasure. It is in that spirit that GumArt exists, and I am a spreader of gum."

And here, Mr. Marraccini explicates further: "Gumology is the science of gum chewability, spreadability, and bubblibility. I've been studying gumology for as long as I can remember. In fact, at the age of 10 I wrote my first scientific paper on gum titled, 'The Making of a Great Gum.' The world has yet to embrace the ideas of yeast in gum or talking-gum which were detailed in that article; however, it was this curiosity and quest to find the limits of gum that lead to the creation of GumArt."

His online GumArt Gallery chronicles a decade in the evolution of his art from, 1989 to 1999.

For more gummy reflections, see this.

Thanks for this chewy find go to in4mador

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