Carren's Pitch

Life by Design

7/10/2015

David Wiseman's nature-inspired pieces

Posted by Carren Jao Pineda |

Nature is undoubtedly beautiful and capturing it is a tough challenge. Artist David Wiseman gamely meets this difficult obstacle and surpasses expectations. 

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Text by: Carren Jao
Edited by: Alice Short
Published: 30 May 2015, Los Angeles Times

Wiseman at work on his installation for the library. via New York Times
Entering one of David Wiseman's immersive installations is like discovering the beautiful landscape of Narnia inside an austere wardrobe, guaranteed to elicit wonder and even a creeping belief in magic.

The Los Angeles-based designer has made a name for himself by creating painstakingly crafted pieces that range from limited-edition small objects to intricate worlds of flora and fauna, using materials as diverse as porcelain and metal. [read more]

7/09/2015

Sonifying the World

Posted by Carren Jao Pineda |

It's rare one gets to be poetic, but this piece is truly a beautiful drama unfolding. Writing this made me look at the world in a whole new way. 

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When Chris Chafe translates data into music, listeners sway to the beat of seizing brains, economic swings and smog

Text by: Carren Jao
Edited by: Pamela Weintraub
Published: 02 July 2015, Aeon

We might never know when the first set of thuds, thumps and taps were strung together to make music, or when people sang the first songs, but it is incontrovertible that our lives are seeped in rhythms and beats. We tap our feet. We bob our heads. We sing in the shower. Never mind that we might not even be able to carry a tune. We join in because it feels good, because music touches the deepest part of the self.

The British neurologist Oliver Sacks calls this mankind’s musicophilia. So innate is the attraction that many non-European languages don’t even have a word that translates as ‘music’. Instead, as the African ethnomusicology expert Ruth Stone at Indiana University explains, such cultures wrap singing, drama, dancing and instrumental performance into a ‘tightly bound complex of the arts’.

Even if musicians sometimes have trouble defining music, we know it is made up of sound: vibrating objects (such as the vibrating string of a guitar) push molecules outward, creating pressure waves that radiate from the source. Sound turned into music plays the human brain: it helps to ease anxiety, lowering cortisol levels more effectively than anti‑anxiety drugs. It fires the nucleus accumbens, a structure in the primitive limbic system, triggering dopamine and the same burst of pleasure as addictive drugs. And music builds social and cultural bonds – the lullabies of childhood, love songs, the rousing hymns of battle all work to nurture intimacy and cohesion in cultures around the world.

Unlike sex or hunger, music doesn’t seem absolutely necessary to everyday survival – yet our musical self was forged deep in human history, in the crucible of evolution by the adaptive pressure of the natural world. That’s an insight that has inspired Chris Chafe, Director of Stanford University’s Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics (or CCRMA, stylishly pronounced karma). [read more]

7/06/2015

Manila's a Thriller

Posted by Carren Jao Pineda |

I love it when I get the chance to talk about Manila. It's a wonderful city that might be hard to love for some, but I love its chaotic creative scene, not to mention its residents' experimental tendencies. Here's a look at the city I grew up in!

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Text by: Carren Jao
Edited by: Lydia Bell
Published: June 2015, Raffles Magazine

I'm officially a fan of Rosten's work. Here he is on the second phase of his project on the Bowtie Parcel, this time using a visitor's ears to engage them in the landscape. 

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Text by: Carren Jao
Edited by: Drew Tewksbury
Published: 30 June 2015, Artbound


Sandwiched between the rail, the river, and the freeway, the Bowtie Parcel can seem like an uncomplicated landscape that simply unfolds before its visitors, but it is more than that, as designer Rosten Woo proves with his audio tour of the Bowtie Parcel, unveiled recently.

On the surface, little seems to have changed within the post-industrial site. Clumps of grass, gravel and graffiti still litter the land, interrupted every so often by site-specific installations by local artists. Though it seems nothing more could be said of the land, Woo shows us there is. "There's so much in urban life that you can see, but without any context," explains Woo of his medium.

Woo's first phase began with a set of signage modeled after the familiar ones found in parks. This second phase, which was also possible through an ongoing collaboration between arts organization Clockshop and the California State Parks, who owns the property, and with additional support by Play the LA River and the California State Parks Foundation, follows up that impulse by creating a near invisible, yet more intimate experience of the landscape by using a visitor's ears. "It's designed to make the most sense when you're standing right there and seeing the different vistas," says Woo. [read more]

6/08/2015

L.A. on the Verge: LA River

Posted by Carren Jao Pineda |

The river is undoubtedly hot property right now and so many changes are in store for it. Check out this great roundup I wrote for Los Angeles magazine. 

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Text by: Carren Jao
Edited by: Matthew Segal
Published: June 2015, Los Angeles

Here's a quick peek at the issue contents. Check out the print copy!



It's hard not to salivate at the season's latest styles, but that want comes with an ecological cost, I've found. Most clothes are manufactured in less than ecologically-ideal circumstances, but Reformation is trying to change all that. Thank goodness!

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Text by: Carren Jao
Edited by: Carolyn Horwitz
Published: June 2015, Entrepreneur

Eco-friendly and irresistible: Reformation’s Yael Aflalo. Image credit: Stephanie Gonot
It wasn’t fresh mist swirling about the air in Dongguan, China—it was toxins. “You couldn’t even see toward the end of the block because the pollution was on eye level,” says Yael Aflalo, who once designed clothing for Urban Outfitters and now runs Reformation, a fast-fashion line that’s rejiggering the notoriously pollutive apparel industry. “All these dresses I was making for Urban Outfitters, they were all made out of fossil fuels.”  [read more]

Marshall McLuhan is famous for saying "the medium is the message." In Billy's case, the medium is most certainly part of the message. By using soft, welcoming felt in rendering typically edgy, hard, and abrasive objects, he asks his audience to re-evaluate what's in front of them. 

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Text by: Carren Jao
Edited by: Drew Tewksbury
Published: 26 May 2015, Artbound


The Los Angeles River is hard, grimy, rugged, straight-jacketed with so much concrete that tames its wayward water flow. But inside the walls of Los Angeles County Store, it becomes a plush paradise thanks to felt artist Billy Kheel.

"I've been going to the river for 10 to 15 years now, since I've been in Los Angeles," says Kheel. "In the last five years, so many changes have come to the river. It's an interesting turning point in time where you can see the history of this concrete channel, but also its future as a managed wetland with gastropubs and apartment buildings. I thought it would be a great time to freeze the scene and investigate the river bottom." [read more]

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