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By Nina J P Evans

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Air Bear


Street artist Joshua Allen Harris inspired by Marilyn Monroe’s most famous pose as The Girl in The Seven Year Itch (1955). Where she stands over a subway grating and her skirt blows up, as the trains filled with people pass below. The skirt flutters about to the joy of many photographers and New Yorkers standing by. In 2008 Harris creates the Air Bear made out of white plastic shopping bags and attaches it to the same grills where it dances gleeful, the white plastic shimmering is transformed into a little Polar Bear.

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It literally became an overnight sensation due to the speed of Viral Media. This in turn motivated Harris to get going with creating a whole series of Zoo York style creations, like mythical creatures out of both white plastic shopping bags and black trash bags as they are larger in size. Testing the possible limitations of his art. As trains pass below the vents hot air is forced out filling the figures temporarily. They animate as larger as 15 feet very ingeniously! There seems to be something very magical about seeing something that appears to be as lifeless as a discarded trash bag transforming itself into a sculptural creature, such as: Nessie, Giraffe, Centaurian figure and the little Polar Bear. Periodically inflating and animating giddily and deflating gradually as the air runs out, but temporarily until the next train arrives. In some photos the creatures almost look as if they are interacting with the pass-byers, it is quite surreal! Though it’s not very well documented the best video is Nessie it’s amusing seeing the cyclists, roller skaters and the passing traffic stop looking ahead in astonishment.

From the launching of Air Bear as a viral video, the project has grown—as so has the concept of the original idea. Becoming the most famous and resonant of Joshua Allen Harris’s creations so far. The idea has been developed into a short environmental film titled Polar Bears. NY Magazine notes, “Several different sites have commented upon how sad it is to watch it die over and over again. The parallels to the issues of climate change are striking as one watches the figure of a polar bear melting out of its element.” Seeing the animation in this context—it becomes very poignant indeed! The ending of the video concludes with the words—“Help save the planet. Ride, don’t drive.” With a link directing viewers to www.fightglobalwarming.com.

This project is very encouraging proving that a clever idea, inspired by the movies, can create with the aid of feedback from blogs, Facebook and Twitter. Such a message so resonant can influence and reshape the direction of our lives.


Street Art: Joshua Allen Harris’ Inflatable Bag Monsters (via NewYorkMagazine)

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