Stuffed Animal Lamps

An old friend of mine has a new art project —  stuffed animal lamps.


Simple concept, elegant execution.  A grafitti artist friend adds some decoration.  There are a ton of them displayed here; I had trouble picking out my favorite one (I also like the sleeping camo guy, and the spiderman).

I like the marriage of functional and frivolous.  I’m also reminded of a case I worked on as a law clerk for a judge, about whether it is legal to copyright a Halloween costume.  The law in this area turned out to be completely incoherent, based on something called the “conceptual severability” test — the idea was that you could not copyright “functional” things, but if you could “conceptually sever” the design from the functional aspect of the object, you could copyright the design.  Of course this test posed an issue for costumes — what’s the function?  The law, of course, had an answer: masquerading!  Anyway the details were absurd — for example, some aspects of the test had to do with the “plushness” of the object, and whether it could stand on its own (hat) or needed to be on something to assume its shape (glove). 

Somewhat of a digression, but these lamps got me thinking about that — is the function just lighting, or also cuteness?

The High Line

When I was living in New York City in the mid-90s, I’d occasionally go dancing in clubs on the West Side of Manhattan.  One morning as I exited one such club in the dawn light, I noticed something strange: an abandoned elevated railway line, with rusted and ornate ironwork and little patches of grass and shrubbery peeking out from beneath its tracks.

High Line 1

High Line 2

As I walked downtown on 12th Avenue, I realized that I was following its path.  It actually ran through buildings that were in its way, and some sleuthing helped me determine that although it appeared to end at 14th Street, there was evidence (mostly in the form of remnants of its entrance and exit from buildings) of it well into the Meat Packing District.

I learned that it connected to rail yards around Penn Station, and that ships carrying railcars used to dock and slide them right onto the rail line, where the cars would ride downtown (and into the buidlings in its path) to deliver cattle or other 19 Century style deliveries.

I also learned that, predictably, the city had been trying to demolish it for years, but that it was hung up in various legal battles.  Imagine my surprise to learn, a few years later, that there was a viable public movement to refurbish it and turn it into a park (the obvious thing to do with it, from my perspective at least).

And now, lo and behold, it’s opened to the public.