Formstone Castle is a small team based out of Upper Fells Point, Baltimore, bringing together the enthusiasm and diverse skillsets of many different communities to make art for festivals and events, as well as simply for the joy of creation. The projects are typically envisioned and produced by lead artist Michael Bowman, and made real through the efforts of numerous volunteers and collaborative artists, who bring a wealth of professional and amateur visual art, music, technology, graphic design, fabrication, and building skills and experience of all kinds to our projects, which evolve through the collective vision of everyone involved.
Contact: Michael Bowman
ARTSCAPE Baltimore 2019
The View-Scaper is an interactive and kinetic piece allowing us to view our human family photos from our amazing TRIP TO THE MOON.
Each View-Scaper “eye” displays one of 7 specific scenes per disk, selectable by pulling the giant lever on the side. Looking through the eye pieces with one disk in place, the viewer sees iconic images of the Moon landing superimposed onto the real background of their Baltimore City surroundings. On other disks, the viewer will see fantastical images of what NASA didn’t want us to see: Alien Pyramids, Robots, and maybe even The Dreamlanders faking the whole thing?! Blacklight effects inside the ViewScaper and lighting on the outside transform the images for nighttime viewing.
The View-Scaper is not merely something to look through and marvel at the scenery—it is a truly participatory, interactive installation. The wheels the participants turn to pan and tilt the View-Scaper are located far enough from each other that each action requires the collaboration of several members of the crowd (or for one person to move around to each wheel). Big toys require big muscles, and kids may need the help of an adult or several friends—working together to create magic is an important part of the participatory art experience.
Collaborating artist: Justin Duvall
What Lies Beneath:
Light City Baltimore 2018
What lies beneath the waves has always been mysterious. In the darkness of night, the mysteries intensify. Everyone who has swum in a lake, ocean or river in the dark knows this feeling—it is a feeling so ingrained it most definitely has followed life from prehistoric times. Clearly, there are creatures just below the surface, but what kind? Are they friendly? Are they big? Small? Are they trying to tell us something? Will you find answers or more questions? Will illuminating these mysteries help you to understand these feelings… to understand WHAT LIES BENEATH?
Original score by Adam Rush
Media Coverage: WJZ did a great behind-the-scenes peek at this project!
Kinetic Kauchii/ DekoSofa:
Light City Baltimore 2017, BLINK Cincinnati 2017
The DekoTora truck craze began in Japan during the 1970s, around the time Americans were having a similar craze decorating their vans. The Japanese created wildly decorated trucks outfitted with gratuitous chrome, lights, murals and decadent chandelier lit interiors. Films pushed the craze into the mainstream and within a generation the trucks had evolved to the robotic, hypnotic light shows they are today. Their visual appeal has crossed the ocean, with dekotora trucks woven into the background of feature films by Ridley Scott and Gaspar Noe. The visual aesthetic of DekoTora and these films is the inspiration for Formstone Castle’s Light City 2017 entry, the Kinetic Kauchii DekoSofa—an evolution and transformation of our already proven 2016 Baltimore Kinetic Sculpture Race entry, the Kinetic Kouch.
A second Japanese inspiration for the Kinetic Kauchii DekoSofa is the works of Studio Ghibli. The celestial mystical creatures embodying nature in Miyazaki’s underlying critiques of the relationship between humans and their environment are the source for our vision of the pilot of the DekoSofa. This mysterious swamp creature has emerged from the Chesapeake Bay into the Baltimore Harbor as a cryptid: a manifestation of a cautionary tale of bay and harbor sustainability. It has found our Kauchii and is delighted in its own exploration of LIGHT CITY, taking along those who wish to explore by couch. Who or what it truly is remains a mystery. Perhaps a captain lost in the bay, trying to find the way home? Over time, the line between human and nature has been lost with natural flora and fauna from the harbor entangled with trash… merged together embodying the inseparable relationship of humans and The Bay.
Mural: Katlyn Wyllie
Costumes: Charlotte Hager
Music: Adam Rush
Check out the DekoSofa in person at its current home in the taproom at Charm City Meadworks
Media coverage: For a video and art education materials related to the Kinetic Kauchii/DekoSofa, check out this PBS lesson.
photos of the DekoSofa by Katherine Gaines/AmbientEye.com