Thierry Cohen is seen as one of the pioneers of digital photography. Since 2010 he has devoted himself to a single project – “Villes Eteintes” (Darkened Cities) – which depicts
the major cities of the world as they would appear at night without light pollution,
or in more poetic terms: how they would look if we could see the stars.
Cohen’s method is original and precise and harkens back to the methodologies employed by early 19th century photographers like Gustave Le Grey. He photographs the world’s major cities, seeking out views that resonate for him and noting the precise time, angle, and latitude and longitude of his exposure. As the world rotates around its axis the stars that would have been visible above a particular city move to deserts, plains, and other places free of light pollution. By noting the precise latitude and angle of his cityscape, Cohen is able to track the earth’s rotation to places of atmospheric clarity like the Mojave, the Sahara, and the Atacama Desert. There he sets up his camera to record what is lost to modern urban dwellers.
Swiss photographer Fabien Nissels’ “Block” series is a playful body of work (pun intended) that takes the human figure and chops it up into multiple views. The playful photos were achieved by photographing a friends body parts in four views. Each limb was individually photographed and then affixed to a polystyrene block creating a blocky 3D view of the subject. From there it was out into the world to bring the blocks to life and achieve the wonderfully bizarre series of images (no photoshop was used) you have before you. (via)
Los Angeles-based artist Pae White merges art, design, craft and architecture through site specific installations and individual works which defy our expectations of a variety of techniques and media. For her South London Gallery exhibition she creates a mesmerising installation in which vast quantities of coloured yarn span and criss-cross the room to create supergraphics spelling out words that can only be deciphered by navigating the space. Inspired by a period of insomnia and consequent reflection on the transience of our existence, the letters and words emerge and dissolve depending on both our physical relationship to them and the relative weight of the overall aesthetic experience. (via)
As part of our ongoing partnership with Feature Shoot, Beautiful/Decay is sharing an article about photographer Deborah Bay.
I began thinking about The Big Bang after seeing a sales display of bullet-proof plexiglas with projectiles embedded in it. The plexiglas captured the fragmentation of the bullets and provided a visual record of the energy released on impact. In deciding to explore this concept further, I also was intrigued by the psychological tension created between the jewel-like beauty and the inherent destructiveness of the fragmented projectiles. Many of the images resemble exploding galaxies, and visions of intergalactic bling sublimate the horror of bullets meeting muscle and bone.—Deborah Bay
Houston-based photographer Deborah Bay gives us that interesting mix of creating a beautiful visual to comment on a darker issue. The Big Bang addresses the steadfast affection America has for its firearms. The topic is especially relevant for the native Texan, who lives in a state that has an estimated 51 million firearms. The images were made in Bay’s studio after law enforcement professionals from the Public Safety Institute of Houston Community College shot at sheets of plexiglass.
David Thomas Smith’s Anthropocene series examines global landscapes that have been transformed by the actions and activities humanity. Smith has created these images using a unique and groundbreaking technique. Each image is composited from thousands and thousands of thumbnails extracted as screen grabs from Google Maps, which are then reconstructed piece by piece using Photoshop to produce such incredibly detailed images, a level of detail one can only really experience in person.
Anthropocene itself reflects upon the complex structures that make up the centres of global capitalism, transforming the aerial landscapes of sites associated with industries such as oil, precious metals, consumer culture information and excess. Thousands of seemingly insignificant coded pieces of information are sown together like knots in a rug to reveal a grander spectacle.Questions of photographic and economic realities are further complicated through the formal use of patterns that have their origins in the ancient civilizations of Persia. This work draws upon the patterns and motifs used by Persian rug makers, especially the way Afghani weavers use the rug to record their experiences more literally with vivid images of the war torn land that surrounds them.This collision between the old and the new, fact and fiction, surveillance and invisibility, is part of a strategy to reflect on the global order of things. (via)
Tristram Lansdowne’s watercolors are investigations of landscape and architecture in relation to ideas of permanence and function. Geological and botanical frames of reference add temporal concerns to Lansdowne’s exploration of the metaphorical power of ruins.
The watercolours present richly described scenes in which various tropes of landscape and architecture have been assembled to create conflicted systems, developed according to a logic dominated more by historical glitch than any autonomous idea of form and function. Both enchanting natural phenomenon and deluding vision, the mirage serves, here, as false refuge but also as an opportunity for divination, for time travel. Vestiges of architectural modernism appear, but only as specimens in a larger natural history that includes 17th century geological theories and Romantic totems. This is a world comprised of art historical flotsam, predicated on faulty idealism and mistaken identity, where everything is an invasive species.
Dutch artist Ronald van der Meijs’ “Play it one more time for me La Ville Fumée” is a sound-art installation that works on hand made cigars and refers to the history of Eindhoven city, when it was one of the largest cigar-producing cities of Europe. At that time the city was also called ‘La Ville Fumée’. The installation is in many ways about nature versus culture. The technique used here has an almost machine like character, that is controlled and monitored by a natural and traditional item: the hand made cigar. Because each cigar has its own strength by the natural and traditional way of making, they all have their own fire rate. It is precisely this fact that the installation is not working in a predictable way but rather relates to a more or less natural rhythm. The installation has 4 tuners each control a recorder by means of pistons containing the hand-rolled cigars. There are 4 different recorders: a bass flute, alto, tenor, and a soprano. The pistons with the cigars and the recorders are both controlled by 2 abstract lungs. This sound-art burning cigar installation can be seen as a tribute to the former tobacco industry of Eindhoven city and its thousands of workers and craftsmen. The sound composition is a requiem for the former cigar production industry of Eindhoven. (via)
In reviewing Hilary Brace’s drawings, the New York Times said, “once in a while you come across an art of such refined technique that it seems the product of sorcery more than human craft…” Starting with the smooth surface of polyester film darkened with charcoal, Brace works in a reductive manner by removing charcoal with erasers and other hand made tools. Despite the photographic veracity of her technique, Brace composes her images without premeditation, through an explorative process that allows them to unfold in unanticipated directions. Her subjects are based upon clouds, water, mist and mountains, but she takes these forms to sublime and unimaginable new heights. As Christopher Knight remarked in the Los Angeles Times, her work is “like a Vija Celmins drawing made Baroque, [it] conjures ephemeral poetics of light and space.” For all their vastness and grandeur, Brace’s drawings are relatively small and intimate. As Leah Ollman observed in Art in America, these drawings “put those two realms – the private and the cosmic – within reach of each other.” (via)