Have you ever looked at a black and white photograph and wondered what it would look like if it were taken in the modern day? The Dutch website NSMBL recently uploaded GIFs of vintage photographs being colorized. We are not only able to see the original range of black, grey, and white tones, but we can see the color each hue translates to. As each nostalgic scene turns to color, we realize how different contemporary technology is and how far it has come. The new colors and tones are not muted or faded like we might expect a color vintage photograph to be. They are ultra-bright and full of vibrancy, leaving each image looking near perfect.
Because the images look too high quality for real vintage color photos, they almost make it seem as if we were in the frame of the picture within the scene, or like the photos were taken in modern times. Either way, it breaks the time barrier that creates such a nostalgic distance between the photograph and the viewer. It makes you wonder what images would have been captured if they had better technology during those times, or perhaps, what advanced technologies will capture images of our lives in the future. Contemporary film photography is becoming more and more obsolete, as vintage film is becoming aged and damaged over time. These images are refreshing to see as these classic photographs are now often documented digitally. We can both marvel at the technological advances in film photography while still seeing the timeless and beautiful original.
Artist Dan Witz seamlessly combines traditional, academic realism with rebellious vibes of the underground punk scene to create his massive paintings of mosh pits. His impeccable technical skill allows him to paint photorealistic scenes that embody the pulse and energy of the punk music scene. Each painting is an energetic force to be reckoned that demands a serious presence. The amount of people crammed into each piece accurately captures the chaos and action involved in mosh pits in real life. Dan Witz’s work is packed full of incredible movement and human energy that can be felt in the viewer. Because in almost all of these paintings the image is completely devoid of an environment or setting, they have a deeply psychological affect. An excitement and anxiety is created as you see the range of expressions on each person’s face in the sea of bodies. As Witz fills each frame from right to left with herds of people, an unmistakable flow of powerful strength is formed.
Based in Brooklyn, Witz is a painter as well as a street artist. Spending time in punk clubs and playing in bands when he was younger influenced the subject in which he paints. However, we can also see the influence of classical painters due to his more traditional painting style. This type of hyper-real approach is often associated with a more academic way of thinking within the establishment. He is able to take this conventional method of painting and use it to rebel and revolt. Dan Witz’s Mosh Pits series has recently been featured in this past month’s issue of Juxtapoz. This quote from the interview explains the influence and effect punk rock has had on Dan Witz.
“Punk rock had opened my eyes enough for me to understand that art could be about more than providing expensive wall candy for rich people. I could actually speak truth to power…”
Somewhere between sculpture, fashion, and performance art lies the curious work of Daniel Ramosobregón. This Colombian designer’s wearable art takes the form of dismembered components of the human body in a pure white slate. Each piece is created from porcelain casts of the particular body part that it represents. Then, they are attached to gold plated brass metal and appropriately worn almost always directly attached to the body segment it mimics, creating a deeply psychological affect. It is as if each human body section is jumping out of its place into the air only to be confronted by it own body once again. Ramosobregón’s series is titled Outrospection inspired by the philosopher Roman Krznaric, who claims that humans must live towards the outside to truly know themselves. This meaning, experiencing life is how we discover and form our identities. The designer further explains the meaning behind his wearable limbs.
I have appropriated his concept while relating it to out-of-body experiences more commonly known as astral projections, by seeking to represent -in a metaphorical way- the mind being projected inside out of the body as a way of self-expression and representation.
These “out-of-body” experiences are represented in his work as ghostly and unnerving fractions of the body unnaturally detached. The most startling piece is the white, porcelain tongue that is only attached to the subject’s body by part of it being held in his mouth. Ramosobregón’s series Outrospection is a perfectly balanced mix of beautiful craft and amputation. Although the photos of his crisp white and well-designed sculptures appear somewhat unsettling, Ramosobregón’s work is unarguably delicate and stunning.
What do you get when you combine underwater sea creatures with elegant and sophisticated lighting? You get the weird and whimsical octopus chandeliers of artist Adam Wallacavage. The Philadelphia based artist uses traditional ornamental plastering techniques to create working chandeliers in the shape of octopus and fantastical sea life. Each chandelier is created from a wide range of materials such as epoxy resin, iridescent powders, spray paint, and glitter. His inspiration and ideas come from a very eclectic range of sources such as flashy church decoration, tales of underwater adventure, and, not surprisingly, taxidermy. His absurd style is both gaudy and Victorian while still being absurdly fun.
Wallacavage’s childlike imagination turns a seemingly normal object into wonderfully gaudy and kitschy chandeliers full of shiny colors and tentacles. Each chandelier Wallacavage constructs is unique with their wide array of pastel, glittery colors and their endless ocean-life motifs. These include green seashells, purple tentacles, pink pearls, and even big, round eyes starring straight at you. Some of his chandeliers seem to be inspired by the pastel colors and ornate design of the Rococo period, while his other chandeliers have a louder palette with strange faces and eyes. His octopus creations create a surrealistic atmosphere as each sea monster is suspended from the ceiling, reaching out its tentacles, which happen to hold the chandelier lighting. After seeing Wallacavage’s highly imaginative and extravagant chandeliers, you realize how much chandeliers already looked like octopus! Not only can you find the artist’s octopus chandeliers in several New York City galleries, Wallacavage is also an accomplished photographer. He even has a book published on his photography titled Monster Sized Monsters available in many museum stores.
The hilariously witty graphic designer Viktor Hertz takes the ever-annoying, monotonous progress bar and turns it into an image full of funny graphics that cleverly reference things like The Walking Dead, Star Wars, and existential questions. Each “progress bar” is turned into similarly shaped objects such as a chocolate bar and a cigarette. Even the buttons are now comical pop-culture references and decisions like “use the force” or “join the dark side.” Instead of just the decision of clicking “okay” or “cancel,” we now have interesting choices to make. Some of the buttons are not unlike video games, such as The Walking Dead progress bar asking us if we want to use a knife or a headshot to ward off the impending crowd of zombies. Other buttons are possible real life decisions such as whether or not to quit smoking. Nevertheless, the shapes and phrases Hertz offers us in these unusual graphics are much more appealing than the irritating and disruptive real life progress bars.
Being a talented graphic designer who has created many posters and logos, this fun side project takes Hertz’s love of icons and symbols and turns them into silly pictograms. These amusing images remind me of what someone might doodle in school when they are bored, just to entertain themselves and get through the day. If only computers really did use these graphics instead of the normal, mundane “progress bars” and other delays that cause such a nuisance in our everyday lives.
Artist Serra Victoria Bothwell Fels converts reclaimed wood into unimaginable installations that will leave you lost in their endless, repeating triangles. She builds these spaces in settings as diverse as a convent, an abandoned secret society hall, and the Palais de Tokyo in Paris. The reclaimed wood used to build these impressively complex structures, mostly lath wood, is from unused building materials that Fels finds behind old plaster walls. This Brooklyn based artist says she has always been interested in building mechanics and how things work, which explains why her process exemplifies this curiosity as she takes pieces of the whole to create an entirely new and intricate structure.
Her process starts by creating a blueprint of the future piece, which is an artwork in itself. She then begins to use the found wood to create structures that contain abstracted patterns. Using mostly triangles, each of Fels’s pyramid shaped installations are both organic and geometric. The receding triangles and repetitive lines pull you in and demand your attention. Each triangle in her installations seems to build off of itself, as it spreads and grows across each wall like moss. The structures beautifully transform and morph its surroundings into an entirely different environment that the viewer can often enter. The artist develops her inspiration from vast landscape and cathedral ceilings, both of which are apparent as her immense artwork adds a dramatic vastness to the space it inhabits. These cave-like installations are a wonderful way to make stunning use of salvaged material!
Spanish artist Guillermo Mora creates oozing folds of vibrant color from little more than piles of acrylic paint. An accomplished artist whose work was recently featured at this past Art Basel in Miami, this innovate sculptor creates incredible installations made from just two simple materials. Rubber bands and leather belts are the only things holding together his shiny clumps of paint. Mora’s process is almost surreal, as he dumps buckets of acrylic magentas and baby blues onto the floor to begin. After the paint dries, he simply lifts the now hardened paint, and proceeds to fold and wrap his glossy, pastel creations. To add further to Mora’s highly textural and tangible installations, many of the artist’s sculptures have a crackled, rough grain to the paint.
Many of Mora’s installations are unique, as his work often morphs and transforms to the space that it inhabits. Mora’s choice of medium allows him to manipulate it to fit in the space as he sees fit, such as hanging from the ceiling, running down a wall, or folded into a corner. This allows the artwork to demonstrate a strong focus on color and form. Mora’s use of seemingly traditional materials continues to mystify us as he changes the way viewers think about acrylic paint and what it is capable of.
Jordan Sullivan’s series The Burial Cloud examines and reflects on the rape of his mother in 1973, Petacalco, Mexico. Each photograph is just a glimpse into a memory, a fleeting moment that we cannot hold onto or make sense of. Sullivan has created this series from found photos and letters from his mother, as well as his own staged photography. The tone in the photographs quickly changes from adventurous and carefree to somber and destructive, all the while embodying the same distant vagueness. This leaves us with curiosity and wonder of the events that took place. Sullivan explains:
“[My mother] had traveled with her friends to Petacalco in search of an epic wave that a pair of surfers had recently discovered.”
This series lays out the event just as it would appear as a memory; in fragmented images that shift throughout time. There is no implication of a time or place in much of the imagery, just a window inward reflecting on the human psyche. The emotion of the woman shown, the photographer’s mother, changes from bright and excited to isolated and alone. The Burial Cloud is a journey in which we must piece together a story we cannot fully understand. A story told through disjointed, stunning images that include roaring oceans, burning flora, and scenes of discontent. These ethereal photographs radiate feelings of discovery, doubt, youth, and fear. Sullivan shines light on a delicate subject while beautifully capturing his mother and a tragic past. The Burial Cloud will be released as an illustrated biography in 2016, and will include photographs, text, and collages.