1600 Endangered Panda Bears Take Over Our Cities In Poignant Installation

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The group 1,600 of exquisitely crafted papier-mâché panda bears have already travelled to and occupied cities like Paris, Berlin, Rome, and TaiPei; next month, they will overtake ten Hong Kong historical landmarks and tourist sites. As part of the Pandas on Tour project, these cuddly creatures are crafted from recycled materials by the French artist Paulo Grangeon in collaboration with the World Wildlife Fund, PMQ, and All Rights Reserved. Each sculpture has an important statement to make: there are less than 1,600 pandas living in the wild. Grangeon’s small creatures, with their wide eyes and round bodies, are easily be displayed side-by-side, providing a halting vision of the endangered species.

Human forces have forced the panda bears in a state of emergency; mining, tourism, and global warming have all contributed to the distraction of animal habitat in Chinese forests. Wild panda conservation is crucial, as the animals can rarely be convinced to mate in captivity.

Believe it or not, humans have a biological impetus for wanting to protect the species. Pandas have proven to be the most beloved animal for their resemblance to human babies; they too have wide eyes and their paws contain a “pseudo thumb.” Grangeon’s touching creatures are imbued with the tender hearts we recognize in the animals they represent. With poignantly cartoonish eyes, round ears, and emotive facial expressions, the papier-mâché figures inspire a whole lot of empathy. To learn how you can help the panda bears, visit WWF or the Smithsonian’s Giant Panda Conservation Fund. (via HuffPost, Time, and Design Boom)

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Disturbing Portraits Of Disney Characters Living “Unhappily Ever After”

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As children, Disney movies provide us with an idealized portrait of adulthood, full of adventure and happy endings. The artist Jeff Hong provides an alternate narrative in “Unhappily Ever After;” here, our beloved Disney princesses and animals are subjected to the realities of a cruel, dark world. Set against moody, disturbing backdrops, the animated characters appear entirely out of place, stunned by the state of the human condition.

Unlike the work of Dina Goldstein, a photographer who imagined the heartbreaking fates of Disney princesses, Hong’s images preserve the two-dimensional form of the famed Disney characters, a choice which heightens the drama of each piece. As if hurled from an easily understood storybook fairytale, the princesses suffer within a more realistic (and three-dimensional) photographic space.

Throughout “Unhappily Ever After,” the artist pointedly draws attention to current social injustices. These characters, with whom we associate our own wide-eyed innocence, are placed within a a racially-segregated America (Tiana) or a casino that now occupies a Native American reservation (Pocahontas). Animal cruelty and environmental negligence are laid bare as Dumbo suffers the life of a circus animal, Bambi is hunted and stuffed, and Ariel’s lungs fill with polluted water. Simbo is held captive in a zoo. Alice forsakes Wonderland to maintain her drug habit in the streets, and Cinderella is left in a dark alleyway, her clothes ripped from her body. It is profoundly unsettling to witness these childhood symbols in such a difficult world; more distressing still is the fact these injustices and hardships happen every day. Take a look. (via Design Boom)

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Amazing Photographs Capture The Strange Eyes And Hair Of Insects

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The lens of the Indonesian photographer Donald Jusa has miraculously allowed us to see into the eyes of tiny, wholly bizarre creatures; with his macro camera, the artist is able to capture the most minute details of the insect body. At times, the faces of these beings seem entirely foreign; as viewers, we search for marks of human feeling and features, but the multiple eyes and strange limbs transfix and confound our perceptive powers.

Unlike some macro photography cataloging the lives of insects, Jusa does not capture the  surrounding environment or even the entire body. Instead, his photographs read like strange portraits; against a colored backdrop, the miniature creatures seem absurdly to sit for the artist, proudly displaying their features. Fixed perfectly within the boundaries of the frame, Jusa’s non-human subjects are magically motionless, as if frozen between periods of buzzing and flight. At such close range, the viewer experiences the texture of insect flesh and bone; our eyes scan coarse, moistened hairs.

Jusa’s insects, magnified many times over and seen in such fine detail, tone, and resolution, resemble strange beasts, unrecognizable as the tiny creatures that they most certainly are. As we peer at them and their multiple eyes stare back, we might feel affrighted or startled by their clarity, the very fact of their largeness. It is unnerving to imagine our own faces reflected a thousand times over in these complex, repeating ocular lenses, and yet magically, we can interpret the tiniest hint of recognition within the insect eyes. Take a look. (via Demilked)

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Jessicka Addams’s Disturbing Paintings Capture Lost Innocence

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The indie-feminist rock-artist Jessicka Addams marries the gothic with the whimsical, creating heartbreaking portraits of innocence lost. In her wonderfully sweet yet disturbing paintings and sculptures, the artist builds a candy-coated dreamscape ripe with sexuality, drug use, and metamorphosis. Her pale, virginal subjects look much like babydolls possessed, embodiments of mythical female mischief and corruption. These works, in some ways, serve as testaments to the pains and labors of the biblical Eve, the mythological Medusa.

Addams’s work is elegantly imbued with an uncomfortable anxiety that arises from the tension between icons of innocence and the suggestion of impurity. Rabbits, used in early Christian art, symbolize the coming of spring, the resurrection, and the rebirth of innocence. Here, this iconographical connotation is poignantly subverted; alongside images of bleeding nostrils, suggestive of cocaine use, these white rabbits could easily find themselves in the drug-induced Alice in Wonderland of Jefferson Airplane. Addams’s rabbits cry bloody pink tears and sprout sea witch limbs.

The cat, an animal both adorable and foreboding, also figures prominently in Addams’s pieces, often in the form of hybrid human or ghost. Addams’s aesthetic is distinctly modern, characterized by thick, dripping brushstrokes and somewhat taboo subject matter. Like those of the modernist trailblazer Goya, her cats seem to represent sin as it creeps in upon the untainted child; a burlap sack, with embroidered feline ears, envelops the face of a pale babe, who weeps as if mourning a lost childhood.

Addams’s exquisite works are charming and unsettling in equal measure, inspiring pity and empathy for our own former innocence. Here, human beings—especially women— are neither madonnas nor whores; instead, the human soul is a complexly woven tapestry, colored with surprising and miraculous shades of gray. Addams’s work is currently on view at The Cotton Candy Machine. (via BUST)

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This Is What Getting A Tattoo Looks Like In Slow-Motion

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The Parisian tattoo artist Gaëtan Le Gargasson, also known as GueT Deep, recently released a seductive and hypnotic slow-motion video of himself tattooing the arm of a woman named Fabrice. Needless to say, the fascinating video immediately went viral, and it has since being posted, it has accrued over 600,000 views. Even today, tattoo art carries a stigma, associated mostly with toughness, roughness, and grit; GueT’s stunning video highlights the more delicate side of the work, documenting the intense precision needed to craft the perfect piece. As the needle pulsates, the artist’s hand effortlessly tames the mechanical beast, breaking it to his will and vision.

Part of what makes this video (and the subsequent gifs, created by Design Boom) so striking is the apparent harmony between the organic body and the mechanical tattoo gun; as the tool ticks and marks the passage of time with unending accuracy, the human flesh bubbles, rises and falls with the ink. Like a heartbeat, each plunge of the needle causes the skin to ripple rhythmically. The piece on which GueT is working figures into these theme effortlessly; it appears to be a design composed of both geometric and natural, organic shapes.

In this slow-motion experience, the tattoo itself matters little; the artwork here is the action of the ink, not the end result. The video is more akin to a dance piece than to a painting. Deeply theatrical and performative, it is simultaneously soothing— mesmerizing, even— and anxiety-inducing. We watch the drama unfold, hoping that the hand does not slip, that everything goes according to plan. Take a look. (via DesignBoom and HuffPost)

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Stunning Cut Paper Sculptures By Maud Vantours

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Cut Paper Sculptures By Maud Vantours

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French designer Maud Vantours creates astoundingly detailed works of art from finely cut paper; carving out perfect geometric and organic shapes, she layers page upon page to create deep cavernous holes and intricate surfaces. With paper patterns of midnight blue and desert yellow, she constructs mesmerizing spaces, strange and wondrous terra incognitae, or lands unknown. Flowers sink like caves below the topmost surfaces; gray parallelograms, like mounds of be achy sand, are emerge from the page.

Vantours’s transfixing images catch and trick the eye, which is accustomed to viewing artwork on a single plane; her works exists in a space all its own, caught between sculpture and line. The work is made both from peeling away and adding layers, and we view it like a vibrant onion, unsure of where it begins or where it might end. Colorful, ever-brightening concentric circles seem infinite, and repeated, detailed surface patterns resemble complex cathedral windows. Blue and orange or green and pink, being opposite colors, visual pull apart from one another, creating an illusion of even greater depth within the thin pages.

From a medium as simple as paper, Vantours renders a dreamy world where organic and mathematically precise shapes are celebrated and fully explored. These deceptively effortless collages are a testament to the order of the natural world; neatly aligned, bright and neutral colors emerge from the shadows. Single and double-layered cut-outs occlude one another, forming complex visual structures that necessitate our attention and captivate our imaginations. Take a look. (via Demilked)

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Gravity-Defying Sandcastles Look Like Strange Sea Monsters

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Unlike most sandcastles, Sandcastle Matt’s creations appear wholly organic; as if birthed from the sea, his structures resemble organisms composed of some primordial tissue, emerging like great unknown beasts from the deep. The artist uses wood, sticks, or vines as a base for these abstract visions. Later, he covers the sculptures in sand using a special technique you might recall from your own childhood: mixing sand and beach water, he creates a sort of paste, which he allows to fall from his hands in drips, which eventually dry and harden.

The artist must carefully construct the bones of the structure according to mathematical law so as to prevent it from toppling over when weighted; the arresting marriage of calculated geometry and unpredictable, organic-looking dribble results in a uniquely seen vision, one that is not easily discerned as either natural or manmade. It is, in fact, both, though one of Matt’s images was circulated on the blogosphere as a meme and mistakenly identified as the startling result of lightning hitting sand.

Like any good sandcastle, Matt’s architectural monuments allow for imaginative play. Viewers are invited to wonder, to make up stories (viral meme or no): are these the relics of some ancient, tiny civilization? The bones and flesh of a sea monster? Seen through the archway of one of Matt’s distinctive structures. the entire Boston skyline is dwarfed, silhouetted as if reflected in some strange mirror; seemingly against all natural law, his castles balance effortlessly, stretching out to the waves before them. (via Colossal)

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Colorful X-Rays Show The Shocking Intricacies Of The Human Body

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The photographer Xavier Lucchesi doesn’t use a camera to capture his portraits; instead, he penetrates the human body with an advanced x-ray machine, revealing organs, arteries, and bones. The artist adds color to the medical images, highlighting the intricacies of the human body in electric blues and deep, bloody reds. For Luccesi, the act of seeing is active and passionate; a passing glance is insufficient, and to truly view another truthfully is to dissect and peel away exterior layers.

Lucchesi’s portraits are perhaps those of our deepest human core: when our superficial features are stripped back, a more primal self emerges. Lucchesi’s sitters are laid completely bare; though they might pose or strain, their bodies betray secret inner worlds and open them up to a profound vulnerability. A triptych presents a man in three stages of undress: clothed, then nude, then uncovered and unprotected by skin. As he lays with his arms crossed, the x-ray bears down on him, and he becomes increasingly naked, at the mercy of our eager, inquisitive eyes.

As we reach new levels of intimacy with our own bodies, they reveal themselves like brightly colorful and graphic foreign roadmaps; red blood vessels line the figure like highways, leading to pale geometric bone or grassy green lungs in either direction. Like an intricate maze of machinery or a small, delicate cityscape, the miraculous pieces of the human being—the flesh, the lungs, the ribcage— function autonomously, just beneath the surface of our gaze. Take a look. (via Design Boom)

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