If you read about “The Great Wall of Vagina,” you know that walls made of modeled human genitals are nothing new, but student artist Peiqi Su’s 3D printed “Penis Wall” raises the bar. This interactive installation is composed of 81 interactive phalluses, which go erect and flaccid according to the viewer’s presence and gestures, each of which is registered with ultrasonic sensors. These little guys can be linked to stock market and translate data visually, or they can be programmed to play along with “Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy” from Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker.
Inspired by the widespread notion that “everyone on Wall Street is a dick,” Su satirizes the male sexual organ. But she also treats it with the utmost reverence, referring to it as “one of the oldest and probably the most attractive thing that humans can interact with.” The wall is a very literal manifestation of male desire; the viewer is in total command of the erections, which rise like small columns of vertebrae, giving new meaning to the term “boner.” (via Animal New York, Lost at E Minor, and Huffington Post)
Dancing along to Tchaikovsky’s recognizable composition, the phalluses look delicate and agile as a prima ballerina; instead of the deliberate, immaculate movements of the female form, we see a surprising representation of male sexual impulse. These penises seem not like organs governed by erotic urges but rather like whole creatures with minds of their own, capable of executing the most complex choreography. Like ocean tides, their careful movements speak to a strange and unexpected unity and harmony between the self and the community. Here, the genitals aren’t base and vulgar but intelligent and thoughtful. What do you think?
The Connecticut-based artist Dalton M. Ghetti carves mind-glowingly small sculptures atop the tips of pencils. Bored with carving larger objects, the sculptor invented this delightfully miniature medium to draw the eye to the pleasures of the minuscule; in a world where bigger is generally thought to be better, his work reminds us that sometimes the most magical things can spring forth from right under our noses. Ghetti uses sewing needles and razor blades as carving tools, and he works by holding the pencil steady beneath a direct light source like a lamp. Due to the required precision and effort, a single piece may take months or even years to finish.
Ghetti’s work contains a charming childlike curiosity and innocence, one that is maintained in part by his staunch refusal to sell or profit financially from his creations. The pencil is an artistic medium in itself, and by carving it, the artist shifts our perspective and subverts our understanding of what constitutes fine art. Furthering this whimsical challenge to the visual arts cannon, Ghetti avoids fancy pencils, using only recycled or discarded pencils that he finds on the street. The subject matter of his sculptures is also delightfully regular; by carving these everyday objects—a saw, a hammer, a spool of thread— he elevates the seemingly mundane.
Ghetti’s most ambitious piece is his 9/11 memorial. For the project, titled 3,000 tears, the artist carved 3,000 tiny teardrops from pencil graphite. Each tear took approximately an hour to make, and the entire work was in progress for a decade. Together, the tears form one large drop. Take a look. (via KoiKoiKoi)
In the past years, bee populations have been devastated by something scientists are calling Colony Collapse Disorder, causing a global crisis for humans and other animals. Sam Dreoge, a biologist at U.S. Geological Survey’s Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, catalogs hundreds of bee species in his lab. As the head of the USGS Bee Inventory and Monitoring Lab, Dreoge produces stunning high-resolution images that capture the diversity and spellbinding beauty the fascinating and helpful little creatures.
Dreoge’s photographs, which are used to identify and track bee populations, are often magnified up to five times the actual size of the insect. Focusing on minuscule details normally only visible under a microscope, most of the pieces are composites of numerous images, shot at multiple ranges with a 60 millimeter macro lens. Each image is also carefully edited, scrubbed of specks of dust. In preparation for the photo shoots, each bee specimen undergoes a bath in warm water and dish soap, after which they are carefully blow-dried to showcase their astoundingly beautiful, vibrant hair.
Dreoge’s images of bees read like the technological age’s answer to Leonardo da Vinci, who studied and sometimes killed insect specimens for the dual purpose of art and science. Research like this always raises ethical flags, but that moral question becomes more complicated when we are confronted with environmental crises like CCD. Bee populations are effected by parasites as well as problems caused by humans, like pesticides and climate change; it’s imperative that we find a way to save these miraculous animals, and Dreoge’s work could go a long way. What do you think? (via Smithsonian and Colossal)
After soaking them for thirty minutes in freezing liquid nitrogen, the New York based photographer Jon Shireman hurls flowers onto a hard, white surface, causing them to shatter into hundreds of pieces. The series, titled Broken Flowers, plays on our assumption that flowers are soft and supple; as an integral part of much still life photography, the blossoms normally symbolize youth and delicate feminine beauty. Under Shireman’s lens, however, the flora is transformed into something cold and hard. Against a sterile white backdrop, they appear sterile and brittle, a far cry from the spring buds that blow in the wind.
Throughout his career, Shireman has maintained a connection with flowers in decay; in other still lifes, he has cataloged the wilting of tulips and mums. This series, unlike those previous, is brutal and instantaneous. Where his other flowers underwent a slow, gradual death, these broken flowers are quickly frozen and violently ruptured. The process captured here is not a natural one but one that necessitates the use of a manmade element.
With almost surgical precision, Shireman’s lens focusses on the fallen flower, and he abandons the moody, romantic lighting he uses elsewhere in favor of high resolution and vivid color. Though flattened, the shattered blossoms maintain their basic structure; the bud, the stem, and the leaf can still be made out. The very veins of the plant are preserved by the liquid nitrogen. In this way, the flowers look like dead bodies in some unusual crime scene, outlined yet robbed of their living essence. Take a look. (via iGNANT, Feature Shoot, and Agonistica)
Imagine a recorder made of a hollowed-out carrot, a guitar carved from celery. Using knives and drilling machines, the one-of-a-kind Vegetable Orchestra constructs their instruments entirely from fresh and dried vegetables, mimicking the sounds of everything from bass drums to airy flutes. Because the Vienna-based band works with organic materials that perish or dry out after a single performance or recording session, they must continually create and reinvent the tools of the medium.
The group currently has thirteen members. Since its inception in 1998, The Vegetable Orchestra has been dedicated to incorporating the talents of musicians, visual artists, writers, and designers, all of whom have equal say and contribute to a unique multimedia experience. The aesthetic figures prominently into the work, and the rich colors of the fresh instruments is given much thought. With their unusual instruments, orchestra hopes to draw out and make visible the vitality and potential of the natural world.
The Vegetable Orchestra travels around the world, creating immersive artistic spaces; at concerts, they play music, screen video performances, and offer audience members a fresh bowl of tasty vegetable soup that they charmingly refer to as the edible “encore.” The orchestra’s sound is certainly unlike anything we have ever heard. Though many instruments—like the pepper horn and the pumpkin drum— nearly replicate the sounds of familiar instruments, others sound entirely foreign. Inspired by seemingly discordant styles like house music, dub, electronic, and free jazz, the orchestra draws inspiration from diverse sources, composing syncopated pieces that are both chaotic and restrained. (via Juxtapoz and Lost at E Minor)
If traditional engagement rings aren’t really your thing, Pittsburg based jewelry designer Paul Michael Bierker has some unique designs that might just float your boat. As the jeweler to science fiction buffs everywhere, he creates custom-made pieces inspired by everything from the Star Wars franchise to Marvel comic books. Bierker has built for himself quite the fan base of young, eager clients, and he is proud to have worked with several US troops over seas in Afghanistan towards creating one-of-a-kind engagement bands.
Popular designs include an R2D2 -inspired engagement ring and a band featuring a diamond encrusted TARDIS from popular television show Doctor Who. Though evocative of these pop culture treasures, Bierker’s collection maintains an elegant subtlety. Rings modeled after the TIE fighter or the X-wing shed the unwieldy bulk of the star ships in favor of clean, sophisticated lines. The X-wing ring becomes a delicate ornament, its bands stylishly crisscrossing in the center the finger. Bierker’s tender references to geek culture meld effortlessly with the maturity of his craftsmanship, appealing both to playful and refined clients.
Bierker occupies a groundbreaking space in a one of our countries biggest industries, subverting elitist limitations on what and what does not constitute an engagement ring. This symbol of lifelong commitment should be as individual and the couple who wears it, and amid the mass of conformity, it’s nice to see something new. As we move into the adult responsibilities of marriage, we hope to carry with us each of our childhood pleasures, and Bierker’s original work certainly reminds us that marriage should be as much of an adventure as a trip into space. Take a look. (via Lost at E Minor)
In a world where the words “bikini season” are met with judgement, panic, and dread, it can be hard to embrace our bodies as they are. For breast cancer survivors and patients who have undergone single or double mastectomies, the season’s swimsuits can be alienating, as they are most often designed to accommodate twin bosoms.
Hoping to challenge the damaging pressures and judgements placed on the female chest, Ph.D. Elina Halttunen came up with the idea to manufacture bathing suits specifically for women who, like she, have one breast. With the help of design duo Tärähtäneet ämmät (Nutty Tarts), a group of trailblazing Finnish designers, and a dedicated group of models, all of whom had undergone mastectomies, her dream became a reality. Their fashions and images are all part of the project Monokini 2.0.
Taking inspiration from legendary fashion photographer Helmut Newton, the team at Nutty Tarts have conceived of glamorous, edgy designs with a distinctive yet cohesive aesthetic. The Monokini 2.0 designs comprise looks that convey both strength and softness. Designer Outi Pyy creates pieces designed with warriors and mermaids in mind. Tyra Therman, who works in luxury underwear, sees the project as a way to redefine femininity and celebrate the courage of women.
Each swimsuit is crafted to be both extravagant and comfortable, unique as the women who choose to wear them. Moved by the project, most of the models pictured here contacted Halttunen and her colleagues, volunteering their bodies to empower all women, regardless of how many breasts we might have. Be sure to check out Monokini 2.0’s crowdfunding initiative, opening May 30th. (via Buzzfeed)
For Epitaph, British photographer Rankin teams up with Beaty Editor Andrew Gallimore to create spellbinding death masks inspired by the Mexican Day of the Dead and Roman Catholic All Souls Day. Like the sugar skulls, or calavera, used to celebrate the holiday, these elegant masks put a vital and lively spin on death. Decked out in intricate beading and filigree, their models look luxurious and festive.
Calavera, normally colored in vibrant greens, reds, yellows, and blues are often eaten after the holiday; adorned in glittering stars and blooming daisies, these living skulls look like sweet confections. The female faces, painted in black, become a youthful template for imaginative explorations of an afterlife that awaits us after old age. As if from another world, their gray-green eyes stand starkly against coal-toned flesh. Rankin and Gallimore infuse the editorial with a hefty dose of high-fashion edge, introducing elements like metal spikes and and chains. These harder elements blend seamlessly with the iconography of the Day of the Dead; in one mask, a red clown nose made of punk-rock studs puts a contemporary spin on the timeless tradition.
Rankin is not new to the theme of death. In the wake of his parents’ deaths, he was compelled to break cultural taboo surrounding the dead, to face head-on his fears of dying. For last year’s photo series ALIVE: In the Face of Death, published by Hunger Magazine, he photographed those effected most by death, giving voice to grieving family members and to resilient individuals living with terminal diseases. Here, his enthusiastic lens provides solace from the fear of the unknown, inviting us to celebrate those we’ve lost as we mourn them. (via Trend Land)