Liz Nielsen Uses New Photographic Technique To Create Striking Abstract Images

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These images may look like simple abstract paintings, or cut out pieces of cardboard collaged on top of each other, but they are anything but. They are actually a product of one of the most avant-garde photographic processes being used today. Brooklyn artist Liz Nielsen‘s current exhibition Wolf Moon is an eloquent display of a very strange technique. She places different objects and shapes cut from transparent colored gels directly onto photographic paper and exposes them to light resulting in dramatic compositions.

It is a negative process, so that colors are reversed. It has taken many years of dedicated darkroom experimentation to layer the overlapping shapes so that a subtle color results instead of pure white. The resulting unique chromogenic prints in Wolf Moon are singed with red from leaked light in the darkroom and populated by abstract shapes reminiscent of terrestrial and extraterrestrial forms. (Source)

Nielsen’s exhibition has a focus on landscapes, celestial shapes and beautiful phenomena (like electricity and lightning). The subject matter mirrors the strange and wonderful process she uses in developing the images. See more of her unique C-prints at the exhibition – running from Jan 29 – March 8 at Denny Gallery in New York. (Via Pattern Pulp)

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Alexis Arnold Glorifies The Decay Of Paperbacks By Crystallizing Books

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Never has the thought of books and newspapers becoming obsolete been so appealing. Artist Alexis Arnold makes the idea attractive by gathering different National Geographic magazines, Bibles, and discarded phone books and turns them into crystallized sculptures. She dips each book into a Borax solution which, when left alone for a short time, ‘grows’ crystals. The spines and pages harden and freeze, warped and bent out of shape like they have been found in a time capsule.

Arnold’s series The Crystallized Books are a sentimental and nostalgic view of a time slipping away from us, now we are immersed in the world of eBooks, PDFs, Kindles, and portable tablets. As more and more bookshops close everyday, we are seeing the printed page become obsolete and unused. She explains a bit more about the project:

I had been growing crystals on hard objects and was interested in seeing the effect of the crystal growth on malleable and absorbent objects. Conceptually, the series addresses the materiality of the book versus the text of content of the book. The crystals remove the text and transform the books into aesthetic, non-functional objects. The books, now frozen with heavy crystal growth, have become artifacts or geologic specimens imbued with the history of time, use and nostalgia. (Source)

Arnold says even though she primarily uses the laundry detergent ‘Twenty Mule Team Borax’ in boiling water, and other Salt Crystals, you can use a number of different household products to try it yourself. You can even check out how to experiment at home with the help of this video. (Via The Creator’s Project)

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Sticky Situation: Blake Little’s Honey Covered Models Look As If They Are Frozen In Amber

Blake Little - photography

Blake Little - photography

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Celebrity photographer Blake Little has taken his love of portraiture to new heights. Pouring honey all over his models of different ages, races and genders, he has created a series of dramatic images that look like photos of wax models. While he normally snaps pictures of famous faces like Kevin Spacey, Tom Cruise, Glenn Close, Samuel L. Jackson, Jane Fonda, Gwyneth Paltrow, this time he placed a Craigslist ad asking for some not-so-familiar faces. Seeing over 90 people, all ranging in age from 2 – 85 years, he asked them to take their clothes off and get covered in a thick gooey layer of honey. Little talks about his process:

Preservation began through a process of experimenting with honey. Initially, I started shooting the way it pours and drips on just the face or specific areas of the body. After several sessions, it became clear that completely covering the figure as much as possible and with varying thicknesses created a quality that I had never seen before. The honey has a way of diffusing the personal qualities of the subjects, often making them unrecognizable and democratizing their individual traits into something altogether different and universal. (Source)

The result of the intense studio session is hypnotic. The models look like they have been frozen in amber, or resin, or caught in the volcanic eruption of Pompeii. All of the subjects in his new book Preservation look like they are in a deep slumber, and all have lost any idiosyncrasies they may have had. It seems like Little has compiled a reference of what is it to be human – a kind of catalog of frozen specimens where we can, in the future, look back and compare similarities and differences between us all.

His show accompanying his new monograph opens at Kopeikin Gallery in Culver City, CA from March 7.

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Darren Pearson Paints Skeletons, Dinosaurs and Aliens With Light Drawings

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Photographer Darren Pearson has been making unbelievable light paintings since 2008. He paints cutely comical images of spaceships attacking cities, skeletons skateboarding down city steps, and animals being in places they normally wouldn’t be. Despite what you may think, Pearson’s images aren’t made with the help of Photoshop. He sets his camera up on a tripod and takes a photograph – usually opening the shutter from between two and seven minutes. While the shutter is open he jumps in front of the camera and “paints” with various tools that resemble flashlights.

Pearson also pioneered the light painting technique of spinning a glass prism in front of the camera while shining light into the lens to create rainbow prismatic circles. While that process may sound quite convoluted, Pearson says the hardest part is actually finding a cool spot without ambient light or sketchy night people. And as a resident of Los Angeles, that appears to be quite a difficult thing. He talks about how he first discovered light painting:

I saw an old article from LIFE magazine on the collaboration between Pablo Picasso and Gjon Mili and the image ‘picasso draws a centaur’. I was fascinated by the image and asked my friend how it worked; he explained long exposures to me. (Source)

Pearson has many great stories of creating his light-hearted long exposures – one which involves taking his grandmother into the hills north of Tuscon, getting lost, and eventualy collaborating on photographs. He’s been kicked out of an abandoned zoo while taking photographs, and asked by the cops to explain just what he was doing. If anything, he is dedicated to his craft. You can see more of his extensive efforts here through his videos.

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Beth Cavener Stichter’s Life-Size Animal Sculptures Express More Emotions Than A Greek Tragedy

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Sculptor Beth Cavener Stichter carves dramatic, expressive human-size animals from clay which exhibit the extremes of human characteristics and emotions. She has goats, wolves, lambs, snakes and rabbits display acts of greed, betrayal and jealousy. Using the malleable nature of clay, Stichter produces wonderfully sensitive pieces loaded with drama and theatricality.

In her latest series Four Humors, she takes a theory developed by the Ancient Greeks which describes what a psychologically healthy human body should look like. The Four Humors were black bile, yellow bile, phlegm and blood. If a body had too much of any of these substances, then that would correspond to a personality deficiency. Stichter says she was intrigued that people could be evaluated solely by the amount of liquid they contained in their bodies. Stichter explores multiple base theories and ideas in her work. She goes on to say:

There are primitive animal instincts in our own depths, waiting for the chance to slide past a conscious moment. The sculptures I create focus on human psychology, stripped of context and rationalization, and articulated through animal and human forms. On the surface, these figures are simply feral and domestic individuals suspended in a moment of tension. Beneath the surface they embody the impacts of aggression, territorial desires, isolation, and pack mentality. (Source)

See if you can recognize yourself in more of her sculptures after the jump. (Via Art Fucks Me)

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Court Side Glam: Victor Solomon Recreates Basketball Backboards With Stained Glass

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It is common knowledge that superstar athletes are paid handsomely. But artist Victor Solomon reminds us of that fact in a beautifully colorful and decorative way. He spent over 100 hours hand making stained glass window-style backboards for the basketball court. He makes the connection between the luxury life a lot of professional athletes live, and the historical opulence that once existed in homes and interior design.

After designing the backboards in a traditional ‘Tiffany‘ style, he cut the glass, soldered the frame together, strung together different style nets to suit each design, and even gold plated the rims. He has weaved jewels, gems and chains together, attaching them to the Art Nouveau style designs. Literally Balling is his collection of three different backboards, and what started out as a joke between friends, quickly turned into a labor intensive project centered around luxury and grandeur.

The thought of someone haphazardly throwing a basketball at one of these intricate and fragile creations is quite an unsettling one. Solomon cleverly points out that the attachment to, and respect we have for beautifully handcrafted objects, is also the same we have toward celebrity sports stars and professional sports. We can look, but it’s probably better not to touch. (Via Design Boom)

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Ron Arad Loves Crushing Fiat 500s Into Flat Disks To Hang On Gallery Walls

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Israeli artist Ron Arad has a thing for the Fiat 500 car. Ever since his father was almost struck by a garbage truck while driving a Cinquecento, the Italian automobile played an important part in his life. Arad tells the story of how he came to own his first Fiat to W Magazine. While stopped at a red light in a taxi, a Fiat pulled up next to him, and he

….opened the door of the taxi and shouted to the driver, ‘Are you selling?’ The next day, his car was [his]’.  (Source)

That car was used to cart his family around for a number of years, and even housed a homeless man for a short period. After looking at it every day, he decided he wanted to immortalize the car like the cultural icon it is. Using a metal press at a shipyard in Groningen, in the Netherlands, he managed to squash and squeeze the cars into a 12cm thick plate. After spending a while trialing with smaller cars and a variety of presses, Arad found the perfect way to flatten the frames while still keeping the integrity of the shape and design. It is quite a bizarre sight seeing something which is normally such a full shape being hung on the wall like it is a colored cardboard version of a car. Arad has indeed preserved the idea of the Fiat 500 for all to gush sentimentality over.

His exhibition “Ron Arad: In Reverse” is on view at Paul Kasmin Gallery, 515 West 27th Street in New York City, until March 14, 2015.

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Bizarre Posters For A Campaign Against Venereal Disease During World War 2

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Just in time for Valentine’s Day, we have stumbled across this bizarre series of graphic illustrations warning soldiers against the dangers of Venereal Disease. In a nationwide crusade aimed at changing a whole population’s sexual habits and attitudes, the American government enlisted the help of creative professionals. Artists, designers and ad-men teamed up to create these striking and very frank posters.

At a time when discussion of sexual activity was anything but frank, the VD posters of World War II addressed the topic directly using clinical language, ominous symbolic imagery, and jingoistic slogans to help enlisted men steer clear of sexually transmitted infections. While American sex-ed programs have taken many forms over the last hundred years, the military’s VD campaign left a unique trail of ephemera in its wake, featuring imagery that’s both gorgeous and deeply unsettling. (Source)

Found by Ryan Mungia in the National Archives and the National Library of Medicine, this series of posters caught his eye primarily because of their aesthetic, more so than the unusual subject matter. He describes them as

…reminiscent of film noir or B-movie posters from the ’40s, those pulpy-style poster designs, and they also reminded me of the Works Progress Administration artwork, which I love. (Source)

Using bold shapes and colors, the designs were a success in capturing people’s attention. Plastered all over the walls at bases and training facilities, they were sure to get people talking – during a time when sex, and certainly not sexual diseases, were discussed publicly. After a significant drop in VD by 1945, the need for the poster campaign no longer existed. Even though the campaign was a success, the message had quite shocking undertones. Mungia explains more:

Once I was looking at them as a whole, I started to see certain themes arise. Women are often portrayed in a negative light, and it surprised me how they used Nazi imagery or depictions of Hitler and Mussolini to drive their message home. There’s somewhat of a disparity in them because the posters are very attractive, but their messages are very dark. There’s one in particular of a woman who looks like a skeleton and is walking arm in arm with two Axis leaders, Hitler and Hirohito. I think it’s so interesting that they suggest that the Axis powers were behind venereal disease. (Source) (Via Collector’s Weekly)

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