Melissa Cooke’s Hyperrealistic Graphite Renderings Mimic Double Exposure Photographs

Melissa Cooke - graphite drawing Melissa Cooke - graphite drawing Melissa Cooke - graphite drawing Melissa Cooke - graphite drawing

Super talented Melissa Cooke draws so realistically that you would think her renderings are photographs. Instead of using pencil lines to outline her subjects and draft her compositions, she achieves incredible depth by dusting layers of graphite onto paper with a dry brush. Flirting between different mediums (photography, drawing and painting), she is an expert of achieving highly detailed, strongly contrasting, striking images.

For her series The Between Spaces, she blends two different angles together in one drawing, achieving an impressive effect of superimposed snapshots. Thanks to her unique graphite technique, her highlights seem to glow and radiate off the page. Hair turns from being a series of fine white lines dusted over a darker layer to being a delicate web of strands. Eyes have detailed reflections; the skin Cooke draws have pores; the faces have a complex structure of wrinkles and lines. Cooke says of her series:

The drawings ride the line between what is physical and emotional, inner and outer, real and fantasy. Elements that are innately indescribable.  There is a richness in those spaces that I can explore visually. (Source)

Moving on from portraiture, Cooke has also tried her hand at still lifes – objects that she finds in her daily life. Inspired by an abandoned wig she found in the dandelions, she started her series of objects.

These still lives evoke the figure while hinting at a larger narrative. There is both an attraction and repulsion to these discarded objects, like evidence left at a crime scene. That tension is something that has always inspired me, and will continue to propel me forward with the new body of work. (Source)

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Performance Artist Tiffany Trenda Challenges Our Ideas Of Touch, Intimacy And Proximity

Tiffany Trenda - performance Tiffany Trenda - performance  Tiffany Trenda - performance

Tiffany Trenda is a performance artist on a mission to awaken us from a technological slumber. Wearing a synthetic suit imbedded with forty small 2.6 inch LED cell phone screens, she asks people to interact with her, touching and pressing the monitors all over her body. Citing fellow performance artist Valie Export Tap and Touch Cinema as an inspiration, she examines our ease and familiarity with having devices, gadgets, screens and monitors all around us, in her new work Proximity Cinema.

The word ‘touch’ has a completely different meaning for today. Originally ‘touch’ meant human-to-human contact. Now we think of our smart phone, iPad or tablet. So, today, touch refers to human-to-screen contact. (Source)

Confronting people to enter her personal space, and destroying normal social limits, she highlights the boundaries between man and machine; natural and digital, and how willing humans are to accept the influence technology has over us. Trenda not only looks at how we use technology, but also how we understand our own identities through technology.

In her body of work she becomes the digitized version of the human body and her actions replicate those of a computer. Trenda creates a platform for questioning the boundary of where the digital impression and the physical body begin and end. The viewer is physically and visually immersed in the process of how the psyche evolves to relate to the screen (LCD, television, cinema or a computer). (Source)

Trenda’s installations and performances are a fresh and very real look at how easy it is to be overwhelmed and overpowered by technology. She reminds us to reflect on how integrated technology is becoming – it is not far from becoming part of our very skin. Perhaps her futuristic bondage-looking outfit will soon be a part of our wardrobes?

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Ignacio Torres’ Dazzling GIFs Capture The Vibrancy Of Youth

IGNACIO TORRES - animated GIF IGNACIO TORRES - animated GIF IGNACIO TORRES - animated GIF IGNACIO TORRES - animated GIF

Texas born photographer Ignacio Torres‘s new series Stellar is a fine example of camera wizardry. Capturing four different angles of models jumping, sliding, twisting and falling in the desert surrounded by flying dust and confetti, he has tried to capture the essence of youth. More specifically, how humans and scientific theories co exist and inter-relate. Torres explains a bit more about his project here:

This project began from the theory that humans are made of cosmic matter as a result of a stars death. I created imagery that showcased this cosmic birth through the use of dust and reflective confetti to create galaxies. The models organic bodily expressions as they are frozen in time between the particles suggest their celestial creation. (Source)

His animated images certainly have a little something heavenly or even spiritual about them. I’m sure at times we have all been impressed by certain natural phenomenon – fireflies, glow worms, phosphorescence on the beach or in the water,  and Torres’ celebrates these wondrous things that occur effortlessly and completely unaided around us. He goes on to explain:

In addition, space and time is heightened by the use of three-dimensional animated gifs. Their movement serves as a visual metaphor to the spatial link we share with stars as well as their separateness through time. (Source)

Stellar has a beautiful vibrancy and energy about it. The series has the same vivacity and zest as watching enthusiasts like Neil deGrasse Tyson or David Attenborough talk about their obsessions with the world that surround us. I imagine Torres would be very happy if his work piqued our interest in astronomy, botany, or at the very least, about our own humanity. Because it is indeed a marvelous and astounding thing. (Via We The Urban)

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See How Deceptive Advertising Images Can Be With Before And After Photos

Ashot Gevorkyan - composite GIFAshot Gevorkyan - composite GIF  Ashot Gevorkyan - composite GIFAshot Gevorkyan - composite GIF

We all know that advertising is an illusion, and built around pandering to our desires. But, it would be safe to say that a majority of us aren’t fully aware of just how far that mirage extends. Russian compositor Ashot Gevorkyan is helping remove the wool from our eyes by exposing the secrets of the industry that he himself works in. In his series of composited GIFS, he demonstrates just how the final image is built up. He shows us the initial shot, and also the steps completed in post production to achieve the end result.

We are able to see how 3 actors in front of a green screen in a studio are eventually placed in a post apocalyptic city, hectically shooting at a crowd of zombies surrounding them. Bodies are unnaturally lengthened; artificial skies added behind groups of people; lighting effects are fabricated; even the color of clothing is transformed.

It is an interesting experiment in raising awareness of just how critical we need to stay of the media around us. Just because we are consuming more media, doesn’t mean we should try what we see and hear any more than in the past. Mocking up these images, Gevorkyan demonstrates just how easily and efficiently it is for professions to advertise a completely make believe world. For more eye opening images, see after the jump.

Via Reframe

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Gregory Crewdson’s Photographs Look Like Eerie Cinematic Crime Scenes

Gregory Crewdson - photography Gregory Crewdson - photography Gregory Crewdson - photography Gregory Crewdson - photography

Acclaimed photographer Gregory Crewdson is a master of creating creepy scenes that have an air of mystery, violence and drama about them. He sets his images in small town America, but not as we know it. He presents scenes laden with loneliness; scenarios that are surreal; moments that are unnerving. Taking stylistic cues from Steven Spielberg, David Lynch and Diane Arbus, there is a strong narrative to Crewdson’s work. He repeatedly visits certain locations and waits until a particular moment presents itself in his mind’s eye, and then he tries to represent that as accurately as possible.

His photos are moments of people in a strange sort of limbo, or some state of reflection, all bathed in a dramatic, cinematic light. A woman lies submerged in a flooded living room, it isn’t clear whether she is dead or contemplating what went wrong to cause the disaster in her house; a young girl sits up in bed at night time, either going over some sinister, violent plan, or deciding whether her nightmare was real or not; a woman stands in the middle of an empty street, taxi behind her, door still open and driver waiting. All of Crewdson’s images are filled with heavy subtext, something that is left unsaid. He talks about the mysterious worlds he creates in an interview with The American Reader:

I think that’s really kind of a beautiful point, that at the core there is something very childhood-like about the whole activity of building and constructing a world. My mom just recently reminded me that I used to build these little miniature worlds outside at our country house and populate it with little figures. That whole thing about trying to create a world – there’s something very connected to childhood and reverie and daydreaming and fantasy. (Source)

See more snapshots of his dreamlike worlds after the jump. (Via We The Urban)

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Arthur Drooker Snaps The Bizarre Underwater World Of Mermaid And Mermen Conventions

Arthur Drooker - photograph

Arthur Drooker - photograph

Quite often the saying of fact being stranger than fiction is true, and this story is no exception. Photographer Arthur Drooker has been attending the most unusual conventions around America and compiling the images into a series called Conventional Wisdom. He recently attended a celebration of mermaids and mermen at The Triangle Aquatic Center in Cary, North Carolina. Over 300 Merfolk attended Merfest this year, and Drooker was there to capture this wondrous and enchanting subculture.

This year the participants were able to attend workshops on breath-holding, underwater modelling, talk to a professional mermaid, and purchase different mermaid accessories – tails made from fabric and silicon (and ranged in price from $80 – $4000 for a custom made tail).

For many attendees, the desire to be a mermaid was spawned in childhood after seeing a movie, reading a book, going to the beach or an aquarium. A mermaid embodied an idealized self: beautiful, graceful and confident. To emulate a mermaid one developed a mersona, akin to the fursona that a furry at Anthrocon inhabits to model an animal character s/he aspires to be like. (Source)

For most Merfolk the transformation that happens when they either pull on their costume, or the moment they enter the water is something that cannot be compared to in any other way. Christian Obrocki, a merman from Baltimore tells Drooker of his experience:

It’s a rush. What better way to be in touch with your love for the water than to be kind of a part of it. When the tail goes on, the human side goes out the door. (Source)

Drooker’s other series include his visits to Clown conventions, gatherings of Santas, an assembly of Ventriloquists, a meeting of Furries, and a Bronies meet-up. See the other sets here. (Via Cool Hunting)

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Artist Creates Soundtracks By Crushing Peoples Personal Belongings

Dmitry Morozov Dmitry Morozov  Dmitry Morozov

This new interactive installation Oil by Moscow media-artist, musician and engineer of ‘strange-sounding mechanisms’ ::vtol:: (Dmitry Morozov) is an exciting opportunity for participants to create something new and original from destroying used personal objects. Inviting people to use whatever object they are carrying at the time (headphones, sunglasses, keys, cosmetics), he places them underneath a hydraulic press and proceeds to crush them into something unrecognizable. He records what happens next with a microphone mounted closely to the hydraulic presses. The sound from the act of destruction is turned into a 20 minute record and presented to the participant to take away with them.

The project is intended to provoke visitors into spontaneously ridding themselves of material consumer objects for the sake of creating their own individual work of art via deprivation, divestment and destruction. Sound has been taken as the chief medium here with good reason, since sound art is perhaps the least material and most abstract of all genres in art. The technological aesthetic involved constitutes an ironic attempt to make the process of art production into a technological process, but the result, unlike that of mass production, demonstrates a contrary phenomenon – this is a work involving programming and code in the context of generative art, with the potential to broaden the range of instruments at art’s disposal. (Source)

You can also hear one of the 1574 tracks recorded during exhibition here. And see more innovative work from :vtol::, including different instruments here.

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An Insiders Look At An Indoniesian Tribe Who Slaughters Animals As Part Of Ancient Death Rituals

Nat Wilkins - photography  Nat Wilkins - photography
Nat Wilkins - photography
Nat Wilkins - photography

Photographer Nat Wilkins spent two weeks documenting the ceremonies and death rituals of the Troajan tribe in the highlands of South Sulawesi in Indonesia. In his series Dealing With The Dead, The Troajan Of Tana Toraja, he takes a close up look at this fascinating world and wishes to examine his own understanding of death and decay. The funerals carry on for a number of days and are one of the most important part of the culture in the highlands of Tana Toraja. When a family member dies, they are embalmed and lay waiting inside the family home until the ceremony can take place. Wilkins explains a bit more about the process:

When the time of the funeral comes illegal cock fighting, illegal gambling, buffalo fighting and the slaughter of buffaloes and pigs mark the occasion. The wealthier the family the grander the funeral, with this grandness being marked by the number of buffalo slaughtered, a minimum of one buffalo is required to pass to the land of souls but wealthier families will slaughter 10 to 20 sometimes 30 buffalo and the richest Torajan’s will kill hundreds.

To some these rituals may seem over-elaborate, and excessive, but to the Troajans, it is essential to ensure their loved ones cross over safely to the ‘land of souls’. Devoutly Christian, the tribe places great emphasis on life after death, or the treatment of the body and soul once dead. The living who are left behind, make great sacrifices to provide what is needed for those who have passed. But with the weight of this responsibility comes much hardship. Wilkins explains again:

From an outside perspective it can seem that to the living these funerals are used as a reflection on the importance of the deceased’s family, a status symbol for the rich. On the flip side though, death can be a serious burden on the poor. Every spare penny earned by the living goes to honoring the dead and the importance of a good funeral puts serous weight on the poorer Torajan’s with the poorest getting serious debt problems just to slaughter a buffalo.

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