Rebecca Stevenson’s figurative sculptures are both eerie and beautiful. Using primarily polyresin and wax, her concept usually begins with a human or animal figure cast in a subdued monochromatic color that then appears to blossom or decay with varieties of multi-colored organic compounds. These blossoms almost consume the figures, resulting in provocative, surreal sculptures. Her work embodies the process of creation and destruction, revealing the beauty that emerges from this organic cycle. Some of it reminds me of walking around farm pastures when I was younger, and discovering various animal skulls that the grass had begun to climb through. If her work is disturbing, it is only because it doesn’t try to mask the macabre beauty of the growth/decay process. “My work is concerned with the visceral and the sensual. It draws upon anatomical drawing and botanical illustration, but occupies a liminal territory between scientific enquiry and the subjective, imaginary body.” (via)
At RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia, lecturer Claudia Diaz has implemented an unconventional project in order to inspire her anatomy students. After teaching human anatomy for over 20 years, Diaz decided to try something new as she found the regular routine of anatomical memorization boring and uninspired. Over the past 3 years, Diaz has explored human anatomy with her students by having them paint the bodies of 10 students, revealing tendons and bones that would be visible if the person’s skin were stripped. Featured in these photographs is chiropractic student Zac O’Brien who patiently sat for around 18 hours while fellow students painted him. The finished result is what Diaz likes to call “anatomical man,” first brought to one of her classes in 2010.
”We walked him in and I still remember the looks on the kids’ faces. They were just in awe,” she said. ”I realised it shocked them, it inspired them and it motivated them.” Previously shy about taking off their clothes so classmates could study their bodies, the students began to shed their inhibitions through this painting exercise. ”I couldn’t get the kids to keep their clothes on. They were all throwing them off,” Dr Diaz said. (via)
This project seems to follow a trend in the merging of science and art, specifically within the study of human anatomy, and the direct involvement of real human bodies in order to reveal the beauty of the human body, inside and out.
Charlotte Niel’s series Behind the Curtain captures the moments before, during, and after patrons’ engagements with carnival and fair photo booths. These photographs are light and fun, bright and summery. Photo booths have consistently been a place of discovery and wonder, a place to experience the excitement of pulling a curtain behind you to allow some privacy in the midst of a very public setting. In a culture where so much of our photography experience is digital, and the tangibility of the photograph does not seem to be as privileged or common as it once it was, the photo booth is a place that offers this immediate experience. I particularly enjoy the variety of color in these photographs and Niel’s captures of the bottom halves of the photo booth’s subjects. There’s a sense of mystery and curiosity that these images evoke, and I think that largely has something to do with the merging of these private moments in a public setting captured with a public eye.
Of her series, Niel explains, “How many times have we looked at an old photograph and wondered about the person in the frame? People or family members we never knew, set in places we never visited or that have changed beyond recognition. Photos are often the only means to link us to our past or the past of others. They help us not to forget. They become visual memories. For these reasons, I find it fascinating to watch what happens at photo booths at county fairs. People come with family and friends to celebrate anniversaries, birthdays, friendships or just to make an annual visit to the booths. For others, it is just a way to capture who they are or with whom they are at that moment, on their own private stage. The result is a body of work of people who shared with me moments that took place in front of and behind the curtain, documented for unknown viewers. With my camera, it became a transformation of a private moment into a public one.”
Charlotte Niel lives and works in San Francisco.
Czlowiek Kamera is not this photographer’s real name. In Russian the name means “human-cam” or “cam-man,” and was sourced from Vertov’s “Man with a Movie Camera.” This human-mechanical fusion can be identified throughout Kamera’s compositions, at least in the way he fuses his human subjects with the camera’s manipulation of them. His photographs are surreal and mystical, and remind me a bit of Kyle Thompson’s aesthetic. Kamera specializes in recording live music performances, including artists Sigur Rós and Fever Ray. Check out his Flickr for more photos.
Lorna Barnshaw likes to experiment with digital renderings of human faces. In her series of 3D art prints Replicants, Barnshaw used a different computer, software, application, and printing method with minimal interference with each computer’s rendering. The results are geometric, cubed, and warped mask-like representations of the human face. Complementary to this work, Barnshaw’s gif series Reality Reduction, depicts human figure images reduced to their basic geometry using a digital filter. Together these series engage us with their reflections on technological influences in contemporary culture.
No matter the type of installation Guiseppe Licari creates, he seeks to encourage direct public engagement in one way or another. For some of his work, he brings natural elements into the gallery space, while other work takes the form of public art. Obviously, most of Licari’s installations should be experienced firsthand, like his ongoing community dinner project Spaghetti Forever, an interactive swing-set Serial Swing, a mobile Illegal Busstop, or his education horticulture workshop, Hortus Publicus. Licari’s work is concerned with creating spaces of engagement that reference nature and the built environment. He lives and works in Rotterdam.
Filmmaker Dave Altizer’s short mini-documentary Porcelainia features Bobby Jaber, an educator, scientist, and artist. After Jaber retired from teaching chemistry, he was able to focus his energies on porcelain work, specifically geometric designs based on molecular shapes. Jaber’s approach to his work is inspired by his scientist/artist predecessors, most notably Buckminster Fuller, inventor of the geodesic dome. Though he’s had a little financial success with some of his work, Jaber is clearly motivated by love and dedication to his craft. Be sure to stick around after the credits to catch Jaber’s priceless reaction to current technology.
Los Carpinteros is an art collective founded in 1991 in Havana, Cuba. They create small and large scale installations that reflect perversions of common, everyday objects. These objects are bent, twisted, de- and re-formed, creating abstract work with recontextualized boundaries. The artists deconstruct these simple forms in order to complicate our experience of them. Stable forms become chaotic, erratic, and fragmented through Los Carpinteros’ manipulation of them, ultimately representing a subversion of structure that transcends the domestic or personal.