Todd Baxter’s Stylishly Retro Sci-Fi Utopias

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Multimedia artist Todd Baxter has created a retro futuristic image series inspired by narratives of science fiction utopia. Long fascinated with the technology and physics of the Space Race era, with “Project Astoria: Test 01,” Baxter tells a story that revolves around the experiences of children growing up in a an Earth-like world that has recently been colonized. Baxter’s wife, Aubrey Videtto, is writing the story that the two created together. They hope to collaborate with other artists for the project, including a graphic novelist and musician, to further execute their concepts and designs.  Of this project, Baxter writes, “With Project Astoria, I wanted to play with that childlike hopefulness — that anticipation of humans finally mastering our existence and our technology. Especially as we were reaching such new and magical realities as landing on the moon, the late 60s was the perfect period, in my mind, to add in this alternate history where we all get together and say, ‘Hey! We could go colonize this other Earth-like place and really do it right this time. It could be perfect. Utopia!’ Of course, it doesn’t go perfectly, which is good. Otherwise, it wouldn’t make for a very fun story.”

Baxter’s process is quite involved, but it starts with him pulling out sketches for ideas he’s had. He then browses the images on his computer for environment and landscape images he’s shot, and begins to weave together these environments with Photoshop. Baxter then plans the next elements based on these general compositions, producing photo shoots of his subjects that he continues to compose and retouch with Videtto until each image is fully realized. The result is a playful narrative with an almost kitschy aesthetic, evocative of the likes of Wes Anderson. (via behance and bleek magazine)

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Luis Hernan’s Photographs Reveal Colorful WiFi Signal Visualizations

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Designer Luis Hernan‘s project, “Digital Ethereal,” captures colorful “spirit photographs” of Wi-Fi signals. Using long exposure photography alongside the Kirilian Device mobile app, an app created specifically for this project that translates WiFi signals into color gradations, Hernan creates stunning photographs that feature ghostly swirls of color and activity. Hernan’s project represents the ways we can thread different kinds of technology together to create something new – something that visualizes a field of energy that is omnipresent, yet eludes our physical sensibilities. Of his WiFi light paintings, Hernan writes, “I believe our interaction with this landscape of electromagnetic signals, described by Antony Dunne as Hertzian Space, can be characterised in the same terms as that with ghosts and spectra. They both are paradoxical entities, whose untypical substance allows them to be an invisible presence. In the same way, they undergo a process of gradual substantiation to become temporarily available to perception. Finally, they both haunt us. Ghosts, as Derrida would have it, with the secrets of past generations. Hertzian space, with the frustration of interference and slowness.” (via laughing squid

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Bizarre Furniture That Looks, Feels, And Even Smells Like Human Flesh

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Feeling tired? How about a nice rest on some blobby furniture that looks and feels like real human flesh, such as “a chair meant to mimic a squishy roll of fat and footstools that resemble deformed testes”? UK artist Gigi Barker of studio 9191 has created a furniture collection called “A Body of Skin” that not only feels and looks like realistic skin, but also smells like a human body – Barker impregnated the silicon skin with the pheromones and after shave of models she used during the construction of the pieces. To design her work, she first studies the body, drawing abstracted shapes inspired by its form. Barker then sculpts a clay model before casting a life-size version in silicon. After the silicon is infused with human smell, Barker lays moulding leather on the form, completing the imitation. She tells Wired, “I have my own personal relationship with it which is based on my own personal history. Just as someone else will…I think this project is more about the people and the bodies rather than the skin itself. That being said as a project it’s interesting how reactionary it is given it’s essentially silicone and leather shapes, which shouldn’t inherently be. This speaks a lot therefore to the emotional associations attached to the work.”

Barker also notes that children have been especially taken with her work: “Without any of the hang ups we later develop, they are free to truly explore and interact with the work. Work regarding the human body is very personal and we all have a very immediate reaction to it so the reactions have reflected this.”

Barker’s fleshy furniture challenges our perceptions of the bodies of ourselves and others – her interactive sculptures are both discomfiting and comfortably familiar. (via wired and new york magazine)

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Teenage Boy Comically Remakes Female Celebrity Fashion Looks

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New Zealand high school student Liam Martin has created quite the buzz with his Instagram account (@waverider_), where he has currently amassed over 1.5 million followers due to his humorous recreation of memes, and more popularly and recently, fashion photographs of female celebrities (and the occasional cartoon). He’s creatively recreated images of Kim Kardashian, Miley Cyrus, Lady Gaga, Tyra Banks, Lorde, Iggy Azalea, and Taylor Swift – it seems he grabs whatever is available around him that resembles celebrity clothing and accessories and constructs his own comically similar versions of high fashion. Much of Martin’s comedy emerges from the facial expressions he gives the camera and the energy he exudes in each photo. Martin says, “I’m very weird and open. I think that’s why I get so many followers, because I’m myself.”

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Palestinian Artists Transform Photographs Of Rocket Explosions Into Powerful Human Images

Image credit: Belal Khaled

Image credit: Belal Khaled

Image credit: Tawfik Gebreel

Image credit: Tawfik Gebreel

Image credit: Bushra Shanan

Image credit: Bushra Shanan

Images and news of the Israel-Palestine conflict have been circulating media for a few weeks now. The photographs that emerge out of this war are tragic and graphic. A handful of Palestinian artists have been transforming images of smoke and fire from the attacks on Gaza into portraits that reveal the very real and human cost of these rocket explosions. By inscribing faces and bodies onto images of destruction, these artists are reminding people from all sides that war takes its toll on an individual, human level, a fact that is often erased when the media creates its narratives. These simple, yet powerful, illustrations give these Palestinian artists a voice that they might otherwise not be given, a voice that tells a different story than the ones represented in the original photographs. (via demilked)

Featured artists: Tawfik Gebreel, Bushra Shanan, Belal Khaled

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Jaimie Warren’s Playful Pop Culture Selfies Subvert The Form’s Perceived Vanity

Self-portrait as Pretzel Rod Stewart

Self-portrait as Pretzel Rod Stewart

Self-portrait as Lasagna Del Rey

Self-portrait as Lasagna Del Rey

Self-portrait as woman in Les Demoiselles d'Avignon by Pablo Picasso

Self-portrait as woman in Les Demoiselles d’Avignon by Pablo Picasso

Self-portrait as Yoda in L'admiration by William-Adolphe Bouguereau

Self-portrait as Yoda in L’admiration by William-Adolphe Bouguereau

Selfies are a ubiquitous mode of self-expression. Photographer and performance artist Jaimie Warren integrates pop culture. humor, and a bright color palette to create visually striking self-portraits that are absurd, humorous, and campy. In one photo series, Warren becomes celebrity-food characters, fusing their names into an offbeat expression. In another, she re-creates images from art history, embellishing them with her signature pop culture camp style. Warren’s selfies subvert the form of traditional portraiture by using absurdity and grotesqueness to supplant the selfie’s identification with vanity. In addition to her individual projects, Warren also co-directs an internationally touring “faux-cable access show” called Whoop Dee Doo, a nonprofit that partners with youth organizations to introduce kids to wonderfully strange art that is meaningful, fun, and compelling. (via la monda and vice)

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Tom Phillips’ “A Humument”: An Ongoing Transformation From Forgotten Victorian Text To Colorfully Illustrated Digital Oracle

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British artist Tom Phillips released the first edition of A Humument in 1970. To create this stunning book, Phillips illustrated and/or collaged each page of a found Victorian text - WH Mallock’s A Human Document - leaving parts of the original text exposed and uncovering a new story line with a new protagonist named Bill Toge, whose name appears only when the word “together” or “altogether” appears in Mallock’s original text. Of the text and his project, Phillips says,”It is a forgotten Victorian novel found by chance …I plundered, mined, and undermined its text to make it yield the ghosts of other possible stories, scenes, poems, erotic incidents, and surrealist catastrophes which seemed to lurk within its wall of words. As I worked on it, I replaced the text I’d stripped away with visual images of all kinds. It began to tell and depict, among other memories, dreams, and reflections, the sad story of Bill Toge, one of love’s casualties.”

Over the years, Phillips has revised and replaced pages of the text, resulting in updated editions. The most recent 5th edition was published in 2012. In 2010, A Humument made its digital debut as an app for the iPad and iPhone. Assisting in its develop, Phillips is very pleased with his work’s transition to the digital realm. For Phillips, a bright screen enhances his illustrations, lending them a glow his pens and paints couldn’t achieve, “almost like church windows at times.” After Phillips started working on the book in the 60s, he dreamed that it could one day be used as an oracle. Forty years of technology later, Phillips’ dream has been realized, and he’s become his own consumer: “Each night after midnight I consult, somewhat furtively (even though alone), the Oracle I have made. I’m often surprised by pages made long ago and almost forgotten, as well as by the sometimes uncanny predictions they offer their maker.” (via the guardian)

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Brendan Fitzpatrick’s Photographs Of X-Rayed Toys

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Australian photographer Brendan Fitzpatrick’s X-ray photographs expose the inner workings of toys. Fitzpatrick’s photographs are both whimsical and mechanical, evoking the curiosity of childhood and the desire to discover how things look and work from other perspectives. The strategic placement of wires, batteries, and screws are revealed, the complexity of the inside contrasting with the seemingly simplistic design of the outside. Fitzpatrick uses chest X-ray and mammogram machines to photograph flowers, toys, and creatures, then enhances the color in the images in order to more effectively distinguish the various parts that have been exposed. This photographs are part of series he calls “Invisible Light.” (via colossal)

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