About Leslie Tane

Leslie Tane is a curator, designer, educator, and writer living in Western Massachusetts. After 20 years of design practice, she received her MFA in Graphic Design from Vermont College of Fine Arts in October 2013. http://www.leslietane.com

Powerfully Disturbing And Certainly Controversial Art By The Kid

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Powerfully disturbing, and certainly controversial, the art that 22-year old artist The Kid creates spans genres. He describes his work as “forever caught between innocence and corruption,” and the well-executed pieces are compelling with their huge, detailed, Bic pen-drawn faces and hyper-realistic sculpted bodies. Photos of his sculptures, made from materials such as platinum silicon, glass fiber, oil paint, human hair, cotton, and mixed fabrics, force you to look, and look again, in order to believe that they are, in fact, inanimate objects.

In his latest work, The Kid is influenced by bullying inflicted on him by fellow students and teachers when he was younger. The sculpture “Do you believe in God?” which depicts the artist kneeling and holding a gun in his own mouth, was in response to the Columbine killers, who he feels he understands and sees as “victims of a social context.”

“All subjects of my drawings for the exhibition “endgame” really exist and are currently being held in prison-even in the United States-with exactly these tattoos. They are not imaginary and no detail is invented. They are all serving life sentences without the possibility of parole, until they die in prison. There is no other hope for them-a life in adult prison at the beginning of their sentence, that’s all, even though they have been convicted of violent crimes they committed before the age of 18.” (Source)

It’s clear that The Kid empathizes with these stigmatized subjects and hopes to give them back some humanity by evoking compassion from the viewer. Many share his view that social determinism condemns people from birth because of their familial circumstances, but by depicting, in such a graphic way, a sampling of those who are affected, he brings attention to the issue. It’s not empty sentiment, either. The Kid donated a portion of the profits from this work to the non-profit organization Human Rights Watch, which defends the rights of people worldwide. (Via yatzer)

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Matthew Christopher Documents Forgotten Spaces In Abandoned America

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Ten years ago Philadelphia photographer Matthew Christopher began a photo series attempting to document the decline of the state hospital system. Today his evocative and beautiful collection, “Abandoned America”, includes images of asylums, institutions, military, hospitals/health care, prisons, schools, power plants, factories, mills, quarries, hotels, transportation, theaters, houses, churches, and graveyards. The photos are beautifully composed and shot and are totally captivating in their emptiness.

“There is an undeniably artistic element to decayed sites, and an immense number of social, theological, and philosophical questions they pose. Abandoned America’s aim encompasses not only the historical and photographic cataloging of such sites, but also on a larger scale a eulogy for the lost ways of life they represent, a statement of their emotional, spiritual, and metaphoric relevance to our everyday lives, and a sense of the visceral experience of entering a parallel universe of silence, rust, and peeling paint.”

The pictures of abandoned spaces seem to want to create a narrative. They ask questions: What is the difference between a place abandoned temporarily and permanently? Is it a matter of chance, of luck? When you walk out the door, are you certain that you’re coming back? What sort of artifacts does a person leave? There is a poignancy to these spaces, a haunted voyeurism, a solemn quality to their emptiness. What lives were being lived here, and why were they interrupted?

Christoper’s book, Abandoned America: The Age of Consequences, will be released on December 7th. He also posts updates on his Facebook page.

“There is something magical and mysterious about spaces that are no longer in use, where nature and time and man’s presence have combined to create something absolutely unique,” says Christopher. “I hope that people reading my book can experience that sense of the transcendental and sublime that I did when I photographed these forgotten places. This book is a chance to examine why we are losing so many sites that are critical to our identity and culture.”

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Brad Troemel Collaborates With Ants To Create Colorful Abstract Installation

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Multihued translucent Plexiglas rectangles hang from the ceiling in Brad Troemel’s latest installation LIVE/WORK. They’re pleasingly abstract, reminiscent of sunsets and seashores, but look closer: each is a self-contained ant universe. The gel is edible for the ants, a commercial variant of NASA’s soil replacement, and as they tunnel and work they create patterns and movement in the art.

“Each team of ants is working on behalf of three not-for-profit organizations. The striped colors of the homes represent the colors of the not-for-profits’ logos. These organizations range from the Earth Liberation Front to Edward Snowden’s Legal Defense Fund to Planned Parenthood. At the end of this exhibition, each home’s piled up refuse from tunneling is weighed as a proxy for which team of ants did the most work digging. Whichever team’s displaced gel weighs the most wins the prize for their three organizations, splitting 10% of the proceeds from this exhibition three ways.”

The press release for the show is concerned mostly with the ants. “One must wonder – when will ant labor evolve to incorporate collaborative just-in-time tunnel building strategies, or even Fordist production lines?” It asks. “Are disruptive innovations even possible species-wide if made within isolated habitats? These are just some of the questions this generation of ants faces.” The questions are somewhat tongue-in-cheek, but they raise other issues. If Troemel is relying on the ants to produce constantly changing works of art, what happens to his installation if they stop working? What if they die? The three large blank checks hang on the wall opposite the ants, underlining the financial impetus of the show. Living insects+art=profit. It’s an unusual equation, but a surprisingly lovely one. (Via Lost at E Minor)

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Striking Celebrity Portraits By Frank Bauer

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German photographer Frank Bauer takes celebrity portraits. It’s an interesting conundrum, capturing a famous face on film. The picture is taken because the audience wants to see that well-known (if not loved) face, but the resulting image is of a sight we’re used to seeing. How, then, to make the ubiquitous new again?

In Bauer’s skilled hands, the celebrities seem to relax. The inner sanctum opens a bit, and the person behind the celebrity peeks out. Actress Tilda Swinton, known for her androgynous fierceness, softens. Cool, coture-wearer Cate Blanchette smolders. Clearly not camera ready, director Steve McQueen stifles a yawn. Musician Iggy Pop looks stripped of artifice in his rear-view mirror shot.

For all the personal exposures in his work, Bauer is remarkably hard to find. His website is neatly organized, with a news section that documents his recent work, but there’s no “I” there, no personal commentary or gossip. Same with his Facebook page: friendly-seeming and public and absolutely impersonal. Perhaps it’s his way of creating a void, one that these performers will want to fill. Maybe he’s seen what it means to reveal oneself. It could be a business decision, an unconscious choice, a cautious reticence. Whatever the reason, Frank Bauer, unlike his famous subjects, is a bit of a cipher, one who lets his intimate and beautiful work speak for him. (Via It’s Nice That)

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Electronic Ballet Shoes That Trace The Beauty And Movement Of Dance

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If kinetic art “is art from any medium that contains movement perceivable by the viewer or depends on motion for its effect,” (Wikipedia) then “Electronic Traces: Memories of Dance” by Lesia Trubat González is the most literal form of kineticism. In “Electronic Traces” González has adapted ballet pointé shoes to create digital pictures, recreating the dancer’s movements.

“We focused on the ballet shoes themselves, which through the contact with the ground, and thanks to Lilypad Arduino technology, record the pressure and movement of the dancer’s feet and send a signal to an electronic device. A special application will then allow us to show this data graphically and even customize it to suit each user, through the different functions of this app. The user can then view all the moves made in video format, extract images and even print them.”

Many people desire to capture the beauty of physical movement in art. Heather Hansen’s “Emptied Gestures”, previously covered on Beautiful/Decay, also seeks to document the movements of the artist’s body as she lies on a huge sheet of paper and holds charcoal in her hands, tracing her choreographed performance. “Electronic Traces,” however, is more than an artist’s tool.

“Dancers can interpret their own movements and correct them or compare them with the movements of other dancers, as graphs created with motion may be the same or different depending on the type of movements executed and the correction of the steps and body position.

This is a project that can be extrapolated to other dance disciplines and the applications are multiple, from self- learning or dance classes to the graphical representation of live performance.”

Particularly evocative is the subtitle, “Memories of Dance.” Video can film a dance as it occurs; photography can elegantly freeze a particular frame. But like a memory, the sketchy lines of E-Traces capture the movement but lose the specificity of the moment. (Via Juxtapoz)

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Jonty Hurwitz’s Sculptures Are So Small They Can’t Be Seen By The Human Eye

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Size matters. Anamophic artist Jonty Hurwitz’s new sculpture series recreates the smallest human form ever at 20x80x100 microns, or roughly the scale of a human sperm. According to Hurwitz’s website, the size of these sculptures approximately equals the amount your fingernails grow every 5 or 6 hours. These tiny art works are too small to be seen by the naked eye!

We’ve previously covered Hurwitz’s warped sculptures on beautiful/decay, which also used physics to challenge human perception. These new nano sculptures, “Trust”, “Cupid and Psyche: The First Kiss”, and “Intensity”, explore the idea of science vs. legend, myth vs. reality. Created with a ground-breaking 3D printing technology, the work is ultimately created using two photon absorption—art made with Quantum Physics.

“As technology starts to evolve faster than our human perception is able to handle, the line between science and myth becomes blurred.

We live in an era where the impossible has finally come to pass. We have, in our own little way we have become demigods of creation in our physical world…. The nano works that I present to you here represent more that just a feat of science though. They represent the moment in history that we ourselves are able to create a full human form at the same scale as the sperm that creates us in order to facilitate the creation.”

Despite their microscopic size, these are detailed sculptures, with individual feathers in Cupid’s wings and tiny fingers, belly-buttons, and ears. It’s almost impossible to imagine that these realistic, emotive human figures are much smaller than an ant’s eye.

“The absolute fact is this: the human eye is unable to see these sculptures. In your hand all you see is a small mirror with … nothing on it. The only way to perceive these works is on the screen of powerful scanning electron microscope. Can you be sure of its existence if your basic senses are telling you that nothing is there?”

These sculptures were created in collaboration with The Karlsruhe Institute of Technology and the Weitzmann Institute of Science and involved over 10 people as a working team over several months.

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Robots, Superheroes, And Villains Pose For Daniel Picard’s Figure Fantasy

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Superheroes and toys, clever photography and computer magic, familiar figures and surreal scenes—Ottowa photographer Daniel Picard may have found the perfect recipe in his series “Figure Fantasy.” Using items from Hot Toys and Sideshow Collectibles, he sets up scenarios on location and shoots them, making the 6” to 12″ tall toys look like they are full-size.

“Seeing Superman stop a train in danger is quite common, but making him take a selfie while doing it is something new and quite silly and that’s how I try to approach my photos: I take these characters from different books and movies and mix them up and make them do things that we’ve never seen them do before because that’s the freedom I have in using these awesome poseable figures and they’ve truly become the perfect ‘actors’ for my scenes.”

The photos feel like a very well executed glimpse behind the scenes. It turns out that when the cameras are off, even Darth Vader has to pee. Batman is a snitch, the Joker is building his own LEGO Gotham, and the IG-88 Assassin Droid practices yoga on the beach. Picard’s childhood interest in comic books serves him well here. From the very first, impromptu, photo of a robot in a field holding a blue balloon, the images have been funny, sometimes scary, sometimes wistful, and always cool.

“I see places and think of photos, scenes and angles in my head, then [I] come home and sketch things out while looking at my collection to see who could be cool to use and how to pose them.” (Source)

Picard has recently teamed up with Sideshow Collectibles for some as-of-now unannounced projects, using their 12” figures as well as their statues. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook for updates and new photos!

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Sleeping With Color In The New Pantone Hotel

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Belgium just got a whole lot more colorful with the new Pantone Hotel™ opening in Brussels. As a company, Pantone is all about color, with professional color-matching tools for the graphic arts, apparel, home furnishings and interior design, retail paints in partnership with Fine Paints of Europe, as well as an extensive product line based on their iconic color swatches.

The Pantone Hotel™ merges this world of color with an upscale hospitality experience, creating seven color-palettes for the 59 rooms and suites, plus meeting rooms and a rooftop terrace.

“Impeccably designed by Michel Penneman and Olivier Hannaert, The Pantone Hotel™, Brussels showcases the color of emotion with a distinctive hue on each colorous guest floor. From vivid to subdued, for business or leisure, our unique boutique design hotel perfectly suits your savvy palette and colorful imagination.

From a design perspective, The Pantone Hotel™, Brussels is built on an exceptional use of contrast; a white canvas provides clean space for saturated colors to pop. Guest rooms feature unique photography by esteemed Belgian photographer Victor Levy.”

With a choice of large or extra large rooms, staying at the hotel can give you all the minimalistic color thrill with none of the discarding of inappropriately colored objects that you’d have to do at home. You can even acquire your own piece of the Pantone Universe—the concierge sells products from mugs and cups to iPhone and iPad covers. (Via Fast Co. Design. Photos via Pantone)

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