About Nathaniel Smith

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Mario Zoots’ Modernly Surreal Collages

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Collage inherently involves nothing less than altering existence. By taking found imagery, Mario Zoots makes changes both hand-made and (occasionally) digital to alter the perception of the everyday, and continue their evolution towards new definitions. The Denver, Colorado-based Zoots is on the forefront of the modern collage movement, and was featured in Gestalten’s recent The Age of Collage: Contemporary Collage in Modern Artthe definitive investigation into how collage has become one the most vital forms of current visual expression. Separate from the concerns of any loosely-affiliated movement, Zoots describes his own practice from a more personal perspective, “I would like to think that my work is about tapping into the unconscious and setting up parameters to allow chance to work its magic.”

Typically focusing on the human figure, and often in portraiture genre, Zoots utilizes geometric pattern, layers, and physical manipulations like scratches, drips, and tears to obscure, thereby creating new faces to interpret. In an interview with Monster Children, Zoots describes his attention and focus on the face of his subject, “It’s really about the eyes for me. When I disrupt someone’s gaze, I find some mysterious, surreal quality. It makes you forget who you’re looking at. I try to create collages from dreams. When I dream I know who the people are, but I usually can’t see their faces. There’s a real energy behind that.”

Mario Zoots will take part in the upcoming travelling exhibition INTERNATIONAL WEIRD COLLAGE SHOW (IWCS) at The Invisible Dog in Brooklyn, New York. The 8th Edition of the IWCS opens Saturday April 19, 2014, from 6 to 10pm, and runs through May 11th, 2014. 

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Whimsical Bussiness Cards Of Your Favorite Pop Culture Hero’s And Villains

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Business cards exist as a tangible resource and advertisment for offering one’s trade. Benedetto Papi and Edoardo Satamato of Italian creative agency Invasiona Creativa began to wonder: what jobs would pop culture characters have, and how would their cards look?

Beginning with the idea that these characters (ranging from science fiction to comedy to horror and action films) lost their jobs, how would they rebrand? Although most of the results involve wordplay over any serious retelling of the character’s myth, the results are playful and fun, which seems to be the duo’s motivation.

On their website, the group declares, “A different approach compared to canonical style of advertising agencies: a NERD APPROACH…We will do everything to…give new life to mundane communications, to re-invent social campaigns completely useless, to regain lost contact with the consumer, to open new horizons in the world of apps…” (via mymodernmet)

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Patrice Letarnec’s ‘Head Over Heels’ Photo Series Turns The Human Body Upside Down

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French art director and photographer Patrice Letarnec combines his two talents when he devised this cleverly simplistic photoseries. Having his subjects switch their top and bottom clothes, Letarnec then has them stand on their hands, walking about upside down on their daily routes. Thus the title of the series, Head Over Heels, which is taken quite literally.

The results are subjects which look familiar at first, until a general unease sets in to the missing head, arms which are too long, and legs that are far too short. The orangutan-like subjects are more comedic than disconcerting, another win for Letarnec’s eye (who also deserves a bit of credit for finding subjects who can balance on their hands so well while blindfolded).

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Exhibition Explores Parallels Between Design And Cloud Data

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A recent exhibition in Minneapolis investigates the inherent desire to organize and structure our world, and the ensuing clutter and confusion when we become increasingly influenced by the sprawling technologies we’ve invented to helps us. Eddie PerroteLeanna Perry and Bill Rebholz conceived Scategories as a display to highlight ordered chaos.  “We’ve enabled our minds to perceive more information, decrease our mental clutter and externalize our memories,” reads the press release, which explains why the exhibition feels a bit overrun, offering too much to process, even when the looking is enjoyable.

Each of the artists has one foot firmly planted in the design world, which is perhaps the ideal middle ground to view the changing landscapes of art and design, and how technology is rapidly altering them. The group explains, “Through organizing the brain we present windows into the cerebral wold of structure, chaos, habitual patterns, and seemingly infinite layers of content. It’s these informalities that create vivacious energy, and eccentricities that feed the visual cacophony of information ever gathering within our minds.”

The exhibition itself is presented with this visual cacophony in mind. Colorful, typography-inspired murals covering several walls, while the remaining white-walls are densely covered with 2 and 3-dimensional works. Recurring motifs, such as simplistic cloud shapes, puzzle pieces, mirrors and stairs connect their works; an unplanned phenomenon, which was not surprising considering their shared influences and interests, claims the group. Perrote, Perry and Rebholz even shared a specific color palette for the show, using the same magenta, teal, and yellow paints, both for visual cohesion and “to highlight the gap between colors that exist in reality and the RGB colorspace of computer screens” says Perrote.

At the heart of the exhibition is a paradox, highlighted by the significant gesture that each painting, drawing and screenprint was made by hand. Even in a time when we can create, share and store an unlimited amount of data, the information must still be processed slowly, through our hands, eyes and minds in order to be appreciated, an appreciation which is key to good design.

Scategories is currently on view at The Abstracted Gallery in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The closing reception will be Friday, April 11th, 2014, from 7 to 10 pm.

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Newspaper Headlines Replaced With User Comments Reveals Dark Public Opinions

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Twitter user @TechnicallyRon has spent a fair amount of time creating clever and humorous graphics for his very active account. His recent experiments with taking the format from the Daily Mail (a tabloid-format UK gossip paper) and replacing the newspaper headlines with actual user comments might fall more into a category more darkly revealing than humorous.

While some of the comments veer towards inane internet message board chatter (example, “I don’t know which Kardashian this is.”), the results often head to darker opinions that are better left unsaid, hence their prevalence behind the safety of computer screens (such as the misogynistic comments about women over 50, below).

As this story is still developing, @TechnicallyRon has not made any opinions public about these works, or if the series will continue. (via thepoke).

*Edit. This idea did however lead to web and interactive designer Richard Westenra to create a tool which anyone can use to easily add these comments to headlines (the results of which can be seen at the bottom of the post).

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Before And After Photo Series Captures The Disappearing Face Of New York City Storefronts

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C.B.G.B., Bowery

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Jade Mountain Restaurant, East Village

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Delightful Coffee Shop, Harlem, NYC

Optimo Cigars, Union Square

Optimo Cigars, Union Square

Photographers James and Karla Murray spent ten years documenting New York City’s ever-evolving storefronts, and recently published their decade-long project into the popular book, Store Front: The Disappearing Face of New York. Of the project, the photographers say, “STORE FRONT provides an irreplaceable window to the rich cultural experience of New York City as seen through its neighborhood shops.”

The strength of the series is found in it’s wide-lens, capturing a time when opening a small business in New York was actually a viable option, and comparing that to the gentrified and corporatized Manhattan of today. This can be seen in vivid and stark contrast in photos like the Delightful Coffee Shop in Harlem being replaced by a ubiquitous Dunkin’ Donuts (above). Many of storefronts shows lost clients due to the ever-increasing rent, business which remain empty today, which has a depressing, darkening effect on the people who still remain in the community. James Murray says of the idea behind the series, “until you place them side-by-side and really look at the two photos, you cannot get the true sense of loss experienced by the neighborhood.”

More images from the series can be seen at their Facebook page. (via mashable)

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Photos Of Heavy Metal Guys With Their Cats Shows The Soft Side Of Metal’s Darkness

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Cats often get a bad reputation because of their strange, idiosyncratic ways and moody temperaments, but are nowhere near as misunderstood and misjudged as the metal music community. A new book, Metal Cats by Alexandra Crockett, looks to change both of these stereotypes simultaneously, and show both Metalheads and feline’s cuddly sides.

From a feature on Bored Panda“The people posing in these photos represent bands with names that are anything but cuddly – Napalm Death, Cattle Decapitation, Murder Construct, Skeletonwitch and Lightning Swords Of Death. But despite these fearsome band names and their black leather, spikes, tattoos and muscles, it’s clear that they share a close relationship with their loveable animals just like the rest of us.”

The musicians featured are also playing a series of benefit concerts at four cities along the United States’ west coast, with proceeds (as well as a portion of the book’s sales) going to no-kill animal shelters at each respective city visited. (via boredpanda)

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Jorge Rodríguez-Gerada’s Portraits Are So Massive They Can Be Seen From Google Earth

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Jorge Rodríguez-Gerada is known for his culture-jamming renegade advertising disruptions, and even more so for his large-scale charcoal portraits of local residents on the buildings in their neighborhoods (previously featured here). But his newer works have gotten bigger, so large many of them can be seen from Google Earth.

“Working at very large scales becomes a personal challenge but it also allows me to bring attention to important social issues, the size of the piece is intrinsic to the value of its message,” says the Cuban American artist. “Creativity is always applied in order to define an intervention made only with local materials, with no environmental impact, that works in harmony with the location.”

Works like WISH (above) took several years to complete, and involve a time-consuming process which begins by using a plotted grid system and only recently available Topcon GPS technology to map the area. 30,000 wooden stakes were applied as markers to an open area in Belfast, Northern Ireland’s Titanic Quarter shipyards, resulting in a portrait drawn by volunteers using nearly 8 million pounds of sand, rock and soil. The massive scale of the project is balanced by the delicacy of its subject, an anonymous local girl Rodríguez-Gerada met while planning the project (via blog4uuntitled).

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