For those who are not regulars at their local gun club, you might be surprised to know that shooting targets aren’t all the classic bullseye or silhouetted portrait. No, some of them are much more realistic, as the Amsterdam-based magazine Useful Photographyhas pointed out. The publication collects everyday images, and for issue 11 depicts several decades of targets from tens of thousands of shooting ranges in the United States. The results are disturbing, to say the least.
While traditional targets were once anonymous figures, they are now much more lifelike. You’ll find photographs of dictators, women, children, and everyday people pointing a gun back at you. It gives the target a personality, and you can practice your aim and get swept up in the grim, suggested narratives. Some manufacturers have gone too far, and which includes a line of targets called No More Hesitation that featured small children and pregnant women holding guns, and a bleeding “ex-girlfriend” (masquerading as a zombie). Both were pulled off the market.
Erik Kessels publishes the magazine and explains to Fast Company:
We found that shooting targets in the U.S. are getting more and more bizarre with what they show. Our biggest question on the topic was what scares a nation–gunman who hold children ransom or infamous terrorists? In this age of high impact gun crime, are the participants seeking protection or accelerating the violence?”
He goes on to say,
“By taking these images from their original context and putting them together in a magazine we hope that people start to look at them again.”
Sara Angelucci’s intriguing series titled Aviary recalls the past to create strange portraits of birds that are superimposed onto anonymous nineteenth century cartes-de-visite (small, business card sized) photographs. It began by the artist studying the American Victoria area, and she connects its cultural, social, and ecological aspects conceptually to her work.
The nineteenth century was the United States’ colonial era when there was unprecedented expansion, exploration, and an interest in science and art. Family photo albums and commemorating memories were something new, as photography became increasingly common. The collection of cartes-de-visites were like trading cards, and the urge to collect didn’t stop there. People had cabinets of curiosities that included things like taxidermied birds, an interest that lead to the extinction of the passenger pigeon. Angelucci explains in a statement about the work, writing, “Made by combining photographs of endangered or extinct North American birds with anonymous nineteenth century cartes-de-visite portraits—they portray creatures about to become ghosts.”
She goes on to muse:
So how do we read these strange human-birdlike creatures? One could at once see them as manifestations of their time: a hybrid crossover of faith in science with a belief in otherworldly beings. As W. G. Sebald writes in Campo Santo, “[photography is] in essence, after all…nothing but a way of making ghostly apparitions materialize by means of a very dubious magical art.” And, what would it mean to embody another creature: Could one then see, feel, and understand its desire to live? Might we then imagine the Aviary portraits as chimera suspended in a state of empathy, and wonder what our treatment of other sentient beings might be if we could feel what they feel, or see what they see? (Via Observer: Design Observer)
If you’ve ever taken a road trip, you are probably familiar with tourist attractions (also known as tourist traps). Caves are not an uncommon destination for these off-the-highway places, and are often ostentatious with not a lot of intellectual substance. Large-format photographer Austin Irving travelled across America and East Asia photographing these places, which were developed for weary travelers. She titled the series Show Caves.
The caves feature unnatural lighting, revolving doors, public restrooms, and man made design elements. There are penguins, for instance, that line the path of one interior and feels like a disingenuous attempt at showcasing the wonders of the wonders.
There aren’t any crowds in these photos, which allow us to see the attractions clearly. It also showcases the fact that these places are not much different than some place like a suburban shopping mall. (Via Artlog)
Photographer Amelia Bauer’s series Burned Over showcases brilliant spectacles of light with a supernatural twist. The images are inspired by the deeply-infused religious history of the New York region, and the dark forests have an eerie light or haze that is concentrated in a tree or covered clearing. Bauer explains her photographs in an interview with Feature Shoot, stating:
My work is a series of discrete investigations into our cultural conceptions of the natural world. I examine my surroundings, specifically rural Central New York, through a lens of history and mythology. Aesthetic traditions are repositioned to create spaces that exist somewhere between our fears of the uncultivated wild and our romanticism of the ‘virgin’ landscape. In this way I explore the American experience of the frontier — the transitional landscapes at the boundaries of civilization.
In upstate New York, there’s an area called the “burned-over district,” where religious fervor tread through the landscape in the early 19th century. The territory was the birthplace of several early American religious and occult groups like the Shakers and Mormon, as well as the Spiritualists. It’s the Spiritualists who this series is really inspired by, and they believed that Mediums could interact with spirits via seances. They created photographic evidence of these meetings and used gauze, double exposure and darkroom techniques to produce their images. Bauer further explains:
Inspired by these photographs, I set out to make portraits of the landscape that hosted such religious and spiritual pursuits by those early settlers. Working with a pyrotechnics crew, custom fireworks were created specifically for the shoot, and hiked into the forests of rural upstate New York. The photographs that make up the Burned Over series reveal something felt but not seen about these forests, as though the land itself holds a presence we seek to uncover but fear revealing entirely. (Via Feature Shoot)
These surreal landscapes are a series titled Con/struct by South African designer and photographer Justin Plunkett. He compiles imagery into scenes of desolate or forgotten places, where often these structures are the tallest thing on the horizon amongst swirling clouds and dusty streets. They are patched together exteriors of slated roofs, windows, shipping containers with advertisements on them. An artist statement about this series gives insight to these unusual buildings:
Con/Struct is an exploration into the themes of empowerment and imagination. Plunkett, using his own photography, has created new juxtaposed environments that encourage questioning and exploration: inviting the debate around how marketing- induced aspiration and perceived value can empower but can also corrupt, how it can be both perverse and create beauty. At the same time, at the core of his work, he honours and applauds ingenuity and the creative spirit. (Via Colossal)
Photographer Tim Dodd has long loved space, so when he happened to find a vintage Russian high altitude space suit on an auction website, he had to have it. The purchase has definitely been worth it. After owning it six months, he’s worn the suit at least 17 times to photograph himself in the series Everyday Astronaut. It depicts Dodd as an astronaut character that’s doing the everyday activities we all do, like walking the dog, cooking dinner, and grocery shopping, but all with a hilarious (and sometime tragic) twist.
In all of these images, the spacesuit is present. It’s the narrative thread that connects all of the Dodd’s stylishly-shot photographs. The character is an everyman, just going through the day like anyone else, except that he has this special suit. Does it give him super powers? No, but we get the sense that he might think it does, which adds a humorous touch to this series.
It’s impressive at the amount of details that Dodd included in each image. Every photo is an attribution NASA in some way, and some are more obvious than not. Like shopping for tang, watching Apollo 13 on TV, and even down to the bedding, take a look and see if you can spot all of the photographer’s carefully-placed references. (Via Fast Co.Exist)
The charcoal-colored landscapes look like they’ve been under a lot of pressure and are on the edge of collapse. This inspiration came from the industrial rise of Japan, and Iwasaki used satellite images from Google Earth to recreate its old cityscapes. He began forming these sculptures by first soaking towels in ink and then dirtying them to create rags, serving as the base for the delicately-constructed generators and gantry cranes; it’s meant to signify the lands that were leveled in the WWII air raids. These gritty and melancholy scenes depict an era of post-war Japan that is now past, but still recalls the labor and sweat that went into it. (Via JunkCulture, Spoon & Tamago, and Azito Art)
Clubs exist for nearly everything, even things you that wouldn’t expect because they’re so strange. Ursula Sprecher and Andi Cortellini document the off-beat organizations that make it possible for people share their interests.Hats, pigeons, nudity, and Santa Claus are all real clubs that make up the series titled Hobby Buddies.
The photographs are staged portraits featuring a variety of clubs. Each image features the members, either in their costumes or with the items of interest. The coloring and lighting looks dated, and these pictures look like they could be out of a Wes Anderson film. They are quirky, humorous, and endearing, especially when you consider how connecting with people who have the same interests can make someone not feel so alone in this world. And, that’s Sprecher and Cortellini’s point. The images are dedicated to the “joy of pursuing a common cause or shared idea.” (Via It’s Nice That)