If you’re familiar with the films of David Lynch, then you know the subtle uneasiness that he makes you feel. It doesn’t just stop with movies, as Lynch is also a photographer. Between 1980 and 2000, he shot monochromatic images of factories in Berlin, Poland, New York, New Jersey, and England. The result is a book of photographs titled The Factory Photographs, selections of which are currently on view at The Photographers’ Gallery in London.
It’s clear that the filmmaker’s eye transfers effortlessly between the moving picture and a static one. These landscapes are beautiful, but desolate and haunting; Their moodiness makes them feel as if they are of a different time and dystopian future. “I love industry. Pipes. I love fluid and smoke. I love man-made things. I like to see people hard at work, and I like to see sludge and man-made waste,” Lynch writes in his book.
The photographer practices transcendental meditation, and his penchant for delving into the strange and unconscious part of ourselves is not lost on these photographs. In the exhibit’s press release, Lynch says, “I just like going into strange worlds. A lot more happens when you open yourself up to the work and let yourself act and react to it.” These provocative images invite us to do the same. (Via Fast Company)
Combining fiberglass statues with polyurethane, artist Nick van Woert‘s sculptures are swallowed up and overcome by texture and color. Artificial Neo-Classical statues are covered in multi-colored resin in a way that looks like they’ve been caught in the middle of a downpour. The visual weight of the translucent material (and emphasis on it) is something that’s at the center of van Woert’s work. In an article about him on Sight Unseen, the following is said about his philosophy of making:
Figuratively speaking, the idea is that the world we’ve built for ourselves is only as good as the materials we’ve used to build it — these days, that means all manner of plastics, strange chemicals, and the hollow plaster that replaces stone in the replica statues van Woert repurposes.
In the same article, van Woert’s practice is said to be driven by the mantra “you are what you eat.” Essentially, it’s the idea that we’d replace marble statues of Ancient Greek and Roman figures with cheap fiberglass will eventually catch up with us. The things we make now might not hold up the test of time as marble sculptures have. In his work, van Woert attempts to reconcile what it means to uphold the past visually, but not in terms of raw materials.
Is there any doubt that cats rule the internet? Probably not, and the photographs by Barrere & Simon play into this trend with the cat-themed book Lolchats. Costumed cats depict different personalities and professions, like a painter, beach bum, beauty queen, and diplomat. Perfectly posed and accessorized, these cats are amusing and sassy.
Stories and quotes about and “said by” the cats accompany each portrait in the book. The portraits are enhanced with a little extra information. Katsumi, the rainbow, watermelon-loving cat (above) has the following written about her: “She loves soy milk, maki shaped smileys and Cat’s Eyes. Since her stay in Shibuya last summer, she learned to make the V sign with her feet and always says “meow” in Japanese. ‘Nya!’” Likewise, Vinz, the cat with the guitar and leather jacket says, “He loves strings and shots of Jack Daniels. He hates deworming and new wave. ‘My greatest pride is my grandfather posing on the cover of the first Stray Cats’” (Via Aristide)
Mike Leavitt is already known for his playfully subversive figures that feature and poke fun at other artists, celebrities, and world leaders. In his newest series, Empire Peaks, Leavitt combines famous leaders and innovators with characters from Star Wars. Comprised of 18 figures sculpted out of wood, and each corresponds to one character from the movie franchise. Albert Einstein’s infamous expression is sculpted into R2-D2, while Steve Jobs is his counterpart C-3PO. Michael Jackson plays the part of the adorable Ewoks. US President Barack Obama is Lando Calrissian.
Inspiration for Empire Peaks came from Leavitt’s experience growing up as a Gen-X’r raised by Baby Boomers. With both his parents working, he had to entertain himself, relying on the cheap thrills of television and plastic toys. Describing the series, he writes:
For better or worse, each ‘Empire Peaks’ non-fictional character is complicit in the world order today. We’re all shackled to our past because of endlessly echoing paradigms. David Sirota argues in ‘Back to Our Future’ for a cyclical 30-year regurgitation of politics and culture. I think it’s an inescapable human nature causing regimes to repeat themselves. ‘Empire Peaks’ are meant to reduce modern dynasties to a sci-fi soap opera of objects.
It’s all about gluttony. Serving desires lubricates civilization. Capitalism fills desire and demand. Development expands. Culture thrives. From religious redemption to material objects, mass coveting is the driving force. (Via ARTNAU)
Cambodian-based artist Anida Yoeu Ali conceptualized The Buddhist Bug Project, which sprouted from her fascination of other religions. She was raised in the Muslim faith but is drawn towards the Buddhist religion. Her project attempts to reconcile these two interests. Ali explains:
The Buddhist Bug Project seeks to map a new spiritual and social landscape through its surreal existence amongst ordinary people and everyday environments. The Buddhist Bug (BBug) is a fantastic saffron-colored creature that can span the length of a 30-metre bridge or coil into a small orange ball. Rooted in an autobiographical exploration of identity, the Bug comes from the artist’s own spiritual turmoil between Islam and Buddhism. Set amongst everyday people in ordinary moments, the Bug provokes obvious questions of belonging and displacement.
The Bug’s colorful exterior references robes worn by the Buddhist Monks, while the style of its head piece is modeled after the Islamic Hijab. The travelling project has made its way to Cambodia, where Ali and photographer Masahiro Sugano stage site-specific performances. We see the Bug wrapped around tables, in a boat, up a flight of stairs, and more. Its presence allows for others to interact with it and take part in the project, which is part of Ali’s intent. “…meters and meters of textile act as skin, as a way for the surface of my body to extend into public spaces, and as a metaphoric device for stories to spread across an expanse.” She says. “For me, performance and storytelling become ways of bridging the interior and exterior space of self as well as initiate critical dialogues between communities and institutions. (Via design boom and The Philanthropic Museum)
If you aren’t careful, the video Milkyeyes by Donato Sansone might give you nightmares. The piece describes itself as “A slow and surreal video slideshow of nightmarish, grotesque and apparently static characters.” The video clocks in at just over 2 minutes and features 26 different characters, and is accompanied by music you’d hear in an old, abandoned warehouse or horror film. Some characters have faces that have been mutilated and warped to the point where they are nearly unrecognizable. Milkeyes is a name that conjures an unpleasant visual. So, it’s not surprising that this video is a visceral journey into a world of unfortunate humans. We see steam coming from their heads, stuff bubbling from their lips, and eyes floating of their head. While they are affected, the environment behind them remains static and untouched. The juxtaposition between calm and a surreal chaos makes this video both puzzling and trippy. (Via Artnau)
Believe it or not, these very old drawings of Japanese men farting are not Photoshopped. The images were produced during the Japanese Edo period (1603 – 1868), and they depcit what is called he-gassen or “farting competition.” They show men shooting noxious blasts of gas towards other men, women, and animals (including a cat!). Seemingly, the force of the farts is so great that it the targets turn topsy-turvy when hit.
These drawings are peculiar, and not having a vast knowledge of Japanese culture makes their meaning even more alluring to me. Luckily, the website Naruhodo explains the historical context. They write, “similar drawings were used to ridicule westerners towards the end of the Edo period, with images depicting the westerners blown away by Japanese farts.”
The individual images originally appear on a scroll, which has obviously been sectioned off today. You can view it in its entirety here. It’s funny to think that farts have always been a source of amusement, even across time periods and cultures. (Via Dangerous Minds and Naruhodo)
Like a lot of us, artist Yue Wu uses Instagram. He “likes” things on Instagram, as we’re supposed to, but takes it one step further. Everyday, he turns those “likes” into drawings. Coming full circle, he then Instagrams the drawing and tags it the source photos. This way, you can click through to the originals. He tags this work as #whatilikedtoday.
These quick, black and white ink drawings are a mash up of a day. They vary in subject matter. Some include what you’d expect, like architecture and animals. Others are more bizarre, including one that has a greco-romanesque statue wearing protective eyewear, and a dancing skeleton wearing a top hat and holding a cane.
The concept behind Wu’s drawings is relatively simple, but amusing. It also has me thinking about my own Instagram feed. We spend so much time looking (and sometimes mindlessly liking) photos. Wu’s drawings illustrate what stands out in the deluge of images. What would your #whatilikedtoday look like? (Via Booooooom)