Photo retouching, specifically in magazines, permeates our culture and projects unhealthy and unattainable body image ideals. Writer and illustrator Jen Lewis has her own take on this controversial topic and sends Disney Princesses through the proverbial ringer by exposing what work they’ve had done. Like other individuals and news organizations before her, Lewis shares both the “unaltered image” and the drastically manipulated final in her series that’s touted as “Disney Princesses that Disney didn’t want you to see.“
This is series is all fictitious, of course (especially when you see Pocahontas’ transformation), but the satirized images are a witty way to get back at Disney for promoting princesses over real people and perpetuating gender stereotypes towards people at a very young and impressionable age. (Via Lost At E Minor and Buzzfeed)
Artist Jennifer Trask counts bone as one of the media used in her elaborate sculptures. Bending, carving, and gilding, she constructs bouquets of antlers, gold, and other found objects, some dating as far back as the 18th century. There is a certain level of awe that comes from viewing these labored works as Trasks crafts delicate flowers out of material that we only know as being stiff and obtuse. She emphasizes craft, while at the same time making things ghostly realistic. Her work is described by the Lisa Sette Gallery as having “sprouted from an enchanted seed… Trask’s objects emit an unmistakable air of magic.”
The process is undoubtedly important to her work. In order to manipulate her carved-bone works, she must know how and in what deer antlers need to be cured, and what kind of solution of vinegar will soak a python’s rib to make it easily malleable. Despite this knowledge, her goal for her work is much more simple than that. She states, “That’s what I’m trying to claim when I go into the studio. I want to make something that I believe could be real, something that could have happened on its own.”
Artist Ivan Puig likes for his work to surprise and amaze, and two of his series, Fed Up and Artificial Growth do just that. Using a car and chair, respectively, he gives the illusion that these very solid, massive objects have sunken into the ground, as if they are in quicksand. The preciseness of Puig’s work and the fact that he’s cut the chair backs and Volkswagen Beetle at a perfect angle add to the believability of it all. While the artist strives for his work to have humour, he wants the viewer to read it in multiple ways, and glean various metaphors from his playful execution.
His installations are not only meant to delight us, and the sinking chairs in Artificial Growth have a more serious message. This piece comments on educational doctrines and their power structures that are present in Mexico. With this series, he brings to light the idea of the artificial education – like the lies and half truths taught and passed down to students which we only realize are wrong many years later.
Photographer Suzanes Heintz is a self-proclaimed spinster. As a single woman, she got fed up with the bombardment of questions about when she was going to get married. Tired of being pittied, she decided to confront this issue head on. She purchased two mannequins – one male and one female child – and the series Life Once Removed was born. Dressing up and posing with her fake family, she stages witty representations of the American Dream. Ski trips, vacations, and stereotypical romantic moments are all acted out by Heintz, and she sets the scene perfectly. These colorful images feel saturated, in both how they look and the emotional exuberance of the her expression and body language.
Heintz rejects the notion that to be a successful woman means that you have to fulfill a laundry list of achievements, not limited to an education, career, home, family, accomplishment, and enlightenment. In an interview with Feature Shoot, she explains why she created Life Once Removed:
I’m simply trying to get people to open up their minds and quit clinging to antiquated notions of what a successful life looks like. I want people to lighten up on each other and themselves, and embrace their lives for who it has made them, with or without the Mrs., PhD. or Esq. attached.
All of these photographs are shot on location. When Heintz lays her head in mannequin’s husband’s lap while in the park, it’s totally real, and an important aspect to Heintz’s series. She goes on to say:
While I need the public to act as character and context for the actual photo or video, I also need their responses to make the effort a success as an instigator for social change. The reaction can vary from a raised eyebrow with a head turn, to a blast of laughter, to taking their own snapshots while posing with the mannequins. It depends a lot on the location. But most importantly, it stops people in their tracks long enough to ask me what the heck I’m doing. Because the project is so audacious and flat-out funny, it helps me reach the public, and actually get them to let their guard down long enough for me to have a conversation with them. (Via Feature Shoot)
In the age of digital photography and Instagram filters that make things look fakely old, glass artist and photographer Emma Howell uses a technique that is opposite of the easy, fast-paced methods popular today. Not only does she go to painstaking lengths to print an image, but she uses the unconventional surface of glass. Howell crafts hand-blown vessels and prints landscape images on them using the technique of the wet plate collodion – a photographic process that predates the Civil War. The result is a subtle and moody piece that’s a conversation between photography and form. She tells Wired Magazine, “Most people are not able to experience a place that is unaffected by the human presence. So I’m creating a way for others to experience this in a way that’s more than looking at a flat print of the cliché beach we all see and know.” The shape of the glass informs what the image is. A ripple or imperfection is meant to echo waves in the landscapes.
Howell’s pieces are irregularly shaped, so she had to build her own camera to accommodate them. She studied how large format cameras were constructed and sawed a barrel in half to act as the camera’s body. Afterwards, she fashioned a mount that allowed her to attach a traditional lens to the barrel. After six weeks of trial and error, she had a working design and began shooting.
The process of transferring an image to glass is very involved. Howell hikes to remote areas with a miniature chemistry lab and darkroom in tow, working on the fly to mix up photosensitive chemicals, coat glass, expose shots, and develop the image – all in the span of 15 minutes.(Via Wired)
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)