“Shadow” is a technological and artistic collaboration between design collective Rhizomatiks and dance troupe elevenplay. Featuring a dancer alongside three drones, “Shadow” feels like a cyberpunk performance from the future. It’s a surreal technodream of algorithmic and human elegance.
The strobe lights make the performance almost feel like glitchy stop motion. It also plays with shadow and light, by turns making the dancer’s shadow look larger than life and then, in the next moment, like a doll spinning on top of a music box.
Both Rhizomatiks and elevenplay hail from Japan, where they are a part of a wave of multidisciplinary artists that seek to explore the intersections of man and machine. In an interview with D&AD, Rhizomatiks says,
“We all have passion for and expertise in technical matters, and wanted to use this to set our imagination free across the disciplinary boundaries of design, art and entertainment. We like to challenge existing formats, from interactive to spatial design.” (h/t Laughing Squid)
Emma Powell‘s photo series “In Search of Sleep” is a sequence of snapshots straight out of a semi-lucid dream. To create her photos, Powell uses the cyanotype process and also tints them with tea and wine. The result is a layer of haziness and off-kilter colors that enhance the surreality of her artwork, making them almost seem like paintings of the mind.
“In Search of Sleep recreates this shadowy realm and allows me to explore my real-life questions, from personal dramas to romantic doubts,” Powell says. Her inspiration is also, in part, the bedtime stories her father used to invent, which incorporated real world locations as well as a mysterious “dream-world of caverns, forests, and oceans full of unexpected animals and dangers.”
Powell’s work certainly embodies that sense of searching, longing, and subterranean menaces. In some photos, her dreamer seems very small: standing before a looming labyrinth; marooned on a rock next to an enormous anchor; pausing before the stairs as a large shadow moves behind her.
“In Search of Sleep” almost gives the sensation that as much as the dreamer seeks, she is also being sought. Powell’s photography gives us a sense of a journey, and as mysterious as it is, we can’t be sure if the seeker ever finds what she’s looking for. (h/t I Need a Guide)
Painter Jeff Muhs‘ latest series “Slipstream” features bright smears of color birthed from newsprint chaos. According to a press release, the series tries to bring the viewer to a “crossroad of intention and chance, where color and motion are freed from an objective context and becomes the subject itself.” The result is what feels almost like a vortex of hues that is floating in space, devoid of any real world shape or form.
According to Muhs’s biography, he draws much of his inspiration from the natural world. This influence is clear in the jewel-toned colors he uses and the organic way he allows the shapes to emerge from the background. Though there isn’t anything fabulously new about Muhs’s art, there is a meditative quality to it that makes you pause and take a moment to simply appreciate the colors of his work, much as you might do for a sunset. (via Dark Silence in Suburbia)
Studio DRIFT, an artistic team from the Netherlands, has created lamps that blossom and twirl like flowers. “We’ve always been very fascinated by movements in nature, and this is how we started the project that we call Shylight,” the team says.
Part inspiration from the elegant lines of the natural world and part engineering craftsmanship, Shylight is an immediately captivating and evocative installation. The lamps are made from silk, billowing and swirling as they descend 30 feet (9 meters) from the ceiling. The name Shylight is apt: The lamps’ blossoms open invitingly then close again as they retreat, as though they’ve thought twice about being too forward.
“Shylight is a performative sculpture,” says Studio DRIFT in their short video. “When you enter the space, it becomes kind of a dance that is performed in front of you.”
Though Shylight is by turns an installation, a sculpture, and a dance performance, it’s also interactive in a way. The form and beauty of the piece is immediately accessible to the audience, drawing out an emotional reaction and sense of wonder that might not be otherwise possible. Studio DRIFT says:
“The satisfaction in our work comes from the moment the audience engages with the piece and they forget where they are, who they are, and they discover this new world between nature and technology.” (via This Is Colossal)
Photographer Robert Landau captured stunning rock ‘n’ roll billboards in the late ’60s and ’70s. Primarily inspired by album art, the billboards were massive monuments that took on a life of their own. Reigning over the Sunset Strip, which was at the time the lifeblood of the music industry, the billboards became more than just advertisements. They were physical embodiments of a vibrant scene populated by colorful rock stars and tantalizing music idols.
In an interview with Collectors Weekly, Landau says, “There was a whole scene going on along the Strip, but it was really focused on rock ’n’ roll. The billboards captured all that energy, and also some of the excess of money and drugs.” The billboards themselves were anything but flat; at the time, they were hand painted using specific techniques to ensure they could be read from a distance.
Around the time billboards roamed the streets was also the height of some true album art artistry. “It was a joint process,” Landau says of the intersection of the two, “… in most cases, the musicians had already commissioned amazing artwork for their albums.” The tricky part was then translating the album art from a square sleeve to the more traditional rectangular frame of a billboard. The solution was to add an extra dimension to it, enabling figures and objects to burst out of the picture and become almost 3D in effect. Billboard artists got creative, lighting up 3D lampshades and creating silhouettes that seemed to loom like titans.
“It wasn’t about getting somebody to a cash register to buy something,” Landau says, commenting on the uniqueness of these everyday artworks. “It was about creating an image, and about a trust between the artist and the record companies.”
Even as people bemoan the death of the album, at least there are photos like Landau’s that remind us of a time when music was larger than life.
Micaela Lattanzio creates works of art that go beyond the traditional forms of photography. This collection, called “Frammentazioni,” shatters photos into bits and pieces, enabling Lattanzio to play with space and texture. Her mosaic-esque pieces contain a sort of kinetic energy, suggesting form and movement in a subtle way.
Like other types of art that use human features, it’s hard not to assign emotion to Lattanzio’s work. She literally uses human images as jig saw pieces, evoking a sort of psychological depth that could be read as anxious or even playful.
Some of Lattanzio’s works are use the various pieces of photographs as pixels, rearranging them around each other but maintaining some semblance of the original shape. Other pieces lace together long stripes, looking like the result of two inkjet printers communing (via Hi-Fructose)
Han Xiao‘s portraits show people with garbled faces, expressing themselves with thick swirls of paint instead of a pleading frown. Citing Francis Bacon as a major influence, she channels her inspiration through the tangled emotions and shocks of color in her paintings.
“The major themes I pursue include life, conflict, confrontation of odd shapes in the social environment, and the contradiction behind the reality,” Xiao says. The contradiction she seeks to portray seems to come from within her subjects, their identities marred by some kind of disconnect between their inner and outer selves.
Xiao’s work has been described as having “a kind of loneliness and faint anxiety,” but the sense of violent desperation is offset by the fact that these people seem to want to be heard. The brushstrokes are frenetic and intense, but they are also trying to communicate something — ultimately, they are trying to connect. (via I Need a Guide)
ChloeOstmo‘s photography installation “Falling” is art as an active verb. Ostmo re-inserts the three-dimension quality of falling into what could have been merely a flat series of photos of a woman tumbling down a flight of stairs. The effect is similar to that of glitch art, except wrought in realistic rendering.
“My work is broadly concerned with the negotiation between a three-dimensional original event or object and its two-dimensional copy,” Ostmo says in an artist’s statement. “I am interested in the transformations that occur and their impact upon our perception and understanding of space.”
Ostmo’s installation doesn’t seem to only evoke a different perspective regarding the three-dimensional and two-dimensional; it seems to call up the fact that our attention can only be held by one part of a whole at a time. By breaking up the act of falling into various pieces and smaller photographs, Ostmo’s installation almost mimics the way we parse reality, reducing it into manageable pixels that eventually form the entirety of an event.
“Working predominantly with photography and video, I am interested in the spatial possibilities and generative potential of the photographic print as a complex ‘material’ that has the ability to confront the viewer as an object in the present as much as an image of some past event.”