William Mortensen’s Photographs Of Witchcraft And Debauchery From The 1920’s Were Ahead Of Their Time

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Photographer William Mortensen (1897-1965) was known throughout his life as someone who took pictures of Hollywood Stars. These were during the 1920s and depicted celluloid figures in a pictorialist romantic style. In his spare time, Mortensen would create images featuring semi-nude women engaged in various acts of witchcraft and debauchery.  Mortensen’s practice of creating elaborately staged scenes and technical effects were ahead of their time. They set certain standards and became popular trends in fine art photography still valid today.

By using different elements in his pictures, Mortensen also turns these unique creations into storyboards filled with narrative. There’s movement and action in these stills which add to their beauty.

Despite the apparent influence, Mortensen would have great debates with Anselm Adams, the great naturalist who would call him a heretic and the anti-Christ. Funny be known now and probably back then too that the anti-Christ would always be much more interesting a subject to ponder in the realm of ideas.

The exhibit, curated by Stephen Romano at the Museum of Morbid Anatomy in Brooklyn, NY focuses on a series called “A Pictorial Compendium of Witchcraft.” The exhibit “Opus Hypnagogia : sacred spaces of the visionary and vernacular.” is a curated collection from The Museum of Everything, London.

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Michael Zelehoski Challenges Our Perception Of 2D And 3D Objects To Find Deeper Meaning

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The geometry of perception is a concept Michael Zelehoski touches on. His work plays tricks with your eye challenging the part of your brain that processes three dimensional forms. What it soon discovers is that Zelehoski is presenting an idea to challenge your notion of a two dimensional object. Not so much an optical illusion as a different way of looking at things, Zelehoski uses common, mostly found structural debris to explore his ideas. Some of the objects he has painted include a twisted police barrier, a pile of wooden planks and the skeletal remains of wooden platforms. He recently created a three dimensional piece depicting a fallen electric tower. The structure was laid out flat on the gallery floor similar to how his paintings look. When shown next to his canvases, it was hard to tell which was real and which was a painting. This further challenges our notion of what is and what should be. It explores ideas which give insight into how perception affects our everyday reality and also tells us we should not take things only at face value.

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Robbie Rowlands Rips Apart Decaying Buildings To Create Spiraling Wooden Sculptures That Look As If They Are Coming To Life

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In Robbie Rowlands latest body of work Interventions he looks at the nature of decay. During a residency in Detroit, Michigan he came across several abandoned houses which he ‘refurbished’ by ripping out certain sections and creating track-like extensions which seemed to break free and come alive. The idea behind this was to take a rundown or burnt out structure and bring it back to life, even if that only meant in a metaphorical sense. Rowlands’ narrative addresses invisible or inanimate objects such as walls or floors which only begin to get our attention when they start deteriorating or breaking down. Rowlands uses this as a jumping off point to examine ideas of form, rebirth and transformation. The majority of pieces look similar to wooden roller coaster tracks gone haywire breaking free of their static restraints and possessing a unique beauty. In others, especially those “ripped” from the floor inhabit insect qualities which might just be mistaken for an alien life form in the right light.
Various projects have taken the Melbourne native to different locations around the globe both in his native Australia and abroad. Rowlands’ older work has been featured on Beautful/Decay and can be viewed here.

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Nona Faustine’s Powerful Nude Photographs Expose NYC Locations Connected To The Slave Trade

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Nona Faustine’s powerful imagery looks back to a time of slavery that exposes locations around NYC where humans were once bought and sold in the slave trade.  Entitled “White Shoes”, Faustine photographed herself completely nude except for a pair of white shoes in areas where much of this illicit activity took place. On Manhattan island, this includes a busy street on Wall Street and the steps of City Hall. In the photographs, Faustine stood atop a box on the Financial Street, as if she were back in a slave market and then walked up the steps of City Hall built over an African burial ground. Her visuals speak volumes to the viewer as we can only envision someone like her in that detestable situation.
Some of the more powerful shots of “White Shoes” find the artist passed out in the water near rocks on a beach and atop three gravestones in Brooklyn. Her courage to use herself rather than a model is exemplary in that it shows her genuine interest in having a direct connection with the narrative. Along with the photographs, she uses quotes which mimic passages from the Declaration of Independence and other human rights documents. Slave trading was legal in New York for almost 200 years. It began in 1626 with the Dutch West India Company and ended in 1827 with the help of slave advocacy group the New York Manumission Society.
Nona Faustine is a 2013 MFA graduate of Bard college. Her work delves into gender politics, folklore and how the past affects the present and future. (via blackgirllonghair)

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Ben Krasnow Shows Us What A Record Player Needle Does Under An Electron Microscope

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Applied Science wiz Ben Krasnow conducted a series of tests to capture how information is disseminated on vinyl record, dvd, and cd rom. What he found was that the grooves of each device is shaped differently sending out unique signals. In the vinyl study Krasnow added a metallic surface to pieces of the waxy substance and allowed the electron microscope to pick up and photograph the action. In a magnified state vinyl looks similar to a used paper towel. The movement is recorded at 1/400th of actual speed. Under the magnification the needle looked like a pencil making arrow marks.The friction created over the tiny shapes is eventually translated into sound.

With a DVD Krasnow split apart the disc to locate the coded aluminum material. This was seen under the microscope as little dashes similar to morse code. In order to make gifs the scientist then took the material and downloaded it into photoshop. These resembled old super 8 movies.

Krasnow currently works at Google. He is best known for inventing keyboards, mice and joysticks for MRI machines. He sold these to academic institutions who in turn wrote about their use in science journals. (via demilked)

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Morehshin Allahyari Fights The Systematic Looting And Destroying Of Artifacts By ISIS With 3D Printing

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The artist Morehshin Allahyari has made a series called “Material Speculation ISIS” which are replicas of artworks destroyed by the Jihad extremist group. In a coo which recalls Nazi Germany and other Facist regimes ISIS has been systematically looting and destroying precious artifacts in Syria and Iraq.  In response to this, Iranian-born Allahyari has produced a series which stands as a reminder of her culture’s history. Artwork serves as a link to a nation’s past. The ideas reflected in Allahyari’s work include that by taking over a nation you also destroy their history. The act by ISIS shows that art and artifacts are still seen as strong examples of ideas which can sway a nation. ISIS firmly rejects idolatry and is one of the reasons so many statues are being destroyed.
Allahyari’s pieces are produced using a 3D printing technique combined with plastic and each have a usb drive inserted. The usb carries all important information about the original piece and whether it was looted or destroyed. The artist sees this as an attempt at activism combined with archival importance. The pieces are beautiful replicas done with much care and meaning. Most are miniature versions of the original and possess a delicate vulnerability.
3D printing is a relatively new technique which takes a photographic image and prints it according to 3D standards. It is a breakthrough technology for many artists who see it as another way to execute drawings and sculpture effectively.

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Antic Staatsoper’s Renaissance Inspired Photo Series Examines Man’s Desire

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Antic staatsoper makes photographs which reference old religious renaissance paintings. These include themes about love, lust, faith, shame, and betrayal. The pictures created are striking and controversial. The nude and partially nude models are manipulated in such a way that they transform into more painterly forms. Staatsoper uses a technique which blurs the image to produce a hazy mind altering effect. The overall results are violently striking images which bring age old stories to light. The idea of carnal desire is present but not only in a sexual sense. There’s also the notion of an abnormal attraction to food and drugs. And a desire for power. The artist talks about our current state of spirituality which seems compromised from the old way of thinking. This is an astute conclusion as more earthly ways have come to define us and become more prevalent in “current religions”. Still, we are aware of a higher power whether imagined or real it surrounds us with the question of why am I here and for what reason? In that sense, Staatsoper captures the uncertainty we feel in extreme situations which usually define us. From an aesthetic viewpoint the work is powerfully done in its moving and raw depiction of circumstance. Using figures seemingly pulled from greek tragedy we see them in a modern light tracing our historical significance.

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Photographer Captures Incredible Displays Of Light Created By Glow Worms In New Zealand Caves

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Perhaps one of the more curious photo projects to surface recently is the glow worm pictures from Joe Michael. He photographed the insect in its natural environment on million year old limestone caves in New Zealand. The bioluminescent effect on the viewer is mystical and shows the perfect combination of scientific documentation and aesthetic beauty. Very Lord Of the Rings or Elfish, the glow worms allow you to see the caves in a different way. Because of their unique structure the insects project a nature consciously created by a higher design and you begin wondering for what purpose? In the meantime we can enjoy the spectacle they have become. Their green light projects an unusual glow reminiscent of constellations and lighthouses seen off into the distance on a foggy night. It also hints at infrared paranormal activity.

The worms vary in size attesting to the irregular light structure captured in the caves which provides further awe to their curiosity. In some Larvae species the adult female will glow to attract males during mating season. In others the light is used as a warning signal to predators or to lure prey.

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