Photographer Julian Feeld’s Cryptic And Visceral Images Of Naked Bodies In The Woods

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The works of Julian Feeld — a Paris-based (but internationally-experienced) photographer — are shrouded in mystery. This particular series, titled La Forêt, is especially cryptic. The images immerse you in a dark, wet forest, and at first you may not be entirely sure what you are seeing — or how you feel about it. Gradually, shapes take form: a naked body lying prone on a rock; human legs splayed open amongst the undergrowth; genitals encroached by moss. Some of the images are beautiful, appealing to that romanticized idea of the “natural” body in tandem with nature; others are dark and disturbing, fragmenting the body into an inhuman shape as if it were just another dead tree lying motionless on the forest floor. What Feeld is doing here is an exercise in perception, capturing us in our own moment of subjective interpretation; we have to make sense of these photos, we have to determine whether we feel “peaceful” or “alarmed,” we have to decide if the bodies are part of what we call “Nature,” or separate from it. The critical beauty of Feeld’s work is that it reveals to us our deeply personal signifying practices.

It goes without saying that Feeld’s images are much different than your typical nude photographs. Speaking to this, Feeld writes: “For La Forêt, I wasn’t interested in taking ‘nudes’ in the classical sense, but rather in creating a sort of chimera, an impossible ‘thing’ using human flesh as the provoking visual element.” The chimera — that mythical hybird with a lion’s head, goat’s body, and serpent’s tail — embodies the sort of categorical ambiguity that Feeld is driving at; the naked bodies in his photographs are so interwoven with the environment that the boundaries defining what is “human,” “nonhuman” (the trees) and inert (the rocks) become obscured. The result is slightly troubling to the imagination, as we so often narcissistically imagine ourselves as separate from the world in which we exist.

The darkness and obscurity of La Forêt comes to a head in its sister film, Le Chien, filmed in collaboration with Feeld’s partner, Mathilde Huron. In the film, a naked man (played by Feeld) scrambles desperately at a dense thicket, panting heavily. Something seems to be barring his entry, but he continues to writhe and push anyways. Feeld explains that this film was inspired by a story told by Huron about her dog, “how she watched it try to dig itself into a giant pile of wood and debris, seeking death, pushing itself into the next world.” Like the photographs, Le Chien troubles the idea of what is “human”: this man is behaving like an animal bent on completing an unknown objective. The audio track is similarly disturbing, in that it sounds like a multiplicity of human voices panting, gasping, and overlapping in different octaves. The result of both La Forêt and Le Chien is an indescribable uncertainty; a visceral, pre-intellectual state wherein we must make meaning — or accept that there is none.

Follow Feeld’s Twitter to keep up with his thought-provoking art. More of La Forêt after the jump. (Via Art Fucks Me)

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Mickey Artworld’s Works Disturb The Psyche By Embodying Fear And Uncertainty

Mickey Artworld - SFX Makeup and Paint Mickey Artworld - SFX Makeup and Paint Mickey Artworld - SFX Makeup and Paint Mickey Artworld - SFX Makeup and Paint

Mickey Artworld is a self-taught French artist who works in SFX makeup, prop design, paint, and sculpture to create highly imaginative characters in the styles of steampunk, science fiction, fantasy, and horror. His project Fragile, featured here, hails from this latter category; emerging out of a twisted mass of what appears to be rock or clay is a hideous creature, what Mickey identifies as a “tortured soul.” Featureless except for a raw, lipless mouth and snarling teeth, the alien-being writhes blindly about, howling in pain (or in some other indescribable, unidentifiable emotion). As it crawls and twists over the rocky mound, its skin appears to crack and crumble off like sand, giving it a corpselike appearance and adding to its expression of living hell. To create this frighteningly realistic piece, Mickey made the mask out of latex and the body a combination of water-based clay and makeup.

Mickey explains that the source of inspiration for Fragile was Silent Hill, the Japanese survival horror video game series known for its creepy, slow-burning aesthetics that disturb the psyche; instead of gore for shock value, imagine eerie, unfamiliar sounds in a dark room and grotesque monsters with strange, mutilated bodies — the types of illogical and horrifying things you would see in a nightmare. Fragile has the same emotional and psychological effects, producing fear through confusion and doubt. In confronting spectators with Fragile‘s macabre scene, Mickey hopes to transport them into “another world, a world of beauty and darkness,” where monsters like this one access the deepest recesses of our subconscious, eliciting complex feelings of both fascination and fear.

Check out Mickey’s website and Facebook page for a stunning collection of his beautiful and stylistically varied work. The photography for Fragile was done by the talented Warped Galerie, whose work will appeal strongly to anyone interested in horror, fantasy, and dark beauty. The model is San Keaton.

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Elena Helfrecht´s Striking Poetic Photographs Of Chilling Horror Scenes

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We have all been haunted by something worrying or had nightmares we just can´t forget. And so has German photographer Elena Helfrecht. She uses her camera as a therapeutic device to overcome her worries, fears and nightmares. After shooting many dark and dramatic photographs exploring the depths of human emotions, Helbrecht has quite the oeuvre of dramatic images. She works with many different narratives, creating a mini story in each frame. Last week we featured her past series Little Stories, this time are focusing on her collection called Nightmares. A bunch of disturbing snapshots, each photograph represents something that has been frightening to Helbrecht at some point.

Scenes of long creepy fingers reaching out of cupboards and from around doors, bodies smeared in blood or wrapped in plastic have such an impact, they will haunt you nearly as much as an actual nightmare. Helbrecht tells us a bit more about her inspiration:

“Nightmares developed from my very beginnings as a photographer and continues to grow. The series shows exactly what it describes: my very own nightmares. The series is a mix of early visions which I used to have as a child (a great fear were creatures coming from my closet and taking me with them for example) and abstract dark emotions and anxieties. By visualizing these thoughts, feelings and visions I get rid of them. Whenever I am inspired and have a picture in my mind I get my camera and pull it out of my head. By visualizing your inner demons you somehow remove their power. It gets less terryfing; you somehow disclose the darkness you previously feared.”

You would think from someone who spends a lot of time expressing horrific and challenging thoughts, that her work would have a heavy severity to it, but the end result is quite different – they are something of a melancholic, sentimental memory, albeit ones often filled with blood.

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Bionic Bodies: Fashion Brand Chromat Scaffolds The Body Using Architectural Theory And Robotics

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Designer Becca McCharen is the creative brain behind Chromat, a NYC fashion label that artfully merges fashion, design, architecture and — more recently — technology. Chromat’s designs are more conceptual than practical, but still beautiful and wearable: steel dresses, caged masks, and coiled skirts are but a few examples from the label’s fascinating repertoire. Driving Chromat’s unique look is McCharen’s background in architectural theory and urban design. During her studies in architecture at the University of Virginia, she became very interested in scaffolding and building exteriors, especially those whose structure or wiring was visible on the outside (Paris’ Centre Pompidou is one such example). Wanting to experiment with art, fashion, and human “architecture,” McCharen moved to NYC in 2010 and began her “structural experiments” for the body. (Source)

Caging, straps, and corset boning have always been integral to Chromat’s work, but for Autumn/Winter 2014, the design company introduced another element into the art/fashion/architecture triad: robotics. Their new line was called Bionic Bodies, inspired by a love story McCharen envisioned between a human and a robot. The result? Bodies scaffolded like bionic arms and exoskeletons, chromed ribcages studded at the seams, and, most strikingly, faces and bras illuminated with blue LEDs. When the lights are off, the cyborg effect of the LEDs is eerily sexy; have a look at Chromat’s runway video above and see for yourself.

What McCharen and the Chromat crew are creating is more than just experiments in fashion and architecture — their work is fascinating from a theoretical perspective, as well. Absorbed in our daily experiences and emotional lives, we forget that we are, in fact, bones wrapped in muscle and flesh, propelling ourselves through space by the miracle of physics. By engineering such structures on the outside of the body, Chromat celebrates such functionality and mechanical perfection. The parallel between structural facades and fashion is interesting, as well, if we understand fashion as a way to construct our identities and shift the way people interact with us. Like the exterior of powerful structures, Chromat’s revolutionary works exude strength, self-assurance, and impermeability — hence the eerie power and unsusceptible beauty of McCharen’s cyborgs.

Check out Chromat’s online store here. VICE conducted a fascinating interview with McCharen about her Bionic Bodies line. For a discussion of Chromat’s upcoming  Spring/Summer 2015 line, read The Glass Magazine’s article.

Credits: A big thank-you to photographer Koury Angelo, who let me share his incredible pictures from the MADE runway show.

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Ben Hopper Transfigures People Into Abstract Sculptures

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Photographer Ben Hopper‘s “Transfiguration” project transforms his subjects into living sculptures. Each photo is charged with kinetic energy, only heightened by the bold streaks of body paint and splatters of white powder.

“Like a mask, the layers of body paint and powder disguise the identity and release something animalistic from within,” Hopper says. “It also creates a sculptor / painting looking figure, more abstract and less human.”

For his subjects, he chose to work with dancers and circus artists whose athleticism and grace enabled them to contort themselves into the surreal shapes needed. Some of the photographs look like cubist paintings because of the contrast between black, white, and human flesh along with the seemingly impossible angles and feats of flexibility performed by the subjects. The body paint looks almost like strokes of charcoal, creating depth while also the illusion of two-dimensionality.

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Fragments From The After Dark: Maxime Ballesteros Captures The Intense And Intimate Moments Of Nightlife

Merle in Black on the Bed

Merle in Black on the Bed

Les yeux dans les yeux

Les yeux dans les yeux

Half-Bride

Half-Bride

First Date

First Date

Maxime Ballesteros is Berlin-based photographer who captures the strange, incidental, and oft-intense encounters that punctuate our late-night sojourns into debauchery, pleasure, and excess. The openness and playfulness of his subjects (many of whom are his friends) denotes a party that has reached a fevered, dissociative pitch. Not unlike the fragmentary memories flickering through the brain after a night of indulgence, his photos always suggest there is a much greater narrative going on: from cars abandoned along a dark roadside, to entangled legs, to people kissing and groping in the company of others, we are privy to only one piece from such nighttime revelry, making us curious voyeurs into a fleeting moment from a stranger’s erotic and/or emotional life.

Something happens to us human creatures after nightfall – our energy changes, an “edge” develops that wasn’t there while the sun was still shining. We become desiring, sensate, and slightly odd night-dwellers. Given the recurring images of heels and garter belts and glimpses into the world of BDSM, it is not surprising that Ballesteros’ repertoire is commonly identified as “provocative” and “sexual.” However, it is important not to reduce his photography to such; Ballesteros expresses that his “work is [only] as provocative and sexual as the world is,” and that we interpret sex in everything because — of course — it’s what “driv[es] us most” (Source). What he also explores is the humor, beauty, pain, and gracelessness that motivate and underwrite these late-night experiences.

The way Ballesteros manages to capture the honesty and frankness of these experiences lies in his photographic techniques. His core tactic, in his own words? To “get lost” (Source), to become invisible in his surroundings while remaining receptive to the energy of the people around him, so that he can decipher people’s facades and understand the true dynamics of an encounter. With his camera, he tries to get in close; he avoids re-cropping so that the image is a true representation of that moment; and he uses a high flash, centering the object or body of interest. The result is raw, stark images that confront you with their candor and intensity. And even when his work dips into the surreal — the latex-clad woman screaming while being pushed down a hallway in a wheelchair, for example — the photos still bear a realist, honest aesthetic, as if they truly could be moments from a strange, semi-lucid night.

Following Ballesteros’ wisdom, I encourage all readers to “get lost” in his website, where he has organized his collections under such intriguing titles as “entre chien et loup” and “love me – i’m trying.” You can read an interview with Sang Blue here. The Corner Berlin also features a fascinating video of Ballesteros comparing the nightlife in Paris to that in Berlin. More of Ballesteros’ work after the jump.

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The Wonderful And Hedonistic World Of Don Pablo Pedro

Don pablo pedro paintingdon pablo pedro paintingdon pablo pedro paintingdon pablo pedro paintingDon Pablo Pedro’s work flutters on the edge of libido insanity. It embodies grotesquely beautiful scroll paintings featuring twisted hermaphrodites in kama sutra type positions, marked with multiple genitalia. Playing tantric wizard, Pedro takes us for a hedonistic ride through all of his rosy, maladjusted conquests. Along the way, we see fine line work and light acrylic washes on muslin. Muslin is the light cottony material used by designers to fit models before cutting a pattern. Here, the artist uses it to attain a flat surface which compliments his precise drawing ability. It seems appropriate, as the artist’s work is easily suited to T-shirts and canvas bags. It holds a pop element near, yet references the old religions of Hinduism and Buddhism.The narrative, taken directly from multi-armed Kali, the Hindu goddess associated with empowerment, shows work that is happily consumed with variations of her likeness. Substituting arms for male and female genitalia, the appendages pile on top one another turning into “third eyes” and “fourth arms”. Newer studies, concentrate on multiple partners more than parts. Also portrayed in hedonistic positions, subjects mimicking, love, lust, faith, and dreams materialize. Comparisons to Surrealism, Japanese scroll work and comic books have been made. There is a Crumb association, but Pedro goes to further lengths. He takes the psychedelic yogi route, opting for freak show characters instead of urban myths. His mysterious subject matter holding true to the power of sexual desire.

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Paco Peregrín’s Photography Transforms High Fashion Models Into “Beautiful Monsters”

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Paco Peregrín is an international photographer who creates experimental characters out of high-fashion images. This particular series is entitled Beautiful Monster, which Peregrín directed with the intention of exploring the effect of makeup on identity:

All photos that integrate Beautiful Monster allude to a very particular concept of beauty (sometimes unusual, alien or even beautifully monstrous), to its ephemeral nature and the passage of time. Naked men and women are on a neutral background where makeup comes great prominence, even avoiding the recognition of the models, thus reflecting on the idea of identity and a proposal for the makeup as a contemporary mask that protects us, on the one hand like a camouflage, [and on] the other helping us to build a super-ego. (Source)

Peregrín’s “Monsters” are fascinating, radiating with acid-bright color and cryptic eroticism. Most often nude, their faces are bound and adorned with rope, tape, paint, and jewels. Something happens when their features are obscured — their expressive bodies appear almost inhuman. In a style best described as hyper-real futurism, the images speak directly to a postmodern society so obsessed with beauty and constructed identities that it slips into beautiful absurdity.

Given that fashion photography is often criticized as being wholly commercialized and thus heavily restricted, Peregrín’s unique style is doubly surprising; he has worked with big names such as Chanel, Diesel, Vogue, and Vanity Fair, but still manages to bring his own creative and unconventional vision into his works. Check out his website for a gallery of his immersive and consistently experimental projects. (Via Art Fucks Me)

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