Japanese artist Yukinori Yanagi uses a pretty unique technique in his work. For years now, he’s created custom ant farms with colored sand and used the natural lifecycle of ants to manipulate images rendered with the sand. His work using national flags is some of his best. Soviet banners assembled into a pyramid. Japanese Hinomaru fractured by tunneling ants. The strong symbolism inherent in banners and flags lends the work a lot of power. The ants show us that even things that once seemed unshakable are susceptible to decay and eventual ruin, even at the hands of seemingly tiny, insignificant forces. (via)
Los Angeles naive Andrew Hem paints epic, supernatural scenes that use color and movement to create moments of the otherworldly. His paintings are utterly breathtaking and feature a true knowledge of color theory and master a saturation that runs similar to the impressionist works of 19th century Europe. His treatment of flesh and rounded rendering of the human body is reminiscent of an Eastern aesthetic — creating ties with his Cambodian heritage. His vibrant figurative work holds similar notes to the powerful paintings of Dana Schutz; both painters using a pastiche of painterly traditions to create works that are undoubtedly contemporary and unmistakeable their own — their paintings hold no boundaries due to the sheer talent they hold as painters. Hem’s work is alluring and demanding. He brings his viewer around the world, creating works that depict scenes from Asia, South America and the United States. Each piece captures a moment of pause and perhaps, even enlightenment. There is a true essence of ethereal energy within these works. For example, his pieces such as Igloolik, Close to the Edge, Lost and Found and Civic show bodies in motion, unnatural flotation. There is a fairytale like element in his work — like each painting is a new scene within a story about Hem’s fantastical life. Experiencing the work of Hem is like peering into the unknown, maybe witnessing something sacred and hidden from the common eye.
“AMKK is a company developing the experimental creation by Makoto Azuma, a flower artsit, whose subject is flowers and plants. The activities of AMKK aim to increase the existential value of plants by finding out the most mysterious figure only owned by flowers and plants and converting it to the artistic expression.”
Makoto Azuma’s work with plants are really extraordinary. Using plastic and real materials, he crafts furniture, installation, and sculpture with a particular natural, earthy aesthetic. Chairs made out of artificial turf, installations of leaves that seem to endlessly fold into themselves, and human/tree pseudo-mutations are just a few of the things he’s done so far. Azuma also runs an haute couture flower shop (I didn’t know such a thing existed) called Jardins des Fleurs in Tokyo. (via)
In a digital age, some say traditional methods are dead. However, there has been an upsurge in popularity of using old-school techniques to create new things. Fashion designer Greg Climer combines two such mediums, knitting and film, to do just that. He has transformed knitting into a way of displays film stills. By using technology to transfer frames of a film onto knit fabric, he creates a knit scarf that is used the same as a film reel that you can actually watch as a short film. What is so amazing about this project is that Climer is taking film, shifting its properties to knit fabric, and then converting it into film once more. He is ingeniously using modern technology to manipulate different, traditional mediums to create an entirely unique and contemporary finished piece.
How this process works is each frame is reduced in size so that the amount of pixels matches with the amount of stitches. Then, the colors included in the film are decreased to four, since looms can only use up to four yarn colors. Then, the scarf is ready to be knitted! This method is very time consuming, as his test strip took a year and a half to make. However, after watching just a fragment of the resulted film, the outcome is undoubtedly worth it. Greg Climer’s ambitions do not stop at his unbelievably intricate knitted short film project, but extend to creating quilts from scraps of fabric. These quilts range in a wide variety of interesting subjects; one series depicting loved ones of Climer, and another displaying stills of pornography. (via Fastco Design)
The title of Lilly McElroy’s photo series “I Throw Myself at Men” could not be more literal. The photos, taken by her partner in the project, capture her mid-air as she lunges at various men. She throws herself into the air with abandon and trusts that these strangers will catch her. It’s an act of immense bravery captured on film. No, she’s not saving lives or fighting demons, but McElroy is risking rejection and public humiliation in the name of art, and that takes a strength of conviction that I find breathtaking.
Initially, McElroy arranged the photo sessions using Craig’s List, but found that the spontaneity of going to a bar, asking a physically large man to participate by trying to catch her at the very last moment, letting the bartender know what was happening, and then tossing herself in the air resulted in better images. The other bar patrons weren’t in on the project—the sight of the airborne McElroy and the flash of the camera were the signals that something was going on.
“I am, at the moment, part projectile and part foolish romantic. These images are documents of a hopeful and violent gesture, a demand that the possibility of a connection exist. The men often look terrified or at least slightly surprised. My role as aggressor is clear and I think my leaps acknowledge the basic human desire for contact.”
The awkward position of her body, the stoic tension of the male catcher, the illuminated bar scenes—all work together to make a captivating yet uncomfortable tableau. When they’re pictured, it’s the onlookers that make this series for me, though. Outside of the art making they smirk and gape—McElroy’s unexpected grand gesture of connection misunderstood and unappreciated. This spectacle of literally throwing herself at men mimics the small, sad desperations of women figuratively throwing themselves at men. By exaggerating the impulse, McElroy regains the upper hand. It is a supremely feminist performance, one that takes chances but never relinquishes power.
“The photographs, videos, and installations that I produce, while trying to interact, acknowledge the possibility of failure — that someone might not catch me, that a connection might not be made. It is that possibility that keeps things interesting. In the end, I want to make the viewer laugh, but I want them to understand that there is more at stake, that everyone is implicated – including me.”
Our dear friend Jeff over at Booooooom recently launched a cool new interactive project for all his readers- he will be making a viral music video for the band Choir of Young Believers, comprised ENTIRELY of footage submitted by YOU! Get all the details on how to enter here.
I’m pretty into his “idea checklist”:
A-Z Idea Checklist – Feel free to use all or none of these ideas:
a) interpretive dance (i hope some of you go this direction)
b) costumes (elaborate or subtle)
c) sunrise, sunset
d) face paint
e) an open field (corn or otherwise)
g) find all the instruments and perform the song correctly
h) fake everything
i) cinéma vérité (move the camera! go wild!)
j) build elaborate sets (or film it all under a blanket on your bed)
l) literal or magical
m) perform on a rooftop (a building not a car… well its up to you)
n) paper mache
o) temporary tattoos
q) cardboard and duct tape
t) in the mall food court
v) beautiful people or ugly people
w) smoke machine
y) lens flares
I have to say my favorites would have to be a, b, d, l, r, and, quite obviously (everyone knows my penchant for facial hair here), Z!