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Takahiro Iwasaki Constructs Elaborate Landscapes From Cloth, Dust, And Human Hair

Takahiro Iwasaki - Cloth, fibers, dust, human hair

Takahiro Iwasaki - Cloth, fibers, dust, human hair

Takahiro Iwasaki - Cloth, fibers, dust, human hair

Artist Takahiro Iwasaki is a master when it comes to constructing elaborate, miniature landscapes. However, these small-scale scenes are not formed from Lego’s, but from much more unlikely and unstable items such as cloth fiber, dust, and human hair. This Japanese artist takes the most miniscule, seemingly insignificant materials and uses them to create something incredibly complex and enchanting. His newest installations, which are part of the series titled Out of Disorder, contain mini-scenes of recognizable landmarks such as Coney Island, ferris wheel and all. Inspired by painted landscapes on Japanese folding screens, Iwasaki comments on his work in relation to its inspiration.

“Just as the artist of the screens did, I would like to revisit a commonplace everyday scene from today’s Japan, and just as the screens embody a smooth flow from one season to the next, I hope to capture, in my work, the graceful transition of a Japanese landscape from past to present.”

Each tree, building, factory, and rollercoaster in Iwasaki’s work are brightly colored and fragile, as many of them are enclosed in a glass case. This glass reveals one of the most captivating elements of the landscapes; the layers of clothing that make up the earth in many of the installations. Each cloth is filled with diverse colors and clashing patterns, revealing a mishmash of layers that resemble section of sediment in the soil. They form the rolling hills and steep slopes that make up the miniature environments. However, not all of the artist’s creations are constructed from recycled cloth, but from toothbrushes, as well. Telephone towers sprout out of Iwasaki’s toothbrush bristles in this strange yet familiar installation. Out of Disorder is on display now at Takahiro Iwasaki’s first solo show Takahiro Iwasaki: In Focus at the Asian Society Museum in New York. (via Spoon & Tamago)

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Maiden Of Ravens: The Dark And Romantic Portraiture Of Sarah Bowman

Sarah-Bowman-Photography-Maiden-Ravens-Annalise-Gothic-Romantic-5Sarah-Bowman-Photography-Maiden-Ravens-Annalise-Gothic-Romantic-2

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Sarah Bowman is a photographer based in Nanaimo, Canada, whose passion for portraiture and surrealist imagery has blossomed into this darkly beautiful series, entitled Maiden of Ravens. Made in collaboration with model/visionary Annalise Silverwolf, these images present a romantic, alternative world, wherein an ethereal goddess-figure stalks through the trees and underbrush. With sticks and grasses adorning her head and her forearms covered with what appears to be gauntlets of blood, she melds beautifully with the ominous environment, invoking the spirit of ravens — those beautiful and dark carrion birds that symbolize both life and death. The model’s pale skin and dark red dress add further to the series’ grimly alluring atmosphere. Sarah has done an excellent job accentuating the green and red tones, which highlight the ghostly and rain-wet beauty of Vancouver Island’s forests and swamps.

When I chatted briefly with Sarah about her photography and future projects, she expressed a burgeoning desire to collaborate with designers in the creation of fine art portraiture, as she is inspired by “whimsical, ethereal, and surreal creations.” As an artist, her utmost goal throughout all of her work is to “please [her] viewers and hope to overachieve their expectations,” while also “collaborating with models and […] mak[ing] them feel beautiful and extraordinary about their talent.” Given the depth, intricacy, and evocative power of Maiden of Ravens, there is no doubt that Sarah has indeed achieved and surpassed her creative and professional objectives. Follow her Facebook page and check out her website to keep up with her work as she continues to collaborate with more designers and models in the creation of surrealist, fine art imagery.

Additional credits: Annalise Silverwolf (model), Christine Boulet (hair).

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Bizarre Posters For A Campaign Against Venereal Disease During World War 2

VD WW2 Campaign VD WW2 Campaign VD WW2 Campaign VD WW2 Campaign

Just in time for Valentine’s Day, we have stumbled across this bizarre series of graphic illustrations warning soldiers against the dangers of Venereal Disease. In a nationwide crusade aimed at changing a whole population’s sexual habits and attitudes, the American government enlisted the help of creative professionals. Artists, designers and ad-men teamed up to create these striking and very frank posters.

At a time when discussion of sexual activity was anything but frank, the VD posters of World War II addressed the topic directly using clinical language, ominous symbolic imagery, and jingoistic slogans to help enlisted men steer clear of sexually transmitted infections. While American sex-ed programs have taken many forms over the last hundred years, the military’s VD campaign left a unique trail of ephemera in its wake, featuring imagery that’s both gorgeous and deeply unsettling. (Source)

Found by Ryan Mungia in the National Archives and the National Library of Medicine, this series of posters caught his eye primarily because of their aesthetic, more so than the unusual subject matter. He describes them as

…reminiscent of film noir or B-movie posters from the ’40s, those pulpy-style poster designs, and they also reminded me of the Works Progress Administration artwork, which I love. (Source)

Using bold shapes and colors, the designs were a success in capturing people’s attention. Plastered all over the walls at bases and training facilities, they were sure to get people talking – during a time when sex, and certainly not sexual diseases, were discussed publicly. After a significant drop in VD by 1945, the need for the poster campaign no longer existed. Even though the campaign was a success, the message had quite shocking undertones. Mungia explains more:

Once I was looking at them as a whole, I started to see certain themes arise. Women are often portrayed in a negative light, and it surprised me how they used Nazi imagery or depictions of Hitler and Mussolini to drive their message home. There’s somewhat of a disparity in them because the posters are very attractive, but their messages are very dark. There’s one in particular of a woman who looks like a skeleton and is walking arm in arm with two Axis leaders, Hitler and Hirohito. I think it’s so interesting that they suggest that the Axis powers were behind venereal disease. (Source) (Via Collector’s Weekly)

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Hinke Schreuders’s Embroidered Works Run The Gamut From Sinister To Playful

embroidered photographs Hinke Schreuders - Design

Hinke Schreuders - Design Hinke Schreuders - Design

Dutch artist Hinke Schreuders creates embroidered works that run the gamut from sinister to playful. Stitching directly on photographs and illustrations, Schreuders creates entirely new artworks by shifting the emphasis and adding pops of color or whole new objects and interactions. She transforms a dreary gray tree to a flowering one with little buds raining down like a curtain of beads. In other photographs, she applies her hand to texturing rivers with pale blue and adding spirals of threading forming fluffy white clouds.

In her previous work, Schreuders has said she wanted to “subtly confuse notions of feminine vulnerability and reinforce the position of embroidery as an artistic medium,” and she certainly continues doing so in her new work. In one piece, a naked woman is posed confidently, outlined with thread and smoking a cigarette. In another, she lends her embroidery to a photo of a woman in a white dress, adding layers and depth and somehow making the subject less passive and more engaged with the world inside the photograph. (via Dark Silence in Suburbia)

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Eugenio Recuenco Recreates Picasso Paintings Through A Contemporary Lens

Eugenio Recuenco

Eugenio Recuenco

Eugenio Recuenco

Eugenio Recuenco

Spanish photographer Eugenio Recuenco has taken the timeless and iconic work of the notorious artist Pablo Picasso and translated it into contemporary photography. He models each photograph in this series after a single Picasso painting, recreating it as a seductive, contemporary photograph. Each painterly photograph is taken in such a way that even these real life women seem to be painted onto a canvas. Having had his hand in commercial and fashion photography, the influence from modern high fashion can be seen. Because Picasso’s work contains such vivid colors and a strongly recognized cubist style, the model’s make-up and clothing are a vital part of what allows the photograph to imitate Picasso’s paintings.

Cubism, the artist’s most famous stylistic period, is achieved by dissecting parts of the subject in the painting, and breaking them down into geometric forms. In this case, the subjects in the photos are women covered in geometric patterns imitating Picasso’s paintings. Recuenco brilliantly achieves this reference to Cubism not only by the women’s clothing, but also by the perfectly placed photo fragments. Several of the photos in this series are altered so that there is an abrupt crop in the image, with extra limbs on the other side. This cleverly recreates Picasso’s ever-popular figures with extra legs, arms, or eyes. Some may say that there are just some things you can do in a painting that you cannot do in a photo. Recuenco proves this wrong with his incredible and imaginative use of make-up to mirror Picasso’s fractured portraits and misplaced facial features. In one photo, an entirely new eye is created, while in another, a sharp, black line dissects a woman’s face. Intelligent and original creativity is of no shortage in this photographer’s unbelievably beautiful series paying homage to a fellow Spanish artist.

Make sure to check out Eugenio Recuenco’s new project, a short film titled “A Second Defeat.”

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Olafur Eliasson’s Somewhere Through The Rainbow

Olafur Eliasson-glass

Olafur Eliassons-stained glass

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Olafur Eliassons-stained glass

Fall down the rabbit hole and take a walk on the wild side in Olafur Eliasson’s world of psychaledic prisms and dreams.  An “Alice in Wonderland” fantasized-like experience of kaleiscope and colorful imagination, testing all your senses.  A magical sight of both light and darkness.

His carefully constructed umbrella of mirrors resemble a mysterious and complicated visual spider’s web.  A beautiful complexity hard to resist visiting and walking through.  Face forward and step.  Look up, look down, to your sides and digest the vivid dream that surrounds you. Relax your eyes and allow light to enter your pupils.  The tunnels he creates are made out of various pieces and sizes of glass.  Walking through must be something like sitting on a rainbow.

Turning around sends you back into the depths of black, as the glass pieces lose their color—showcasing another dimension…. onyx city.  His work encourages you to walk through to the other side.  Standing dead center might feel like a cross road.  A contemplation.  A decision. Should I stay?  Should I go?  Should I continue forward? Should I go back? A moment of mindful reflection stirring up emotion.

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Corinne Vionnet Combines Boring Vacation Photos Into One Ethereal, Ghostly Image

Corinne Vionnet2 series "Photo Opportunities" series "Photo Opportunities" series "Photo Opportunities"

When searching for photos of popular tourist destinations, chances are many of these images look the same. Thanks to the now-ubiquitous camera phone, anyone can snap a photo anywhere. So, of course, it’s no surprise that there’s an endless amount of dull images of places like Los Angeles’ “Hollywood” sign or Rome’s Colosseum. Artist Corinne Vionnet recognized this fact years ago and crafted artworks born from banal vacation  photos. Her series is titled Photo Opportunities, and it uses at least 100 found photos layered digitally to comprise one cohesive image.

In 2005, Vionnet began searching online for pictures of tourist landmarks around the world, and she observed that most snapshots were of the existing, “stereotypical” imagery of that locale. Vantage points, lighting, visual symmetry – it all looks the same.

Photo Opportunities was recently on view at the Danziger Gallery in New York. They describe Vionnet’s pieces, writing:

Working with multiple images of different monuments, she collates around a hundred appropriated photographs for each of her layered, ethereal compositions. Underneath these beautiful ghost visions is a serious concern with how the persistence of formally repeated photographic compositions affects our cultural and historical awareness.

The Impressionist-quality of these images comment on how we experience and reflect on our environment. Even though the photo feels unique to the picture taker, it is all-too-similar and later lost in the digital ether. (Via Gawker)

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E.V. Day’s Tongue And Clam Sculptures Ooze With A Grotesque Eroticism

E.V. Day - Sculpture

Untitled (2005). Abalone, coyote tongue, black mother of pearl, and resin.

E.V. Day - Sculpture

Pearl (2005). Rubber coyote tongue, fresh water pearl, and resin.

E.V. Day - Sculpture

Tongue Tied 5 (2008). Cast rubber, nickel-plated rings and chains, on wood panel. 11 x 12 x 5.5 inches.

E.V. Day - Sculpture

Doublestuff (2004). Clam with mink and raccoon tongue and resin.

E.V. Day is a New York-based installation artist and sculptor who knows how to stimulate the senses while engaging the mind. Recognized for her bold explorations of gender and sexuality, her works ooze with a critically-engaging — and sometimes grotesque — erotic energy. This particular series is an ongoing project that Day began in 2003, and it features intriguing combinations of animal tongues, clamshells, and resin. Drenched and dripping with saliva, muscular tongues extend out of and into open, opalescent clamshells. Some are mounted on walls, with piercings and chains pulling them together; one even incorporates a nylon thong, which has been made to look grossly visceral. Most of the sculptures feature a glistening pearl as a finishing touch.

It goes without saying that the sexual imagery in this series is intensely palpable — the tongues are seen as phallic, and the clamshells and pearls evocative of female genitalia. However, Day’s work goes beyond representing biological sex in a reductionist way, and in fact resists such dualism. As her biography states, her work is aimed at “transform[ing] social stereotypes and playfully illuminat[ing] contradictions of gender roles by re-animating the recognizable into new forms and new meaning” (Source). With tongues and clams, Day has constructed a clever, dark, and almost humorous subversion of the male/female binary by creating abstract hybrid pieces; we identify sexual symbols in her sculptures, but they are fused together, interacting in surprising and unexpected ways that challenge heteronormative representations of sex. The fact that they are animal tongues adds an additional layer of categorical ambiguity and discomfort, but — aside from the initial shock and aversion — the result is a set of artworks that provoke us into reinterpreting the body’s relationship with sex and desire.

Visit Day’s website for a catalogue of her varied and fascinating work. Well-known for her suspended sculptures, other projects include animal skeletons hovering in dynamic poses, and a wedding dress exploding into abstract shards. More tongue-and-clam hybrids after the jump.

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