In the photographic series Processed Views, valleys of Fruit Loops surround a lake of milk, while marshmallows create a hazy, pillowy landscape. Shot as a collaboration between Barbara Ciurej and Lindsay Lochman, the photographs interpret the frontier of industrial food production as the line between science and nature grows thin. In a statement about the work, the pair writes, “As we move further away from the natural sources of our food, we head into uncharted territory replete with unintended consequences for the environment and for our health.”
These photographs are simultaneously appealing and disgusting. Ciurej and Lochman have set the scene and produced grandiose, often idyllic looking landscapes that mimic splendor you’d find in the natural world. However, when you remember that these a mixture of real food and unpronounceable chemicals additives, it’s hard to find them as attractive. The crashing waves of syrupy sticky Coca-Cola is not somewhere that I’d like to visit.
The style of Processed Views references the work of Carleton Watkins (1829-1916). He is famous for his photographs of the American West, framing it as a land of endless possibilities. Ciurej and Lochman go on to write about the photographer, who was commissioned by the corporate interests of the day including the railroad, milling, and mining industries. “Watkins embodied the commonly held 19th century view of Manifest Destiny – the inevitability of America’s bountiful land, justifiably utilized and consumed by it’s citizens,” they write. Now seen as the land of excess, the series is a metaphor for the manifest destiny of processed foods. (Via Makezine)
In her recent series I Don’t Know The Names of Flowers, photographer Kristina Knipe examines her struggle with self-harm by documenting the marks and personal effects associated with the trials of others similarly suffering. Through the vulnerability of her subjects– some of whom she knew and others whom she found over Craigslist– the artist reveals a richly specific portrait of her own injury.
Inspired in part by the work of Alessandra Sanguinetti, Knipe situates her subjects within a decidedly natural world. Against a backdrop of wildflowers and floral patterned sofas, her portraits courageously reveal a tension between the beatific organic landscape and the angled, mechanical patterns of scarred and restitched flesh. The title of the work amplifies this sense of alienation, laying bare the tragically unfulfilled desire to connect with the simple purity of a budding rose.
Gently evoking poignant feelings of nostalgia and loss, this notion of innocence and corruptibility is explored further by Knipe’s expertly uncomfortable use of childlike imagery. In Andrew’s Dress, she presents a tiny article of clothing that for a grown man serves an unknowable purpose; as it wavers in the wind, viewers are forced to confront permanent blood stains. Similarly, a Raggedy Ann doll splays herself almost obscenely in a bed, revealing the words I Love You carved into her chest in red. For a particularly devastating image, Knipe shoots a page in a journal, revealing the terrifyingly pained visage of a girl scribbled in crude and childish lines.
Amidst this haunting sense of innocence lost, Knipe’s sprinkles her photographs generously with a dangerous sense of addictive ecstasy. Her photographs are decadent, richly colored and tonally mesmerizing. Scarred flesh is gleaming and sensual, and a beer can explodes orgiastically over a blissful subject. With relentless passion, Knipe invites viewers into a private world, colored by highs and lows that are equally difficult to navigate. (via Feature Shoot and Tischtography)
Beautiful/Decay has partnered with premiere website building platform Made With Color to bring you some of the most exciting contemporary artists working today. Made With Color allows you to create a sleek mobile/tablet optimized website that is easy to use with just a few clicks and no coding involved. This week we bring you the works of Arizona based artist Kristin Bauer.
Kristin Bauer wants you to not only read her artworks visually but literally as well. Working in a wide array of media from neon to assemblage to painting, Bauer combines and mixes high and low iconography, imagery, and texts that will make you play a mental game of connect the dots. Unlike most stories however, Bauer’s works aren’t supposed to have a beginning, middle, and end – leaving the viewer to fill in the blanks between her references to anything from Renaissance sculpture to Jayne Mansfield, Shakespeare to Spielberg films, The Great Gatsby to Cheap Trick.
About her work she states:
I am influenced and inspired by the nature of how humanity derives meaning when presented with the combination of word and image. Our culture is highly visual, and rises and falls with the crests and waves of marketing and propaganda. I draw from my background in Masters studies of Psychology and Therapy practices and my related interests in Social Influence Theory as well as my love of music, film, classical literature and pop culture.
While some of my art seems socio-politically subversive, I do not have a concrete message with the work. Rather, what I am after is the dialogue and internal response of viewers that arise from how they put together visual and written information.
Camilo José Vergara’s 40-year project, “Tracking Time,” chronicles urban transformation in some of the poorest and most segregated communities in the Northeastern United States. In Camden, New Jersey, one of the poorest cities he regularly visits during his documentation, he captures what he calls “Paired Houses”: two dwellings that share a wall, one of them occupied, the other empty. Because each dwelling is part of the same building, Vergara is able to capture the stark contrast between deteriorated and maintained habitats, reflecting the declining state of Camden’s housing market. For some of the photographs, Vergara returns to a building he’s previously documented in order to chronicle the absence of formerly dilapidated buildings.
In his photo essay for Slate, Vergara writes,”If a resident of a middle-class neighborhood dies or moves to a nursing home, or if a dwelling burns, the empty house is usually guarded or secured by the owner’s family. The police keep an eye out for it. Neighbors, well-aware of the impact of a deteriorating eyesore on property values, alert city officials whenever they see a house falling into disrepair. The situation is quickly brought under control.
It’s different in a crumbling inner city like Camden. Even Walt Whitman’s old house at 328 Mickle St.—the only home he ever owned—was by the 1980s adjacent to a vacant three-story dwelling and just two houses away from a ruin. House values in Camden are low and likely to remain so since the population of the city is declining, unemployment is high, and there is little new demand for houses. The number of vacant houses is likely to increase; many will eventually be acquired by the city, which is too poor either to board them up or to demolish them.”
Photo retouching, specifically in magazines, permeates our culture and projects unhealthy and unattainable body image ideals. Writer and illustrator Jen Lewis has her own take on this controversial topic and sends Disney Princesses through the proverbial ringer by exposing what work they’ve had done. Like other individuals and news organizations before her, Lewis shares both the “unaltered image” and the drastically manipulated final in her series that’s touted as “Disney Princesses that Disney didn’t want you to see.“
This is series is all fictitious, of course (especially when you see Pocahontas’ transformation), but the satirized images are a witty way to get back at Disney for promoting princesses over real people and perpetuating gender stereotypes towards people at a very young and impressionable age. (Via Lost At E Minor and Buzzfeed)
Christopher Bauder‘s Polygon Playgound is a digital heaven .The piece serves as a large scale interactive lounge object, as it offers room for up to 40 people at a time to sit or walk and explore the multifaceted surfaces. Bauder’s interactive piece incorporates 3D surface projections and a sensory system that detects people’s positions and proximity.
The visual appearance of the digital landscape is in constant flux, as the animations on the surface are continuously changing with the constant physical movement and presence of its visitors. For instance, running across the top of the structure may cause the animations to highlight the participant’s footsteps.The animations are ever changing; some of the motifs that are projected on the piece include: grids, orbs or color that can be ‘kicked’ around, and various abstract color forms. (via Art and Electronic Media)
Amidst the violence and chaos ravaging parts of her native Lebanon, the photographer Rania Matar does not aim to make sweeping political statements about the Middle East; with her complimentary bodies of work titled Ordinary Lives and What Remains (now on display at Houston’s Bank of America Center), she hopes to capture the resilience of the human spirit. Fighting the photographic and documentary urge to re-victimize survivors of war, she offers a more nuanced picture of the lives of Lebanese women and children.
Much of Matar’s work explores global representations of femininity—in a recent monograph, she published images of adolescent girls inhabiting a space between freedom and familial responsibility, the childhood bedroom— and in Ordinary Lives, the artist’s powerful sensitivities color the otherwise bleak black and white war-torn landscape. In “Broken Mirror,” a young woman meticulously adjusts her veil before a shattered mirror, her perception of self seen as fractured by her environment but preserved within her emotional core. Similarly, “Dead Mother” captures the veiling process as a ritual connecting female youth to a monolithic photograph of the matriarch, an undercurrent of modern political and social debate serving as a relentless backdrop.
What Remains operates as an arguably less subjective series of architectural photographs, documenting the aftermath of 2006’s war between Israel and Hezbollah. The series separates itself from Ordinary Lives in its deliberate use of color; the bright blues and yellows read like surrogates for the displaced families that once inhabited the violated spaces, offering a powerful tonal continuation of the striking and complexly seen human spirit captured in Ordinary Lives. Where we once viewed children, embracing the walls in rich gray tones, we are offered a Winnie the Pooh wall hanging, daydreaming beside an empty closet. Take a look.
Artist Jennifer Trask counts bone as one of the media used in her elaborate sculptures. Bending, carving, and gilding, she constructs bouquets of antlers, gold, and other found objects, some dating as far back as the 18th century. There is a certain level of awe that comes from viewing these labored works as Trasks crafts delicate flowers out of material that we only know as being stiff and obtuse. She emphasizes craft, while at the same time making things ghostly realistic. Her work is described by the Lisa Sette Gallery as having “sprouted from an enchanted seed… Trask’s objects emit an unmistakable air of magic.”
The process is undoubtedly important to her work. In order to manipulate her carved-bone works, she must know how and in what deer antlers need to be cured, and what kind of solution of vinegar will soak a python’s rib to make it easily malleable. Despite this knowledge, her goal for her work is much more simple than that. She states, “That’s what I’m trying to claim when I go into the studio. I want to make something that I believe could be real, something that could have happened on its own.”