Yugoslavian Bernharda Xilko‘s illustrations are stark nightmares packed with active nudes and foreboding giants exploring unfolding landscapes and black-eyed lovers. Xilko’s sexually charged figures climb scaffolding, push open folding screens, and confront over-sized replicas in barren mountain ranges where platforms unstably rest. There always seems to be a sense of teamwork, but it is teamwork that is either ignorant of the task’s ultimate result or work that feels intentionally ominous. When clothing is adorned it often feels as if it is from the decades of black and white television which provides a conceptual link for the lack of color, and the garbs warn feel blue-collar and commonplace, making these figure’s lives and mission feel almost ant-like in its diligence and insignificance. The work shares the vibe that the Twilight Zone often evokes but in a more grotesque and explicit manner.
Bernharda is also a co-founder of NOVO DOBA, an annual Belgrade comix and underground culture festival that shares his aesthetic of dark worlds. You can also see more of his work here.
Kamolpan Chotvichai explores the limitations of paper by carefully hand-cutting portraits of herself and rendering an effect of dissolution based on the Buddha’s teaching on anatta (no self). Parts of Chotvichai’s human form appear warped and melted, almost glitchy, as if they are about to disintegrate; the artist’s careful attention to the direction and shape of her cuts produces an elegant illusory effect. Chotvichai explains,
One’s adhering to something can cause the greatest misery in life especially being attached to self-existing. The idea of this self-existing is actually self-formed and leads to variety of emotions. The temper, the mind and the body altogether gradually form the idea of being alive but when putting into consideration, without any substance, it is merely the thought that we think we are existing…The way I create my work is to set consciousness and concentration by slitting and cutting on the portrait of myself which is considered to be the unconditional action of effort and attempt. This action is therefore to destroy and create the emptiness which will lead to the stage of naught.
Chotvichai was born, raised, and educated in Bangkok, where she currently resides. (via my amp goes to 11)
Tanaka Tatsuya has taken it upon himself to make a miniature scene a day, every day for the past four years. The artist uses miniature people to scale the environments he creates and form narratives between the objects. His most successful pieces are his simple ones. One of my personal favourites is the tape as treadmill piece, because it works perfectly and seemingly without effort. Having made so many of the pieces, Tatsuya must now have an eye for the world in small scale. His ability to transform the context of the object while emphasizing its essential qualities is impressive, as with the staples as hurdles or the bed sheet as wavy water.
The artwork provides an interesting way for the viewer to consider their own scale and proportion, and imagine themselves in the absurd scenarios Tatsuya creates. Although most of the scenes are of environments within our own experience, some fantastical ones are interspersed throughout the calendar, making them all the more surprising when set beside an easily recognizable scenario. These are Tatsuya’s more humorous works, an example being the astronauts exploring a field of pistachios that look like boulder sized budding flowers. One that seems to encapsulate all of Tatsuya’s strengths is the Google Maps cantaloupe; simple, funny, absurd, and recognizable, it is one of his most successful pieces yet. (Via Spoon and Tamago)
Portuguese artist Joana Vasconcelos creates a “second skin” for kitschy-looking ceramic figurines. Animals such as dogs, wolves, snakes, and more are concealed in Vasconcelos’ delicately-crocheted coverings, which are reminiscent of a blanket that your grandmother might have worked on. Whatever surface treatment is underneath, the artist’s handiwork is obscured by small-yet-elaborate flowers that fit over her subjects like a glove.
The nature of Vasconcelos’ work is about the decontextualization of everyday objects. Crochet is often seen as a craft, but here she’s removed it from any sort of practical purpose (like providing warmth or being used in the home) and transformed it into an art object. It now occupies two dichotomies, hand-crafted and industrial, in which the former wraps the latter, mass-produced object underneath.
There’s another way to view Vasconcelos’ sculptures, and that’s applying a narrative to them, like they’re characters in a story. In this respect, it’s seems as though she’s creating a protective garment for them and that her subjects are in need of care. The crochet acts as a shell that gives the illusion of protection from the unknown. (Via Fubiz)
Hawaii-based photographer Brigette Bloom uses her own urine to create beautifully distorted images of herself and the Hawaiian nature. Before shooting, Bloom soaks the film canister in a cup of her own pee. The fluid warps portions of the emulsion, what creates colorful amoeba-like spots on each frame.
Bloom’s urine-affected photography series titled “Float On” pays tribute to a spot she and her dog used to visit daily. After her secret desert retreat became discovered by more people, photographer drifted away from the secret refuge, preserving its magical aura only in her unusual artworks and memory. Apart from the title, even Bloom’s dynamic posture in most of the shots points out to that drift.
“I was born in the desert and this was the spot I had spent everyday for the past couple years. It was a truly sacred place to me. <…> As time went on, I started noticing a couple people wandering in the desert. It just felt like it wasn’t our secret refuge anymore. I knew it was time for me to ‘float on’ and find new places. This series is my way of saying thank you to the desert, and a farewell at the same time.”
Bloom discovered this technique by a total accident. She told The Huffington Post she’d accidentally washed her pants with a roll of film inside. Photographer decided to take a shot at developing the film and it turned out the results were unexpectedly good looking. Since then, Bloom has been experimenting with all sorts of liquids: from lemon juice, wine, soapy water, etc. “It’s a process of trial and error. I’ve had many, many rolls of film that didn’t turn out, but it’s all part of the process,” she says. (via Feature Shoot)
Joshua Renouf, a designer based in London, has sleekly blended the morning routines of waking up and making coffee by building an alarm clock that doubles as a barista. The Barisieur uses induction heating produced by stainless steel ball bearings to heat the water before transferring it over to a stainless steel funnel for filtering. There’s even a spot big enough to store just the right amount of milk on the machine. The stainless steel tools paired with nicely finished wood lends the design of the Barisieur an elegance and simplicity. Renouf is currently in the process of developing the Barisieur, which will be available for a retail price of £150-£250 (around $250-$420). Included in the product’s description: “It encourages a ritual before going to sleep, signaling to the body and mind that is time to unwind and relax. Living slow when times are fast.” (via visual news)
Bowling Green’s Jordan Speer creates spacious worlds of clumps and lumps that bring to mind what would’ve occurred if Philip Guston had happened to have access to a 3D modeling program. Jordan starts in a subdivision modeler called Wings 3D where he creates each element of the image, and he then stages them in Cinema 4D, which allows him to apply lighting and various textures. Once the file is complete, he tweaks the image in Adobe Photoshop, prints the image out, and then scans it back into his computer at either a high or low resolution setting. In spite of its heavily digital origin, Speer’s work physically manifests itself in the forms of zines, short-form comics, show posters, and publication covers.
Speer’s isometric view strengthens the image’s technical origins, while his comically gory content and grainy finish give it an organic touch. With the colors of a clown’s wardrobe Speer arranges mysterious peeks into a world where dismemberment and assembly are spontaneous and painless. His vision is uniquely his, sitting somewhere between the fashionably crude renderings of the many artists dabbling in 3D programs, and the professionally-polished films of Dreamworks and Pixar. He just released QCHQ through Space Face Books, a 68-page full-color book, and he created the wrap-around cover image for the eagerly awaited Happiness #4. It’s exciting to think about where Speer will continue to push this unique look, be it into a long-form animation or a graphic novel.
Laurent Gongora creates interventions in nature, and this is his biggest stunt yet. The artist made 24 metal plates and attached them to the façade of a waterfall, the Cascade de Vaucoux in France, to redirect its flow. The name of the project is Les Cascadeurs, which means stuntman in French, and also references cascades, which can mean waterfall. It looks like a much more majestic plinko (that game in The Price is Right where you drop a chip and try to land it in the $10,000 slot). In a video you can see on Gongora’s website, the power of the waterfall is accentuated by the installations as they waver back and forth under the bombardment of water. Gongora’s aesthetic gives the piece even greater impact, as its simplicity allows you to wonder about the logistics of mounting such a piece.
Another artwork that acts similarly to Les Cascadeurs is Le Diamant Noir, where Gongora places a black diamond in the middle of a forest in Pays de Condé, France. The land is a heritage site which used to be a coal mining bassin, and so the diamond represents the interaction between the natural landscape and the mining enterprise. The black diamond was installed over a tree, but the material is a metal with holes all over. Slowly the tree grows out from under the diamond and will theoretically overtake the structure. It is a balance between nature and human intervention, and Gongora demonstrates that each may have an effect on the other. (Via My Modern Met)