Documentary photographer Cristina de Middel’s striking new series, This is What Hatred Did, displays a collection of beautifully cinematic photographs that bend the boundary between reality and magic. Her photographs are both playful, yet inherently insightful. The series acts as a photographic narrative of Amos Tutuola’s book, “My Life in the Bush of Ghosts,” a novel loosely based on Yoruba folklore. Written in child’s prose, the book follows a 5 year old Nigerian child whose village was attacked by soldiers, leaving him without his mother, and provoking him to flee in order to avoid the chaos. He manages to find his way into a magical bush where no humans are allowed. The novel follows him for 30 years, during which he achieves many states of being. Tutuola’s book, published in 1964, caused him to flee the country due to a violent reaction, leading him to open a new path for African literature. Cristina de Middel explains the series; she states:
“The series “This Is What Hatred Did” (derived from the mysterious last sentence of the book) aims to provide an illustrated contemporary version of the book, adapting the characters, and ambiance to the current situation of the country. The “Bush” is now the Lagosian neighborhood of Makoko, a floating slum with its own rules, commanded by Kings and community leaders, often the subject of popular media coverage. A place where logic does not prevail and forbidden for those who do not belong. With the conviction that contemporary issues should be described in a way that includes the agent’s traditions, perspectives, fears, and hopes, this series documents the enhanced reality of one of the most iconic places in Nigeria.”
Cristina de Middel, a spanish born artist now living on London, is known for her important, self-published photo book, The Afronauts, 2012.
Metal splashes of water twirling around space. Chinese artist Zheng Lu is suspending his favorite element in the air. He is also imprinting calligraphy letters onto the body of the sculptures for an extraordinary result.
The artist uses a plaster base to carve the shape of the spatters. He laser-cuts the thousand letters on the stainless-steel metal and and heats up the whole structure. This process allows the metal to be distorted and the different parts to be assembled. The rendering are 3 dimensional large-scaled water splashes with intricate traditional calligraphy Chinese letters spread out onto the surface.
Zheng Lu has been fascinated with water explosion since little. And he was introduced during his upbringing to the art of calligraphy. He has been nourishing his passions through his art since he was able to make art. The spatters are extremely detailed. From the voluptuous circular shapes to the micro drops of water, the artist depicts water as close to reality as possible. The sculptures can either be suspended or laid on the floor.
The artist’s pieces are esthetically beautiful. They also are telling a story. The letters he is depicting onto the sculptures are texts inspired by literature and poems. The world of art of Zheng Lu is synonym of harmony. It’s a world where movement and stillness are contrasting concepts yet one cannot survive without the other.
If you distilled all the terror and beauty of the psyche into an image, it would look something like the work of LA-based Kavan the Kid (aka, Kavan Cardoza). As a talented photographer and film director, his work is narrative-driven and surreal, blending literature, myth, and dreams into startlingly lucid visions. There is a kind of ritualism that surrounds his work, a dark magic that transforms tortured and rapturous inner worlds into solemn, physical expressions; faces are smothered, eyes caved in, and skin anointed with paint and blood. Everything takes on a visceral, symbolic meaning that contains the vicissitudes of emotion.
Before taking on photography as a means to express himself, Kavan enrolled in psychology at Boise State University. He dropped out to pursue his art, but his work conveys a keen awareness of and passion for the landscapes of the human mind (Source). Anxiety and melancholia are given shape as faces burn and hands reach from the shadows. Self-awareness illuminates itself in images shrouded in darkness. With creativity and sensitivity, each portrait represents Kavan’s relentless desire to understand and visualize our experiences of the world—and ourselves within it.
Reality and fantasy. Two concepts depicted in Shohei Otomo’s ballpoint drawings. Black and white illustrations blending traditions and the punk spirit of Japanese culture. Through the eyes of the artist, we are taken to the center of the effervescence, Tokyo.
Shohei Otomo unfolds the contradictions and the touching face of Tokyo to the rest of the world. He plays the role of a middle man, channeling key information to both parties, highlighting Japan as an isolated and singular country. He claims people have this clean image of Japanese people owning a calm and patient temper at work and in their personal lives. He is proving that reality is otherwise. His work is targeted to a global crowd. Yet the symbols he uses are meant to report the actuality to foreigners and to act as a satire for his Japanese audience.
His drawings consist of simple characters wearing traditional versus pop items. A girl is posing wearing a kimono with men and women gender symbols. She is wearing a wig decorated with a rose, a love sign, condoms and a mask. A policeman is smoking a joint through a bong. The drawings are hyper-realistic, hand drawn with a ball point. This simple method reveals the talent of the young artist who is also the son of Katsuhri Otomo, creator of Akira, the renown animated cyberpunk thriller movie. (via Booooooom).
Brooklyn based artist, Erik Jones, paints vibrant portraits marrying the female nude with abstraction. His new series, In Colour, juxtaposes traditional figure painting with digital-grafitti-esque mark making. His work is simultaneously inviting and confrontational — we enter the picture plan via recognized moments of breasts, hair, and lips, yet, are then pushed away by bold 2-D elements floating through a seemingly 3-D space (or perhaps, is it the other way around?). His paintings are endless fun for the eye, constantly provoking the viewer to make sense of a nonsensical atmosphere. He states:
“The figures are used as an aesthetic anchor, holding the viewer’s attention to a recognizable form, while exploring colorful, nonrepresentational abstractions. In a way, the figures make the chaos palette-able. I wanted the graphic aesthetic to take on digital qualities and appear to be more naive and childlike in the approach. As if an inexperienced, non-artistic person were exploring a digital drawing program for the first time.”
The “digital drawing” effect mimics contemporary approaches to fashion prints and graphic design, giving off an editorial-like feel. While his work is very playful, it also feels precisely calculated and particular. Jones is able to create a hyper specific effect using a plethora of media, including; watercolor, colored pencil, acrylic, water-soluble wax pastel and water-soluble oil, making sure that each mark he makes is rendered the exact way he intends.
In a database called Photogrammar, Yale has just released 170,000 searchable photos of the Great Depression. Previously stored away in the government archives, these are the unseen images taken by great photographers such as Dorothea Lange, Walker Evans, and Arthur Rothstein, all of whom were assigned by the Farm Security Administration to document the effects of the declining economy on the population. The database consists of a nation-wide map with clickable counties, each one leading to a gallery of snapshots from the region. Using the information from the Lot Number and Classification Tags systems developed by Paul Vanderbilt in 1942, the collection is searchable by photographer, lot number, and subject heading.
The result of Yale’s efforts is a fully interactive and fascinating glimpse into America from 1935 to 1946. Photogrammar tells the story of the Depression as it has never been seen before; from east to west (and including Hawaii and Alaska), we see rural laborers and townsfolk navigating the daily challenges of economic turmoil; there are signs of the oncoming war, as well. Despite being separated by a vast geography, each image is joined by a similar backdrop of hardship, endurance, and recovery.
Click here to explore Photogrammar for yourself. (Via Gizmodo)
Microbes as paint and a petri dish as a canvas. These are the conditions in which biologists and artists collaborated together to create organic and innovative pieces of art. Organized by the American Society for Microbiology (ASM), the ‘Agar Art contest’ called all ASM members to demonstrate by a visual expression of their science the beauty of bacterias. The rendering of the contest led to entertaining designs and for some cases, deeper and profound interpretations.
If we look at the end results on the ASM Facebook page, without knowing the origin of the work, we could have guessed it was achieved by drawing and writing with colored sharpies on a gel texture. It’s astonishing and amazingly well done. The winners, microbiologist Mehmet Berkmen and artist Maria Penil won twice.
First with their ‘Cell to Cell’ design, a symmetrical design in orange and fuchsia colors. The captions explain the colors were obtained by isolating ‘yellow Nesterenkonia, orange Deinococcus and Sphingomonas’. Who knew bacteria existed in such superb tones? The duo also won with ‘Hunger Games’, a 3D skeleton face literally symbolizing life and death. As explained in the description, the main bacteria which forms the textured effect of the eyes, nose and mouth grows in defense to a famine condition within its environment. Death had to be created first to generate life. The examination of the biological world via bacterias not only produced surprising designs, it also created a space for a spiritual introspection. (via Junk Culture).
Photographer Mark Tuschman’s book, Faces of Courage: Intimate Portraits of Women on the Edge, documents women living in high-risk living situations. He photographs moments that encourage an aura of strength, capturing the true resilience women have. Many of these women face potential life threatening situations on a daily basis, such as arranged child marriages, forced pregnancies, domestic violence, human trafficking, and the denial of education. These are situations that often lead to serious mental and physical health issues — most of which are treatable given access to the correct facilities. Tuschman has been able to work in collaboration with NGOs, foundations, and UN agencies with the hopes to help both educate and empower women. His work documents efforts of grassroots organizations providing basic medical care, recovery surgery from injuries caused by young pregnancies, HIV/AIDS treatment, and shelter ensuring safety. These organizations also offer mentoring and educational programs that help women to learn various skills such as family planning, sexual education, as well as skills to help become business owners and gain financial independence.
His photographs capture moments from three continents, spanning between seventeen countries including; India, Bangladesh, Vietnam, Laos, Indonesia, Ghana, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Malawi, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Peru, Ecuador and Trinidad. Mark Tuschman has been an international photographer for over 35 years and has actively been an advocate of global health and human rights for women. His work has received various awards and has been featured during multiple international health conferences. He is hoping to raise additional funds through book sales in order to donate copies to high school libraries with the aim to “inspire a new generation of activists, and to motivate those already working toward equality, to continue empowering women and girls.”