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Dictaphone Parcel

Dictaphone Parcel is an animation based on a sound recorded with a dictaphone travelling secretly inside a parcel. As the hidden recorder travels through the global mail system, from London to Helsinki, it captures the unexpected. We hear a mixture of abstract sounds, various types of transport and even discussions between the mail workers. The animation visualizes this journey by creating an imaginary documentary. By Lauri Warsta

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4 Hours Solid: Art Center GradMediaDesign Thesis Exhibition

This coming Wednesday and Saturday night, the thesis work from the GradMediaDesign department at Art Center will be on display at the South Campus Wind Tunnel, a former supersonic jet testing facility at 4 HOURS SOLID. On a personal note… I’m in this! Other graduate departments on campus (broadcast, fine art, environmental design, transportation design) will also be on display. The show will feature a very diverse group of work. The early versions of some of the thesis work has even been featured on BD in the past!

4 HOURS SOLID: Work and Ideas from the Graduate School at Art Center College of Design.

First Showing: Wednesday, April 18, 6-10 PM.
Second Shoring: Saturday, April 21, 8-10PM

Wind Tunnel Gallery, South Campus.
Art Center College of Design
950 South Raymond Ave., Pasadena, CA 91105

GradMediaDesign thesis project descriptions after the jump!

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Photographing the Yakuza Crime Family

As part of our ongoing partnership with Feature Shoot, Beautiful/Decay is sharing Greta Rybus’ interview with Photographer Anton Kusters.

Anton Kusters is a Belgium-based photographer specializing in long-term projects. In 2011, he published his first photobook on the Yakuza, the Japanese organized crime families, that he photographed for two years.

Tell us about your Yakuza project.
‘YAKUZA is a personal visual account of the life inside an inaccessible subculture: A traditional Japanese crime family that controls the streets of Kabukicho, in the heart of Tokyo, Japan. Through 10 months of negotiations with the Shinseikai, my brother Malik and I became one of the only Westerners ever to be granted this kind of access to the closed world of Japanese organized crime.

‘With a mix of photography, film, writing and graphic design, I try to share not only their complex relationship to Japanese society, but also the personal struggle of being forced to live in two different worlds at the same time; worlds that often have conflicting morals and values. It turns out not to be a simple black versus white relationship, but most definitely one with many, many, many shades of grey.’

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David Shaw at Feature Inc.

David Shaw, one of the featured geniuses in issue Z, is opening his solo exhibition on april 30th  in the Bowery. its the second of three exhibitions Feature inc. has curated on the theme “psycholoptical”.

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Andrea Hasler’s Sculptures Made Out Of Flesh And Guts

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Installation view Irreducible Complexity/ You and I and Irreducible Complexity/heart

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The sculptural work of Andrea Hasler has always created a dichotomous dynamic – push and pull, revulsion and attraction. The Zurich, Switzerland-born artist (previously featured here) has used her trademark visual medium of sculpted fiber-glass covered with wax to insinuate the human body, with equal parts inference to our insides as well as outsides. 

Her newest work is title Embrace the Base, a commission for Greenham Common in Berkshire, England by New Greenham Arts. The site, which held the longest women’s protest against a site storing nuclear weapons in the early 1980’s, is rich with history and emotion. The larger pieces in Hasler’s commission recall the tents that these women protesters erected in their camp outside of the military base which now serves as a cultural meeting place.

“For the New Greenham Arts Exhibition, I have created a new sculptural body of work that takes Greenham Common’s history as a starting point, particularly with the Women’s Peace Camp with its tents situated on the site during this time. This new work also takes into account the historical perspective. as well as entwines with the recreational aspect of how Greenham Common as a site, is being used now, as well as the New Greenham Art gallery being located in the former American Army’s entertainment quarter. Metaphorically I am taking the notion of the tents which were on site during the Women’s Peace Camp, as the container for emotions, and “humanise” these elements to create emotional surfaces.

Hasler mentions that with Embrace the Base she is taking a political element as a starting point and then involving body politics. In Matriarch and Next of Kin, two tent forms, cloaked in skin-like covering, recall the tents that these protesters erected in the Women’s Peace Camp. While one tent is a full-sized replica, the other scaled down, and as the artist hints, most likely represents a mother and child relationship. Often working with skin as a loaded (and typically, simultaneously literal) metaphor, Hasler says, “It’s almost like I am taking the fabric of the tent, the sort of the nylon element of the tent, and I make the fabric, this skin layer as sort of the container for emotion, or sort of the container to hold emotion, as in the skin holding emotion.”

Embrace the Base is on view now at the Corn Exchange Newbury & New Greenham Arts through April 11th, 2014.

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Henriëtte van ’t Hoog’s Geometric Trompe L’oeil Installations

Henriëtte van’t Hoog’ - Trompe L’oeil

Henriëtte van’t Hoog’ -  Trompe L’oeil Installation

Henriëtte van’t Hoog’ -  Trompe L’oeil Installation

Henriëtte van’t Hoog’ - Installation

Dutch artist Henriëtte van ’t Hoog’s installations look 3D, but are completely flat. She uses trompe l’oeil to give her work depth, designing space in a way so that our eye is fooled. To do so, she uses geometry and specifically placed and angled shapes, sometimes building out of the wall to create more complex structures. In an interview with Visual Discrepancies, van ’t Hoog describes why she makes her work. Not surprisingly, her explanation is light-hearted. She states:

…I have been poking around for a while hoping to make people aware of color and shape, and of non-existing space. In Joint I [above] transformed a little area into something new and unexpected, joking around with color and shape while not knowing where it would lead – just having fun, and working through ways that would perhaps mislead the audience.

van ’t Hoog’s color palette is light and very colorful, at times sickeningly so. She regularly uses day glo yellow and hot pinks, which vibrate against one another in industrial spaces and white walls of a gallery. Her installations are based on believability, meaning they must be precise; She paints crisp lines and plans the angles of extra walls and surfaces so that her work appears 3D at all viewpoints. Even though there is a lot of planning involved, van ’t Hoog wants to make it look effortless. It’s important to her that the viewer see something unexpected. Later with Visual Discrepancies, she says:

…I hope when people step inside this small space and see the play with the flat and the three-dimensional, the play with the perspective and the triangular objects and how a painted piece of paper is disturbing their expectation, together with the strength of the color, that their experience will hit the roof.

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It’s Hard To Believe These Photorealistic Images Are Actually Drawings

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The Singapore-based artist Ivan Hoo creates astounding photorealistic drawings on simple wooden boards; his expert technique cleverly mimics three-dimensionality, tricking the viewer into mistaking pencil-drawn lines and pastel shading with real-life objects. The content of Hoo’s still lifes is often a domestic accident: a spilled wine glass, a broken vase, a cracked egg. The artistic marriage of the seemingly mundane content with the masterly craftsmanship results in an uncanny examination of the everyday, finding radiance and beauty within the routine.

In a household, Hoo’s vivid scenes might inspire slight anxiety or irritation; in one image, a Coke can topples over, drenching the wooden board, which takes the place of a fine wood table. But because these moments of spillage are fictional, and because they require effort in the place of negligence, they elicit marveling admiration. Because these “accidents” require a paradoxical foresight and meticulous attention to detail,, the annoyance of mess is transformed into a celebration of line and color.

Throughout Hoo’s body of work is a consistent element of surprise and delight. A cat pokes his head through an illustrated hole in the wood, transforming the simple plank into a fence, and a seemingly blank wood canvas is shown to be covered in tiny, precisely-rendered water droplets. In photographs of the work, the headphones he wears persistently fall onto his canvas, initially integrating effortlessly into the photorealistic image, blurring the lines between accident and intention, between artist and art piece. Take a look. (via Lost at E Minor)

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Art and Fashion Collide In The Psychedelic Dreamscapes Of Marina Fini

Marina Fini - Photography/Design

Marina Fini - Photography/Design

Marina Fini - Photography/Design

At the intersection of fashion, photography, film, stagecraft, and design, artist Marina Fini creates hallucinatory, alternative worlds. Based in California, she collaborates with friends and artists alike in the staging of these otherworldly scenes, using colorful costumes and her own handmade, plexiglass jewelry to turn her photographic subjects into ethereal cyber goddesses. When asked how she builds these characters, Fini remarked, “there’s something about transforming someone into someone they wouldn’t normally be … that is, creating an extension of themselves that I see in them.” All of her characters exude a captivating power, like the whimsical and intangible figures seen through a psychedelic dream. By exploring alternative selves in familiar contexts – a convenience store, or the Californian seaside, for example – Fini explores how subjecthood is fluid, and how such creative “shape-shifting” can alter they way we perceive our immediate reality.

While beautiful, there are also darker and more satirical elements in Fini’s work; in her own words, there’s something compelling about “juxtaposing what we associate as innocent with something horrific or insane.” In her short film Tree Temple, for example, a group of forest sprites — their faces eerily obscured by their colorful hair — dance feverishly around an altar made of Apple computers. Shortly after destroying the altar in their frenzy, they fade into mourning and death. As this film exemplifies, integrated throughout Fini’s scenes are emblems of our contemporary cyber culture — the Apple logo, wifi symbol, hand cursor, and so on. Speaking to this, Fini says that the use of such icons “specifically pokes fun at our internet-obsessed culture,” thereby producing a playful — and sometimes dark — cultural critique of our digitized existences.

In addition to her photographs and videos, Fini is well-known for her aforementioned jewelry, as seen on many of the models in these photos. In pursuit of new projects, she has recently announced that she will be phasing out her jewelry, but her Etsy shop will remain open until mid-January 2015. If you enjoy immersive art and playful reconfigurations of reality, check out the surreal worlds she has created on her website and Tumblr pages.

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