Ray Collins sees waves and water in a way that most people don’t. Luckily for us he also captures it with his camera. Collins acquired his first camera in 2007 and seems to have stayed in the water with it ever since, focused on capturing all of the different forms of water. Initially he wanted to take snaps of his surfer friends in his native Australia catching rides and enjoying barrels, but instead was enticed by the blue liquid under their boards.
Collins, who is actually colorblind, is able to focus on the patterns and light play in the waves, and pays special attention to the shapes they make against the sky. His unique perspective shows off the grandness and drama of the seascapes. Normal splashes of water are seen instead as incredible peaks on mountains. The front of a wave turns into a deep canyon which sinks to unseen depths. Collins manages to capture the translucency, strength, fluidity, and the unrelenting force of water all at the same time.
His unique style has won him some hefty accolades in just a few years, including 1st Place for ‘Australian Surf Photo of the Year‘ (2015), he was a finalist in the ‘Smithsonian – Annual Photo Contest’(2015), and also was the winner for the ‘American Aperture Awards’ – Landscape/Seascape/Nature (2015). He has shot campaigns for Nikon, United Airlines, Qantas and National Geographic, and has a new book out called Found At Sea, which a collection of some of his favorite photographs.
Dear readers: prepare yourselves for a journey into a bizarre, colorful world of hand-devouring stomachs and dancing, cookie-headed girls. Ben&Julia (Benoit Creac’h and Julia Gaudard) — a French-Swiss creative team known for their humorously surreal and eccentric art and films — have recently shared “Cookie Jar,” a strange (and highly entertaining) music video with Traffic Signs and Jake the Rapper. The video features Jake dancing with a hungry, animated stomach, enticing us to put our hands in the “cookie jar”. Behind him, leotard-clad cookie girls groove along while waving their severed arms, mixing together cartoon imagery with a playful flavor of morbidity. According to Ben&Julia, the storyline for this video is as follows:
“‘Cookie Jar’” tells the story of the Cookie Girls ‘Shannon’ and her sister ‘Krystal’ and their attraction for Jake The Rapper’s little friend: ‘Young Belly’. While the two are fascinated by this little fella, they fall into the trap and put their hands in the Cookie Jar.”
Ben&Julia’s works are often built around metaphors and morals that — despite their fun and absurd presentation — are rooted in good-intentioned and real-world wisdom. One such cautionary message that can be gleaned from “Cookie Jar” is in regards to curiosity, that insatiable drive to learn and try new things: “Curiosity can be a sign of intelligence,” write Ben&Julia. “[But] you might lose a hand or two.”
“Cookie Jar” is their 7th music video, following in the footsteps of Nena’s new single “Lieder von Früher” as well as “Pancakes and Syrup,” which was created for Nickelodeon’s “Yo Gabba Gabba” (featuring Biz Markie). Ben&Julia’s visual art likewise depicts their affinity for colorful, fun, and somewhat mad scenarios and characters; check out their large-scale installation project titled “Kaluk, the Five-Eared Dog,” currently being shown at the Museum of Contemporary Art of Monterrey, Mexico. Visit their website, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter and keep up-to-date with these delightfully odd and innovative storytellers.
As a kid I collected miniatures. I would go away with my parents and wherever we traveled there seemed to be a store that sold tiny objects. Back then they were mostly for dollhouses but I acquired these curiosities so I could display them on my desk. I thought it was cool that someone could actually make something that small. I remember some of the items in my collection included miniature coca cola bottles, tiny animals (mainly cats) and food such as jelly apples and cakes.
With a similar thought in mind Japanese artist Tomo Tanaka creates high-end miniatures. Using clay and epoxy he constructs tiny masterpieces of mostly Parisian cuisine displaying the utmost detail. Tanaka’s creations are so mini that for documentation purposes he photographs them on his fingertips to give the viewer an idea of size. This however does not infringe on the detail involved. It’s remarkable that at such small scale they are painfully and accurately crafted to the tiniest fold and extremely appetizing. He presents a collection of eatables and household products under the moniker Nunu’s house. Within that framework he creates food spreads which would make any caterer proud in the realistic way they are rendered and displayed.
Tanaka is unique because he excels at a definitive craft which overflows into the area of fine art. He has published two books and teaches courses on the subject. (via spoon-tamago)
Caterina Rossato creates 3D layered landscapes out of old postcards. She seeks to evoke both the familiar and the alien, the specific and the general. “I create landscapes made through a collage of other landscapes, combining images in which the sense of recognition of reality slips from one level to another and it is never clearly identified,” Rossato says in an artist’s statement.
The series, named “Deja Vu” plays with the idea of recognition and the sensation of recognition. Rossato explains:
“The déjà vu is a psychic phenomenon which is part of the forms of alteration of memories (paramnesie): it consists in the erroneous sensation of having seen an image or of having lived previously an event or a situation that is occurring. Although improperly, it is also called ‘false recognition.’”
It’s interesting that she chose to use postcards, which often enable us to live vicariously through friends and family who are traveling abroad. In a sense, we’ve heard about the locations and they are familiar to us in name and description; however, we often haven’t traveled to those distant lands, not enough to know them personally or to have seen them up close. In a way, Rossato’s work brings up the question of how we can truly know something — or know that we know something. (via I Need a Guide)
Artist Peregrine Church creates a special brand of street art. Instead of wild colors and sprawling compositions, you can only see his handiwork when the ground is wet. Otherwise, his clever paintings are invisible. Church calls these pieces Rainworks, and it’s part of an ongoing series of over 25.
A quick demonstration shows just how inconspicuous Church’s works are. A dry sidewalk reveals nothing, but as soon as a bucket of water is poured on it – magic. The secret is hydrophilic chemicals. Once they’re activated, the clandestine designs reveal uplifting messages, hopscotch, and funny sayings. They last anywhere from four months to a year. (Via The Creator’s Project)
“Nightmusic” (2014). Acrylics on linen, 140 x 180cm.
“Dear Darkness” (2014). Acrylics and graphite on linen, 60 x 70 cm.
“Anticipation” (2014). Acrylics on linen, 70 x 100 cm.
“Cosmic Tides” (2014). Acrylics on linen, 120 x 170 cm.
Martine Johanna is a Netherlands-based artist whose beautiful, color-drenched works transfigure female figures into surrealist expressions of layered emotions and inner thoughts. In 2012, we featured her illustration portfolio, a body of work which depicts her distinctive, artistic tradition of blending abstract elements with whimsical sensuality. Also included in her oeuvre are a number of stunning acrylic paintings — many of them produced more recently — that delve into the worlds of the conscious and unconscious minds with stunning depth and sensitivity.
Characterizing Johanna’s paintings are women — often nude or nearly-nude — posed in contemplation, their eyes deep and shimmering, faces soft and shaded with storms of inner emotion. When I enquired about the use of nudity in her works, Johanna emphasized that while sex and sexuality are parts of our identities that can be used in artistic, representational ways that hold a lot of subversive power, her work is more concerned with an exploration of the mind and the body’s relationship to it. As she explained in a statement provided to Beautiful/Decay:
“There is more layering when it comes to forming the concepts of how [my] works come into existence, [just as] there is so much more going on in a person’s mind, conscious and subconscious; it is a web of complex emotions that contradict each other endlessly. For example: we want to be loved, but being overly loved corrupts, and love in itself is complex because the motivations behind wanting to be loved are already so many, from purity to manipulation to adornment to obsession, etc. In my process I deal with parts of these contradictions, [and] these thought patterns and emotions are endlessly fascinating to me.
However, I do not plan to make a work solely based on a combination of emotions; when I make what I make, I set up the compositions and figures that I feel, at that moment, is the right visual outcome to what my frame of reference and mind is. […] A couple of years back, I had my own sort of sexual revolution and a whole range of personal emotions connected to it. This is apparent in my work, [and] also visible is that I didn’t have my material or ways of expressing under control yet, which I’m now starting to get more of a grip on.”
The products of Johanna’s artistic explorations are paintings depicting layers of both materiality and essence. We see two worlds superimposed over each other: the corporeal, sensual, and sensate body, and the abyssal ocean of unpredictable emotion which surges within each one of us.
The surrealist elements of Johanna’s works likewise express the emotional contradictions mentioned in the above quote. Recurring motifs in her paintings are dualisms, shadowy “others” who embrace and accompany the female figures (see “Cosmic Tides” and “Dear Darkness,” for example). When I asked Johanna what this signified, she insightfully replied:
“[T]here is a balance of contradictions within us. You need dark to see the light; it’s nothing new, it’s yin and yang, it’s life. Denying darkness and not dealing with it doesn’t make life better — it makes it superficial.”
Hence why, in many of Johanna’s pieces, we often see layers of seemingly “contradictory” experiences, such as beauty alongside death (“The Hunted”), and hope alongside grief (“Opaline Blue”).
Darren Holmes is a photographer whose works explore the dichotomy between instinctual, “animal” life, and the rationalizing, “civilized” mind. Entitled animals being human, this series depicts nude (or nearly nude) paint-splattered men and women engaged in strange and frisky behaviors, such as crouching and crawling on the floor, burrowing in hay, and playing with cardboard props. Each image is abstract, elaborate, and tinged with humor, with a lot of “meaning” intentionally left to the imagination: what are they doing, and for what purpose? The confounding, playful absurdity is entirely Holmes’ intention, as he seeks to unravel our innate drives and behaviors from the constructions and constraints of intellect and social conditioning. As he explained in a statement provided to Beautiful/Decay:
“To me, all of the things that unify us as really human are things beneath intellect, the guttural stuff like pain response, elation, pleasure, anguish, anger, the search for warmth and companionship, that kind of thing. They’re all concerns of the body, instinctive and what we associate with animal behaviour.
Then we have these clever, intellectual, analytical minds which maybe sit over top of it all, rationalizing, regulating us, attempting to moderate all the stuff underneath. There are probably good reasons we need to do this sometimes, to act civilly with each other. But in some ways, I think intellect becomes how we distract ourselves from facing some truths.”
What Holmes’ work signifies, then, is a playful deconstruction of the “human,” a species category which is so often defined in opposition to “animals”. In many cases, contemporary (and intellectualized) humanity has actively separated itself from earthly “filth” — mud, blood, excrement, and anything “messy” — in order to achieve a sense of species-based superiority. “I mean, we must be more enlightened than those that came before us … right?” Holmes writes, tongue-in-cheek. “Maybe we just want to believe certain things to avoid facing issues, like how little we’ve changed … that we’re just dirty, shitting, fucking, fighting primates, and how temporary we really are in this world.”
Given the delightfully absurd energy of Holmes’ photos, I enquired about his method, which he described as a “live performance”; each scene is a holistic accumulation of energy and creativity, involving “like-minded people who want to use their bodies to capture something that can only come from a sort of lengthy, improvised dance punctuated by exchanges [and] ideas.” The props are similarly spontaneous; mostly limited to “cardboard, canvas, wood, [and] paint,” the models indulge in a youthful approach to these objects, making the props imaginative and representational rather than over-intellectualized and “concrete” in their meaning. In this way, Holmes deconstructs adulthood as well, that phase in our lives when we are taught to overanalyze and constantly moderate and rationalize our behaviors.
Visit Holmes’ website and Facebook page and follow him as he explores physicality and the intimate, pre-intellectual connections that exist between all of us human animals. (Via Art Fucks Me)
Junk artist Rubbish Fairy (Sophie Soni) is constantly hoarding, collecting, cutting, gluing and arranging, yeap you guessed it, rubbish. She manages to take discarded plastic bits and pieces and turns them into wearable, kitschy, technicolor rainbow explosions. Soni fashions together chunky head pieces, masks, breastplates, dresses for different performers, musicians, artists, and fashion shoots. Basically anything that can adorn the body, she has it covered. Her pieces include stunningly ornate chandelier head dresses, or Victorian-style flouncy dresses littered with cheap and cheerful gems, or balaclava masks covered with red silicon lips, pig noses and multiple strings of beads. She has even chopped up soft toys in the past and used their various limbs and heads as different bits of jewelry.
Ms Fairy piles everything on all at once and manages to bask in the chaos she creates. As a comment on consumer culture, vanity, the fashion industry, and the economy of desire, her work is reminiscent of installation artist Mike Kelley. Both manage to exist simultaneously within and outside of pop culture. They heavily reference, and use the resources from the world around them, yet manage to place themselves in an order separate from it.
Rubbish Fairy’s world is a surreal, captivating, all encompassing one – where, if you’ve been in it for long enough, you will start to see the trash around you quite differently. See more of her out-of-this-world creations after the jump.