Joel Parés is a U.S. Marine-turned-photographer who’s created a series titled Judging America that illustrates the prejudices we often have against people who are different from ourselves. As the old saying goes, “don’t judge a book by its cover,” and that’s what you’re liable to when you first see these stylized photographs.
Each image is broken up into the two parts – a stereotype of a particular societal group versus who the character actually is. The tattooed, gun-toting gangster turns out to be a Harvard graduate, a decorated stripper is a buttoned-up widowed mother of three kids, and more. You get the picture here – Parés is demonstrating that talented, incredible people come in all different packages.
“Many of us judge incorrectly by someone’s ethnicity, by their profession, and by their sexual interest,” Parés told PetaPixel. “The purpose of this series is to open our eyes and make us think twice before judging someone, because we all judge even if we try not to.” (Via Bored Panda)
Iranian photographer and physics student Mohammad Reza Domiri Ganji finds amazing beauty just by looking up. His panoramic photos of mosque domes feature the stunning geometry characteristic of Islamic art. Though these are real places, the techniques Domiri uses causes them to read as abstract patterns when photographed. In a Daily Mail interview he said:
“I like looking for the symmetry, mosaics and artworks in these temples. I like how they let the light come inside and columns are special too as they divide interior space and give some depth.”
Sacred geometry—writing or artwork intended to summon thoughts of Allah—is the basis for Islamic religious architectural design. The Islamic expression “Geometry is God manifest” expresses the importance of this kind of ornamentation in Islamic art. The repetition, intricacy, and complexity of the designs are both rigid and freeing. The patterns seem endless, swirling and intertwined, mesmerizing and stimulating.
To capture these manipulated images, Domiri takes panoramic photos, setting his tripod at the center point of the mosque and keeping in mind lighting and symmetry. Permission to shoot the interiors of these Iranian mosques is quite rare—as they are historical sites, photographs are largely forbidden. He takes multiple images, making sure to get all angles, then stitches them together digitally.
“Maybe some of these historical sites will not exist in 20 years or change a lot during that time. When I am capturing these pictures, I think about how they will be recorded and in future I hope people will be able to see their beauty.”
The resulting images bring the beauty of these mostly unseen mosques to the world. Domiri’s use of modern equipment and computer programs to capture this ancient art transforms it into stunningly beautiful abstracted color, shape, and pattern.
Ian Strange’s site-specific artwork injects violent excitement into suburban areas, or drops the suburbs down smack in the middle of the city. With either strategy, his work comments on the drawl and deep isolation of the suburban life through paint and installation. In his most recent project, ‘Landed’ (made for the 2014 Biennial of Australian Art), Strange created a life size installation of approximately half a suburban home, painted entirely black, and made it to look as if it had either been dropped from the sky or was emerging from the ground in the Art Gallery of South Australia’s front courtyard. Details of gravel surrounding the home and a lit porch light add credibility to the realism of the scene.
In his ‘Suburban’ series, Strange uses severe colours like red and the same matte black as he later would for ‘Landed’ to demonstrate the oddity of suburban living, and the isolation he believes is quite present in such neighbourhoods. The dripping skull is jarring, as is the massive red X, but even just the large black circle has a haunting feeling. It is as if the house is there save the one gaping piece, and the viewer is left to wonder what unsettling things might inhabit it. (Via inthralld.)
Conceptual artist Can Pedekmir creates digital portraits of imaginary creatures. According to the bio on his website, he works on the “deformation of human and animal body using various methodologies,” one of which he lists as applying “mathematical equations.” Other methodologies seem to include using hair. Lots of hair.
Pekdemir’s portraits are in stark black and white and appear like artifacts from an alternate dimension. His subjects are creatures with no distinguishable features; instead, their faces and entire heads are coiffed, tangled masses of hair and other biomatter. The result looks something like Where the Wild Things Are by way of Edward Gorey. Alternatively, it’s as though an entire forest undergrowth developed sentience and decided to pose for some erstwhile photographer.
Pekdemir’s work was featured most recently at the Unseen Photo Fair in Amsterdam, which ended late last month. He’s listed as a photographer, which only serves to highlight the eerie surreal quality of his art. Part photography and part elaborate fiction, his work blurs the lines between what is and what could be. (via Hi-Fructose)
Mickalene Thomas arranges collages, stages photographs, places rhinestones, directs art films and layers up oil and acrylic paint, all in the name of beauty and feminism. Her glittering artworks are a homage to black culture, cubism, portraiture, ideas of the still life and what it is to be a woman. Initially inviting women into her studio and coercing an energy out of them, she aims to represent these ladies as “beautiful, sexual, desirable, stylish and fierce”. (Source) Thomas says she, as well as other black women have had to consider this question of beauty often:
Beauty has always been an element of discussion for black women, whether or not we were the ones having the conversation. We’ve had to contend with the element of our hair. Beauty pros and cons have changed the world of how we perceive each other. Some people go to great lengths to bleach themselves to conform to the norm, the whiteness, and all the complexities. (Source)
Thomas’ artwork is an exploration of how one presents themselves – the images we create of ourselves, how we chop and change our appearance, and why. She has been involved in a couple of different projects lately as well. Including designing pop star Solange Knowles’ EP cover and airing her directorial debut on HBO called “Happy Birthday To A Beautiful Woman” earlier this year. This art film is a kind of love letter to her mother – and an extension of her research into women and their identity. While her work is undeniably beautiful and luscious on the surface, she is concerned more with what that exterior is hiding. Thomas says:
I am drawn to objects and people that have undergone some kind of a hardship. They are beautiful and there is an artifice to them, but if you dig deeper, there’s another layer. (Source)
Art directors Anaïs Boileau and Samuel Volk are the dream team when it comes to creating short and snappy campaign ideas. This time around they have used their skills to benefit The World Wildlife Fund in a project called WWF/Botanimal. With flawless Photoshopping technique, they have camouflaged images of endangered animals into forested landscapes. With the tagline “Donate to save a tree and save 875,000 species for free”, this is one clever visual narrative detailing a worthy cause. Boileau and Volk show us exactly what these beautiful environments would be without the animals roaming around within them.
Boileau is also responsible for another campaign with a responsible message. Called WWF/WeWantFurniture.com, she imagined a brand and designed a corresponding website “selling” wood to customers. Apparently from all wood sold, 40 percent is made from illegal wood. She devised a very effective way to show customers the ecological effects of buying cheap furniture. The effects of deforestation can be devastating, as we are reminded in this new campaign also.
Working with creative directors in a commercial environment, Boileau and Volk are able to maximize their reach to a large audience, and come up with visually interesting answers to complex questions. Boileau sums her work up nicely:
[Impassioned] by craft and art direction; I have been lucky to work with talented photographers, retouchers and CGI artists. The best part of my job is to imagine visual universes, and find creative solutions.
Click here to see more of Boileau’s work, including her hilarious take on disfigured fruits.
Living on a Dollar a Day is a collection of photographs dedicated to taking a closer, personal look at the shocking poverty and hunger that millions go through every day. The book is a collaboration between author Thomas A. Nazario, founder of The Forgotten International, and Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer Renée C. Byer.
In an interview with Mother Jones, Nazario explains the impetus for the book: “I was tired of spending time with people on the street all over the world who had simply been forgotten—by their families, by their village, and by whatever communities they might be associated with.”
The photographs in “Living on a Dollar a Day” aren’t just snapshots; they are part of a continuing story. Nazario and Byer are careful to include a snippet of their subjects’ lives, closing the distance in a personal and intimate way.
“Why does it take a typhoon or an earthquake to wake up people to the truth that far more people die of poverty every day?” Nazario asks.
What’s behind the door of a therapist’s office? Psychiatrist and photographer Sebastian Zimmermann provides a look into these spaces with his new book titled Fifty Shrinks. It features 50 portraits of New York City therapists in offices that are normally only seen by their patients.
“In contrast to other medical specialists’ offices with their practical equipment of examining tables and rolling tools, the therapist’s work space has few obvious demands beyond seating for clinician and patient,” Zimmermann writes in the introduction. It’s fascinating to see how these offices vary, each with their own idiosyncrasies that meant to support those they’re trying to treat. An essay for the book, by architect Elizabeth Danze, explains that the spaces are “floating vessels, places of sanctuary and protection, healing, and reconciliation,” and goes on to say, “a patient reflects on the trajectory of his or her therapy, an indelible part of that recollection involves the space in which it took place.”
Depending on your personal preference, some offices are more appealing than others. The colors, textures, and choice of seating are all different and no doubt unique to their own philosophies. Zimmermann had the idea for this project about 13 years ago, when he was starting his own practice, and became “aware of the paradox that I spent most of my time interacting with many people yet feeling that I worked in isolation.” (via Hyperallergic)