Artist Gianluca Traina’s series titled Portrait 360 combines photography and sculpture to create alluring, mysterious objects. Mannequin-esque heads are covered in distorted, mosaic-looking squares that are simultaneously recognizable humans yet pixelated and indiscernible. To craft these works, Traina first shoots photos of anonymous subjects and focuses on their faces. He then uses a warp and weft technique to weave the 2D-images into 3D paper busts.
In the blurred surface photos, you can tell where the skin ends and the hair begins, as well as where features like the eyes and nose are. But, those things don’t always match up with the attributes of a bust. Eyes are on the back of the head and hair covers the nose and mouth. There’s no front or back anymore, and instead there’s a constant play between photographed surface and the sculpted one. (Via Hi Fructose)
Commercial photographer Neil Dacosta decided to have a little fun with The Book Of Mormon. He added the words “missionary positions” to the title and created a pictorial that would have the latter day saints turning beet red. In response to a passage in the LDS handbook which says sexual relations are proper only between a man and a woman who are legally wed, Dacosta proceeds to photograph two geeky males as they engage in various textbook “missionary positions” fully dressed.
The missionary position is considered the proper way for christians to engage in sexual intercourse. In the text definition, there’s a term “intercural intercourse” which is defined as the “homosexual missionary position”. The act is described as the polite way for two males to engage in sex. Its deed is described as rubbing between two thighs and has been referenced to bisexual men such as Abraham Lincoln, Alexander The Great, and lonely soldiers in the battlefield. According to most religious conservative groups, homosexuality is wrong and deviant. Dacosta’s Book Of Mormon is a clever, and forthright way to protest such absurdity.
Most of Dacosta’s other work has an edge. He has shot various campaigns involving snowboarders, runners and motorcross. In the shots, the athletes appear small against the landscape. It fits in well with another essay examining vulnerability called Astronaut Suicides. Here, the photographer shows a fully dressed astronaut in different death induced scenarios. Again, it plays against the idea that no matter what identity we choose whether on purpose or fate, we’re all human beings at the core.
Nick Smith‘s playfully arranges Pantone swatches to paper to re-create famous paintings from “Girl with a Pearl Earring” to “Mona Lisa.” Though his work uses broad swaths of colors, the pictures are still recognizable, looking almost like 8-bit art. He takes classic pieces and brings them into the 21st century, adding a little twist of tongue-in-cheek pop art to it along the way.
Smith’s previous work has also been largely representative, such as his “Shades of Lust” series, which labels various shades of pink Pantone swatches with suggestive yet simple titles such as “NIPPLE” and “BOUNCY.” (via I Need a Guide)
Katsuyo Aoki creates stunningly intricate porcelain skulls. Her work is almost like a three-dimensional expansion on the tradition of calavera, decorated skulls made of sugar or clay to commemorate the Day of the Dead. She touches on this in her explanation of work, commenting that elevating the skull, which could be considered macabre, can make the viewer feel, “tranquility and awe that can almost be described as religious, as well as an image as an object of worship.”
The patterns on her skulls range from elegant swirls to jagged spikes that look like prehistoric teeth. Others unfurl like deep sea creatures from another plane of existence, stretching their frills out like anemones from beyond. The name of the exhibit, “Predictive Dreams,” further emphasizes the mystical qualities of the artwork, recalling a time when prophets and seers would study bones and entrails to gaze into the future.
Aoki says of the work:
“The decorative styles and forms I allude to and incorporate in my works each contain a story based on historical backgrounds and ideas, myths, and allegories. Their existence in the present age makes us feel many things; adoration, some sort of romantic emotions, a sense of unfruitfulness and languor from their excessiveness and vulgarity.”
Japanese photographer Daisuke Takakura creates a carousal of interactive humans. Double your pleasure. Double your fun. His pieces challenge you to focus and rest your amygdala—puzzling you with more questions than answers; energizing your eyeballs to pounce in all directions. His reproduction of clones create a maze-like quest in his photography.
The duplicated self is positioned in a variety of stances; each with their own agenda. Whether a day in the office, playtime in the city, resting on dinosaurs or in a female basketball court frenzy—the multiplication of bodies in these settings create an unbalanced curiosity in trying to interpret what each person is doing. Repeating the “self” into many selves provides more than one imagination to be analyzed or identified with.
In one of his monodramatic photos, women are seen running from a building covered in scarlet red, which appears to be blood down the front of their dresses. In the background, other women rest at the building entrance parading sea foam green umbrellas over their heads.
Katherine Newbegin creates rare beauty in photographs of old cinematic houses. Traveling throughout India she sought out these forgotten places and transformed them into celluloid dream sites. Her quest led her to the more rural areas. These out of the way places provided a history and character needed to create an interesting narrative. Behind a sensitive lens, depictions of these magnificent structures transports one back in time to a place of make believe and desire.
Each of her pictures exude a ‘if only walls could talk’ sensibility.The cracked and peeling surfaces mimic the colors seen on sari’s worn by women in that part of the world. Perhaps the same women who once sat in the now empty seats engrossed in another’s story with dreams of their own. Instead of just focusing on the actual auditorium, Newbegin also photographed the staircases and projection rooms. In some instances, these anonymous spaces are turned into brilliant frames of abstract color. In others, film canisters and tea mugs become painterly still life subjects.
India ranks as the largest producer of films in the world and is known for its Bollywood stars. Newbegin’s quiet, intimate photographs project another side of that industry, one that appropriately preserves an important part of India’s social history.
Seaborg, a Japanese designer and artist, chooses latex as her medium of choice. A blend of installation and performance art, her latest work is an “inflatable animal farm,” complete with blow-up cows and pigs as well as performers in inflatable suits. Saturated with bright children’s book colors, the installation also features somewhat disturbing images, exposing what seems to be a literal underbelly. In a slaughterhouse, a pig with prominent human breasts dangles from the ceiling, gutted and bled. Another photo from the installation shows a pig, partly eviscerated, posing coquettishly with a come-hither expression.
In the past, Saeborg’s work has been included in group shows that portray a female perspective on modern Japan, particularly colored by sexuality, pop culture, and humor. According to beautiful.bizarre,
“As a new driving force of the economy, these women now work for the modernization of traditional Japanese culture, a culture that was unknown to the Western World. This new feminine expression is based on ‘impermanence’ (a Buddhist concept) and is mixed with the attraction to darkness and the internalization of feelings.”
Saeborg’s inflatable farm certainly hits all these notes, putting the ideas of impermanence and objectification front and center. These pig-women are fetishized, yet at the end of the day, they’re nothing more than a commodity: so many pounds of meat. (via Hi-Fructose)
A Place Beyond Belief (2012). Installation, National Gallery of Kosovo, Pristina. Photo credit: Atdhe Mulla.
We Must Cultivate Our Garden (2006). Installation, Carrall Street, Vancouver. Photo credit: Scott Massey.
You Imagine What You Desire (2014). Installation, Jupiter Artland, Edinburgh. Photo credit: Keith Hunter.
There Will Be No Miracles Here (2006). Installation, Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh. Photo credit: Keith Hunter.
Nathan Coley is a Glasgow-based artist who is well-known for his inspiring, troubling, and haunting illuminated text sculptures. When they aren’t being featured in a gallery, Coley installs these works in public spaces — in parks, over doorways, and on top of buildings — places where they are visible from afar, or as people walk by on their day-to-day business. The words he chooses derive from both research and personal experience; literature, lyrics, historical documents, and overheard conversations comprise some of his source materials. Many of his installations are directly related to religion or private belief-systems — for example, “Heaven is a place where nothing ever happens,” and “There will be no miracles here.” Others speak to violent experiences in human public life; “Burn the village, feel the warmth” is a reference to the London street riots of 2011.
As human creatures, it is safe to argue that we have a complicated relationship with language. Language is how we make sense of the world, and a way for us to connect with others. But none of us can deny the frustrating limitations we experience with it. We use language to express our innermost fears and desires, yet somehow the words seem inadequate; we can read a line of poetry and be shaken to the core, but remain unable to articulate why. Coley’s works have a similar effect; made of fairground-type globes set in aluminum frames, his sculptures confront us with their bright, almost garish boldness. “There will be no miracles here,” the sign reads, in the middle of a field; the isolated word “here” signifies a sinking stomach, a staggered thought, the unsettling fear that “miracles” are phantasmagoric events residing only in the hearts of the troubled and desperate. Coley’s work affects us on deeply personal and inexpressible levels, adding notes of hope, doubt, and other emotions into our present moment.
Architecture and context play a very important role in Coley’s work, as well. As Lisa Le Feuvre eloquently states in a monograph on Coley’s work:
When Coley pays attention to an architectural landscape it is always constructed through a singular gaze, sometimes directed where the buildings meet the ground as one walks through the streets, other times looking up or down at the buildings designed to stretch up to their full height, like enthusiastic children in a schoolroom, urgently wanting to say their piece. Architecture fulfills and produces desires, perhaps most explicitly seen in places of production, power, worship, and memory. (Source)
As Le Feuvre expresses, there is no doubt that certain (if not all) public spaces have different and powerful effects on us: stroll beneath the arched ceilings of a church and feel humbled; stand in an abandoned park at dusk and sense creeping loneliness. But what Coley also explores is the way power operates in such spaces; who does the public space belong to, and what is our role within it? How do our behaviors and self-conceptions change when we enter those spaces? As Foucault writes in Discipline and Punish, “He who is subjected to a field of visibility, and who knows it, assumes responsibility for the constraints of power; […] he becomes the principle of his own subjection.” If public spaces are indeed “field[s] of visibility” that operate on us via internalized systems of control, than Coley’s integration of art into them is doubly rich for analysis — and also somewhat subversive; the words “We must cultivate our garden,” set atop a hotel in Vancouver, Canada, reinvests local architecture with meaning, transforming our experience of that space from controlled, everyday banality into a new, stimulating process of personal signification: we decide what the “garden” means to us in that particular time and place.
See more of Coley’s works on his website, and check out the rest Le Feuvre’s fascinating essay here.