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Judy Miller’s Imaginary Dioramas Place Celebrities In Strange And Absurd Situations

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Judy Miller’s Imaginary Dioramas series is the kind of work that makes you think, “Wait, what?” The famous faces in the photos are recognizable, but off in some subtle way. The backgrounds are ambiguous, and the combinations of celebrities and scenes, “Outakes” as they’re titled, create curious narratives.

It’s almost a relief to find out that these artists and celebrities, whose faces we’re so familiar with, are actually wax figures photographed at Madame Tussaud’s and Photoshopped into scenes. The strangeness abates, but only briefly. It’s not only the waxy visages that are uncanny, but the situations as well. Most of the celebrities are not named or tagged, which presumes a certain amount of pop-culture familiarity in the viewer. Some photos only include a part of a face or body, making the identification even more difficult.

Robert E. Knight, Executive Director of the Tucson Museum of Art, writes, “Judy Miller does not create her work in the isolation of a studio. She researches, travels, photo¬graphs, and then brings her images back in-house for final editing. Culled from the photo files of celebrity wax figures the artist has compiled over the years, Miller cleverly inserts her figures into fantasy settings with the finished composites ranging from humorous to odd, and compelling to camp. … Resembling excerpted film stills, the discordant emotional separation of Miller’s figures are in¬triguing in their awkward uncertainty. They truly have become actors in her play, and they’re just waiting for their cue. Even titling her images as “outtakes” references the artist’s interest in, and respect for, the influence films have had on our society.

What, for example, are Einstein and Picasso doing dressed alike, deliberately avoiding eye contact in a round room with many windows in “Newton’s Nightmare”?? Seemingly less bizarre is “Outtake #22, Exit Left”, which shows Jacqueline Kennedy facing front in the foreground and Marilyn Monroe’s red sequined back in the background. It’s easier to find context for this work but no less thought provoking. What if the two women really did meet? Each image poses unanswerable questions, which is Miller’s intention.

My goal is to create a dynamic juxtaposition of elements that spark individual interpretation.

 

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Meet The Families Who Live Among The Dead In Cairo’s Cemetaries

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In her project “City of the Dead”, Iraqi-Canadian photojournalist Tamara Abdul Hadi  documents the lives of families living in the cemetery of Bab al-Nasr in Cairo. For the past 60 years, generations have been residing in this modern day necropolis among their deceased ancestors. Children were born and raised in the ruins of the graveyard, they attend schools nearby and even work in the area.

“This is a cemetery of the living”, says one of the residents, Mohammed Abdel Lateef.

Such illegal settlements as the City of the Dead, date back to the 1980′s. They were a primary coping method for local poor and “ultra-poor” inhabitants. Despite unsanitary conditions with no electricity or running water, workers were moving to the urban slums in order to stay close to employment. Overall, there are five main cemeteries like Bab al-Nasr and the whole area was said to have a population density of a whopping 12,000 inhabitants per square mile.

Abdul Hadi is already widely known for her documentary photographs of the Middle East, giving us a close-up look at their controversial culture and society. She states that the Arab world faces many misconceptions, such as oppressing patriarchy, ignorance and others. In her work, Abdul Hadi tends to bring up the softer and peaceful side of the communities which is rarely shown by the mass media. (h/t Middle East Revisited and The New School)

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Mind Blowing Real-Time CGI Transforms A Models Face Into A Futuristic Canvas

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In his latest project OMOTE, Japanese producer Nobumichi Asai combines explicit real-time face tracking and projection mapping to create unbelievable transformations of a human face. While projecting computer generated imagery (CGI) onto buildings, room walls or cars isn’t new, using a live model as a dynamic canvas demonstrates an advances use of technology.

To accomplish such realistic and mesmerizing effect, Asai gathered a team of digital designers, CGI experts, and make-up artists. Together they created a set of digital “masks”, or, as Slash Gear referred to it, “electronic equivalent of makeup”. As shown in the video, model’s face should be scanned and mapped so the graphics can be projected and manipulated in real-time, even when the face moves around.

Despite that lots of technical details about OMOTE are left unsaid, Internet users have already started speculating on the possible use of such technology. Most suggestions include testing of products such as make-up, clothing, or even tattoos. Some state that advanced versions could be employed for medical purposes, like projecting X-Rays or creating “instant previews” of plastic surgery. Not to mention the game industry. (via Gizmodo)

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RARE Presents: Kristin Farr’s Pattern Obsessed Apparel Line

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San Francisco based artist Kristin Farr creates colorful works that are heavily patterned, slightly psychedelic, and totally fun! Using Geometry as a basis for most of her work, Farr covers every square inch of her canvases with bold colors that will send your vision into a tailspin. Inspired by nostalgia, humor, rainbows and magic, she is currently exploring a legacy of Pennsylvania Dutch folk art and is interested in human-made objects that are believed to contain mythical powers.

Recently Farr collaborated with curated online marketplace RARE to create a capsule collection called “Farr Out”. The collection includes eye popping Neon Diamond Dance Pants, perfect for tearing up the dance floor at your next party. If the Neon Diamond Dance Pants don’t have enough diamonds for you, check out her Mega Diamond Dance Pants. The standout pieces in the collection have to be the Party Pals Shirt and the Magic Eyes Shirt, both of which are covered in Farr’s signature mind-bending patterns!

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Lauren Tickle’s Exquisite Jewelry Made From US Currency

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Artist Lauren Tickle uses an unconventional material for her accessories: US currency. Titled Increasing Value, the objects are made out of bills, silver, latex, and more, formed into intricate pieces that you can actually wear. Tickle has her Master’s degree in jewelry, and the exquisite works don’t immediately strike the viewer as being composed of currency. Instead, the designs take advantage of the bold flourishes we see on money and the green lines appear as a pattern rather than a past president’s face.

Tickle writes about the conceptual meaning behind her work, which is titled based on how much currency was used in its creation.

My work is an experiment in the concepts of value and adornment. The Values Exploration process takes currency of defined value, distills it to graphic elements, then resynthesizes an object of much greater value. How and why are these notes distanced from their face value? Idea, concept, process, and labor create value. Is this new, finished form a microcosm of industrial production? or a parody?
I force wearers and observers to reflect on the concept of adornment in our society. One of the most conscious actions humans undertake is the decision of what to wear or not. My work takes underlying materialism and makes it explicit, imploring evaluation from all sides in each social context. (via Escape Kit)

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Painful Photographs Of Japanese Tsunami Survivors

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In March 2011, an earthquake and tsunami struck Japan causing widespread damage and destruction across the country. The fishing town of Otsuchi along the Sanriku Coast was hit especially hard, with 60-foot tall waves destroying 60% of the town. Argentinian photographer Alejandro Chaskielberg heard about the devastation in Otsuchi from the curator of an exhibit of his work in Tokyo in 2012. Upon visiting Otsuchi, Chaskielberg discovered large mountains of debris and places that were visibly demolished. Because Otsuchi is such a small town, the photographer easily found people whose homes were destroyed, most of them living in small temporary housing units. For his “Otsuchi Future Memory” series, Chaskielberg had some of the town’s inhabitants pose inside their now destroyed homes or work places during the night, taking black and white long exposure photographs of his subjects. He’d then use the color palette of decayed photographs found in an album among the ruins to color the his portraits.

Chaskielberg says, “It’s a reflection on the tragedy as a whole—the losses, the memory—and my way of seeing the world. These historic images are the bridge to the past I create through the use of colors…These photographs speak to the way the Otsuchi inhabitants decided to record their lives. From my viewpoint, I try to build a story about the city and its people.”

This method results in haunting and surreal photographs, ones that almost appear strangely collaged or layered, but are only enhanced with color and lighting. (via slate)

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BEAUTIFUL/DECAY IS HIRING BLOG CONTRIBUTORS!

blog_logo1-565x334-1Do you know thousands of artists and designers who need to get some well deserve exposure? Do love writing about art and want an outlet? Do you want over a million monthly readers from around the world  reading and hanging on your every word? Do you want to join Beautiful/Decay in our quest for all things groundbreaking and creative? If so then send a few short writing samples (or links) as well as a cover letter about why you want to join the Beautiful/Decay blog contributor team to contactbd(at)beautifuldecay.com.

We are looking for smart writers and contributors in all corners of the globe who have their hands on the pulse of the contemporary art and design world and want to join our independent group of writers, critics, and art enthusiasts. Writers must be able to commit to a minimum of five 300 word posts per week.  This is a paid freelance position.

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Artist’s Self Portraits Spanning Over Five Years Document The Painful Progression Into Alzheimer’s Disease

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Alzheimer’s Disease is sometimes called The Long Goodbye, a gradual loss of memory, self, and eventually, life. When artist William Utermohlen was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s he began to make a series of self-portraits that would continue for five years. Looking at the pictures in chronological order is looking at a life diminished by degrees. As his technical skill ebbed, so did Utermohlen’s apparent sense of self. Still, the urge to create persisted.

In an essay about the self-portraits, Utermohlen’s wife, Pat, wrote:

“In these pictures we see with heart-breaking intensity William’s efforts to explain his altered self, his fears and his sadness. The great talent remains, but the method changes. He sometimes uses water-colour and paints a series of masks, perhaps because he could more quickly express his fear. In both the oils and water-colours these marvellous self portraits express his desperate attempt to understand his condition. There is a new freedom of expression, the paint is applied more thickly, art-historically speaking the artist seems less linear and classical, more expressionist, and I see ghosts of his German heritage.”

Worldwide, nearly 36 million people have Alzheimer’s or a related dementia—almost everyone will be touched by Alzheimer’s in some way during their lifetimes. Although Pat Utermohlen told the New York Times, “It’s so strange to be known for something you’re doing when you’re rather ill,” it was also a testament to William Utermolen’s ability as an artist that he was able to transcend his own experience, even unknowingly, and create work that was at once profound, heart-breaking, and universal.

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