French photographer Eric Lafforgue has dedicated his craft to documenting various cultures around the world, from Panama to North Korea and beyond. In this particular series, titled “Scarifications Ethiopiennes,” Lafforgue provides a close-up view on the scarification practices of Ethiopia’s Omo Valley tribes, including the Bodi, Suri, and Mursi peoples. Lafforgue traveled throughout the region, visiting the locals and observing their cutting ceremonies. In stunning detail, Lafforgue provides images of the scars—both healed and in process—as well as ethnographic descriptions and insights into the scars’ social and ritualistic purposes.
Among these peoples, scarification plays an important role in tribal life. Patterned lines and dots are embedded into the skin using thorns and razors—a process that one of his photographic subjects, a teenage girl, confesses to being very painful. But enduring the pain holds several social significances: the Suri people see it as a sign that the participant will be able to endure childbirth, while the Mursi embrace it as a mark of beauty and strength (Source). While some urban Ethiopians view scarification as a sign of “primitivism,” for many it remains a valuable signifier of cultural belonging.
Lafforgue’s oeuvre is impressive, spanning the globe several times over. His works can be viewed on his website and Facebook page.
Naked hyperrealist sculptures made out of polymer clay. South Korean artist, Choi Xooang, uses the human naked body as a mean to express pure emotions. The artist doesn’t represent his personal state, he is trying to extract collective emotions.
Choi Xooang manipulates the outcome of his sculptures, enabling us to relate faster to the point he is making. It’s easier for most of us to connect with a human body than a painting, or an abstract sculpture. The characters are bold and skinny. Attributes that accentuate our vulnerability. The artist, by using these shortcuts, has us standing in front of his pieces with all our fragility and our compassion at the surface.
The purpose of Choi Xooang is twofold. He is presenting his humanistic vision of the world. Human emotions are the only thing that were given to a man and a woman apart from their social status in a capitalistic society. Therefore, he has chosen to show through his art, the most intense and dark emotions an individual can come across such as fear, sadness, desire, sexual tensions and relationship confusions. If this process is not clear when facing the sculptures, the realization that something is touching us deeply eventually happens.
We might not know exactly what it is. The weird combination of animals and humans, the poses of same sex characters, the suggestive poses and the non expressive stares have us reflect internally. We are seeing in this sculptures what we are feeling inside. It might not be obvious at first, and we might not know what detail sold us out, but we are. (via Juxtapoz).
Japanese designer Dan Tomimatsu’s latest project is a short film film entitled O: -les amants d’eau-, based on a poem by fukudapero. It is a five minute surrealist film narrated in Japanese and subtitled in English which provides an oscillating view of different sceneries, places, and objects.
The magnificent simplicity of this film lies in the technical aspects of how it was made: Tomimatsu shot a drop of water through the hole of a 5 Yen coin, through the lens of an iPhone. The coin was stuck to the lens of the phone in such a way that filming through it would allow a close-up of the drop of water. The result is a truly dreamlike sequence of images, which are tinted, filtered, and displayed through the drop of water. The film plays a lot with the notion of movement and the fluid, unpredictable nature of water.
In this sense, the drop of water provided a sort of natural lens for the film to be shot through as well as a new angle concerning the iPhone as a legitimate filmmaking device. His project underlines the role of new media and technology within the realm of filmmaking and the process of creating something simple yet so intricately beautiful as a film shot through a drop of water.
As crazy as it may seem, there was a time when computers did not exist. Before the days of digital manipulation tricks, also known as CGI, the magic of the movies was created by hand. Instead of “copying and pasting” in explosions and aliens, hundreds of artists would gather to create miniaturized life-like movie sets. These sets would then allow filmmakers to generate a larger-than-life type scene on a more manageable sized scale. They act as little doubled false realities, that on film, become truths.
The crafted preciseness of these rooms are absolutely spectacular. As you peek through the models, you’ll find an endless amount of detail that will leave you in awe. Not only are the replicas life-like through spot on accuracy in scale and space, but each room has carefully selected fixtures and decorative touches, grounding them in time. With windows that look as if they have had their own personal histories, kitchens fully equipped with tiny utensils, a library thats perfectly slight disorder allows it to seem genuinely used, these miniatures truly own their connected to reality. What further enhances the believability is the way light floods through these places, positioning them in certain moments of day a certain time of year. To think about the amount of work and craftsmanship that used to go into the production of a film is mind-blowing.
CGI has completely changed the nature of what it means to make a film; something that was once a collaboration of artists and craftsmen talented in skilled labor, now falls to a man behind a machine. These sets are a reminder of how much we have truly changed, how our association with the word skill has moved away from a physical sense and has fully been relocated to a cyber one.
Last week’s London Design Festival featured a prototype for a futuristic sleep-aid. During the Digital Design Weekend at the V&A museum, one of the highlights was Digital Futures UKMX. The event is a two day cultural exchange between designers, artists, makers, and engineers from the UK and Mexico. The event centered around themes of innovation, collaboration and civil awareness. The aim is to enhance each community by learning from the other.
One of the projects presented was by Octavio A. Martinez Garcia, a Mexican robotic engineer who works for COCOLAB. He showcased a prototype for a product called Napz, a sleep mask created to help gain access to more efficient sleep. The mask is made from infrared sensors, Neo Pixels, and the Arduino Lilypad. The invention does not just simply help to attain better sleep, but does so by allowing the user to actively lucid dream, a state of dreaming in which one has control over his or her actions. He states:
“The prototype is an eye mask designed to measure REM, using LED lights to gently stimulate you and bring you to the border of consciousness and unconsciousness so you can begin to play with your dreams. Today people get a lot less sleep, and of a much worse quality. Napz is a wearable device intended to schedule lucid dreams and thus produce actual rest and better patterns of REM sleep. Its interface allows the programming, design, and analysis of dreams. As everybody is different the device needs to be calibrated to each individual. The inspiration came from my own experience of lucid dreaming.”
French artist Emeric Chantier’s recent series of plant sculptures provides a strong reflection on the place of human beings in nature, as well as our role as both internal and external elements of nature. His series of plant sculptures depicts skulls, weapons, and human faces amongst others. The striking way he has put together his work in both inspiring and terrifying in the way that it illustrates the gentle balance of man and nature, as well as our role within nature and the struggle of equilibrium between manmade objects and the environment.
His work is put composed of dried plants, combined with industrial and household items held together with molding and glue. His combination of materials makes for a very visual depiction of the merging of man and nature. The carefully knotted branches in the sculptures form winding masses of matter in a way that looks almost painful. His pieces including industrial materials translate the deep melancholy associated with the suffering and destruction of our environment and the ways in which we impact our environment.
His use of the skull and the heart in his work also brings in another level of symbolism in the tradition of still life paintings. Here his work addresses the beauty and tragedy of nature as related to death, as in the ends she delivers, and the ends we bring to her. The three dimensional aspect of Chantier’s work really brings the urgency of our deteriorating relationship with nature into the foreground.
The wheel of life represented by 29 walking skeleton legs and feet. Monika Horčicová is a Czech artist who uses 3D printing to come up with the base of her sculptures. The legs are made out of plaster composite, molded and then casted into polyurethane resin. The legs are then assembled into one piece.
Symbolists, Buddhists and probably many more cultures and art movements have been using the wheel of life. It is the representation of the cycle of life and death. Usually depicted next to the Lord of Death; the wheel turns under his will. Birth and suffering, joy and sadness, alternatively march together. Thus, each of us has the liberty to interpret the meaning of life through the wheel. In this case, Monika Horčicová chooses to emphasize its morbid features.
By using skeletons, she takes a stand, and doesn’t give us the choice but to picture life as inevitably dark and painful. The direction, clockwise or counterclockwise, is important when looking at a wheel of life. Usually we are not given the choice but to visualize it going clockwise. Here, the artist has not set the orientation. As we move around the sculpture, we are free to give it our own meaning. Although death is predominantly present, we can choose to imagine the course of life going backwards. Our experiences and our knowledge as we move forward, are what make our inner self grow; allowing us to encounter the possibility of an indefinite renewal. (via Empty Kingdom).
Tokyo-based startup H2L is currently in the process of developing the Unlimited Hand, a virtual reality armband. This armband is designed to merge man with machine in such a way that the user feels like they touching onscreen objects. The armband itself is a slick, discreet white band that can be worn on the users arm. It would allow users to “simulate bodily encounters” with elements in the virtual world. This is possible due to the inner workings of the armband which is composed of a haptic sensor, which monitors and reacts to movement as well as a series of electronic muscle stimulators (EMS) which simulate the feelings associated to touch.
An interesting component of this armband is that it is also meant to simulate the feeling of pain, which would bring up a series of ethical questions concerning the limits and potential of such a piece of technology. The immersive nature of the process ties in well with questions of interactivity and art, and with a device of the sort, the possibility of creating interactive artworks would be expanded on many levels.
The impact of such a device on different art forms is interesting to think about, in the way that it would allow a full immersion of the senses. A full immersion of the senses in the virtual world would be a fascinating combination of science and art and would allow us to push the boundaries of both disciplines.