Early Stick-and-Poke Prison Tattoos Preserved In Formaldehyde

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Nowadays, it’s not uncommon to see people with copious amounts of tattoos on their arms, legs, and head. But, it wasn’t that long ago that these permanent adornments were only found on a very specific group of people – prisoners. Tattoos back then were markedly different than their modern counterparts, and some were preserved for posterity in formaldehyde. The tiny pieces of history are an eerie but a fascinating look at the past.

The designs of early tattooing were much simpler than they are today. Instead of the needles we’re familiar with, prisoners would use crude tools like razor blades, broken glass, paper clips, or wires. Ink was substituted for pencil refills, charcoal, watercolor paints, or crayons and mixed with water, fat, or urine.

At the beginning of the 20th century, a study of the prisoners’ tattoos began in the Department of Forensic Medicine at Jagiellonian University, and researchers wanted a way to document their findings. While photography might have been the simpler (and more obvious) solution, prisoners’ tattooed skin was removed and preserved.

The extractions, encased in glass, are small curiosities that don’t really look like tattoos at all. Removed from the context of the body, they are symbols for crimes like burglary, rape, and prostitution. (Via Scribol)

Camila Valdez’s Sculptures Are Leggy Desserts

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Decadent desserts are paired with sexy legs in Argentinian-based artist Camila Valdez’s series of life and table-sized sculptures.  The faceless beings are placed in public and are posed on benches, seen exiting restaurants, and enjoying a picnic in the park. Despite the fact they can’t convey emotion through eyes or a mouth, Valdez has made their legs expressive. They are straight and together if trying to look pensive, or partially open as if trying to suggest something else.

This series literally objectifies women and compares them to a sugary treat that will rot your treat and should be enjoyed only every-so-often. At the same time, they reference outdated objects from the middle of the 20th century, where legs were attached to things like lamps (as seen in the film A Christmas Story). Valdez pokes fun at this absurd and fantastical objectification of the population. (Via HiFructose)

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Randy Scott Slavin’s Photographs Turn Landscapes Topsy-Turvy

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In photographer Randy Scott Slavin’s series, Alternative Perspectives, he takes ordinary landscapes and turns them into topsy-turvy, mind-bending sights. At any moment, these panoramic shots make the world appear like it’s going to fold in on itself. Slavin captures all types of terrain, including the red rocks of the Phoenix desert, the beaches in Miami, and the skyscrapers of New York City. These places are transformed in a surreal and psychedelic way.

Salvin takes approximately 100 photos for each image. While he can shoot a scene in less than 10 minutes, it may him hours or days to edit what you see here. The process is a lot of trial and error for the photographer as he figures out what time of day and season is best.

Salvin’s photos not only play with the orientation of the image, but reference time as well. Their circular motion is reminiscent of a wormhole or water spinning down a drain. Both imply a passage, whether it be in years or minutes. (Via Fast Company)

Feminist Photographs Show The Dark Side Of Beauty

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In a startling critique of the ways in which images of women’s bodies are consumed, the artist Jessica Ledwich presents “The Fanciful, Monstrous Feminine,” a collection of surreal photographs documenting the psychological consequences of contemporary beauty standards and practices. For Ledwich, female sexuality is viewed as “threatening” and is therefore oppressed; here, she exaggerates the femme fatale image, showing her red-lipped, square-nailed protagonist engaging in violence with her own body.

The female form, shiny and lacquered, appears like a hybrid, part human and part domestic cyborg; her youthful flesh is overtaken by the mechanics of beauty. In one image, severed and still-wriggling fingers are replaced with tweezers, and in another, she uses a vacuum cleaner to suction fat from her thighs, injecting it into her lips.

Improvements to the home and domestic realm take a literal toll on the female body and self; after awkwardly sculpting a just-budding lemon tree, a matriarch forces her own natural body into an hourglass with restrictive garments. The monotony of the daily grooming routine turns brutal and dehumanizing, and with each ritual, our subject sacrifices a bit of her identity until, like slabs of lifeless meat, her limbs, brains, and heart are sold off at a butcher shop cleverly referred to as “Limbsons.”

Tied to this endless pursuit of female perfection is the idea of motherhood, presented without an ounce of warmth or sentimentality. A C-section yields only an endless stream of identical plastic dolls, each removed with the same sterile, unfeeling determination that we see with the surgical implantation of breasts. The mother, robbed of her sexuality, is shown inserting biohazards material into a cooked egg, an uncomfortable action we might presume to represent her own impregnation. This bleak, unromantic portrayal of female beauty and fertility serves to remind us of the physically and psychologically painful demands placed on modern women’s bodies, leaving viewers yearning for a more humane world. (via Lost at E Minor and Design Taxi)

Ernest Goh’s Glamour Portraits Of Chicken Beauty Pageant Contestants

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We’ve recently explored the world of creative dog grooming, and now it’s time to turn an eye towards portraits of ornate fowls. Singapore-based photographer Ernest Goh documented the world of Malaysian Chicken Beauty Pageants. Yes, believe it or not, these events exist (because why not?), and are captured in Goh’s tongue-and-cheek titled publication, Cocks: The Chicken Book.

Goh selected the Ayam Seramas breed of chicken for his series, who are known for their beauty. He sets places each creature against a black background and allows their exquisite coloring and patterned feathers shine. These photographs highlight their outward appearance as well as their quirky personality, as the cock their heads and strut their stuff.

On his website, Goh features a quote that’s some food for thought. It’s taken from the famous novel Animal Farm, and it seems very appropriate for this energetic series: “The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which.” The results of the colorful portraits are akin to what we’d see if a human had the lens turned on them. With this similarity, perhaps chicken beauty pageants aren’t that silly after all.  (Via PetaPixel)

Vincent Brady’s Stunning Time-Lapse Video Of Fireflies In Motion

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In order to shoot this incredible time-lapse video of fireflies, photographer Vincent Brady used every photography trick he could think of – image stacking, 360 star trail panoramas, and macro shooting. He even learned how to operate a pontoon boat so he could frame his shots just right. The idea for the project began while Brady was celebrating his mother’s birthday in Lake of the Ozarks in April 2012. He noticed there was an unusually high number of fireflies due to an irregularly warm spring. By the summer of 2013, Brady had dug deeper into the project, and captured the images that comprise this awe-inspiring video.

You can visit his site to find out more information about each setting and time-lapse series included in the video, as well as learning of Brady’s affinity for the flickering creatures: “If your significant other ever says, ‘Honey, we need to spray the yard, we have a firefly problem.’ Break up, divorce, and get a restraining order right away! Fireflies just bless you with their presence, light up, make love, and call it a life.” (via colossal)

Famed Director Stanley Kubrick’s Phenomenal Early Photography Portfolio

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Like many directors, Stanley Kubrick (known for such iconic films as The Shining, Clockwork Orange, 2001: A Space Odyssey, and Full Metal Jacket) began his love of film for the medium’s capacity to immediately capture scenes developing around him. The award-winning director’s photographs show early promise, mastering stylistic elements such as composition, lighting, balance and subject, which might not be surprising. However, the young Kubrick’s subject matter, mostly street-scenes with everyday New York and Greenwich Village people, life and struggles, might surprise some coming from the famed science fiction director. The photos, which have a nostalgic tone not necessarily associated with the forward-thinking director, certainly bring a romantic mood to the seemingly simpler time.

Many of these photos were taken during the 1940′s, while Kubrick was employed as a photographer for Look Magazine (a gig he landed while still a student at City College New York). It was while working for Look that Kubrick began associating with the film programs at the Museum of Modern Art, a connection which eventually launched Kubrick into a career in his life-long interest of film. (via everyday-i-show)

Wu-Tang Clan To Produce Single Copy Of Ultra-Expensive, Secret Album To Question Value Of Music

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The Wu-Tang Clan, one of rap’s biggest and most influential acts, recently announced that they plan to release a single, hyper-expensive copy of an unreleased, secretly recorded record, to bring about debates about the current value of music. To heighten the value of their project, the owner will not only own the thirty songs on the album, but also the casing, which Forbes Magazine’s Zack O’Malley Greenburg describes as, “The lustrous container was handcrafted over the course of three months by British-Moroccan artist Yahya, whose works have been commissioned by royal families and business leaders around the world. Soon, it will contain a different sort of art piece: the Wu-Tang Clan’s double-album The Wu – Once Upon A Time In Shaolin, recorded in secret over the past few years.”

Says the de facto leader of the boundary pushing hip-hop group, Robert ‘RZA’ Diggs, “We’re about to sell an album like nobody else sold it before. “We’re about to put out a piece of art like nobody else has done in the history of [modern] music. We’re making a single-sale collector’s item. This is like somebody having the scepter of an Egyptian king.” 

On a site titled ezclziv scluzay (“exclusive-ly”), the RZA explains the concept behind the album, “History demonstrates that great musicians such as Beethoven, Mozart and Bach are held in the same high esteem as figures like Picasso, Michelangelo and Van Gogh. However, the creative output of today’s artists such as The RZA, Kanye West or Dr. Dre, is not valued equally to that of artists like Andy Warhol, Damien Hirst or Jean-Michel Basquiat…Is exclusivity versus mass replication really the 50 million dollar difference between a microphone and a paintbrush? Is contemporary art overvalued in an exclusive market, or are musicians undervalued in a profoundly saturated market?”

Plans have already begun to “tour” the listening party, as well as the one-of-a-kind album itself, at major museums across the world, before it becomes available for purchase. Will this gesture be enough to bring music sharing back to its pre-Napster value? As stated at the end of the site’s Edictum “This album is a piece of contemporary art. The debate starts here…” (via Forbes)