The first time Ludwig visited Chernobyl, in 1993, he was limited on the extent of the sites he could visit, but eventually got special permission from the police to be taxied around. During this trip, Ludwig met many elderly people who had decided to stay in their homes, ignoring radiation levels. Ludwig tells Slate, “At first Ukrainian officials discouraged them, branding them as illegal residents, but soon turned a blind eye, realizing that they preferred to die on their own contaminated soil instead of a broken heart in anonymous city suburbs.”
Dear Human is the artistic partnership between Jasna Sokolovic and Noel O’Connell. After meeting at a residency in Denmark the two began collaborating. Their work is based on common beliefs the two share and each project incorporates their respective strengths. Noel has material expertise and pays attention to detail where Jasna possesses great improvisational sensibility and an explorative nature.
Together their work draws inspiration from different environments. They appreciate places and spaces that allow them to experiment with materials, as well as other people, such as designers, architects and artists. Often their projects offer an alternative perception to overlooked everyday landscapes by revealing the hidden potential of places and objects. Ultimately they hope to inspire consciousness and curiosity.
The Sentinels were one such project. In part of the forest the duo regularly visits there used to be a grove of grand Douglas firs. Over a century ago they were cut down. At the time the technique to cut such giant trees was to chop wedges into them and embed horizontal planks to stand on, so the lumbar jacks could cut above the root line. Now the remains resemble empty eye sockets that, as the duo says, “longed for an intervention.” Inserting porcelain eyes into the slots the Sentinels were born and they silently keep watch over the forest.
For his project “Nipple,” the multimedia artist Shinji Murakami approaches female eroticism in an unexpected way, creating 8-bit images from photographs of Janet Jackson’s Superbowl “nip-slip,” Paris Hilton’s breast-baring bikini, and Kim Kardashian’s Playboy images. In constructing the pixilated images, the artist focuses solely on a tiny square area of each celebrity’s nipple.
In bringing the erogenous zone into the digital age, Shinji paradoxically desexualizes this part of the female body; while the original images are intended to be or considered to arousing, the blown-up nipple’s abstract, geometric pixel patterns inspire no erotic response. In this way, the work might be seen as a brutal reminder that, try as it might, digital media cannot stand in for true sexual intimacy.
Or perhaps “Nipple” is an unsettling prophecy: as we rely more upon technology, this series represents a more modern “sexy.” Erotic images of women’s bodies are becoming more accessible and more mass-produced; the video game industry, whose advanced technology serves as Shinji’s inspiration, has been criticized for its objectification of women. “Nipple” is that idea taken to the extreme; in these works, these female subjects are reduced to a single body part, and in turn, that body part is pixelated and transformed into an utterly dehumanized abstraction.
That is not to say that the images don’t contain beauty; in fact, the simplicity of their geometric form spotlights lovely hues. Each woman’s flesh becomes a digital tapestry of unexpected color variances. Like a modern take on the work of French Impressionists, “Nipple” precisely examines and deconstructs its subjects into tiny sections; here, in the place of a heavy brushstroke, is a pixel. What do you think of this conceptual take on the cultural connotations of the female body? Is it offensive or refreshing?
New York-based artist Kim Keever creates these abstract compositions by experimenting with colorful tinted paints and water. As a former thermal engineer for NASA projects, Keever tends to veer his work towards the scientific and experimental.
The beautiful, luscious and colorful forms are produced by the mixing and mingling of various amounts of color drops into water; as part of the process, the scientist-turned-artist documents the swirling liquids in hopes that something visually stunning happens in the midst of the experiment. Keever uses an enormous 200-gallon fish tank as the setting for much of his work; it, offers plenty of space and possibility for these stunning and unpredictable reactions to emerge.
These abstract formations are similar to Kevin Cooley’s Controlled Burns, a series of images that also explores the formations and movements of organic materials; although in his case the artist experiments with smoke and fire- which primarily leaves us with more natural color palette. While filled with bright, artificial hues, Keever’s creations still evoke images of breathtaking natural phenomena and earthy material (i.e quartz gemstones, stones, precious mineral stones, ocean tides,etc). (via My Modern Met)
In Lauren Roche‘s paintings, like the best portraiture, there exists a story found in discrepant details. Amidst heavily applied broad stroke of paint and drips, black dots appear to be lactating from human and animals, insinuating teets as opposed to breasts. Teeth are bared in grinless maws not typically associated with people or their pets. And yet there exists an honest and humble beauty in Roche’s rendering of her subjects. Explaining that many subjects are taken from faces of friends and pets, as well as old photographs used for reference, the Minneapolis-based artist adds,
“The figures in my images are facets of my subconscious and take action in a pictorial language and don’t transfer into names for me. I like to leave the interpretation of personality up to the viewer, because that’s what I do.”
Roche’s paintings possess a rawness that cannot be denied, balanced in equal measure by a deft rendering of facial expressions. Perhaps the beauty of these paintings comes from their singular nature, and their anachronistic charm, evocative of a different era of capturing images. When asked the purpose of a focus on portraiture, particularly in an uploadable Digital Age, Roche responds,
“The purpose of portraiture is to give the maker and viewer the space for an interpretation of the subject that is private and flexible, fluid and idiosyncratic. Its difficult to compare portraiture to a cell phone picture because the process is so different. Drawing portraits is like a form of meditation and reflection for me and taking a cell phone picture feels more like a superficial gesture to prove that I’m enjoying myself.”
Roche’s work will be featured in the upcoming Two Dark Horses at Bockley Gallery in Minneapolis, MN, alongside Andrew Mazorol and Tynan Kerr (who when painting collectively go by AMTK, previously featured here) and Lindsay Rhyner. The exhibition, named after one of Roche’s paintings (top of page) opens this Friday, March 21st and runs through April 26th, 2014.
Chicago-based street artist Don’t Fret is plastering New York with his wit and wisdom. Producing relatively simple images and text posters, he uses wheat paste to adhere them to walls and mailboxes They live among the torn down flyers and spray-painted graffiti adn look inconspicuous until you really stop to look at them.
Don’t Fret’s humor is observational, and sometimes silly. “Live by the sword. Die by your peanut allergy,” and “Polly saw you commit adultery” are both easy to “get” and amusing for the passerby. All images copyright of Jaime Rojo. (Via Huffington Post)
By photographing emotionally troubled dogs suffering from abandonment and aggression, the artist Martin Usborne chronicles his own painful struggle with depression. His recent series “Nice to Meet You” tenderly traces unknowable canine narratives by carefully placing the animals behind surfaces and materials: a wet glass pane, a cloud of smoke, pressed flowers.
In distancing the viewer from each creature, the artist paradoxically allows for a heightened level of intimacy with each dog; behind a haunting waterscape or transparent white shroud, each set of eyes glistens and each pointed nose seems to poke through the barrier, begging for closeness with the viewer.
In distorting space with long exposure times and unevenly textured surfaces, Usborne also blurs the notion of time; the animals appear ghostly, shadowy, and otherworldly. As each image leads us farther into this ethereal and lonesome dreamscape, we bear witness to the profound confidences of these gorgeous creatures, and they stare back, inviting viewers to empathize.
Ultimately, Usborne’s canine subjects recall our own murky and lonesome pasts, mirroring the dark places that we normally keep hidden within ourselves. In juxtaposing everyday statements like “I’m fine” and “I also work at the bank” with the charged photographs, the artist paints a portrait of isolation; he himself often repeated automatic phrases like “Nice to meet you” and “You look great” when in the midst of his depression. These animals, partially hidden by fog and fabric, serve as surrogates for we who hide behind words. If only for a moment, these vulnerable faces of dogs remind us that we are not alone; in lending us their quiet companionship, they become our confidantes. (via Design Boom)
There’s not much information about Alicia Watkins‘ scientific embroidery, but we can all agree the project is a fun way to identify potentially harmful microbes. From anthrax to salmonella, herpes, e.coli, toxoplasma, mono, botulism, and the common cold, Watkins has colorfully cross-stiched many well-known bacteria, protozoa, and viruses. Some of these dreadful microbes almost appear cute by Watkins’ careful hand, associating the warmth and comfort that cross-stitching evokes with the coldness of threatening diseases and sicknesses. Watkins’ Etsy store, appropriately named Watty’s Wall Stuff, has these stiched microbes available for purchase at $19.99 each, along with other clever and pop culture influenced cross-stitch work. She also takes custom orders, as well as making some of her patterns available for purchase. (via this isn’t happiness)