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Jason Houge’s Intimate Look At The Lives Of Feral Cats

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With the help of their local Cats Anonymous organization, photographer Jason Houge and his girlfriend have been feeding and caring for a colony of 30 (for now) feral cats that occupy the couple’s rural Wisconsin property. When they first moved into to their home, cats would come and go, but in 2012, one family of cats stuck around longer than a season. Thus began the start of Houge’s cat family, a family that he has recently been documenting via Instagram“There’s not a lot of understanding of cats, even when they live in your home,” Houge says. “I was mostly interested in seeing how they lived and interacted within a colony.” Houge’s photographs capture the wildness of the feral cats, the use of black and white emphasizing outdoor light and shadows from which the cats emerge. There’s an intimacy to these photographs that could only be captured with the cats’ trust of the photographer.

Noting how quickly a cat population can increase, Houge explains, “It’s likely most people have heard stories of hoarders who live with hundreds of cats. It only takes two intact cats and two or three years to get to that point. A female can have an average of five kittens three times a year and can become pregnant at about six months of age.” (via feature shoot and lens)

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Agustina Woodgate’s Rugs Made Out Of Skinned Teddy Bears

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Argentinian artist Agustina Woodgate creates these colorful and complex rugs made out of the skins that once belonged to a few hundred abandoned stuffed animals. Originally inspired by Eastern Culture’s symbolic use of rugs [as they often depict the spiritual and mental world in woven form], Agustina was looking to ultimately deliver an alternative memory object that displays and references personal histories.

Woodgate’s idea started by her relationship with her own old Teddy bear, Pepe. On an interview with Sight Unseen, she says:

It was simply an object. But I also didn’t want to throw it away. That’s when I decided wanted to do something with the bear. In the beginning of the process, I had no idea what was going to happen. I went to a thrift store, got another bear, and started playing around. I looked at all the components that make up a stuffed animal: the stuffing, the fabric, the stitching. I wanted to approach an everyday object in the hopes of making something new.

Woodgate was recently awarded the Florida Prize in Contemporary Art. The $20,000 prize was accepted by Woodgate last Friday at the Orlando Museum of Art, which established the award this year. “She was chosen based on the quality and significance of her overall body of work and contributions to the field of contemporary art”, said museum curator Hansen Mulford.

(via Sight Unseen and Orlando Sentinel)

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THE SLAP Is A New Social Experiment Where 40 Random People Hit Each Other In The Face

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The Slap, a totally fresh video by filmmaker Max Landis, is a clever response to the famous First Kiss video that went viral three months ago and has been making all of us go awwww up until now. Landis’ video features 40 randomly paired people in a fairly uncomfortable situation – the goal for them was to slap each other in the face. Even if it’s the first time they had met.

According to the author, none of the participants were pressured to do so and all of them were “hit as hard as THEY asked to be hit”. The beauty of this project lies in the contrast between a somewhat violent action of hitting other person and the intimate feeling the participants develop towards each other.

Though Landis really was aiming to mock the famous First Kiss video (which is obvious from the black and white color palette and similar upbeat music), he did go beyond just that. His explanation video called Point Of Impact explains the reasons for him to make “The Slap” in the first place.

“What is violence? It’s really just a label, isn’t it, if you let your mind go to a dark place. I decided to define violence as “non-consensual physical interference;” <…> What is trust? Do you trust someone not to hurt you? Are you even thinking about it? Do you care if they hurt you if you trust them? <…> The theory was: A slap, robbed of its violating context, is more intimate than a kiss. My theory, as it turned out, was right.”

Btw, did you notice the cherry on top? At 1:48, there’s Haley Joel Osment (yup, the kid from The Sixth Sense) being slapped straight into his lush beard.

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Woman’s Face Photoshopped In 27 Countries To Compare Beauty Standards In Different Parts Of The World

Left: Original portait; Right: Morocco

Left: Original portait; Right: Morocco

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We’ve all seen the “Before and After Photoshop” versions of photographs, displaying the ways in which various media distort our perception of ideal beauty. But what would these images look like in other countries? With her series Before & After, Esther Honig, a radio journalist based out of Kansas City, asked just that. With the help of Fiverr, a website for freelancers, she got in touch with artists from forty different countries; emailing each a self-portrait, she wrote, “Hi, my name is Esther Honig. Make me look beautiful.” When they did not understand the assignment, she simply told them to make her look like the most popular fashion models.

When artists from twenty-seven countries replied, she was astonished with the results. Some edits were so dramatic that she yelped aloud; others, like the image from Morocco, in which she was given a hijab, stole her breath. Some cultures favor a bare face where others apply makeup. Perhaps the most shocking aspect of the work is the overwhelming presence of Western feminine ideals: pale white skin, pink cheeks, a dainty nose, and wide eyes contoured with trimmed brows.

In the end, the series expresses the extend to which often oppressive beauty ideals are meaningless; where a woman is declared beautiful in one culture, she might be plain in another. Yet for all women, regardless of ethnicity and background, the pressure to be beautiful remains, propagated by the whims of the contemporary media. Writes Honig, “Photoshop allows us to achieve our unobtainable standards of beauty, but when we compare those standards on a global scale, achieving the ideal remains all the more illusive.” (via Buzzfeed)
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Jason DeMarte’s Juxtaposes Sublime Landscapes With Cheetos And Donuts

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Artist Jason DeMarte‘s photography juxtaposes sublime, remote landscapes and commercially produced and processed products such as Cheetos, Donuts or chips. The odd pairing can go two ways, for one, his work may spark an intriguing dialog between what’s man-made and what runs wild, second, the compositions might be alluding to our new-found pleasure in consuming these products. What once gave us so much life and inspiration (breathtaking landscapes, natural phenomena) is now second to last in our list of pleasurable things to experience.

DeMarte, however, presents this pairing in beautiful ways- ultimately making them coexist in a way that we never thought possible.

“I represent the natural world through completely unnatural elements to speak metaphorically and symbolically of our mental separation from what is ‘real’.”

(via IGNANT)

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Sandro Giordoano’s Twistedly-Funny Photographs Of People Falling Flat On Their Face

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With television game shows like Wipeout and American Ninja Warrior (and every slapstick movie, too), it’s no surprise that some of us derive pleasure from seeing people get hit. Photographer Sandro Giordoano’s twisted (both literally and figuratively) series In Extremis (bodies with no regret) capitalizes on the fall of others The staged images feature people comically posed in awkward and unflattering positions.

Always face down, the poor subjects are often garishly dressed and surrounded by their belongings. This is Giordano’s commentary on our attachments to our possessions; in every photograph, you’ll see the person clutching something like a watering can, oversized tennis ball, and even a power tool. To him, the characters in his compositions are oppressed by their appearance and the need to have things – and save them, even at their own expense. Their fall signifies that they hit rock bottom, and that they need to reexamine their life. (Via Laughing Squid)

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Walter Schels’ Haunting Photographs of People Before and After Death

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At the end of life: a camera lens, desperately recording and archiving the fears of the dying. For the series Life Before Death, the photographer Walter Schels captures the terminally ill in anticipation of the unknown and again in the moment after death. These intimate portraits are the last of a lifetime, documenting the body after some ineffable human essence has vanished. Informed by the words gathered in interview with the subjects by Schels’s partner Beate Lakotta, the haunting shots imagine the invisible, giving form to the most unconquerable human fear.

Schels’s portraits, in their silvery black and white tones, are reminiscent of Victorian post-mortem photography, presenting the dead as if sleeping, their eyes closed and brows gone slack in seeming comfort. These images are poignantly juxtaposed with the interviews, conversations in which even the most mundane, peripheral things of daily life are assigned significance; beside wizened and terrified eyes and coupled with existential wonderings are thoughts on fridge-freezers and local football teams. The banal works against and in service of the tragic; when confronted with death, a burial site and a cup of coffee are equally potent reminders of our mortality.

At the turn of the 20th century, it was believed that the eye recorded the last sight seen by the dead, that with careful study of the ocular nerves, we might reconstruct the moment of death. Schels’s subjects, pictured with gleaming eyes and contained within unrelentingly tight frames, seem to stare into the viewer as they confront inevitable passing, as if to implicate us or to say, “You are the last thing I saw.” (via The Guardian)
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Collection Of Haunting Vintage Halloween Photos From 1875–1955 Will Give You The Chills

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Ossian Brown is an English artist and musician whose book “Haunted Air” gives us a rare glimpse at the vintage celebration of Halloween in America, c. 1875-1955. Anonymous photographs collected from family albums depict the traditional macabre costumes from ages past.

“I find their haunting melancholy completely absorbing; all of these photographs <…> now torn out, disembodied and forgotten <…> they’ve now become fully and utterly the masks and phantoms they dragged up as, all those years ago.”

Compared to today’s flashy, pop-culture inspired Halloween costumes, these get ups of are capable of giving viewer the chills. Black and white photographs feature children and adults dressed with strange DIY masks and robes. Popular motifs contain disguising as devils, witches or animals.

According to Brown, he was fascinated by the wild imagination of these people who at the time were living in great poverty but still managed to create “these incredible and phantasmagorical apparitions”. From whatever inanimate objects, they would construct truly haunting costumes and kept with the essence of tradition which is overlooked nowadays.

To give the book even more mystery, the foreword was written by David Lynch. A short excerpt presented here:

“All the clocks had stopped. A void out of time. And here they are – looking out and holding themselves still – holding still at that point where two worlds join – the familiar – ant the other.”

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