The Secret Garden Of Snails Is Filled With Slimey Wonder

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The photographer Vyacheslav Mishchenko spent much of his childhood in nature; following his father on mushroom hunting expeditions, he often crouched to the ground in rapt fascination with the tiny, slimy, and colorful wonderland of bugs. As an adult, he returns to this kingdom of imagination, cataloguing the daily lives of snails.

Breaking from the objectivity of traditional nature photography, Mishchenko’s soulful images read like a children’s storybook, filled with unexpected emotionality and suspense. The expertly-shot macro images frame the miniature snail landscapes in miraculous detail, seducing viewers into a world of Alice In Wonderland mushrooms and plump fruits. Shot from the vantage-point of teensy, unsuspecting creatures, the world seems vast and dazzlingly fertile.

The delicate creatures, seen so vividly, become startlingly powerful, their muscular bodies twisting and writhing around newly-budding stems. In this strange and enchanting visual narrative, snails become lovers who gently kiss, seemingly forming one long, sticky body in their embrace. They curiously extend towards succulent forbidden fruits that drip with raindrops; as if in some natural Eden, they hide their bodies in fantastic shells.

Reflected many times over in perfectly rounded dewdrops and in the artist’s own lens, the snails seem to verge on the point of self-awareneness. As if to evoke the metaphor applied to Helena and Hermia, the young heroines of Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream, two snails arch their bodies over twin cherries, ripe and red. It’s miraculous what goes on beneath our feet, and I cannot think of  better set of images to get us in the mood for spring. (via BUST)

Andrew Knapp’s Photographs Of Hide and Seek With His Dog

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There’s a dog in every one of these photographs. Do you see it? Based on a famous game, Andrew Knapp and his border collie Momo find a variety of places to play hide and seek. Urban areas, grassy parks, graffitied walls and rocky terrain are just some of where you can spot Momo (or at least try). Knapp and his furry friend play this ongoing game called Find Momo with the fans of their blog around the world.

This light-hearted and amusing series is reminiscent of the Where’s Waldo books that many of us enjoyed as kids. Momo is good at hiding, and it’s genuinely difficult to spot him in some of these photographs. Further adding to the feeling of nostalgia, Knapp applies a vintage filter to his images, and they look like they are memories of another time.

If you didn’t know the premise behind them, you can still enjoy these images for the quirky American landscapes that they are. (Via DeMilked)

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Andreas Franke’s Haunting And Surreal Series Imagines Underwater Shipwrecks Full of Life

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Austrian photographer and diver Andreas Franke has created a hauntingly beautiful series of images called “The Sinking World” in which he layers studio photographs over underwater ship wrecks. In 2009, the USS Vandenberg was lowered into the ocean off the coast of Florida to serve as an artificial reef. When Franke encountered the ship while diving, he was inspired by the vessel’s haunting emptiness. For the Vandenberg project, Franke superimposes photographs of recognizable, everyday scenes; the studio figures appear ghostly, as if they are re-enacting scenes that previously took place in a lively atmosphere. The empty ship becomes a site that reveals snapshots of a lost, surreal world, discovering the humanity that lurks among the ships hallways, passages, and decks. Franke creates an unexpected dream world where a viewer is pulled into a strange, new, and fantastical place.

This sunken ship not only provides the setting for Franke’s superimpositions, but also serves as a gallery where divers can swim up to Franke’s work, viewing his photographs in the very place that inspired his images. From the project’s website,

“The pictures engender extreme polarities: the soft, secretive underwater emptiness of sleeping shipwrecks is paired with real, authentic sceneries full of liveliness and vigor, thus creating a new world, equally bizarre and irresistibly entangling…

 

These spectacular underwater galleries make divers fall under their spell and display the work of the ocean itself. During the weeks and months under water the ocean bequeaths impressive, peerless traces to the pictures. It adorns them with a certain, peculiar patina, endowing them with the countenance of bizarre evanescence and transfiguring them into rare beauties.”

Franke has also created two other series of shipwreck images using period piece studio photography, as opposed to the everyday activities of the Vandenberg project. For the SS Stavronikita shipwreck, Franke superimposes photographs of people dressed in clothing and participating in activities evocative of Rococo. For the USS Mohawk, a WWII shipwreck, Franke imagines what life on the ship might look like, and creates a series of images in which the sailors have returned to haunt the ship. (via slow art day)

Livio Scapella’s Haunting Sculptures Of Shrouded Ghosts Will Chill Your Bones

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The sculptor Livio Scapella‘s shrouded figures seem to be in eternal conflict with their materiality, trapped like lost souls within the confines of stone. In this strange work, titled “Ghosts Underground,” the artist uses the aesthetic dialogue normally associated with classical Renaissance masters, establishing the suggestion of movement within the frozen busts; necks contort, and mouths hang open as if to speak. Visual weight is distributed uncomfortably, and like Michelangelo’s Prisoners, Scapella’s figures yearn for escape, gasp for air.

Like a moving, writhing funeral shroud, the fabric is rendered with the utmost delicacy and softness, affording the busts a ghostly significance, as if they were invisible men and women defined only by the cloth in which they are contained. Like those caught frantically between life and death, the haunting figures seemingly do battle with the elements of the natural world and its order. As they strain against stone, they are powerfully anchored by spectacular quartz and amethyst held steadfastly to their chest. Like an external representation of the soul or spiritual self, the burdensome yet magnificent gemstones lie cradled within the airy fabric above the heart.

In a particularly powerful diptych, the “white soul” sits beside the “black soul;” where the white soul rests, embracing her permanent and immobile fate, the black soul strives against eternity, his mouth open in a frightful scream. The male, art historically associated with the intellectual and rational, is in turmoil; the female, on the other hand, becomes unified with nature and with the elements from which she is constructed. Within each of us lies this powerful duality: will we succumb to death or will we struggle to escape it? Take a look. (via Hi Fructose and Juxtapoz)

Mario Zoots’ Modernly Surreal Collages

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Collage inherently involves nothing less than altering existence. By taking found imagery, Mario Zoots makes changes both hand-made and (occasionally) digital to alter the perception of the everyday, and continue their evolution towards new definitions. The Denver, Colorado-based Zoots is on the forefront of the modern collage movement, and was featured in Gestalten’s recent The Age of Collage: Contemporary Collage in Modern Artthe definitive investigation into how collage has become one the most vital forms of current visual expression. Separate from the concerns of any loosely-affiliated movement, Zoots describes his own practice from a more personal perspective, “I would like to think that my work is about tapping into the unconscious and setting up parameters to allow chance to work its magic.”

Typically focusing on the human figure, and often in portraiture genre, Zoots utilizes geometric pattern, layers, and physical manipulations like scratches, drips, and tears to obscure, thereby creating new faces to interpret. In an interview with Monster Children, Zoots describes his attention and focus on the face of his subject, “It’s really about the eyes for me. When I disrupt someone’s gaze, I find some mysterious, surreal quality. It makes you forget who you’re looking at. I try to create collages from dreams. When I dream I know who the people are, but I usually can’t see their faces. There’s a real energy behind that.”

Mario Zoots will take part in the upcoming travelling exhibition INTERNATIONAL WEIRD COLLAGE SHOW (IWCS) at The Invisible Dog in Brooklyn, New York. The 8th Edition of the IWCS opens Saturday April 19, 2014, from 6 to 10pm, and runs through May 11th, 2014. 

Delicate X-Ray Photographs Offer A Touchingly Intimate Glimpse Into The Everyday

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The artist Hugh Turvey lives his life in x-ray vision; since her began creating his vivid, colored x-ray photographs, titled xograms, he views the world and its objects as something to be dissected, unveiled, and understood. Turvey’s strange x-rays are made thusly: he begins by positioning his subjects on light-sensitive paper, then overlays them with photographs and adds color so as to enhance depth.

X-ray technology, which we so often associated with sterile medicine, healthcare, and the danger of internal injury, finds an oddly tender home in Turvey’s work. Dense objects become visual synecdoches, stand-ins for living subjects; in one image, a coat becomes personified, its zippers, seams, and wrinkles suggesting human posture. Femme Fatale pictures the artist’s wife’s foot: contorted, stressed, delicate.

When placed alongside these relatively personal images, x-rays of suitcases, phones, and first-aid kits no longer retain the cold, effective objectivity we are accustomed to seeing during TSA screenings and the like. Instead, we are offered a satisfyingly voyeuristic glimpse into the private lives of others as seen through a tumbler or a martini glass, and we are transfixed by the mundane, incidental objects of existence.

Turvey’s portraits of animals are particularly poignant, indicating the complex internal lives of creatures we too rarely consider. A fish is confined to a painfully isolating bowl, his boney frame drifting to the top for food, and a small dog reveals soft, beautifully coiled internal organs as he wears a cone around his head. Similarly, a curious rabbit is shown in dark, moody browns evocative not of medicine so much as psychology and spirit; his wide eyes peer above the hat. These deeply sympathetic animals are made all the more delicate by Turvey’s process, their curiosities and concerns expressed through the barest physicality. (via Smithsonian Mag, The Guardian, and National Geographic)

Jan Esmann’s Hyper-Realistic Paintings Of Sleeping People For The Voyeur In All Of Us

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At first glance, the oil paintings of Jan Esmann could easily be confused with photographs; seen in heightened resolution and depth of field, the portraits capture the remarkable tangibility of the human face. Also unlike your typical photographic subject, all of the painter’s characters are sleeping, caught wide-mouthed in their own personal dreamscapes, allowing viewers an uncomfortable and enchanting intimacy with the private imaginings of the unconscious mind.

Seen from above and as if lit by candlelight, Esmann’s strange and transfixing portraits evoke narratives like that of the mythological Psyche, who, against her lover Cupid’s warnings and prohibitions, snuck a candle into their bedchamber so that she might glimpse his face. The painted faces seem to stand at the precipice of wakefulness, their folded, glistening eyelids precariously shut. The viewer is allowed to witness the most vulnerable of states, yet (s)he does not escape the unnerving sense that s(he) might be caught, found out.

The consistent open mouths betray sleepy yearnings, unabashed moments of ecstasy in slumber. As if possessed by spiritual or erotic climax, Esmann’s subjects are sensuous and blissful; saliva glitters on canines, and sweat sets the face aglow. Unconfined to a more truthful representation of human perception (either photographic or otherwise), the artist’s hyper-realist style enables her to picture every inch of flesh with the same breathtaking clarity. Viewers may examine every feature, while the objects of our attentions remain frozen in time and space. In this beautifully bizarre series, we are permitted our voyeuristic impulses. (via Lost at E Minor)

Bing Wright’s Photographs Of Sunsets Look Like Luminous Stained Glass

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Photographer Bing Wright‘s newest project, Broken Mirror/Evening Sky, is a series of images that capture the reflections of sunsets on shattered mirrors. Its colors, textures and overall composition resembles the appearance of luminous stained glass windows. The cracked glass seemingly generates doubled reflections, disjointed gleams and refracted light into shards of images that instantly reminds the viewers of an abstractive painting. The final prints, recently displayed at the Paula Cooper Gallery in NY, are displayed quite large, measuring nearly 4′ across by 6′ tall.

This new body of work is Marks Wright’s first return to color photography in almost a decade.(via Colossal)