London-based artist Oddly Headdepicts classic films in his series titled Hollywoodland, but it’s all with a dark(er) twist. Using iconic scenes and images from the likes of Poltergeist, Jaws, and The Wizard of Oz, he interjects different narratives. The drowned Statue of Liberty in Planet of the Apes is still but in Oddly Head’s telling it overlooks happy beach-goers. Likewise, celebrity Simon Cowell’s face appears on the Poltergeist TV rather than its original eerie glow.
By stripping the shocking/memorable parts of the original scenes, Oddly Head takes some luster away from Hollywood. Instead, he’s made them seem trivial, silly, and completely changes the tone. Julie Andrews in The Sound of Music suffers a distressingly-painful fate and is hitched to crosses. This much more sinister than its mostly-cheerful tone. Singing in the Rain also has the same treatment. As Gene Kelly belts out his the lyrics, a homeless man sleeps next to a graffitied door. Hollywoodland is part absurd and part amusing, and will definitely make you look at these films in a different light.
If you enjoy Oddly Head’s work, check out his intricate prints made from thousands of tiny vintage images.
Artist and illustrator Liam Gerrard is a master of trickery – especially when armed with a piece of charcoal in his hand. He draws meticulous combinations of animals (usually dead), pop stars, cultural icons, and beautiful snippets of nature (mostly flowers), that he describes as ‘Semi-Realistic-Gothic-Awesome-Dark-Magic-Black-Tracing’ (Source). Gerrard builds his complicated compositions from different elements to create a surreal hybrid of modern day life. Specializing in portraiture mostly, his work deals with ideas of beauty, life, death and how humankind deals with those complex issues that we are commonly faced with. Leafa Wilson writes about him in her essay:
He apprehends our desire to ‘perve’ at aesthetically beautiful things and people by giving us a few truths we may struggle to look at; ugliness executed with absolute beauty…..He underpins beauty and death through a marriage of Gothic darkness and pop-icon stellar-brightness that totally munts up the readings of his extensive visual vocabulary. Debbie Harry becomes the poster girl for Satan and Frida Kahlo is set aside with her monkeys in a surreal type vignette. (Source)
Gerrard does choose quite gothic material to focus on, but manages to turn it into something that is beautiful and wondrous. He garnered a lot of attention after drawing a 2.5 m charcoal and acrylic painting of convicted murderer Clayton Weatherston. The subject of the controversy had stabbed his 22 year old victim, Sophie Elliott, 216 times and was sentenced to 18 years in jail, without parole. And even with such a gruesome topic that many people would not care to know more about, he somehow managed to create an object of curiosity and interest. And that is enough proof of his immense talent. See more of it after the jump.
For photographer Ellie Davies, the forest is her studio. Her images are an immersive mix of realism and heightened fantasy. In a mossy clearing, for example, galaxies have been interposed with the landscape like clouds of will-o’-the-wisps, while elsewhere, stars resembling flaxen particles drift down in a column, illuminated by the sunlight. Her landscapes are not only places of mysticism and beauty, but of darkness, as well. Fog and clouds drift amongst the trees like ghostly breaths expelled from the twisted, bronchiole-like branches. In one particularly haunting photo from Between the Trees Triptych (2014), skeletal trees flank a spectral cluster of mist.
Whether glowing bright or cast in shadow, all of Davies’ images reveal a reverence for the forest, as well as her intimate understanding of the way such landscapes have manifested themselves in our cultural imaginations. As she writes in her Artist’s Statement:
“UK forests have been shaped by human processes over thousands of years. […] As such, the forest represents the confluence of nature and culture, of natural landscape and human activity. Forests are potent symbols in folklore, fairy tale and myth, places of enchantment and magic as well as of danger and mystery. In recent cultural history they have come to be associated with psychological states relating to the unconscious.”
And it is true; all of these cultural legends, practices, and traditions have made the forest — indeed, “nature,” as a concept — a construction, a story we tell ourselves to try and understand our individual connection with it. We imagine the woods as a symbolic place of “elsewhere” and “otherness,” and this cognitive distancing allows us to romanticize it, fear it, and/or exploit it.
Davies wants to confront us with these fictions “by making a variety of temporary and non-invasive interventions in the forest, which place the viewer in the gap between reality and fantasy” (Source). She creates her scenes in what she calls “small acts of engagement [that] respond to the landscape” — she builds things, creates pools of light, incorporates craft materials such as paint and wool. As I read it, the images have several effects. They resonate with our fantasies about the forest, but at the same time, we recognize their construction, which helps us to perceive that our cultural relationships to the forests of the real world are also constructed. In unveiling such narratives, Davies’ work encourages a more ethical connection to the woods: we recognize “reality” as a series of stories that have been told to us, we sense that we are not truly separate from what we call “nature,” and we accept that we can never fully understand it — an acknowledgment that fosters both respect and peaceful coexistence.
Our obsession with cats has a long and multi-cultured history. Long before Grumpy, Garfield and Felix, the Japanese were depicting cats in their artwork. A new exhibit set to open at New York’s Japan Society entitled “Life of Cats” studies the feline’s depiction during the Japanese Edo period. The period comprises a little over 250 years between 1615-1867, that saw a prolific use of cats (hi harmony), particularly in pieces made from Ukiyo-e woodblock prints. The printing technique was initially introduced to distribute texts of Buddhist scriptures. In 1765 a new technology made it possible to produce a single sheet using up to 20 colors. This allowed artists to take full advantage of palette and soon cats were appearing in a multitude of roles.
The first cat surfaced in Japan around the sixth century. They were brought over from China on ships transporting sacred scrolls written by monks. The Buddhists believed cats were mindful creatures and when an enlightened person died they would first come back as a cat before reaching nirvana. The exhibit at Japan Society is divided up into 5 categories: Cats and people, Cats as people, Cats vs. people, Cats transformed and Cats and play. Since the woodblock prints mainly depicted courtesans and Kabuki actors we see these figures in numerous works interacting with cats. The colors are exquisite and most of the scenes between human and feline is endearing. Some of the weirder prints are hybrid looking cat people and as mentioned earlier stems from the Buddhist belief of an enlightened being transforming into a cat before reaching nirvana. A popular motif was the common leisurely activities of a village, in these we see cats role playing as people relaxing at spas and playing in parks. (via hyperallergic)
For the last three years, urban explorer and photographer Matt Emmett has taken pictures of hidden locations across Northern Europe. He finds it thrilling to enter a previously-forgotten world and discover its new idiosyncrasies firsthand. Emmett is particularly fascinated in industrial remnants and ex-military sites, and he’s documented it in a series titled Forgotten Heritage.
“Having a camera with me allows me to prolong that thrill long after the building is gone,” Emmett writes on his website.“It’s an often quoted cliché but there really is a strong sense of palpable history present in abandoned buildings, the items left behind like paperwork in a drawer or plaques or signs in an industrial plant, allow you a glimpse into the past. I consider experiencing these places to be a great privilege.”
The landscape images feature hulking machines now obsolete. Rust, dirt, and grime covers control panels and infrastructure as the earth reclaims the land. Emmett is interested in capturing the aesthetics, character, and history of the buildings. He describes this process:
From the point of view of a photographer there is a total lack of distraction in the stillness of a derelict building; the sound and movement associated with people or workers has been removed, for me this makes them far more sensory than when they are occupied. Your mind can easily focus on what is around you and takes in so much more. The building’s voice is clear and a character and visual aesthetic emerges that was much harder to define than if it was a busy, populated environment. (Via designboom)
Yes, it is as strange as it sounds. Japanese ketchup company Kagome has taken product placement to another level. Unimpressed that most marathon runners rely on bananas as a fuel source, they decided to invent a tomato feeding robot that athletes can wear. Weighing 18 lbs and able to hold 6 tomatoes, the Tomatan is designed to combat fatigue and raise the appeal of tomatoes worldwide. While on your morning jog, all you need to do is to pull the level next to your arm and a ripe juicy tomato will pop into your mouth.
And what’s more, if you decide that the Tomatan is too heavy, there is a smaller, more petite option also. The Petit-Tomatan weighs half the weight of the original design and will be tested at the Tokyo Marathon this Sunday. It has a delivery tube attached to a mini-tomato holster worn on the wearer’s back and even a timer to stop the runner over-indulging.
Designed and completed by company Meiwa Denki, known for it’s off-the-wall devices and musical instruments. The Tomatan is a brilliant example of Japanese humor. I’ll end with something CEO Shigenori Suzuki from Kagome said about how serious the business of tomatoes are.
Tomatoes have lots of nutrition that combats fatigue. (Source)
I think we have all been underestimating the power of tomatoes for too long now. This is their time. (Via Gizmodo)
Spanish illustrator Irma Gruenholz constructs hand sculpted, three-dimensional scenes using clay. Her surreal compositions primarily involve portraits of rosy-cheeked humans coupled with fantastical characteristics. A woman, posed like a frog, captures small human flies with her long tongue. Another illustration features a woman catching small bits of light between two chopsticks. Gruenholz forms the clay into smooth, elegant figures that don’t immediately read as handmade – they look like they could’ve been digitally produced.
A lot of work goes into crafting these illustrations. Gruenholz individually creates each character each character and scene using sculpting tools and paint. They’re held in place by stands and posed correctly. Scenes are photographed and later edited to remove the supports and produce the illusion that they could possibly be real.
Kevin Dowd creates photo collages that examine the familiar in surreal environments. An amusement park ride is suspended in mid-air; the lonely peak of a roller coaster ride frames a mysterious moon. His artwork resonates with emotional meaning, evoking feelings of uncertainty and isolation. By using the totems of our childhood — brightly colored balloons, swings, and theme park rides — Dowd also calls up a sense of unsettling nostalgia.
This is no coincidence. One of his collections is called Technostalgia: a pair of balloons tethered to a telephone pole, at odds with a wisp of cloud in the background that could either be coming or going. The artist’s intent is to examine “the nature of communication, the analogous methods of wired transmission, sound and even thought.”
Dowd is a thoughtful artist who has grand metaphorical meanings behind his work. Field Day: Ascent, the collage of children on swings rising into the sky, is meant to “capture sensations of awe and beauty, while recognizing the tentative nature of such experiences.” The photos of the roller coaster, named Babel I and Babel II, “explore the hubris of man.”
Whether or not the viewers grasp those exact interpretations, though, Dowd’s work still stirs up feelings of traveling to times and places long gone. (h/t I Need a Guide)