Davis Ayer is an LA based photographer who shoots on a Mamiya RZ, has mastered the art of the double exposure, and has an unbending attraction toward what is beautiful. A true nostalgist, Ayer’s work features a dreamy host of colors and moods. His photos have a hauntingly droney saturation about them. His work comes forth through the precision of technicality but ultimately breaks most every rule there is with stunning alacrity. Light leaks, double exposures, solar flare, and other manipulations make the colors in his film bleed so majestically and form the spine of his work. Sometimes I see Mapplethorpe, sometimes I see old film stills, sometimes I see another dimension, sometimes I see Gregory Crewdson. He often photographs women in desolate places and there lingers a level of timelessness that none of the other kids working with distressed film seem to get. The timelessness is essential because it allows the viewer to insert their own subconscious desires into the narrative. The timelessness keeps it relevant. If it’s not dated then it can’t go out of style. He knows the angle to work, and because of that his photographs will always be interesting and beautiful to look at, even after Urban Outfitters stops selling Holga’s and the trend has surpassed. In many ways, that is the mark of a work of art: you can see it hundreds of times and still find something beautiful and new within it each time you look. When I see his work, I hear music, and I see it all play out. Imagine the wind whipping through your hair as My Bloody Valentine blasts through the speakers of the 1969 Chevy Camaro, matte black, that you’re driving like a bat out of hell, and as you meander through the New Mexican landscape, nightfall casts across the desert a meandering series of pinks, purples and blues. This is his world you’ve driven into, come ready to dress in the richness of dreams.
Black and white line illustrations, no written instructions, umlauts scattered like rose petals, that smiley cartoon guy—this certainly looks familiar. Illustrator Ed Harrington has subverted the ubiquitous directions sheet for his “Ikea Instruction” series. In Harrington’s world, it’s not streamlined Swedish furniture that’s being assembled, but monsters, killers, and Edward Scissorhands.
The clever illustrations make use of all of Ikea’s standard elements: the illustrated pieces, the bold sans-serif font, the crossed-out warning images. The Vörhees requires a simple assembly of one very large knife, one hockey mask, and one Allen wrench, whereas the Edvard needs 14 units of two different types of scissors, a heart, and hand removal. So far the DIY instruction sheets include Brundlefly from The Fly, a Human Centipede, Jason Voorhees from Friday the 13th, Edward Scissorhands and Pinhead, the Cenobite leader from Hellraiser.
Merging two incredibly popular, and incredibly different, pop culture genres makes this series work. Who could be next in the flat pack? Perhaps a small striped shirt, overalls, and an axe. Who wants to build Chücky?
Often there is a thick line that separates the fact of human and animal conscience. Brad Wilson’s portraits demonstrate the profound character each of his animal subjects possess. Wilson is a commercial photographer used to working with human subjects. His lens creates a bridge between humanity and the animal kingdom, allowing us to contemplate the gap that is likely much narrower than we believe between ourselves and other living creatures. His photographs allow us to recognize ourselves within the animals, in some way, their humanity (although of course, not literally).
His experience in taking the photographs is extremely enlightening. Below are excerpts from a Bored Panda article.
“The animals engender an amazing sense of relationship that is primal in its roots and profound in the moment. I learned that they are what we, as humans, used to be: completely present in the moment and curious about the immediate enviroment around them, and living primarily through instinct and intuition.”
Tigers have quite a presence in the studio. There were some rather awe-inspiring, fear-inducing moments when you realized just how physically powerful they were. Overall though, with a camera in front of my face, I felt strangely removed from the environment around me. I was simply unaware of any intimidation or danger. Of course, this was a complete illusion, but it served me well.”
“I’m after something very specific – a moment where mood, composition, and stillness come together to reveal something uncommon and unexpected. I’m looking for unique connection to my subject that shows something deeper and more intimate to the viewer and treats the animals as equals, affording them all the respect and dignity I would offer any person in front of my camera. Hopefully this makes my series different from most other animal photography, but that’s ultimately up to each individual seeing the work to decide.”
Mathieu Connery, aka 500M was busy from this past May to the middle of July. During this time, he painted 10 abstract geometric murals on sidewalks for the second edition of the MURAL festival in Montreal. Connery produced one of them per week that are located along Saint-Laurent Boulevard, which was the official location for the event. His minimalist spray-painted pieces are colorful works that sprawl across the cement and are best enjoyed when looking at them from above.
Connery’s pieces for the festival feature a host of geometric shapes that include criss-crossing lines, block forms, and the illusion of them being in 3D. They are influenced by urban architecture, which you can see in the artist’s organization of these pieces. There’s a fluid rigidity, where lines aren’t exactly straight but mimic things like a net, a building tower, or even a maze. People can interact with them as a work of art (and look at them from afar) or follow the lines and move through them. (Via Vandalog)
Painter Jonathan Yeo captures wonderfully serene moments in the midst of something quite violent. Snapshots of women undergoing cosmetic surgery are painted in a delicate, realistic style, complete with cutting lines. Blurred edges and half-formed torsos suggest bodies that are not yet complete. We see the surgeon’s hands pulling this way and that, like an artist inspecting his canvas. Glimpses of figures are covered in cryptic markings, ready to be cut, snipped, sliced and altered. Yeo’s paintings appear to be something of a modern day Frankenstein.
A self-taught artist, Yeo has been exploring ideas of identity through portraiture, pornographic collages and images of plastic surgery since the early 90s. Having completed high profile portraits of celebrities (Nicole Kidman, Damien Hirst, Malala Yousafzai, Kevin Spacey and Tony Blair) it is fitting for Yeo to move onto another western obsession – vanity. These paintings of the modern day phenomena that is cosmetic surgery are deeply disturbing. We see these women in the midst of transformation, in a state of ease, even bliss, but perhaps this has more to do with the anesthetic. Using a palette of beige, creams and and greys, his works appear sickly but peaceful.
Depicting these subjects as he does, Yeo really is the contemporary Mary Shelley. He shows us people so ready and willing to undergo drastic changes – a vanity and longing for perfection that is in all of us. These paintings maybe act as the mirror we should be looking into; a mirror in which we don’t see what we want to, but rather the stark reality we are faced with: that perhaps Narcissus is not such a far away myth after all.
What’s in a word? That’s what the prolific and internationally known Asian-American artist Omocat has been faced with lately. In the midst of her recent “shota” t-shirt release (pictured here), the artist’s intentions have in instances been taken widely out of context. Embraced by Japanese fans that understand the context, some others have used it as a brutal platform for Western backlash. In this instance something got lost in translation between hemispheres, and it is increasingly important that we explore the context and origin of the Japanese word shota and, above all, what this illustrates about western views on sexuality and gender.
Omocat’s continuum of work includes illustration, comic-books, clothing and merch with her designs. Her imagery and content is often based on shota (which loosely translates to mean “pretty boy”) or loli (an expansive style and sometimes fetish originating in Nabakov’s Lolita). All of these artistic expressions stem from Otaku, an umbrella term for the Japanese manga-centric subculture that also informs the work of artist Takashi Murakami. It is important to note that Omocat is quite vocal and literal within the work on her feelings towards social justice and self-empowerment in gender and sexual identity, with a strong personal stance against bullying. This is illustrated fully in her comic “Pretty Boy,” featured here. Omocat is even working on a collaborative artistic effort against bullying set to launch later this fall.
The Centro Financiero Confinanzas Skyscraper in Caracas, Venezuela, has been home to 3000 squatting residents since October 2007. Alejandro Cegarra took five months to create The Other Side of the Tower, a photo-series that documents the lives of the abandoned building’s inhabitants. Although it is in no way an ideal life – Cegarra reports that there are places without railings where drunk people or children have fallen, and that the water and electrical systems are not adequate – the Tower of David, as it has been nicknamed, is a place where people have created their homes to live mostly peacefully.
Cegarra’s photographs provide a candid look at the community, and how they have developed the unfinished building into something livable. There are shops, and even an unlicensed dentist working in the building. Although the elevators do not work, people ride motorcycles up to the 10th floor in place of them. Residents live up to the 28th floor, meaning some walk 18 flights of stairs even with the use of a motorcycle.
The photo-series brings up an interesting issue of living standards and help versus enforcement. After difficult negotiation, government officials agreed in July to move hundreds of families to new social housing in Cua, south of Caracas. There has apparently been interest expressed in developing the rest of the building for its original purpose, but the government states it is open to a dialogue concerning the use of the building. Still, considering some residents would have been living there for 7 years, is dislocation the best option? Could the government have invested money in developing the building as a better home to those who already live there, or is it a-moral to nurture inherently unstable conditions.
Cegarra’s photographs help to illustrate the perspective of those most affected. Although his own lens may equally distort in favour of the tower’s inhabitants, romanticizing their condition, it may be closer to the truth than anything else offered. Ultimately, it should be the inhabitant’s needs that are considered the most heavily.
Cegarra has been awarded the Ian Parry Scholarship for The Other Side of the Tower. (Via TIME Lightbox)
UK photographer Laura Dodsworth took 100 photos of women’s bare breasts for her project Bare Reality. Her goal is to present a non-Photoshopped spectrum of bodies of women aged from 19 to 101. It’s not just about appearances, though. Dodsworth also gathers personal stories about the participants and narratives about the way women feel about their breasts.
“More than simply part of our bodies, breasts represent sexuality, motherhood and femininity. When we talk about breasts we talk about intimate aspects of our lives as women, such as growing up, sexuality, motherhood, breastfeeding, relationships, body image, health, cancer and ageing.”
There has been a lot of attention paid to the portrayal of women’s bodies recently. Natural beauty and non-surgically altered physiques have started to appear more frequently in ad campaigns and fashion magazines. During European summers, it’s more common to see topless women of all sizes and shapes. In the US, the breasts we tend to see outside of our mirrors and homes are youthful or enhanced. It leads to a skewed view of reality; what to expect from one’s own body and what to expect in a partner.
These real women with real bodies are all different. Some are marked by age and time, others by disease. Small, large, upright, and sagging, each portrait has a story, including: “I’m one of the lucky ones,” “Breasts make you feel like a proper woman,” and “My milk went when Hitler marched in.” Dodsworth writes:
“I have always been fascinated by the dichotomy between women’s personal lives and how they are depicted in the media; between how we feel about breasts privately and how they are presented for public consumption. Bare Reality is, for me, the inevitable result of being a woman, a feminist and a photographer.”
Dodsworth’s is currently holding a kickstarter campaign to publish a book of this project.