On the weekend of June 6th and 7th, two giant Buddha statues destroyed by Taliban forces in 2001 were resurrected using 3D projection technology. Known as the Buddhas of Bamyan, the two structures, towering over 100 feet, were carved into the sandstone cliffs of Bamyan Valley, Afghanistan, and had watched over the area since the sixth century. They once served as an important site of pilgrimage for Buddhists. When the Taliban deemed the Buddhas false idols, they obliterated them using tanks and artillery shells. The damage was extensive, and in the years since there has been much debate on how — or even if — they could be repaired. UNESCO named the ruins a site of World Heritage in Danger in 2003.
Documentarians Janson Yu and Liyan Hu, however, offered the Afghan people a temporary (but inspiring) solution: to project beautiful, realistic holograms of the Buddhas inside the blasted caverns where they once stood. As The Atlantic explains, “the couple fine-tuned the projections on a mountainside in China and then, after receiving approval from UNESCO and the Afghan government, brought the system to Afghanistan” (Source). Only 150 people attended the event as it was not well publicized, but you can still witness the Buddhas’ resurrection in the images and video above. While the temporariness of the projections may reemphasize the devastating loss of the ancient statues — and how their future remains uncertain — the video sums up the symbolic effect quite nicely, deeming the holographic reconstructions a “beacon of light after a decade of war.” (Via artnet News)
Once again, the prestigious palace of Versailles has been invaded. After Jeff Koons, Takashi Murakami and Joana Vasconcelos it’s Anish Kapoor’s turn to impress the crowd. And he did.
The artist designed six spectacular installations all meant to impact the history and architecture left by Le Notre, the official Sun King’s gardener.
Anish Kapoor wants to create an opposition: the perfect and rigid site of Versailles versus the idea of chaos and death.
The first two pieces are reflecting the sky and deforming the crowd onto gigantic mirrors. What follows is a little more outstanding: an orifice, like a giant vagina comes out from the ground and faces the palace. A metaphor highly suggesting the cause of the downfall of Marie Antoinette, the King’s guillotined wife. As the viewers randomly walk down onto the next pieces they cannot ignore the phallus shaped organ and the red stones exploding from the grass. Red is Anish Kapoor’s color of choice, it’s the color of the flesh and he is using it repeatedly; he says by using this color he makes the body celestial.
The next two pieces are a dramatic liquid vortex and an informal gelatinous bood-red colored shape. Both installations play with the viewers and their nerves. The whirlpool is intimidating as the sound of the blackened swirl is frightening, the ground shakes under the feet and the strange red organ absorbs the viewer’s bodies as they can penetrate inside.
The provocation goes on with the last piece built inside the Jeu de Paume (at a 5 min walk from the castle). Clearly Anish Kapoor criticizes the French revolution, and condemns the violence of the state against its own citizens. A cannon projects against a white wall red wax and the sexual interpretation which the artist approaches is inevitable: “I am conscious of the controversy this piece could imply. The phallic shape of the cannon and the sexual tension coming from it. Remember that this room was filled with males representing a male dominant State”.
It may be hard to believe, but these colorful creations of Jason Hackenwerth‘s are made from hundreds of balloons. He twists and sculpts latex balloons around each other to resemble different kinds of organic and biological forms. Hackenwerth creates all sorts of creepy shapes and forms that look like you are seeing something in a scientist’s laboratory magnified. Super colorful amoeba, cells, or rhizopods hang from the ceiling. Bacteria-shaped sculptures are grouped together, sprouting weird sorts of growths in every direction.
The artist is not only inspired by science – last year, Hackenwerth unveiled a large piece in Scotland at the Edinburgh International Science Festival. Titled Pisces, it is an interpretation of the Greek myth about Aphrodite and Eros. Made from over 10,000 balloons, it was a massive twisting spiral of two fish and took three staff members almost 6 days to blow up. Hackenwerth says more about it:
I see this as a metaphor for the evolution for life and the unexpected ways we can transcend our greatest threats. My plan for Pisces is to create a complex spiral that will open into a huge seashell like form. This spiral will correspond with the dynamic with the motion of the universe – the double helix. It is the spiral from which all life is derived. (Source)
Hackenwerth starts his process with drawings and sketches to help visualize how his pieces will work on a large scale. He then inflates balloons and arranges them in various structures to see what will work for the final piece. He talks about the importance of his medium:
Using balloons as a medium for expression came from a desire to connect with a wider audience. Balloons are accessible and they seem to have a magic ability for people to feel joy. Perhaps it is a regression to childhood. (Source)
Dutch artist Ruud Van Empel is following in the footsteps of his Flemish ancestors and is creating some pretty confronting portraits. He digitally collages images of innocent, wide eyed children into environments of lush, hyper-colored, tropical forests, ponds and gardens. While his pictures are in no doubt beautiful and aesthetically pleasing, there is definitely something unsettling about them. The children seem a bit out of place – staring a bit too intensely at the camera as if they were possessed or hypnotized. Everything seems a bit too perfect, a bit too beautiful.
Van Empel sometimes spends weeks collating images from multiple sources to build one digital portrait. The reason his portraits seem so weird is because they are pictures of people that don’t really exist. This is a bit of an insight into his process:
First he collects all the features he needs by shooting a variety of young models in his studio and by subsequently wandering through Dutch forests, in search of fine leaves, perfect branches and the right waters. Only to tear it apart and spend weeks reconstructing it all until both the person and the setting match his desired standard of photo-realism. (Source)
It can also not go unnoticed that a majority of the kids in Van Empel’s photography are black. The artist himself grew up in a small Dutch village with a large white population. He speaks more about this influencing his work:
I grew up in a small Catholic town in the south of the Netherlands. There was only one black boy in my primary school class. In the portrait Generation 1 I expressed this situation. It shows a white class with just one black pupil. With World#1 I decided to work with more black children. It set off a whole new series of work. First I thought of portraying a girl in a dirty, old and torn-up dress, as if she were very poor. I suppose this idea popped up in my head because of the image we westerners are often given. I didn’t really like that idea though, and decided to give them the clothes my generation wore when we were kids, especially because those clothes looked very innocent to me. (Source)
Saul Bass (1920-1996) was a legendary American graphic designer and filmmaker. In 1980, twenty years after collaborating with Stanley Kubrick on storyboards for Spartacus, the two artists came together again to produce posters for The Shining. However, many drafts were needed before the recognizable, yellow one-sheet depicting a crazed, stippled face emerged into existence. Here, you will see four designs from Design Buddy and TOH, all of which Kubrick rejected, his reasons for each scrawled (somewhat harshly) in the margins. Bass’ cover letter and Kubrick’s response are also included.
Among the rejected designs are images of the maze and the hotel, which Kubrick deemed respectively as “too abstract” and “looks peculiar.” Bass also tried more interpretive approaches, such as a toppled tricycle lying eerily inside a hand, or the family of three crumbling into terrifying abstraction. Kubrick’s response was likewise as blunt: “too irrelevant,” “looks like science fiction film.” While Bass’ designs are skillfully done and represent genuine efforts to capture the essence of the groundbreaking psychological horror, most of us would probably agree that the final product — the face disintegrating into madness — suits the film best. (Via The Film Stage).
Johan Creten speaks his own language. He creates organic creatures by casting a rare medium used in the art world: clay. It has been considered too primitive, associated with craft rather than sculpture for a long time. Johan Creten imposed his vision and art and is now established in the most prestigious residencies : Sevres and Medici. (an art residency is a place where an artist is invited to work with the best artisans and manufacturers in order to create master pieces. A residency can catapult an unknown artist to fame and success overnight).
The artist was born in Belgium and is now traveling throughout the world. He calls himself an observer of the world. His mission is to translate the social tensions and injustices into beautiful abstract ceramic sculptures. While other artists would rather think about a project and have it conceived by a third party, he is choosing to dig his hands into the clay which he calls “mother earth”.
His signature are large scaled bodies covered with glazed vulvas with which he approaches themes like the ambiguity of sexuality, solitude as a threat and the injustice of social status. Ceramic was never a form of art before Johan Creten. The fact that he was able to live with the harshness of his peers ignoring his work as art is a resistantce which makes him proud. He uses this relationship to balance his art. His pieces reflect our roots in today’s world but they are facing the future.
A must see: Johan Creten solo exhibition at Gallery Perrotin in New York City this coming September 2015
Capturing monumental beauty in the little things in life, artist Pyanek photographs captivating images of everyday objects up close and personal. In his series Amazing Worlds Within Our Worlds, he photographs ordinary objects like cornflakes, book pages, and soap foam. However, these seemingly mundane objects do not look so ordinary when they are taken in Pyanek’s close-up photography style. What was once a familiar object has now become unrecognizable through the artist’s lens. The images are zoomed up close, and dramatically cropped to the point of abstraction, with Pyanek referring to this technique as macro photography.
The incredible detail shown in this series goes beyond what the naked human eye can see. We are shown tiny worlds where a grain of white sugar appears to be a diamond and a kitchen sponge looks like a strand of DNA. These stunning photos reveal every texture and color in the commonplace objects that we overlook everyday. We are able to examine every fiber of the stalk of an apple or the page of a book. Pyanek reminds us to stop and notice the small things in this remarkably beautiful series. If you are hungry for an even more dramatic, striking photographs of ordinary objects magnified, than you are sure to love the video compilation of the series Amazing Worlds Within Our Worlds, which was edited and scored by the artist himself.
What would a television see if it could look back at us? Artist Donna Stevens reveals images of children hypnotically looking into a television screen in her series titled Idiot Box. Each photographs captures the entranced look on a child’s face as they gaze on with a zombie-like stare, complete with the glow of the screen lighting up their face. Although this series is somewhat comical, as the children have their mouths hanging open or a silly grimace slapped on, there is a heavy darkness to it. Stevens’s aims to question the role of technology in our society and explore the effects it may have as children are exposed to it at such a young age at such a high volume. Although we can benefit from technology, what is lacking in our lives because of it? Although Idiot Box includes fairly simple images, the affect the vacant eyes have on the viewer is enough to make you stop and think.
Stevens’ incredibly memorable photography explores themes of identity and hardship, as she is interested in people’s journey to find their place in the world. Humanity’s struggles can be found as a theme in her work, both in Idiot Box and in her series Thirteen. In the latter series, she poignantly captures the anxiety and uncertainty that comes along with becoming a woman. Stevens’ ability to encompass such strong emotions and themes in a single portrait is apparent in each photograph. Originally hailing from Australia, the photographer is currently based in Brooklyn, where she continues to create her sharp, thought provoking work.