I love my co-workers but I had to share this fun filled 3D animated video by Flying Lotus.
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.
Photographer Alex John Beck uses photo manipulation to explore the idea that symmetrical faces are the most beautiful in his series “Both Sides Of”. After taking portraits of a diverse collection of people, he digitally divides them. He then duplicates each side, matching right half to right and left to left, creating two new portraits of perfectly symmetrical faces. The original portrait is not shown.
It’s not a new idea—Julian Wolkenstein’s 2010 series “Symmetrical Portraits” is very similar. Wolkenstein’s website, echoism, also allows users to upload their own pictures to be made symmetrical by an open source program on the site.
Turkish photographer Eray Eren does a version as well, though his include a third, non-manipulated shot for comparison.
Still, the quality of these images is excellent, and they continue to evoke questions relating to beauty and character. It’s tempting to create a narrative for the “people” in these portraits—so similar but not the same—to look from one image to the other and measure attraction and interest. Both created faces are absolutely symmetrical, theoretically proving the commonly held belief that symmetrical faces are the most appealing. And yet, they’re not. The artist says on his website:
“The less symmetrical they are initially, the more different the characters suggested by each face. The more symmetrical faces betray their owners more subtly, however, one side proves clearer, the other more inward looking.”
Movie and video game animators have long struggled with the issue of how to make a realistic human face that can hold up to high definition viewing. It’s incredibly difficult to create faces that look different from all angles, in different moods, on different days. Often it’s the overly symmetrical features and consistency of appearance that make the characters obviously unreal. The asymmetry in our faces is what makes us human. (via Feature Shoot)
French photographer Eric Lafforgue has dedicated his craft to documenting various cultures around the world, from Panama to North Korea and beyond. In this particular series, titled “Scarifications Ethiopiennes,” Lafforgue provides a close-up view on the scarification practices of Ethiopia’s Omo Valley tribes, including the Bodi, Suri, and Mursi peoples. Lafforgue traveled throughout the region, visiting the locals and observing their cutting ceremonies. In stunning detail, Lafforgue provides images of the scars—both healed and in process—as well as ethnographic descriptions and insights into the scars’ social and ritualistic purposes.
Among these peoples, scarification plays an important role in tribal life. Patterned lines and dots are embedded into the skin using thorns and razors—a process that one of his photographic subjects, a teenage girl, confesses to being very painful. But enduring the pain holds several social significances: the Suri people see it as a sign that the participant will be able to endure childbirth, while the Mursi embrace it as a mark of beauty and strength (Source). While some urban Ethiopians view scarification as a sign of “primitivism,” for many it remains a valuable signifier of cultural belonging.
Eric Helgas was born in Baltimore, Maryland. He currently attends the Maryland Institute College of Art and is majoring in Photography.
Chateau-vacant is composed of three French artists; Yannick Calvez, Lemuel Malicoutis, and Baptiste Alchourroun. Although they have differing stylistic techniques they share one thing in common; and that is their desire to create computer-free art. With Chateau-vacant they have come together to celebrate their alternative approach to illustrative design.
Dean Zeus Colman’s artwork has given us his drug of choice, which is hand molded Ecstasy tablets cast in plaster. His series Love Is A Drug includes sculptures of Ecstasy tablets of all different shapes and sizes that actually exist in real life. Knowing this bit of information, it is shocking to see how many different designs and even logos are imprinted on these little tablets. There are more common images like smiley faces, money signs, and stars on the drug, but a few have images that may be of surprise to you. The Mortal Combat symbol, the UPS logo, and even the beloved Bart Simpson’s head has also been included in this eclectic variety of Ecstasy tablets.
Zeus, based out of London, grew up involved in a subculture where Ecstasy tablets were often present. The drugs were readily available, not surprisingly, while working in the Rave scene. Zeus has long been working as a street artist and has been tagging since the 1980’s, which has influenced and led to the making of Love Is A Drug. Other sculptures of this artist reflect this lifestyle and draw off inspiration from graffiti such as his three-dimensional graffiti text constructed from glass and wood.
Love Is A Drug is currently on view at Prescription Art in Brighton, England, which focuses on street and graffiti art. The exhibition features thirty-six limited edition, larger than life Ecstasy tablets. (via The Creator’s Project)
Photographer Gray Malin (@graymalin) takes us on a journey in his colorful, idyllic series titled Dreams. The sun-soaked images feature a herd of sheep whose coats are decorated with pink, purple, yellow, blue, and green pigment. Malin had the idea years before he actually made the work; he was inspired by a story about a Scottish sheep farmer who had colored the fleece of his flock in order to deter the thieves who had been stealing his sheep at night.
This powerful visual stuck with him for seven years. “I dreamed of creating a series where I could give these often overlooked animals a way to shine, bringing a rainbow of color to help inspire others to stand out and follow their own dreams.”
Malin consulted with a team of experts and eventually travelled to rural Australia where he worked hand-in-hand with a family of third-generation sheep farmers to make this series a reality. “Utilizing a non-toxic, vegetable dye that rinses off with water, the farmers misted each sheep with the same tool they use to administer a spray for ticks and lice,” he says.
Sheep yearn to be apart of a crowd; they prefer to blend in rather than stand out. So, each of Malin’s images are meant to encourage others to “wander from the flock” and go after their desires.