When someone loses a lifelong partner most people think of their loss in terms of daily companionship and financial security. Mourners rarely talk about another very important aspect; the loss of intimacy. A new product showcased at Milan Design Week by Dutch designer Mark Sturkenboom could change that and make the sexual transition a little bit easier for the open minded. 21 grams allows the partner of a deceased lover to use a sex toy filled with the decease’s ashes and symbolize the union that once was. It gives added meaning to keeping the fires burning and even though some may think strange is a unique and creative way to remember.
The device is made up of a memory box containing a hand-blown glass shaped dildo containing a small gold-plated urn which can hold up to 21 grams of a deceased partner’s ashes. The idea is to connect the living to the deceased again in a physical and intimate way. Accompanying the toy is a perfume diffuser, gold-plated key and iPod slot for music. The title comes from a study in 1901 by Duncan Macdougall who conducted an experiment on five dying patients seeking to prove that a soul existed and had ‘weight’. In the test patients were weighed before and right at the moment of death. When the final breath occurred all weighed 21 grams lighter thus proving Macdougall’s controversial theory. (Via dezeen)
Like floating into a dream, Jason Mitchell’s photography takes you into a new place of existence, stuck between worlds. His series Dream Away displays ghostly bodies in a different state of being, exploring a sense of awakening. Inspired by metamorphosis, his figures are placed in a blank space, not knowing exactly where they are except for in a place of uncertainty. Even still, they seem tranquil and ready for whatever is to come next. Each image contains an ethereal quality, as the figures delicately glide through the air. In this series, we cannot tell if Mitchell’s figures are falling or floating, as there is no sense of direction, like they are underwater. With bright whites and light shadows, the absence of almost all harsh shadows creates an angelic atmosphere around these women.
Hinting at themes of afterlife and a higher state of being, Mitchell’s figures almost do not appear to be human. They are transcending their bodies on a journey of oneself.
“I ask my subjects to explore a loss of control, but a sense that they are being guided, pushed and pulled by another sentient being, as they make their way to a new self. They represent the soul of a magical creature on a journey through the limbo that connects their past understandingto this new unknown.”
– Jason Mitchell
Although all of Mitchell’s work holds a striking beauty, his series Dream Away truly exhibits stunning detail and imagery. Photographs from this majestic series will be on view at 111 Minna Gallery in San Francisco, CA until May 30th.
Jessica Dalva is a Los Angeles-based artist who creates beautiful, wall-mounted sculptures depicting dark, fantasy imagery and the exploration of internal struggle. Recurring throughout her works is the feminine figure in various states of intensity and solemnity, such as sinking in a sea of grasping hands or engaged in somber rituals. Like religious artifacts, each sculpture carries a spiritual energy intended to resonate with the viewer. With metaphorical, mythological prowess, Dalva visually expresses the torments and transformations of subjectivity, from personal battles against fear, to moments of rapture and emotional healing.
Dalva’s works are currently being exhibited in a feature show titled Hapax Legomena at the La Luz de Jesus Gallery. “Hapax Legomena” refers to words that only occur once in a text or within a language, which often makes them untranslatable; Dalva uses the term to explore the singularity and ephemeral nature of an individual’s inner struggle. As outlined on the exhibition page:
“These experiences can be difficult to convey due to the lack of a context to anchor them, as well as the inherent gap between understanding and expression. The pieces are singular expressions of an idea, hapax legomena, in that they are representing distinctive concepts, as well as attempting to communicate the untranslatable through the imperfect language of art.” (Source)
An encounter with Dalva’s work is intended to be a subjective event, representative in some intuitive way of the hurdles encountered by everyone. Dalva’s darkly mystical works do an incredible job communicating the physicality of emotional pain and restoration; with their eyes fogged and eerie, the feminine figures become transcended forms, their bodies acting as expressive vehicles. It is left to the viewer to interpret the spiritual/emotional passage in which they are engaged.
Artist Fabien Mérelle’s delicate drawings revolve around insecurities and nightmares. His surreal images often feature himself as the main subject, and Mérelle doesn’t exactly paint himself in the greatest light. He’s seen naked, being attacked by giant bugs, and struggling to hold the weight of an entire elephant on his shoulders. It doesn’t look pleasant and the misery seems unavoidable.
While Mérelle’s drawings are self portraits, they speak to a larger audience. Anyone who has felt crippling anxiety, stress, or even just an unpleasant feeling will be able to relate to these heavily symbolic images. They are what nightmares are made out of – not the gruesome ones, of course, but the kind where you feel emotionally spent and groggy when you wake up. (Via Cross Connect Magazine and Hi Fructose)
C. Owen is a Chicago-based artist who creates eerie, black-and-white portraits of insects and animals — particularly those that have died or have been resurrected as taxidermied objects. The series featured here, titled Ordinary Overlooked, explores the alien beauty of dead insects that Owen finds outside or in the corners and windowsills of her house. With a strange alertness and intimacy, the images capture with startling detail the characteristics of each tiny body — such as the hairy legs, segmented antennae, and compound eyes — that otherwise go unnoticed. What was once creepy and “ordinary” becomes familiar and nuanced. In a statement provided to Beautiful/Decay, Owen explains:
The insect world is something the average human rarely pays any close attention to — that is, unless they are invading your home. Something ordinary as a moth, housefly, or ant can easily be overlooked and considered a pest. For me, they have opened my eyes to a tiny new world. […] The more I photograph these insects, the stronger my curiosity grows.
What makes Owen’s images especially uncanny are the states of limbo they portray. Floating in surreal, nocturnal worlds, each insect carries the illusion of life while curled in the postures of death. As manifestations of uncertainty and ephemerality, they are transformed through the camera’s gaze into sentient ghosts, lost in purgatory; “taken in one hair at a time, the images are suspended somewhere between metamorphosis and reincarnation,” Owen writes. The result is a series of contemplative photographs that provide both the time and focus in which to foster respect while exploring the beauty of alternate, living worlds.
Visit Owen’s website to view more of her work, including Trophies, a haunting portraiture series of taxidermied animals who likewise trouble us with the indistinctness between life and death.
The photography of cooking enthusiast and photographer Brittany Wright simply and beautifully displays the natural range of hues held by various types of fruits and vegetables. The Seattle-based photographer states that she has a goal to learn how to cook everything and anything. Sharing cooking ideas and recipes online, Wright began photographing the ingredients to share as well. This love of experimentation with ingredients and flavors eventually lead to photographing the produce, starting her series titled Food Gradients. She arranges each edible item in rows, columns, and clusters according to their pigment or size, which is often attributed to the stage of lifecycle the specific food is in.
Some of the fruits and vegetables Wright chooses for her rainbows of ingredients naturally have a wide variety of colors, like apples ranging from deep reds to bright yellows. Others, however, are discolored for a different reason, because they are rotting and dying. Many of her Food Gradients brilliantly display the lifecycle of the item, showing the beginning of its life all the way to its elegant death. Because of her subject, you would think Wright’s inspiration comes from food photography, but because she sees food and cooking as a creative and artistic outlet, she finds more inspiration from abstract art. (via Faith is Torment)
” I see food as an art, and an opportunity to do something creative.”
Toronto based artist Talwst is a master of the miniature world. He patiently builds tiny fantasy scenes referencing the world of music, pop culture, films, climate change, conspiracy theories, sports stars, current events, and everyday experiences. Seven years ago, the artist was gifted an antique ring box by a Vancouver street vendor and given the challenge to make something with it. Talwst grabbed a hold of that idea and ran with it.
His miniscule realms feature Kanye West singing to an imaginary audience and Kim Kardashian in the background taking a selfie; a homage to his favorite painter Edouard Manet’s 1864 work La Muerte del Torero; a recreation of Japanese erotic art of the 1700’s; and a contemporary version of a Dutch landscape complete with a McDonalds restaurant in the background. His unique blend of art history, contrasting cultures and traditions are a witty comment on contemporary life. He cleverly draws us downward, and into his dioramas, immediately commenting objectively on the world we inhabit.
This form is calling me. I can make these feel like a poem; I can make these feel like a movie; I can make them feel like all the other mediums I was working in. (Source)
Talwst developed his love for piecing together mini worlds after growing up in the Canadian winter. For weeks at a time, the temperature wouldn’t be higher than minus 40 and he would sit in his room hibernating and entertaining himself by building models. The obsession certainly paid off – his skill and attention to detail is definitely something worth looking at. And you will get an extra chance to view his work – this September, a collaboration with VICE magazine will bring Talwst’s work to a newsstand close to you. Keep your eyes peeled! (Via Design Crush)
As the famous designer Miuccia Prada once said, “fashion is instant language” — if worn with intention, fashion can allow us to express our inner identities without having to say a word. But what if our clothing was so in tune with our emotional lives that it responded physically to external stimuli — like the approach of another person? Anouk Wipprecht, a Dutch designer known for her explorations at the intersections of fashion and technology, has created an animatronic dress that does just that. Named the “Spider Dress 2.0” (an updated version of the original Spider Dress), this curious tech-garment embraces the torso in a spider-like carapace, while eight spindly legs shift from the shoulders. Eerie and enchanting, this specially-engineered dress should be approached with caution and consent, as Hep Svadja explains for Make:
“[The] Spider Dress 2.0 […] is a mechatronic dress with an Intel Edison chip that uses biosignals and learned threat detection to defend the wearer’s personal space. Mechanical arms extend and retract as a response to external stimuli, making it a truly intuitive system. As people approach, the wearer’s own breath will help to signal the defense posture of the robotic arms. The speed of the approach will also feed into defensive behavior; approach quickly and the arms will aggressively posture, but approach in a leisurely fashion and the arms will gently greet you.” (Source)
Wipprecht is known for her other cutting-edge designs, such as a dress that allows you to vanish in a smoke screen, and another that becomes transparent as one’s heartbeat increases (such as during intimate, interpersonal encounters). The Spider Dress 2.0 is her newest (upgraded) creation, unique in its mimicry of animal behaviour, and infused with the power to visually display deep-set emotions and experiences without a reliance on verbal cues. Words, after all, are typically put through a mental filter before they come out of our mouths; the Spider Dress communicates directly from the body via internal biosignals. It interprets and visualizes inner phenomena that may not be immediately known to the wearer. In this way, Wipprecht’s work imagines a future wherein fashion could be used to physically extend the expressive capacities of human body language.