Nancy Liang‘s GIFs and illustrations are peaceful and full of quiet wonder. Much like the imaginings of Chris Van Allsburg in his book “The Mysteries of Harris Burdick,” Liang’s work captures moments from larger stories. They depict scenes of midnight contemplation as well as magic of a subtler flavor: an upside down house surrounded by snow floating up toward the moon; a boat drifting down an empty street; a small child accompanied by a ghostly spirit animal. These are only ghosts and flights of fancy that evoke the shape and landscape of a wider fantasy world that intersects with ours in the shadows.
According to her artist’s statement, Liang “often explores social and cultural narratives in an ironic, metaphoric and emotive way.” These narratives are especially clear in her illustrations that shine a light on suburban life and escapism. The paper textures and lines of graphite bring a storybook quality to her artwork that makes them seem childlike and gives them a kind of universal accessiblity. (via I Need a Guide)
The work of photographer Nadia Lee Cohen is a stimulating, modern take on vintage American and British style. Her diorama-esque compositions — with their nude, cigarette-smoking femme fatales and garish 1950s/60s/70s iconography — explode with color, attitude, and fetishized, retro-suburban life. Scattered throughout are bold insertions of cultural, consumer artifacts, from packs of Marlboro cigarettes, to Coca-Cola bottles, to lip-shaped telephones, which further emphasize the images’ glossy and style-saturated appeal. David Lynch and Alfred Hitchcock fans will certainly be able to identify a few crafty allusions; whether it is red curtains, or birds hovering menacingly in the background, Cohen has seamlessly meshed her own cinematic style with that of influential film directors, thereby creating a clever and campy pastiche of Western arts and culture.
When I asked Cohen what drives her work, she expressed that she primarily hopes that people enjoy the aesthetics of her photography, which is a “humorous, tongue-in-cheek” response to the way she views the world. And, aside from creating fascinating portraits of what she identifies as “strong, quirky, dark characters,” Cohen’s exploration of retro aesthetics through a modern lens provides a visible commentary on the way styles and cultural tastes have shifted over the decades — all from an alternative and progressive point of view; her work represents a range of personal styles, as well as a variety of body shapes and sizes. “I hope to convey a wider message of changing our perception of taste in terms of modern beauty ideals in fashion,” she explains, “which is why I tend to look to the interesting people around me rather than casting from agencies.”
Cohen has recently finished her MA in Fashion Photography at the London College of Fashion, and judging by her success and the in-depth nature of her style, she will be creating a lot of exciting work in 2015. Be sure to check out her website and Instagram. More adventurous (and amusingly retrospective) images after the jump. (Via Huffington Post)
British artist Mike Nelson‘s installations feel a bit like you’ve stumbled onto a movie set. He sets up eerie scenarios that are very minimal, but impactful. His piece To the Memory of H.P Lovecraft (1999,2008) saw him bashing holes in the pristine white gallery walls and freestanding plinths, as if some creature had torn it’s way through the room. Leaving the narrative vague and bare, Nelson leaves it up to the viewer to react to his installations as they want to. Nelson plays with simulation, representations of the real, replicas and objects placed in new contexts. By recreating something quite simple, but in a new and unexpected way, he is able to make us feel at odds with the space.
Nelson rebuilds interior scenes as well as destroying them. In The Projection Room (Triple Bluff Canyon) in 2009 he blocked the access to a replica of a typical south-London Victorian terraced house and forced the visitors to peek through a window. Objects spewed out of one tiny split in the wall in a very bizarre fashion. Nelson talks about his practice:
I’ve always had a slight fear of piles of junk that function purely as decorative ephemera but only act as a signifier of a certain type of installation…I think it’s a constant worry that you’ll make this amount of effort to have something that just becomes spectacle, as opposed to something which moves somebody or encourages somebody to empathize with what you’re trying to lure them into, or coax them towards. (Source) (Via Sweet Station)
Step into the world of photographer Phebe Schmidt, where everything is carefully constructed into a sickening sweet perfection. Her candy-colored world is filled with Barbie-like subjects, some even encased in plastic. Each hyperreal photograph seems almost too good to be true, like we have stepped inside a house of a Stepford wife. This draws the viewer in closer as we inspect the dark undertones of each photo that are surrounded by cheery colors. The objects in Schmidt’s photography, including her figures who look more like inanimate objects than people, are flawless and glossy, making everything seem like an advertisement. This viewpoint and concept is no doubt a comment on commodities and how contemporary culture is overcome with it. It has been said that “plasticity” is a term that defines Schmidt’s style.
Her work has a stylized plasticity and bright surface that acts as a mask that plays with ideas of self, theatrical role-playing, and what lies beneath. Plasticity is a key term Schmidt uses to describe her work and marks a contemporary obsession with homogenized, generic beauty ideals that conform to gender, social, and cultural norms.
It is true that generic beauty ideas are very apparent in Schmidt’s body of work. Each person shown in her photography seems nameless and ambiguous due to his or her impossible perfection. The figures do not look toward the camera, but out into space with a numbingly blank stare. This absence of humanity creates a futuristic atmosphere where commodity and beauty have altered our state of being. Schmidt’s seductive and incredibly intriguing photography evokes both a sci-fi future, and a mod, mid-century feel. Each photograph filled with sweetly colored backgrounds and flawless subjects keeps us curious in what lies beneath the generic beauty.
You might write a ton of emails, but how many letters do you sit down to write? The kind that require pen, paper, and often a stamp and envelope. Probably not many. If you hate the task but need an extra-special note, then the company Bond will help you out. It’s an intelligent scribing system that mimics human handwriting. Thanks to automated robots with ink pens, they’re able to write notes and send them to the person of your choice. A pen is attached to a machine that applies weight to the paper as if it’s a human hand.
Bond has a few pricing tiers for their product. If you’re looking for a generic, all-around “handwritten” feel, then you’re not too concerned with it appearing as your actual penmanship. For that, the service is free (with additional costs like the card). But, let’s say you want to send a note that’s to a relative or someone who has an idea of what your scrawls look like. That’s where the cost goes up. Services that are tailored to your penmanship start at $199. Paying $499 will give on an hour of time to work alongside Bond’s experts to refine your handwriting. (Via Laughing Squid and Ubergizmo)
Location is everything to photographer Lara Zankoul. Her latest venture garnering some attention shows models in a human sized fish tank. “The Unseen” is a series of photographs taken in 2013, which comment on the complex relationship between what appears on the surface and what is submerged underneath. It examines our ability to project a false facade outwardly while thinking the opposite inwardly. Some examples to this idea show two girls in a carefree stance while underwater one is cutting the other’s dress. Another is a handsome male model in traditional waiter’s clothing on top while wearing a tutu below.
The photos exude a surrealist gaze due to the water effect. From an underwater perspective, the bottom half of the pictures take on a dreamy, ethereal quality which is perfectly naive. The subjects are all aesthetically pleasing to look at and become a bit mundane if not for the little weird subtleties at hand. The colors are wrought from a bright, monotone palette which lend themselves at times to the impressionists. Not an easy task to say the least.
Zankoul is a self taught photographer who originally majored in Economics from The American University of Beirut. According to her biography, she was born photographically in 2008 after completing the 365 project where participants took part and posted one picture every day for a year. (via hifructose)
Caras Ionut is one of those rare photographer/Photoshopper hybrids whose work stands head and shoulders above even some of the best retouchers. Some of his images tend towards the realistic, others towards the fantastic, but all of them display a skill with both a camera and post-processing techniques that’s truly remarkable.
Ionut says his goal is to create dreamscapes — both the positive and negative kind.
“Most people when considering dreams would think of good positive dreams, and I like to think I captured that in my work,” he writes in his biography on 500px. “I also seem to visit the darker side of what people may see of dreams, not necessarily what one would see as negative, but possibly a dream that one could not quite understand or may feel alone.”
View a selection of our favorite images Ionut has captured, each available to license on 500px’s photo marketplace: 500px Prime” after the jump.
Cathy van Hoang, owner of PetitBeast, is a California-based artist who has cleverly designed a new and eye-catching way to display your air plants: by placing them in sea urchin shells — which Cathy has painted in gradients of beautiful pastel hues — and suspending them. Her creations are aptly named “Jellyfish Air Plants,” because there is no denying that their domed heads and trailing “legs” are redolent of those elegant sea-dwelling invertebrates. Their gravity-defying appearance will also likely appeal to any Metroid fans out there, as Cathy’s designs do slightly invoke your favorite parasitic alien species — although these particular specimens are less likely to seek galactic domination, and instead hang gracefully in your room as beautiful conversation pieces.
These “little beasts” are affordable and unique additions to your space. Each set comes with hanging and care instructions. And if you’re not plant-savvy, the good news is that air plants are easy to maintain. As Cathy writes on her Etsy, “all they require is watering twice a week and a nice, bright room with indirect sunlight (or your desk lamp in the office) to thrive in” (Source). Custom colors are also an option.
Etsy is an exciting venue for independent designers who want to share their creativity with the world, and it is always exciting to come across artists like Cathy who are hand-making such imaginative pieces. Check out her website and Etsy page to learn more about her Jellyfish Air Plants. The product photography featured here is also by Cathy. (Via Colossal)