With an interest in merging consumer culture and fine art practices, Norwegian photographer Vilde Rolfsen takes the most ubiquitous piece of global consumerism, a plastic grocery bag, and creates a series of photographs that, with the assistance of modified lighting and colored cardboard, showcase a an ephemeral landscape, reminiscent of snowscapes or dancing oceans. The plastic bags used for this project were all sourced from the street; this is a very minor but important fact that underlines Rolfsen’s ultimate mission:
My findings have showed me that people take everyday objects for granted, for example a plastic bag or a Brillo pad. You use them for a couple of things, carry your groceries or scrub your dishes. By removing the objects from their original function, I am forcing the viewer to look at the object as an aesthetic thing rather than a useful thing. I challenge society’s perceptions of everyday objects, because these objects are of such normality they become surreal in a photograph.
The embroidery artist Ana Teresa Barboza, previously featured here for her arresting renditions of the human body, is at it again with her series of intricate, deconstructed landscapes. Turning her gaze outwards towards the vastness of the natural world, she celebrates the materiality of her craft, allowing her thread to spill from the boundaries of the embroidery hoop like wild nets wrenched from a tumultuous sea. Here, calm seascapes, serene pastures, and chaotic, rocky waves adopt the same sense of inexhaustibility, refusing to commit solely to embroidery and extending into the realm of the sculptural.
In this series, titled “Suspension,” Barboza’s medium mirrors her content. Like the art and craft of embroidery itself, her visual narratives are composed of iconography historically associated with the female: nature’s rolling hills, curved waves, and fluid, moonlit water. As her pieces unravel, they express something powerful and inevitable in female desire and spirit. No longer contained by the neat frame of the traditional hoop, exuberant colors and textures spring forth from a two dimensional realm into three, interrupting the comfortable barriers that normally exist between art object and viewer. These labors of love are not meant for pillows; instead, they proudly hang on a gallery wall.
Each of Barboza’s suspensions evoke folktales like those of mermaids, selkies, or sirens, woman creatures of the sea who are as frightful as they are alluring. We are presented with delicate illusions, mirages of landscapes, only to witness their dissolution into thick, tactile thread that invites our incredulous touch. Take a look. (via Colossal)
The strength of the portraiture tradition, and what separates it from documentary photography, lies in the skill of the photographer to attach meaning and the essence of the person in a simple image. Using metaphor, subtlety, and open-ended but vaguely familiar narrative, photographer Shelly Mosman is able to imbue an intensely personal and soft-spoken beauty to her photographs. Drawn to subjects for reasons she says she often cannot immediately describe, Mosman spends a great deal of time with her subjects, waiting for key moments when their personality is revealed through action, or the subtlest of looks or gestures. “Portraiture relies on the smallest mannerisms and expressions to offer narrative,” saysMosman, “I rely on the spontaneity of circumstance.”
The Minneapolis-based portraitist continues:
“In my photographs I negotiate and characterize the balance between my own vision and the unknown and often powerful potential given by each portraitâ€™s subject. I am drawn to certain people for the simple reason that I know shooting them will give me an image I could never have created on my own, and because my camera can reveal something they may not have known was in themselves. Â It becomes a synthesis of us both, captured in a single photograph. These connections with each subject areÂ often too straightforward and immediate to be conscious, but rather they are something that is felt immediately, coming straight from the gut, which is the home of our instincts.”
Sara Angelucci’s intriguing series titled Aviary recalls the past to create strange portraits of birds that are superimposed onto anonymous nineteenth century cartes-de-visite (small, business card sized) photographs. It began by the artist studying the American Victoria area, and she connects its cultural, social, and ecological aspects conceptually to her work.
The nineteenth century was the United States’ colonial era when there was unprecedented expansion, exploration, and an interest in science and art. Family photo albums and commemorating memories were something new, as photography became increasingly common. The collection of cartes-de-visites were like trading cards, and the urge to collect didn’t stop there. People had cabinets of curiosities that included things like taxidermied birds, an interest that lead to the extinction of the passenger pigeon. Angelucci explains in a statement about the work, writing, “Made by combining photographs of endangered or extinct North American birds with anonymous nineteenth century cartes-de-visite portraits—they portray creatures about to become ghosts.”
She goes on to muse:
So how do we read these strange human-birdlike creatures? One could at once see them as manifestations of their time: a hybrid crossover of faith in science with a belief in otherworldly beings. As W. G. Sebald writes in Campo Santo, “[photography is] in essence, after all…nothing but a way of making ghostly apparitions materialize by means of a very dubious magical art.” And, what would it mean to embody another creature: Could one then see, feel, and understand its desire to live? Might we then imagine the Aviary portraits as chimera suspended in a state of empathy, and wonder what our treatment of other sentient beings might be if we could feel what they feel, or see what they see? (Via Observer: Design Observer)
On a crowded bus ride in Beijing, Chinese artist Liu Di noticed his surroundings. “Looking out at the decrepit housing blocks”, he said, “I had a vague but strong feeling that there was something missing between the ground and the sky.” It was then that he had the idea for his 2008 series, Animal Regulation, an almost cinematic display of enlarged animals sitting amongst the ‘urban ruins’ of the city of Beijing. Using photoshop, he seamlessly embedded these wild, large animals into Beijing’s forgotten and depleted back streets, construction sites and tenement courtyards.
With the addition of the gigantic,exotic animals, Di not only tries to fill the void that he notices as he travels through the city, but most importantly, he attempts to draw attention to these spaces in a big and scandalous way. We cannot help but notice ‘the big panda in the room’, and that, I think, is the kind of reaction the artist is looking for. The metaphorical animal living amongst the city of Beijing alludes to deeper issues here–the void is filled with an unwanted visitor and in order for it to go away something must change.
Di’s political undertones cannot be missed.
“Between nature and human society, between the material world and the intellect, between obedience to and violation of the laws of nature. It is only when our preconceptions are jolted that we wake up and truly see.”
These photographs are part of Barbara Pollack’s My Generation, an exhibition that acts as the first in the U.S to focus solely on the new post-Mao generation of dissident Chinese artists. The catalogue includes works by Sun Xun, Lu Yang, Ai Wei Wei’s former assistant, Zhao Zhao and many more. The show is currently being co-presented in two venues simultaneously through a unique collaboration between Tampa Museum of Art and the Museum of Fine Arts in St.Petersburg, FL. My Generation will be on view until September 28th, 2014.
Upon running out of paper, the French illustrator DZO turned to unexpected canvases: a found skull and stones collected from the river. Following the curves of the bone and rock matter, the artist imagines monstrous and divine forms. Skulls, serving both as surface and as illustrative content, lend the pieces a distinctly foreboding current. Coiled upon itself, a serpent and a tentacled beast recall John Milton’s Satan, carrying with them notions of death and fallenness. As if gazing at her mirror reflection, a woman, quite like the Medusa with thick serpentine locks of hair, is imprisoned within the surface of a stone.
Despite all his allegorical references to death and decay, DZO imbues his stones and bones with an undeniable pulse of life. His fertile images, these doodles that turn in upon themselves with passionate vigor, are alive with creative energy. As the artist was inspired in part by Medieval artwork and alchemy, the stones may be viewed as modern-day interpretation of the Philosopher’s Stone, a legendary object said to be capable of transforming lead to gold and human being to immortal.
DZO’s art objects, serving as strange embodiments of both death and fertile abundance, much resemble Medieval and early Renaissance engravings like those created by Albrecht Dürer. Through his ecstatic use of religious symbolism, DZO leaves the interpretation of these magnificent objects to the viewer. The skull and stones may be turned in any which way; with the shifting perspective inherent in the medium, we might choose to see his pentagrams right-side up, denoting holiness and religious faith, or upside down, symbolizing corruption and death. Take a look. (via Colossal and Lost at E Minor) Read More >
For a few years, MovieBarcode has been compressing each frame of entire films into pixel-wide, chronological bars, creating a unique color palette barcode for each movie. Color is used in film to set moods, evoke particular feelings, or to intensify plot and characters. While examining the barcodes of familiar movies, particular colors may stand out, or remind you of specific scenes or characters that you’re drawn to. MovieBarcodes allow a film lover an opportunity to view movies from a macro, bird’s eye view. It’s as close as you can get to seeing the entirety of a movie all in one glance. The person behind MovieBarcode wishes to remain anonymous, but told wired.co.uk that movies are chosen based on runtime and the quality of the outcome and that the biggest challenge is “[s]taying within the concept and not getting carried away by technical possibilities, some of which are planned to be published in a not too distant, not too busy future.” If you’re curious if a particular film has been compressed, or you just want to peruse titles, you can find an index of all the films that have been compressed here. If you like these, be sure to check out Redbubble, where some of the MovieBarcode prints are available for purchase.
If you’ve ever taken a road trip, you are probably familiar with tourist attractions (also known as tourist traps). Caves are not an uncommon destination for these off-the-highway places, and are often ostentatious with not a lot of intellectual substance. Large-format photographer Austin Irving travelled across America and East Asia photographing these places, which were developed for weary travelers. She titled the series Show Caves.
The caves feature unnatural lighting, revolving doors, public restrooms, and man made design elements. There are penguins, for instance, that line the path of one interior and feels like a disingenuous attempt at showcasing the wonders of the wonders.
There aren’t any crowds in these photos, which allow us to see the attractions clearly. It also showcases the fact that these places are not much different than some place like a suburban shopping mall. (Via Artlog)