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Desolation And Dreams: Michael Massaia’s Haunting Photographs Of Abandoned Amusement Parks

Michael Massaia - Photography Michael Massaia - Photography Michael Massaia - Photography Michael Massaia - Photography

Michael Massaia is a photographer from New Jersey whose black-and-white imagery has an uncanny way of making the familiar seem unfamiliar: ordinary scenes are transformed into stunning portraits of isolation, desolation, and mystery. Two series are featured here: Afterlilfe and Sheep Meadow: Vertical Abstracts. The former documents vacant amusement piers along the New Jersey coastline, and the latter comprises vertical portraits of people sleeping in Central Park’s Sheep Meadow. While the subject matter is drastically different between the series — urban landscape photography and portraiture, respectively — both convey Massaia’s unique style: the haunting documentation of ordinary things that resonate with a deep sense of reflection and a yearning for connection.

Started in 2008, Afterlilfe features amusement piers in states of vacancy and ghost-like deterioration, photographed in the quiet hours between 4 and 6 o’clock in the morning. Most of the images were shot in FunTown and Casino Pier in Seaside Heights, New Jersey. In environments usually known for noise and elation, silence prevails; carousels lie dormant, and the architectural bones of roller coasters and ferris wheels loom against cloudy, darkened skies. Many of these structures were destroyed by hurricane Sandy in 2012. Shooting before and after the catastrophic event, Massaia’s unearthly photographs trouble us with their radiating atmospheres of stillness and absence.

Sheep Meadow: Vertical Abstracts is an extension of an earlier project titled Deep in a Dream. Massaia photographed people as they lay alone or in pairs on the grass. None of the subjects knew that they were being documented, allowing for candidly peaceful, reflective, and intimate postures. Vertical Abstracts sees photos of sleeping couples turned vertically and flipped backwards, making it appear as if they were floating or dancing through an otherworldly void. Massaia describes how the final prints “are gold-toned silver gelatin prints . . . [and] the grass is severely ‘burnt in’ to isolate and give the look of suspension to the subject” (Source). The strong contrast between the bodies and the surrounding darkness illuminates moments of beautiful (and strangely anxious) connection between the reclining couples.

Visit Massaia’s website and Facebook page to follow his hauntingly beautiful work. More photos after the jump.

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Judy Miller’s Imaginary Dioramas Place Celebrities In Strange And Absurd Situations




Judy Miller’s Imaginary Dioramas series is the kind of work that makes you think, “Wait, what?” The famous faces in the photos are recognizable, but off in some subtle way. The backgrounds are ambiguous, and the combinations of celebrities and scenes, “Outakes” as they’re titled, create curious narratives.

It’s almost a relief to find out that these artists and celebrities, whose faces we’re so familiar with, are actually wax figures photographed at Madame Tussaud’s and Photoshopped into scenes. The strangeness abates, but only briefly. It’s not only the waxy visages that are uncanny, but the situations as well. Most of the celebrities are not named or tagged, which presumes a certain amount of pop-culture familiarity in the viewer. Some photos only include a part of a face or body, making the identification even more difficult.

Robert E. Knight, Executive Director of the Tucson Museum of Art, writes, “Judy Miller does not create her work in the isolation of a studio. She researches, travels, photo¬graphs, and then brings her images back in-house for final editing. Culled from the photo files of celebrity wax figures the artist has compiled over the years, Miller cleverly inserts her figures into fantasy settings with the finished composites ranging from humorous to odd, and compelling to camp. … Resembling excerpted film stills, the discordant emotional separation of Miller’s figures are in¬triguing in their awkward uncertainty. They truly have become actors in her play, and they’re just waiting for their cue. Even titling her images as “outtakes” references the artist’s interest in, and respect for, the influence films have had on our society.

What, for example, are Einstein and Picasso doing dressed alike, deliberately avoiding eye contact in a round room with many windows in “Newton’s Nightmare”?? Seemingly less bizarre is “Outtake #22, Exit Left”, which shows Jacqueline Kennedy facing front in the foreground and Marilyn Monroe’s red sequined back in the background. It’s easier to find context for this work but no less thought provoking. What if the two women really did meet? Each image poses unanswerable questions, which is Miller’s intention.

My goal is to create a dynamic juxtaposition of elements that spark individual interpretation.


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Claire Sherman’s Landscape Paintings

Claire Sherman crevice

Claire Sherman paints some of the juiciest landscape paintings around. These images really don’t do her work justice as the paintings have a rich texture and color to them that is hard to capture in reproductions. If you’re a fan of Tomory Dodge or Cecily Brown then make sure to visit Claire’s site or the Kavi Gupta Gallery site for more images.

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A Trip To Wanderland

What do birds hallucinate about when they go on a drug berry induced psychological trip? I don’t know if any of this would be accurate, but I hope to rainbow laser toting, owl-man monster-bird it is. A gorgeous music video of Hermanos Inglesos’s “Wanderland,” designed by Kristof Luyckx and Michèle Vanparys.

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Awesome Video Of The Day: Viernes- Liquid Tunnel

Want to see what it’s like to live in sunny California? Just watch this music video for Viernes’ single Liquid tunnel.

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Punch Brothers are back on the road for a Winter Tour and a new EP, Ahoy!

Everyone’s favorite alt-bluegrass band Punch Brothers are back on the road to support their new EP, Ahoy! just released on Nonesuch Records. Chris Thile and company have been riding a wave of success since they released Who’s Feeling Young Now? earlier this year including a highly regarded appearance on Austin City Limits with the Civil Wars. LA’s own Luckman Fine Arts Complex will be hosting the show on December 1st, 2012. Tickets are still available from Ticketmaster for what’s sure to be a hand clapping, foot stomping good time. Check out their video for “Movement and Location” from their episode of Austin City Limits  after the jump and get your tickets to an upcoming show.

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Rania Matar’s Photographs Of Teenage Girls In Their Bedrooms

Rania Matar-Photography

Rania Matar-Photography

Rania Matar-Photography

My room as a teenager was a sanctuary-my only safe place. My room was me, more specifically though, it was what I wanted to be at the moment. I wanted to be as bold, tough and flawless as my favorite musicians on the magazine cutouts on my wall. Truth is, I wasn’t any of those things. In fact, I was timid and self-conscious, an anxious girl who found it hard to make it through some days as I struggled with an anxiety disorder.

Every girl battles with herself and the burden of the transitions that come along with the teenage years; whether good or bad, her room is just an imprint of what she is going through.

Photographer Rania Matar’s recent collection of photographs, A Girl in her Room, explores the teenage girl in her habitat (her room), to further understand the origin of a teenager’s way of being. Matar wanted to capture the universality of teenage behavior by photographing girls in the U.S and the Middle East- both cultures she is very familiar with.

I became fascinated with the similar issues girls at that age face, regardless of culture, religion and background, as they learn to deal with all the pressures that arise as they become conscious and aware of the surrounding world wherever this may be.

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István Szugyiczky

Istvan Szugyiczky bd

István Szugyiczky is a digital artist currently living in Budapest.  His recently updated portfolio employs a simplified palette and strong, almost structural forms. The lines and forms are elusive and seductive mixed against the grainy glow offered in many of his illustrations. Take a moment to enjoy the dark world his pieces have to offer.

We recently featured his work in The Underdogs, which is Book 3 of Beautiful/Decay. The luscious issue features many incredible artists, like the good sir featured here, that makes for a great read. Support artists István by subscribing to Beautiful/Decay!

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