Crystal Barbre, a Seattle painter, has created an alternate universe where women call the shots, their raw glory shining prominently through the head of an animal. These hungry scenes, at first glance, just look like a skillfully painted playground of lust: voluptuous animal-headed women in the throes of passion, yet there is much more at work here. The mysterious and enigmatic quality of rawness within the animal expression offers more to interpret than just sex. Barbre is giving these animals a power they may not otherwise have; with an animal head the women are operating on an instinctual basis; one not vulnerable to the persuasive effect of emotions.Their strength lies in the fact that they cannot be conned, by themselves or others. They are eternally present, and they engage with their sexuality while remaining a powerful, wild, and even threatening figure. Theriocephaly, or, the condition of having the head of an animal, dates back to Greek mythology and is often used in art and storytelling as a symbolic element. Barbre has used this subject matter to explore dealing with sexual abuse, as a way of allotting power where, for many women, there sometimes isn’t any.
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)
Remember that awkward period of your life called puberty? The one that you might like to forget? Well, Berlin-based artist Alexander Gellner reminds us in a short animation that sums it all up in a little over a minute. It’s called One Minute Puberty and it captures the essence of what its like to go through this stage.
We see the main character experience a lot of changes, from pimples, to growth spurts, and discovering their own identity. The video’s energy is non-stop beginning to end thanks to the track and sound design by Niklas A Kröger. It’s reflective about how it feels to grow up and the wish of getting older so you don’t have to deal with puberty anymore.
Gellner tells the site Cartoon Brew that One Minute Puberty was part of his graduation project from HTW Berlin. The school didn’t have an animation department but they allowed him to make his film anyways. It was completed over the course of seven weeks.
Cara Phillips got the idea for her Ultraviolet Beauty series from the beauty industry. Medical spas and dermatologists use the same ultraviolet light that she did, with a very different effect. The ultraviolet shows every imperfection of your skin not visible to the naked eye, and dermatologists use it to show you a glimpse into the ‘future’ of your skin. In reality, there is no way to know how many of the blemishes will surface, but it’s an effective scare tactic, and apparently ensures the sale of cosmetic products to ‘prevent’ the catastrophe that is imperfect skin.
Phillips’ focus was to use the same ultraviolet technology, but with a different outcome. She took portraits of people on the street in New York, offering them for free to anyone willing to sit (it’s unclear if they had to pay to have a print, so free might be a liberal term here). She encouraged them to close their eyes to soften their expression. The images are beautiful, and you can’t imagine that someone could look at themselves portrayed in this style and feel alarmed by the look of their skin. Phillips’ photographs are taken in black and white large format, presumably not the technology a medical spa would employ, but the original images taken by the skin professionals are in black and white, so Phillips’ photos are not far from the truth. (Via MTL Blog)
Swiss Artist Zimoun creates sound sculptures and installation art that is a little bit strange. Equal parts raw, industrial materials; equal parts mechanical elements, he creates rooms full of what seem like living and breathing objects. He combines cardboard boxes, plastic bags, old furniture, packaging tape, wires, light tubes, cotton balls and motors to transform a space into something very unexpected.
His low-fi sound architecture follows on in John Cage’s footsteps, an artist he says he thought a lot about when he was younger. Zimoun explains his fascination with combining sound, strong visual elements and bringing obsolete technology to life:
I’m interested in a mix of living structures on the one hand, and control about decisions and details on the other. A combination of structures continuously generating or evolving by chance, chain reactions or other generative systems, and a specifically delimited and contained space in which these events are allowed to happen.
By drawing our attention to these often over-looked, or under-valued materials, Zimoun forces us to examine the nature in industrial materials, and the industrial in nature.
His sound sculptures are a combination of clean modernist structures, and the forces of chaos reacting against each other. We see how the patterns and rhythms of machines slowly change, the longer they are allowed to run. Like Cage, Zimoun allows a great deal of chance affect his work. He lets his mechanical sculptures run for an indeterminable amount of time, allowing the space to become a self-governing, organic space. Zimoun’s art very easily blurs the lines between nature and man/machine.
Artist Maude White combines her gorgeous illustrative skills with intricate paper cutting expertise to create incredible paper work creations. A self-taught artist, she credits her Waldorf education and artistic family for encouraging her to create.
“I am influenced by my mother’s art a great deal. When I was little she would make wool felt playscapes — little scenes of a tree stump in a forest-covered in plants and animals, a small garden scene with vegetables and apple trees, a playscape for the story The Three Billy Goats Gruff. It was these types of small, precious, complete worlds that drew me to working with paper.” (Source)
Using an X-Acto knife she cuts each piece by hand slicing away the negative space to make elegant figures with fantastic hidden scenes and stories laced into the designs. “It may sound weird, but I love to cut. I just enjoy the process,” she said in an interview.
White’s paper cutting technique is almost unbelievable—the fine lines and elaborate detail are incredibly impressive. What gives these pieces their charm, though, are the whimsical drawings and ornamental designs. They would be lovely drawn on paper, but the delicacy of the paper, the cast shadows, and the ability to look through the empty spaces make these pieces captivating.
“When I cut paper, I feel as if I am peeling back the outer, superficial layer of our vision to reveal the secret space beneath. With paper cutting there are so many opportunities to create negative space that tells its own story. Letting the observer become present in the piece allows him or her to look through it. … I am not creating for Art’s sake. I am creating for Paper’s sake, to make visible the stories that every piece of paper attempts to communicate to us.” (via booooooom)
Scottish-born, London-based visual artist Robert Montgomery loves to write in fire. Montgomery’s epic statement pieces are constructed from gigantic letters attached to a wooden platform, ready to be torched. The words aflame, his ideas come alive, sparked by their prophetic tone. The poems appear like floating fortunes, hovering in bold typeface, spelling out tales of ghosts and temporality, horses and palaces, situations seeped in apprehensive futures. The destructions of comfort, foreshadowing the obliteration of power structures and the rise of beauty. The act of setting them on fire is also, whether intentional or not, a nod to the finite nature of art and installation work. It echoes the premise of destruction as the highest form of creation.
Montgomery has also shown many of the same pieces in “recycled sunlight,” or through batteries charged via solar panels, illuminating at night. This electric voice speaking softly within the crowded streets adds a beautiful dimension to the art. Some of his pieces, put up as billboards around London’s east end, look like advertising at first glance. It is this interplay that is exactly what draws Montgomery to anonymous installation as his primary method of display:
“I’m definitely interested in hijacking advertising space for a different kind of conversation. I think it’s really interesting to use that space for a sort of interior voice. A voice in the private sphere. When I started putting my art on billboards, people told me, “You can’t put a hundred words on a billboard. No one will read that.” (Source)
Well, he certainly has our attention now.
For centuries, artists have funneled suffering and anger into their art. Columbia University senior Emma Sulkowicz is doing the same, using her work “Mattress Performance: Carry That Weight” as an endurance performance art piece protesting the lack of school imposed consequences on the man she says raped her in her dorm room.
American colleges are notorious for their treatment of sexual assault cases brought to them by students, often pressuring victims not to report attacks to the police and conducting disciplinary hearings related to sexual assault led by improperly trained personnel.
Sulkowicz’s story is similar to many — in fact she says that her rapist committed the same crime on a number of other women on their campus. The difference is the way that she’s chosen to use her art piece as a call to action. Sulkowicz will carry a dorm room mattress with her until her alleged attacker either moves off campus or the school expels him. She says:
I’ve written up 5 pages for the rules of engagement for the piece. I’ve tried to make it as thorough and well-researched as I can – as long as I’m on Columbia campus or any Columbia-owned property, I have to have this mattress with me. It’s an extra-long twin and made of foam so it’s not heavy and impossible, but it’s floppy and unruly. … I could have taken my pillow, but I want people to see how it weighs down a person to be ignored by the school administration and harassed by police.
One of the rules of engagement she’s created is that she’s not allowed to ask for help in carrying the mattress, but others are allowed to offer help, which she can accept. This is an interesting choice, implying that perhaps she’s still dealing with the self-blame survivors of rape frequently experience.
The entire project serves as a self-imposed scarlet letter in many ways. Sulkowicz has bravely allowed herself to become the visible face of a horrifying violation, one that still carries significant victim shaming. Just read the You Tube comments to see what she’s enduring by going public. She says, “I feel like it’s taken over my entire college experience. It’s like a cloud that will always hang over me.” Yet by committing to this public performance, she is continuing to burden herself every day, literally and figuratively, with memories of the experience. In her creation of art in the face of terrible pain, one can only hope that Emma Sulkowicz finds peace. (via New York)