In 2000, Belgian multimedia artist Wim Delvoye composed a series of photographs which appear to capture text and note style messages etched on the side of mountain faces. Known for his quirky sculptural style, like his elaborately carved tires, Delvoye manipulated these photographs in order to juxtapose the mundanity of the displayed messages with the sublime, natural beauty of the world’s structures. With messages like “RUDE BUT CUTE 18 YEAR OLD BABE 018 83 87 480″ and “HONEY, DON’T FORGET TO TAKE OUT THE GARBAGE. NINA,” Delvoye cleverly elevates the status of these banal declarations to a monumental scale. In Delvoye’s images, absurdities are reinforced while the overall importance of the messages – because of their ubiquity – is not entirely dismissed. Delvoye’s aesthetic is one of recontextualization and deconstruction – even the structure of website is a testament to his implementation well-known imagery in order to create an accessible and familiar user experience. (via public delivery)
Jerusalem-based industrial designer Naomi Kizhner created a series of sci-fi jewelry than harvest kinetic energy from a human’s body and turns it into electricity. Titled “Energy Addicts”, Kizhner’s graduation project addresses world’s forthcoming energy crisis. Her jewelry is an attempt for an existing renewable energy source that hasn’t been tested yet.
“It interested me to imagine what would the world be like once it has experienced a steep decline in energy resources and how we will feed our energy addiction. There are lots of developments of renewable energy resources, but the human body is a natural resource for energy that is constantly renewed, as long as we are alive.”
The jewelry is made from gold and 3D-printed biopolymer. Each piece contains sharp stings that neatly pierce the skin and serve as bio energy harvesting devices. The energy is generated from the body’s subconscious movements, such as blood flow or blinks of an eye. Kizhner created several designs to be worn on different body parts and to draw energy from specific physiological functions.
According to the designer, technology is not too far from turning these ideas into reality. However, she argues that the important part lies in human psychology: “<…> Will we be willing to sacrifice our bodies in order to produce more energy?” asks Kizhner. With her project, artist yearns to provoke people and spark the discussion on our possible future. (via Dezeen)
When photographer Jennifer Loeber’s mother died, Loeber began to photograph her belongs as a way of coping with her grief. She matched her photos with vintage pictures that her father had taken of her mother and posted the pairs on Instagram. The resulting series, “Left Behind,” is a poignant memorial, both deeply personal and universal.
The everyday objects that remain when loved one dies become an instant museum of sorts, freezing that person in time. A favorite pearl ring will never be replaced by a diamond; an unmatched glove will never be matched to its mate. A used lipstick, valueless in itself, becomes a cherished object, chosen and applied by the person so missed. Many times these everyday objects are the most touching and the most difficult to dispose of.
“I found myself deeply overwhelmed by the need to keep even the most mundane of my Mom’s belongings when she died suddenly this past February. Instead of providing comfort and good memories they became a source of deep sadness and anxiety and I knew the only way I would be able to move past that was to focus on a way to interact with them cathartically. I had recently become active on Instagram and realized that utilizing the casual aspects of sharing on the app was a way to diminish my own sentimentality towards the objects my Mom left behind.”
Reframing the objects allowed Loeber to experience them without searing grief. Instead of the items feeling haunted, they became imbued by fond memories of her mother’s life. By matching them with her father’s photos she was able to make a fitting memorial to her mother, one that was less about personal pain than about remembrance.
“My dad refused to hold a traditional funeral service because he and I believe you should celebrate a life, not mourn it. I’m sure this body of work falls in line with that concept.” (Source)
It’s been over 45 years since the iconic Woodstock Festival first took place. In 1969, nearly half a million music lovers made their way to the Catskills for the event that offered peace, love, and rock’n’roll. Thirty-two bands performed at there, including Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, and The Who. Two LIFE photographers named Bill Eppridge and John Dominis capture not only the music, but of the crowds, muddy fields, and lush woods where young people celebrated their youth.
The epic festival was originally supposed to be a ticketed affair, with booths set up to charge the $24 admission. But, they were never installed thanks to the unexpected surge of music fans, and the surrounding fences were torn down. This act declared that Woodstock was a free event. Over the course of just a few days, these documentary-style photos tell us a lot. They depict the communal living and the aftermath of a five-inch rainfall that turned everything into a giant mud pit. Concert-goers are seen receiving medical care, bathing nude in the streams, and standing as one giant mass with lighters in the air.
John Fogerty of Creedence Clearwater Revival recalls a 3:30AM start time (delayed because of rain), and how incredible the experience was:
We were ready to rock out and we waited and waited and finally it was our turn … there were a half million people asleep. These people were out. It was sort of like a painting of a Dante scene, just bodies from hell, all intertwined and asleep, covered with mud.
And this is the moment I will never forget as long as I live: A quarter mile away in the darkness, on the other edge of this bowl, there was some guy flicking his Bic, and in the night I hear, ‘Don’t worry about it, John. We’re with you.’ I played the rest of the show for that guy.
Norman Rockwell (1894–1978) was a celebrated 20th-century American painter and illustrator, whose works became the imagery depicting everyday life in the States. It appears, Rockwell’s photo-realistic artworks were often accompanied by staged photographs which artist then used as a reference to paint his nostalgic scenes.
Storytelling is a natural part of all of Rockwell’s paintings. Often disguised, the true story would reveal itself through the smallest details which the artist always considered beforehand. Take his illustration called “Marriage Counseling” (below): the intention is clear but there are many unfolding details like the man’s black eye or even the books stacked in the shelves reading Van Eyck and Giovanni Bellini. Due to these impeccable narratives, even the reference photographs become works of art.
“There were details, accidents of light, which I’d missed when I’d been able to make only quick sketches of a setting. A photograph catches all that.”
At first, Norman Rockwell was hiring professional models but after awhile he switched to having his friends and neighbors posing for the photographs. For example, the tattooed sailor (below) was also Rockwell’s neighbor, Clarence Decker. During his career, artist produced over 4,000 original works and snapped more than 20,000 reference shots. The collection was revealed by the Norman Rockwell Museum and its curator, Ron Schick. It was also turned into a traveling exhibition and book titled “Norman Rockwell: Behind the Camera”. (via NPR)
Canadian artist Maskull Lasserre’s “recarved” sculptures are aptly named—Lasserre takes existing clichéd figural wood carvings and “exposes” the skeleton underneath. Of course, the new carving only seems like a reveal of what lies beneath. Part of the success of these works is how inevitable they feel.
Lasserre’s drawings and sculptures explore the unexpected potential of the everyday through allegories of value, expectation, and utility. Elements of nostalgia, accident, humor, and the macabre are incorporated into works that induce strangeness in the familiar, and provoke uncertainty in the expected.
In the style of an anatomy book, the bifurcated sculptures preserve the existing sculpture on one side while exposing the fantasy skeleton on the other. It’s a reverse of the classical artist’s process of learning about anatomy in order to draw more realistic figures. Lasserre is taking fully realized figures and imagining their bones. In an interview with Joseph Kendrick, Lasserre said,
“There is an intrinsic honesty and humility to the carving process. There is no magic, no hidden technology or trick, just the simple subtraction of what was already there. This humble quality makes the amazing alchemy that carving can achieve so much more interesting. … Like the physical materials I use, and the processes I apply, there is something categorical about death/mortality. The aspect of it that I try to coax out is that death is a potent sign of life — albeit an ended one. To carve skeletons into inanimate objects infers their past — and maybe even future — potential for life.” (Source)
Although these sculptures are whimsical, in concept if not execution, there’s an “Alas, poor Yorick!” undertone that’s sobering. Those who are fortunate enough to be healthy and whole rarely think of the inevitable end, the skull beneath the skin. Lasserre’s skilled carving work reveals what was never there, and in doing so makes us think of what eventually will be.
Maybe you love puns, maybe you hate them. Whatever your stance on them, UK street artist JPS is a fan. They permeate his work as he incorporates the witty phrases into stenciled images of characters in popular culture. We see Batman, Loki, Biggie Smalls, and even Michael Jackson on walls and rocks and are often accompanied by text that’s specific to the character.
JPS’ clever street art is made extra amusing because of how silly some of his puns are. A previously graffitied wall has his addition of “This surface needs a Sheen,” with a portrait of Charlie Sheen next to it. Groan-worthy, yes, but it might’ve made you chortle. And, this is probably part of the point of JPS’ stencils. While funny, they engage the average passerby and infuse some humor into their day and stay subversive at the same time. (Via The Roosevelts)
In the wake of the murder of unarmed teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri by a policeman, and the subsequent protests of police brutality, tensions have been high among many communities. On Saturday August 16 in Philadelphia, artist activists draped yellow CAUTION ribbon around the iconic LOVE statue in Love Park and actor Keith Wallace positioned himself face-down in front of the statue, wearing a white t-shirt that appeared to be stained with blood, as if he were shot from behind. Standing near him, two people alternated the holding of a sign that read “Call Us By Our Names.” For an hour, Wallace lay in front of the emblematic, tourist-attracting statue – all the while, tourists continued to pose in front of the statue, usually while framing Wallace out of the photo, or blocking the view of his body in some way.
For Wallace, an idea like this had been brewing for quite some time. “I just tried to think about a way I could use my spirit of activism coupled with my artistic passion to make a statement about what’s going on. So I just decided that for me, I’m a very image-driven artist. I think images speak louder than words can, most times. And so there’s some value in forcing a society to look at the most ugly parts of itself and just putting it out there for them to examine and discussed, and to be disgusted by, in the hopes of provoking some sort of dialogue or provoking some social change in an effort to eradicate some social ill, whatever that is.”
The phrase “Call Us By Our Names” was born from the knowledge that though we know the names of victims like Michael Brown and Trayvon Martin, there are countless other victims of police brutality whose faces go unrecognized and unnamed. “I was tired,” Wallace says. “No, we’re NOT thugs, we’re not this, we’re not that. We’re unarmed citizens, so call us who we are. Call us by our names. Say ‘Michael Brown’ instead of ‘unarmed robbery suspect.’ When you give a face and a name to a victim, the public becomes socially responsible in a different way.”
According to Lee Edward Colston, a theater student who was helping with the protest, visitors to the statue expressed a variety of feelings and opinions. “There was an older white couple that wanted to take a picture in front of the LOVE statue,” recounts Colston. “The older white gentleman said, ‘Why do they have to shove their politics down our throats?’ The woman replied, ‘They’re black kids, honey. They don’t have anything better to do.’” In another account, Colston says, “There was one group of white guys who wanted to take a picture in front of the statue, but one of the guys in the group couldn’t take his eyes off of Keith’s body. His friends were trying to convince him to get in the picture. He told his friends, ‘Something about this doesn’t feel right, guys. I don’t think we should.’ One of his friends replied, ‘Dude, come on … he’s already dead.’ Then they all laughed.” Additionally, “There was a guy who yelled at us… ‘We need more dead like them. Yay for the white man!’
Colston did relate two more positive reactions to the performance. Recounting one, he says, “One young guy just cried and then gave me a hug and said ‘thank you. It’s nice to know SOMEBODY sees me.’” And in another, “There was a Latina woman with two young boys. She held her boys’ hands and said to them, ‘I want you to see this. This is important. Never be afraid to tell the truth.’”
Accompanying the silent protest, a sheet of paper was handed out that included information about rights and responsibilities, and a statement that partially reads, “I am racially charged not because I want to be, but because I have to be. I am racially charged because in certain instances, that hyper awareness may ensure that I make it home to my family at the end of the day. I am racially charged because I am not afforded the luxury to wander through life with my head in the (nonexistent) ‘post-racial America’ clouds. I see color because my color is seen, dismissed, devalued, and implicated as a threat everywhere I go. I am racially charged and if I make you uncomfortable by speaking out about it and calling attention to it, then I implore you to eradicate the ugliness I see every day in the world.” (via ra’s al ghul is dead, thinkprogress, philadelphia magazine)