Portland painter Hickory Mertsching has a penchant for life, death and nature: both wild and man-made. His still lifes, done in oil, showcase a confluence of symbolism with many conflicting elements. Throughout his work, one sees a running commentary of environmental negligence, and human impact through littering and deforestation. Animals juxtaposed with crushed beer cans and chainsaws showcase not only the symbolic reference of destruction but also the aesthetics of defacing the environment through litter and clear-cutting. The animals interact, oblivious to the objects, as in real life: nature cannot defend itself nor comment on our treatment of it.
It is hard to view Mertsching’s paintings without feeling a paroxysm of guilt toward existing and participating in a time of such extreme usability; within a culture that bulldozes through natural resources, sidelines scientific research in the name of profit and economic interests, everyone meets a moment where they have to wonder just how bad their impact is on the world and what they could be doing differently.
Even so, Mertsching’s paintings focus on a larger set of paradoxes than just that. There is the implied confusion within viewing the animals, of which it is uncertain whether they are alive or dead. Many of the landscapes, some on fire and under immediate threat, are not fully realized and hover curiously within the white, negative space of the canvas. The direct confrontation between life force and waste, is beautifully arranged and painted in such a light that the garbage gains an antique presence, a glowing look, one that only highlights the ridiculousness of how we treat our environment.
Mertsching’s words on his own work:
“My paintings are about illustrating and presenting unavoidable natural realities by utilizing mundane objects as symbols. The realities constantly challenge our existence and are powerful enough to be beyond our control, always offering more to wonder and question. Such as the rise and fall of a garden in the span of summer it offers sustenance but requires toil for any reward of consumption. Within this cycle all allegorical manners of life occur, crossing paths, pursuits of enlightenment, conflicts of survival, and the passing of time.”
Muscular stiffening begins between four and twelve hours after death. It starts in the neck and makes movement of the limbs impossible. When it reaches the scalp, it can make the dead body’s hair rise. Like goose bumps on the living.
His breast isn’t moving. The cells in his body have carried out the last of their work, the mechanisms have come to a halt and he is now not going to get any older.
In the chapel of the Pathological Institute of Aarhus University Hospital, the dead are received. Here they are dressed in clothes, their hair is combed and they are laid in the coffin, before we can say our last goodbye to those we have lost.
Here are lying women and men, girls and boys on ice, because they were careless, because they were unlucky, or because their time was come. This woman was found dead in her home. She has just been through an autopsy, which confirmed that she didn’t die the victim of a crime. Soon her body will be dressed and laid in the coffin.
These photos of the dead are purposefully anonymous. In “About Dying” Danish photographer Catherine Ertmann was aiming for the universality of death rather than the stories of these particular dead. And that’s what makes this series so moving. In photographing the dead so intimately, bare of everything, including their life stories, she has made room for the viewer in the morgue—as observer and as deceased. Who doesn’t project themselves into the sewn torso, the half-clenched hand, the freckled cheek? Will it be the zipped bag or the fiery crematorium in the end? How can we live fully if we can’t look at death?
“This project tries to break down the taboo by showing something we rarely have access to, and that death can be both hard to look an but also beautiful. Just like when a new life comes into the world when a woman is giving birth. It deals with the incomprehensible fact that life ends and hopefully remind the audience that our time here is precious and what things really matter while we are here.”
This project was approved by Aarhus Universitets Hospital (University Hospital of Aarhus, Denmark), where she and journalist Lise Hornung worked.
The only complete certainty in life is that one day we will die. It is the most certain thing in the world, and the biggest uncertainty we experience of the world, because nobody can say what will happen afterwards. Maybe that is why we find it so difficult to speak about death.
These amazing lithograph prints are not only labor intensive and beautifully detailed, they are also playful and humorous. Artist Oddly Head has quite obviously spent a lot of time by himself cutting out images, arranging them into remarkable forms with funny narratives and transferring them into print. Working with mostly retro images, he cleverly fits his cut outs into a variety of silhouettes and shapes.
Taking advantage of their bright colors and pop aesthetic, Oddly Head creates eye-catching picture explosions. He turns a large collection of different guns into a radiating image, one that seems to be anthropomorphic and with it’s sights set on the viewer. In another print he has layered different cutouts of trains on top of each other, all rushing out from a black hole in the center of the picture, expressing some sort of urgency. Or in another, we see a gathering of women – all severed at the head and frozen in animated screams, focused on a woman in the center, as if she is the reason for their fear and horror.
With titles like ‘Hollywood’, ‘Licked’, ‘The Happiest Place On Earth When There Is No Tomorrow’, ‘Getting The Fuck Out Of Dodge’, Oddly Head’s prints are tinged with a cynicism as he questions the structure of systems around us. And what a beautiful way to do it. See more of his work in detail after the jump.
As part of Milan Design Week 2014, Citizen teamed up with Paris-based architect Tsuyoshi Tane (DGT) to create “LIGHT is TIME,” an immersive installation of 80,000 watch base plates. The result is a shimmering space, golden and ethereal, delicate and glowing.
“We envision a space-orchestration where light will fill the space, composing, through sound and vision, a sense of light and time never experienced by humanity before. In this exhibition, we have created a space of light and excavated within it three primary volumes to exhibit everything from CITIZEN’s first pocket watch as the company’s origin, through to the latest satellite watches.”Suspended from the ceiling, the golden watch base plates, the basic component of watches, are reminiscent of droplets of suspended rain. The sense of suspended animation conveys the idea of time and timelessness. It’s when time stops that you become most conscious of it.
“LIGHT is TIME” won “Best Entertaining” and “Best Sound” in the Milano Design Award Competition, and was so successful that a reconfigured version was brought to Japan and shown at The Aoyama Spiral in Tokyo.
“Time is light. If there were no light, then there would be no time. In the 20th century mankind digitized time, measured it and continued to economize our time, until eventually we forgot about its relationship with essence of light. Without light we never would have had the wonders of the universe, the richness of our planet or the joy and pleasure of our life.” (Via demilked)
Photographer Polly Penrose’s series A Body of Work was produced over the course of seven years. Her intention was to take pictures of strong, powerful, and interesting nude portraits. So, how did she achieve that? By using herself as a model. Penrose explains in an email to Beautiful/Decay:
…I was always available, and then because I realised something interesting was happening. I could push myself further than I could other models, and by shooting myself the pictures became a visual autobiography. The pictures are very spontaneous within the space, I never plan them I just work with what’s there, it’s like a secret conversation between myself and the space, a bit of silent theatrics which I document. Looking back I can see that my state of mind at the time of shooting definitely feeds into the imagery, my choice of pose and the general mood of the picture.
Penrose sees A Body of Work as ongoing, and that this simply marks its first seven years. “…I want to keep taking them until I can no longer move to do it – it will be interesting to see my body age and how the poses and locations will change with it.” Her photographs showcase a long time, but still relatively short in terms of an entire life span. We see just some of the changes a body goes through in that time and are intrigued with what the next seven will bring.
Dean Bradshaw is an advertising photographer based in LA who’s created an entertaining series of portraits of senior citizen athletes. Their characters are hilariously over the top, though his attention to detail keeps them from being tacky. The colours are vibrant and youthful, and photos crisp to match the playfulness of the subjects. It’s obvious that the project was fun to put together.
Bradshaw says of his work:
“I’m drawn to storytelling, character and well-crafted, stylized imagery.
I’m attracted to the ‘why’ of things, the essential ingredients that comprise a story, a brand or a character – those elements below the surface which define the exterior. I enjoy immersing viewers in imagery that takes them into a world outside the ordinary. I’m fascinated by narrative, but find inspiration in the real world where things can be equally, if not more, peculiar. More than anything, I enjoy ideas – but realize that they are nothing without equal part execution.”
The images knock the severity out of sport imagery. The idea of an athlete is often limited to someone in peak physical condition, and necessarily younger. Though lifting a massive dumbbell may not be an activity recommended to the average senior citizen, sports are not exclusive to young people. Bradshaw’s series helps to broaden our perceptions of an older generation.
London based design engineer Julian Melchiorri has been inventing amazing things in the laboratory for a while now. The outcomes he produces are a beautiful mix between art and science, and are meant to solve urban problems in an environmentally focused way. His latest project Cocoon is a light sculpture consisting of a 3D printed shell, and proteins from worm silk, crafted into nanoprisms, which form the body of the sculpture. Illuminated from within by a single 1 Watt LED light, Cocoon is a wonderful example of refraction and reflections, and the understated beauty of light.
Melchiorri explains the science behind how we normally view light and how the silk worm protein breaks up rays differently.
Light is an electromagnetic radiation having a wavelength in a range of 400 nanometers. Each section of this wavelength is perceived by us in colors from blue to green and red. When we look at a light emission we usually perceive a white source due to the smallness of its wavelength that unify all the colors. When a ray of light passing through the material gets diffracted by the nano-prisms, the light wavelength is sparse until its real composition is revealed. (Source)
Cocoon is a visual experiment combining different materials, technologies and shapes. It is an innovative way of challenging our perceptions and understanding of seemingly simple things around us, in this case, light. Melchiorri and his experiments are a perfect example of the parallels between art and science. The two different areas have the same curiosity, usually about the same phenomena, and are geared toward some type of improvement. You can see Melchiorri’s other visionary projects (Silk Leaf, and Exhale) here and a video of Cocoon after the jump. (Via My Amp Goes To 11)