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Bernhard Lang’s Aerial Photos Capture One Of The Largest Man-Made Holes In The World

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Photographer Bernhard Lang captures an aerial view of the Opencast Coal Mining Pit in Germany, which is one of the largest man-made holes in the world. At nearly 1,500 feet deep and covering almost 22 square miles, everything is at a giant scale. Massive machinery, the size of a 30-storey office buildings, scoops out coal, sand, and dirt to mine and move it about.

It’s hard to imagine something of these proportions, and through Lang’s sweeping landscape photography, he minimizes its grandiose scale. When looking down rather than upwards, it’s hard to get a sense of just how big these things really are.  At times, they look like patterns of ant farms rather than the handiwork of humans. Perhaps it’s part of the point to say that these hulking machines and sprawling cleared paths aren’t as important as we’re lead to believe.

The real visual impact of these photos comes from their abstract qualities: the different colors of dirt that have been piled next to one another; the lines that are made by machines as they drive down the road; and the hills and valleys themselves. Through Lang’s careful framing, he’s captured their unintentional beauty.

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Allison Schulnik’s Claymation Film “Eager” Is A Dark Journey Through A Beautifully Bizarre World

Allison Schulnik, Eager - Claymation

Allison Schulnik, Eager - Claymation  Allison Schulnik, Eager - Claymation

Allison Schulnik’s 2014 claymation and stop-motion film Eager is a bizarre dance of the beautifully macabre. At 8 minutes and 30 seconds, it is her longest film to date — and perhaps her darkest, portraying a peaceful, ritualistic world that spirals in and out of violent, psychedelic chaos. The story begins in an opaque, supernatural world, devoid of light, before the viewer is guided into the heart of a strange forest. Traversing these unpredictable landscapes is a cast of misfits: the multiplying, skeletal specters, who open the film with their haunting, synchronized dance; flowers with faces that pulsate and transmogrify into mouths, labia, and cavernous expressions of joy and despair; and the eyeless, fleshy horse, with his lolling tongue and genitalia, who plods along with an almost human ungainliness.

What makes the film so stunning and dark — aside from the endearing absurdity of its characters — is how quickly and easily the world of Eager oscillates between compassion and cruelty. Take the skeletal specters, for instance, who, after completing their ritual, eviscerate each other and don the bloody skins like cloaks. The flowers, too, live in a world of beauty and menace, as they dance and devour each other. Despite the darkness, Schulnik’s treatment of her “monsters” is based in love and fascination; as she said in an interview with Beautiful/Decay in 2012,

“I’m drawn to these characters, for some reason. There’s something about the sad or pathetic kind of character that I like. There’s something sad about them, yet […]  it’s comforting to know that [they are] maybe not real.”

In Schulnik’s surreal and metamorphosing universe, she has created a vast creative space wherein she explores the vicissitudes of life, and furthermore, celebrates the heart-wrenching beauty of what is normally seen as “dark,” “forlorn,” or “rejected.”

Schulnik also works in other mediums; her paintings, seen here, reflect the layered, whirling, and melting style of her claymation. Check out her webpage for links to her other films. And, as it has been advised, make sure you turn the lights down and the volume up as you experience Eager. More stills from the film after the jump. (Via Juxtapoz)

Credit: Zieher Smith & Horton (NY); Mark Moore Gallery (LA). Original soundtrack by Aaron M. Olson.

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Ignacio Torres’ Dazzling GIFs Capture The Vibrancy Of Youth

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Texas born photographer Ignacio Torres‘s new series Stellar is a fine example of camera wizardry. Capturing four different angles of models jumping, sliding, twisting and falling in the desert surrounded by flying dust and confetti, he has tried to capture the essence of youth. More specifically, how humans and scientific theories co exist and inter-relate. Torres explains a bit more about his project here:

This project began from the theory that humans are made of cosmic matter as a result of a stars death. I created imagery that showcased this cosmic birth through the use of dust and reflective confetti to create galaxies. The models organic bodily expressions as they are frozen in time between the particles suggest their celestial creation. (Source)

His animated images certainly have a little something heavenly or even spiritual about them. I’m sure at times we have all been impressed by certain natural phenomenon – fireflies, glow worms, phosphorescence on the beach or in the water,  and Torres’ celebrates these wondrous things that occur effortlessly and completely unaided around us. He goes on to explain:

In addition, space and time is heightened by the use of three-dimensional animated gifs. Their movement serves as a visual metaphor to the spatial link we share with stars as well as their separateness through time. (Source)

Stellar has a beautiful vibrancy and energy about it. The series has the same vivacity and zest as watching enthusiasts like Neil deGrasse Tyson or David Attenborough talk about their obsessions with the world that surround us. I imagine Torres would be very happy if his work piqued our interest in astronomy, botany, or at the very least, about our own humanity. Because it is indeed a marvelous and astounding thing. (Via We The Urban)

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Designer Gabriel Sarkijarvi’s Creepy And Charming Illusion Chair Features A Hidden Face

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People hand down heirlooms in the form of jewelry, books, plates, and paintings. Now, thanks to Swedish designer Gabriel Sarkijarvi, you can add Illusion Chair to the list.  What exactly is an Illusion Chair? Well, it’s a very well made piece of furniture with a subtle likeness of someone’s face carved into its back. This is achieved through a raster process that creates a dot matrix data structure in a rectangular format, MDF boards are then cut into templates of the subject’s face then finalized in birch.The end result is a timeless piece.
The chair gives off an eerie photo realistic vibe, similar to silhouette. Since the back is slatted depending on where you stand it looks just like a regular chair. But if it hits the light just right, the likeness of someone’s face will suddenly appear.The chair is clever and functional making it a wonderful conversation piece at dinner parties.There might even be a game in there for someone who has unlimited resources. Guess the illusion chair or musical illusion chairs?
Sarkijarvi has always been fascinated by illusion, and used this awe for inspiration. The designer compared it to a new kind of heirloom where the user could sit on it and feel as though they were sitting on the lap of the likeness at hand. Pet owners would dig it and make a chair of their beloved animal and be able to sit close to them always. I know I would.  (via designmilk)
Contact Gabriel at [email protected]

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Stacy Kranitz’ Photography Photographs The Rural Underbelly Of An Ohio Skate Park

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Photographer Stacy Kranitz captures a segment of society which is rarely seen by the public eye; the hang out rituals of young, post pubescent males at Skatopia Skate Park in the backwoods of Ohio. Her relationship with a young man named Jerimy, allowed her to document his daily life in these rural parts. Through three mediums: photography, video documentary and ‘zine, Kranitz explores this brutal and interesting world. Her angle is definitely from a woman’s perspective, as she knows how to capture the vulnerability in these faceless people, sometimes engaged in crude acts, that might not be so much in life but definitely is true on film.

The rural environment sets the tone for a road warrior type setting where rough skating, sexual innuendo and violence is suggested. There’s a lot of blood, spit and urine. The photos have a war documentary type vibe, meaning everything is up close and personal. It adds to the car crash scenario of wanting to look away but instead looking closer, allowing your curiosity to take over. Part of Kranitz’ intention is to study the catharsis in violence. Others are capturing youth’s raw vitality. She accomplishes both with these studies.

On Skatopia’s website there’s a section listed as ‘anarchy’. It defines the word from the Greek preface meaning “without rulers; without masters”. It fits in well with the tone of these pictures as the subjects do engage in rituals of freedom. Skate culture has always been associated with rebellion and is a part of society that still perks people’s interest today.

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How Conservators Repaired The 10 Million Dollar Punched Monet Painting

Monet repair - Art news

The painting after it was punched in 2012

Monet repair - Art news

Stabilizing the painting

Monet repair - Art news

Material testing

Monet repair - Art news

Securing the paint layer

In June 2012, a man named Andrew Shannon walked calmly into the National Gallery of Ireland in Dublin, and after approaching Monet’s Argenteuil Basin with a Single Sailboat (1874), he put his fist through it. To Shannon, the act of vandalism was a way to “get back at the state” — by punching a famous, 141-year-old painting, appraised (before the damage) at $10 million (Source). In court, he claimed he had fainted and fallen onto painting; video surveillance later revealed the act was deliberate. Recently, in December 2014, Shannon was sentenced to 5 years.

Since that day in 2012, conservators at the National Gallery have been hard at work trying to restore the painting to its former, beautiful, impressionist state — as Monet intended it. The damage was severe; the painting was split open in the middle, the torn pieces twisting outwards. The first step was to collect the tiny fragments that were on the painting’s surface and the ground nearby. Fragments that were found were then collected and classified under a microscope, as the conservators tried to figure out where they fitted into the painting. 7% of the fragments, however, were too small to be identified; these were sent to a lab and tested with a chemical staining dye, to figure out what types of materials Monet used.

The actual repair process was a long and delicate one. First, the painting was placed onto a padded cushion, and the front was covered with a conservation-grade tissue that was adhered to the surface of the painting using water-based, animal glue to stabilize it while it was being fixed. The actual “surgery” proceeded like this:

“With the aid of a high-powered microscope and appropriately small tools, the tear edges were carefully aligned thread-by-thread. Re-joining of the realigned, broken canvas fibres involved applying a specially formulated adhesive to achieve a strong but reversible bond between the thread ends. This adhesive material has been used and developed by painting conservators in Germany over the past 40 years.

Examples shown here include small steel surgical tools for working on tiny areas using a microscope; mini hot spatula for applying controlled and localised heat to the painting; warming plate and glass containers for keeping adhesive at a consistent temperature. Hydrated collagen adhesive was made in-studio.” (Source)

After delicately suturing the canvas back together, the conservators then went through and pieced the fragments back in. Gesso and watercolor were used to retouch the areas where there were still missing fragments. To make sure the painting is preserved for the future, the conservators built a climate box “to reduce exposure of the painting to environmental fluctuations” (Source). The box includes a humidity buffer as another preventative measure.

It was a long and delicate process, but despite the extent of the trauma, the repair was a success. Check out the National Gallery’s website for a longer description of the restoration project. More pictures of the process after the jump. (Via Gizmodo).

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Japanese Public Uses The Power Of Memes To Respond To ISIS Threats

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Last Tuesday, the militant extremist group ISIS released a video threatening to kill two Japanese hostages, journalists Kenji Goto and Haruna Yukawa. They requested a $200 million ransom of which Japan refused to pay (Yukawa has said to have been killed). The Japanese public has responded to these threats by using Twitter to mock ISIS with Photoshopped memes. While this isn’t exactly art, elements of design, digital collage, and illustration are being used for political and social reasons. The images, viewable with the hashtag  #ISISクソコラグランプリ, translates to ISIS crappy collage grand prix. This popular tag presents exactly what it says – the terrorists, rudimentarily cut/pasted/drawn on, are seen in spaceships or cartoon characters. One image even features Mickey Mouse.

While the hashtag has received criticism from some, many see this parody as a way to react to the threat without bowing to terrorism. Peter Payne, owner of the online shop J-List, sums the hashtag up up by tweeting, “You can kill some of us, but Japan is a peaceful and happy land, with fast Internet. So go to hell.” (Via Dazed and Buzzfeed)

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Jason Hopkins Imagines A Horrific Architectural Posthuman Form

Jason Hopkins - Design

Jason Hopkins - Design

Jason Hopkins - Design

Jason Hopkins - Design

Jason Hopkins creates digital sculptures that ooze with body horror. The collection, called “Abhominal,” is replete with organic blobs, sharp angles suggesting knees and elbows, and pink skin stretched over geometric frames, looking for all the world like fleshy jungle gyms. The similarity to the word “abominable” is surely not a coincidence. The sculptures look like science experiments gone horribly wrong.

As grotesque as they may already appear, the backstory ratchets up the queasiness: “Abhominal, an archaic word meaning inhuman, is an exploratory weblog of the human form,” Hopkins’ website says. “The digital sculptures are a fusion of geometric, architectural and biological abstract forms – a bleak evolutionary future where biotechnology has been used to make perfect posthuman beings.”

That’s right. The sculptures aren’t as innocuous as skin grafts or tumorous cell growths; they’re the imagined next step in human evolution. Hopkins takes the idea of genetic engineering and plays with the concept, mulling over and pulling out the dystopian possibilities like long strands of taffy. His artist’s statement continues:

“Humans have altered the genomes of species for thousands of years through artificial selection. Over the past 40 years scientists have made amazing technological progress to improve natures crops and mammals through genetic modifications; recently science has mapped the entire human genome and begun to realise the potential for modifying us.”

To complete the eerie effect of his digital renderings, Hopkins describes each piece with a kind of sinister optimism. One piece called, “Supermodel, Size Zero,” is a thin stretch of skin with barely human features: two sagging breasts, small clawed feet, and the occasional tiny nub. The description enthuses, “With genetic tinkering we will no longer need to fuss over what we eat.” (via Dark Silence in Suburbia)

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