A young photographer named Rachel Baran is taking surrealist pictures to a new level. Mostly self portraits in strange settings, her manipulation in photoshop allows fantastical things to happen. Displaying nuances usually found only in painting, it’s no wonder people are taking notice. According to her Facebook page, she lives in Ohio, just graduated from college and seems like a regular gal except for her highly creative eye. Some significant work shows appendages (fingers) in different stages of duress. In one, two hands are fused together by skinwebs and another shows a cutoff finger revealing not blood but concrete. One does reveal blood and a montage of her cutup portrait on a clothes line to dry turns a bit, well, emotional. Whether there is any real logic to her work is another question. However, an understanding might not matter, because the pictures hold your attention. Some may dismiss them as pretentious gobbledygook, others will embrace and try to find hidden meaning. The surrealists played with subconscious. Ideas were thought about but not necessarily thought out. Comprehension was a feeling. Dali believed in Jungian and Freudian behavior. For part of his daily practice, the artist would fall asleep with a big sketchbook on his lap and be awoken by it crashing onto the floor and immediately jot down whatever was in his mind. Baran’s photographs follow a similar plan. They exist to explore a subconscious path. Through a series of latent acts, interesting moments occur and the camera is there to capture them. (via Artfucksme)
The photographic studio founded and run by Robert Staudinger and Andreas Franke (based in Vienna) have been experimenting with many different post production techniques for a while. Their recent fascination is with water. Photographing different women just beneath the surface of water, their series Barrier is like a ghostly fairytale. The women seem to either be sinking down into the depths below, postmortem, or in a state of serenity and peace, enjoying a moment of calm. We are not quite sure whether the barrier is a help or a hindrance; something to protect the women or to hurt them. The images capture an intrusive moment, either like watching someone during their final moments of life, or having an intimate bathing experience. Whatever it is, Staudinger and Franke exploit the tension between tranquility and unease; push and pull; immersion and separation.
Playing with the concept of water in the past (The Phantasy Fairytales), Staudinger and Franke seem interested in exploring the quietness and other-worldliness of the substance. By including the element in their images, it changes the mood quite drastically, and in most cases makes it seem more surreal, ethereal and eerie.
Franke has also shot an old shipwreck off the coast of Key West (Vandenberg Project), digitally adding in components later on to complete the shots. Including ballet dancers, kickboxers, a girl holding a butterfly net, a woman hanging out laundry, and a whole lot of other surreal details, Franke became experienced in recreating watery effects on his subjects to blend them in seamlessly, and somewhat believably. To see more of their beautiful skills see here. (Via Art Fucks Me)
Artist Stefanie Herr’s topographic artworks are inspired by maps. When traveling, she writes, they facilitate navigation and orientation, and drawings by cartographers are the starting point of her work. To create her sculptures, images are printed on photographic paper, mounted on matboard, hand cut into tiny pieces and assembled. They resemble maps that show changes in elevation once completed. But, instead of rivers, plains, and mountains, Herr features faces of people.
She calls these pieces experiments on landscapes models that merge photography and sculpture. They often take weeks to complete. In an artist statement, Herr writes:
Photography abandons the two-dimensional plane and sets out to conquer the space. In search of suitable maps, however, I do not only focus on the shape of the terrain, but also on place names. As toponyms can inspire strong images or even stories, they often interfere in the development of my projects. When shooting photos, I mainly choose top, side and front view representations – I particularly like making use of “aerial” views on a scale of 1:1.
In addition to this inspiration, Herr is also concerned about environmental degradation and rapid loss of biodiversity. She further explains:
Unique natural heritage is gradually being depleted or replaced for the mere purpose of economic growth, and it seems that we have completely forgotten about the aesthetic values of landscape. As a world citizen, I am concerned about contemporary landscape change and the prevailing landscape perception. Topographic Fine Art mainly deals with these issues and, even though on a reduced scale, attempts to capture some of the natural beauty that surrounds us. (Via Lustik)
Masaya Kushino‘s high heel designs are chimerical, fusing organic textures and materials with the manmade. He utilizes luxurious fur and lush jungle moss alongside meticulously stitched leather, creating works of art that are quirky and beautifully imaginative.
It’s fitting that the form he chooses to play with is the high heel: the height of artifice; impractical; undeniably evocative. It’s a choice that is brimming with meaning and possible interpretations. They’re an everyday item but commonly elevated by haute couture into something fantastical. To some people, they represent an unobtainable ideal, one that is rife with sociopolitical meaning and controversy. Whether you approve of the existence of stilettos or not, they’re admittedly architectural, intriguing in their contours and elegant curves.
Kushino emphasizes a number of these qualities, borrowing the jeweled swoop of a peacock’s tail feather and a bouquet of flowers to highlight the theatricality. In his latest work, called “Bird-Witched,” he incorporates an element of the grotesque: Three shoes that seem each an embryonic stage in the development of a chicken. The heel of the shoe is a gnarled claw, sharp-toed and grisly.
“Bird-Witched” can be seen at the Kyoto National Museum of Modern Art but will soon be making an appearance at the Brooklyn Museum, which is currently exhibiting “Killer Heels,” a retrospective of the last 4 centuries of iconic shoes. (h/t Spoon & Tamago)
Seattle artist Joe Vollan has an inventive imagination that lies somewhere between Edward Gorey, children’s fairy tales, with perhaps a little Tim Burton mixed in there. Mechanized skeletons of birds, wild beasts, a cat dancing around a fire, all forming splices of what could be either a tall tale or a nightmare, depending on your take. His work involves the dead moving about in a world where they continue to interact, and this playful imagery is embedded in a fictionalized version of Seattle, as the Space Needle is present in one particular painting.
As said on his website: “His works describe tales of heartache and adventure. The bulk of his paintings take place in the city of Rusted Gallows, a post apocalyptic, rundown factory town populated by secret skeleton societies and strange but friendly creatures. The characters in his works demonstrate that there can be contentment and hope in an otherwise dilapidated world.”
Sølve Sundsbø is a London-based (Norway-born) photographer whose highly stylized shoots bring an experimental edge into the world of high fashion. This particular series — called Points a la Ligne — was shot for Numéro magazine’s May 2008 issue. The concept is simple, yet powerful; patterned shadows of stripes and circles are cast across the body of a nude model (Edita Vilkeviciute). Between the model’s painted-white skin and the pitch-black shadows surrounding and traversing her, the photos are strongly contrasted. Her lipstick — in varying bright shades — is the only source of color that punctuates the series, attracting the eye to her mouth.
The result of Sundsbø’s experiments with light and shadow is a photo series that lends a sensual geometry to the body. In some images, the shadows — which appear painted on, initially — give her body a feline appearance, and in others, almost a pop-art/film noir aspect, or even more abstractly, the way sunlight reflects off of sand dunes. The interpretations are varied, but the illusory effect on her form is beautiful.
Sundsbø has shot for a number of fashion publications and beauty brands, including Vogue, NYTimes, Chanel, Dolce & Gabbana, and H&M. You can explore the rest of his imaginative, sensual, and highly polished work on his website. (Via Art Fucks Me)
Chen-Dao Lee paints highly stylized pop images that are a kind of Taiwanese version of a Quentin Tarantino neo-noir film. Painted in candyfloss pinks, reds and blues, his work borders on anime, or a kind of twisted superhero comic. His subjects are powerful women (and peculiar men) who have a cynicism, sexuality and also a sickly sweetness about them. Posed together, armed with guns and wearing frilly socks and high heels, or engaged in a semi-erotic masked wrestling fight, Lee’s characters are contemporary individuals, expressing the whole spectrum of emotions.
In his recent series, Lee has shifted from depicting a logical scenario in his paintings to focusing on the figures entanglement to describe emotions or relationships which are ambiguous, embarrassing or even helpless. Beautiful young women and fallen heroes frequently appear in Lee’s works as a symbol of the projection of modern people’s inner contradictions. (Source)
With titles like Cat fight – Love Kick, Boss, Not The Hero Type, Valentine, BFF, Lee embraces a kind of feminism with a dark sense of humor. He paints scenarios loaded with sexual innuendo, but instead of them being erotic, or about power plays, he focuses on ennui. The women (and men) show a lack of enthusiasm and engagement, but rather a nonchalance about what ever is going on around them.
His past series have included paintings of women guiltily carrying loads of fast food, indulgent night life scenes with money being tossed around, strange card nights, groups of men eating sushi off a blow-up doll, and overweight men with bad tan lines wearing cute costume masks. Lee is able to blend sarcasm, skepticism and empathy to create instant modern day classics. (Via Illusion Scene)