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Sonya Fu’s Dreamy Sleep Paralysis Paintings

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Sonya Fu’s digital paintings seek to open the third eye and unlock the limbo between wakefulness and sleep. Rendered in soft vibrant colors, her characters are lit up, though from within or without we are uncertain. Shapes and bubbles of light play on their faces, like projections from an unknown dimension. Their half-closed dreaming eyes add to the eerie yet somehow peaceful quality of the paintings, as though we’re witnessing some mystical wandering of the mind.

“Art is a powerful visual language and creating art is a calming and therapeutic process,” Fu says. “I would like to share with people my dreamscape, its beauty and its oddity.” Her paintings are the product of sleep paralysis, a state where the mind is only half-awake and the body is still convinced it’s slumbering. In more superstitious times, sleep paralysis has been attributed to everything from death itself to hags who would come and sit on the sleeper’s chest. As though channeling that supernatural power, the girls in Fu’s paintings gaze off into the distance, thoroughly raptured away and unaware or perhaps undisturbed by their surreal surroundings. They are composed, high priestesses of some fantasy world that only blossoms in the twilight hours.

Fu explains: “It might be an eerie creature, a whimsical scenery or a disturbed beauty who speaks words of wisdom – they are all embodiments of my subconscious mind.” (via Hi-Fructose)

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Bagrad Badalian’s Long-Exposure Photography Manipulates Light Into Hypnotic Scenes Of Distorted Figures

Bagrad Badalian - Digital Photograph

Bagrad Badalian - Digital Photograph

Bagrad Badalian - Digital Photograph

Berlin based photographer Bagrad Badalian uses the technique of long-exposure photography to bend and manipulate light in his energetic and magnetic photography. The motion in his photography combined with a long exposure elongates his subjects and drags colored lights across the composition. Badalian, mainly focusing on the human form as his subject, allows the figure to be taken over by hypnotic, multicolored light sources that bounce and bend across the figures. This element along with his carefully cropped compositions render many of the subjects unrecognizable, shifting the focus onto the many waves of light. Each color seems to be exploding from the bodies with an energetic force, creating a vibrant pulse felt by the viewer. As you look at each figure in motion, you can feel the pulsating rhythm that encompasses each photograph.

“The photographic technique interests me for the many possibilities it offers not only to scientists but also artists. Long exposure photography is on of those techniques that fascinate me since I have started practicing photography. It allows me to decompose the movement of time and control the aesthetic and imaginative potential of chance.”

Each figure’s identity is skewed as their features are distorted and manipulated by the long exposure. This creates a beautiful, but sometimes nightmarish, effect. The colored lights dance across the figure’s faces due to the movement in the photograph, which also causes the face to shift. It becomes disfigured as the movement t manipulates the face and body like a ball of clay. Although causing a face-altering effect, Badalian’s technique is overall unique, holding a strong and powerful force.

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Elizabeth Zvonar’s Collages And Sculptures Contemplate The Body’s Sexualized Relationship With Advertising

Elizabeth Zvonar - Collage

“Legs”. Digital LightJet print of a hand-cut collage (2007).

Elizabeth Zvonar - Sculpture

“This A Way”. Porcelain, custom glaze. 4 finger casts, 14″ (2013).

Elizabeth Zvonar - Collage

“Tulip”. Digital LightJet print of a hand-cut collage (2010).

Elizabeth Zvonar - Sculpture

“Cummy Loubous” (detail). Porcelain, custom glaze. 8.5″ pair of Mary Jane-style stiletto shoes (2013).

Elizabeth Zvonar is a Canadian artist whose collages and sculptures encounter us as objects of curiosity and contemplation. Her choice of mediums is vast, including brass, stone, porcelain, and hand-cut collage, but no matter what she creates, Zvonar’s work is tied together by a consistent style that is tactfully sexual, critically engaged, and subtly humorous. Her motifs include multiplicities of disembodied hands and fingers, magazine cutouts juxtaposing seductive imagery with the silly or strange, and high-fashion objects (such as porcelain high heels) splattered with a suggestive, white glaze. These works grab our attention and activate our minds, and this is precisely their intention. As Zvonar expresses in a fascinating interview with Here and Elsewhere,

“I like to make things strange and interesting to look at in order to engage. My method is tied to how advertising operates. I tend to use sex blatantly or metaphorically, mimicking advertising strategies [and] pushing the image/concept/work into unfamiliar territory.”

In this process of defamiliarization, Zvonar’s works become perceptual exercises in the effects of familiar and manipulative advertising imagery — the types of images that, as Zvonar acutely points out, inundate our waking lives “should one have their eyes open when walking down a street or in line at a grocery store” (Source). By removing idealized bodies and coveted material objects from their usual, seductive contexts and reconfiguring them in a socially aware manner, Zvonar’s creations cleverly critique the way fashion media and advertising operate on us by fragmenting and sexualizing the body.

Check out Zvonar’s website for a larger collection of her works, including a list of past exhibitions. If you’d like to learn more about her artistic themes and creative processes, I highly recommend reading the interview conducted by Here and Everywhere.

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Paper Towel Company Sopalin Has Art In Mind To Sell Its Products

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The French paper towel company Sopalin decided to have a little fun and create a tongue in cheek ad campaign that incorporates artistic input, literally.  Instead of using the standard selling method of having their product cleaning up a spilled milk scenario Sopalin features the product creating a design in the spilt milk instead. It takes advertising into another level entirely. The designs in the ad are decorative and simple but the idea is highly creative and innovative. The message touches on the virtues of producing art using common found objects (or messes). While this is not new in the art world it definitely is a rarity in the mainstream ad world.
Sopalin’s other advertising ventures have examined gender roles. In one, a husband and wife team are in the kitchen and after she spills something cannot lift up the paper towels. After much fuss, the husband gets up off his chair and lifts the paper towels. The idea of course is that the towels are so strong you need a man to lift them. Its basic concept definitely a bit more creative than your average product sponsorship.

It’s an interesting study to look at how this particular company uses artistic ways to sell a basic product. It mainly speaks to the fact that manufacturers are recognizing more and more the power art has in not only enriching, educating but now selling too. (via 1designperday)

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Theo Fennell’s Opulent Rings Feature Pots Of Gold And Secret Compartments

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British master jeweler Theo Fennell doesn’t just make your average ring. No, his company goes well beyond the typical diamond jewellery by creating accessories that feature doors and secret compartments engineered into them. They open to reveal tiny painted scenes and small treasures that are inspired by popular novels like The Secret Garden and The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.

Fennell and company’s gold rings have astounding and intricate details. Looking closely at their handiwork, you find things like: individual coins in a pot of gold; a rainbow that’s poking above the clouds; and a ring with a side door that unhinges to reveal a yellow-brick road. Of course, these things don’t come without a price – some of them cost around $30,000.

Fennell’s attitude towards his work is that it should be timeless, and so pairing it with classic literary interpretations makes sense. “Jewellry should be something talismanic and precious, beautifully made to last and not at the ephemeral whim of fashion: it should be truly owned,” he says. “Jewellery has that power – it is a very romantic, sexy and emotional thing.” (Via Demilked)

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Alexis Arnold Glorifies The Decay Of Paperbacks By Crystallizing Books

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Never has the thought of books and newspapers becoming obsolete been so appealing. Artist Alexis Arnold makes the idea attractive by gathering different National Geographic magazines, Bibles, and discarded phone books and turns them into crystallized sculptures. She dips each book into a Borax solution which, when left alone for a short time, ‘grows’ crystals. The spines and pages harden and freeze, warped and bent out of shape like they have been found in a time capsule.

Arnold’s series The Crystallized Books are a sentimental and nostalgic view of a time slipping away from us, now we are immersed in the world of eBooks, PDFs, Kindles, and portable tablets. As more and more bookshops close everyday, we are seeing the printed page become obsolete and unused. She explains a bit more about the project:

I had been growing crystals on hard objects and was interested in seeing the effect of the crystal growth on malleable and absorbent objects. Conceptually, the series addresses the materiality of the book versus the text of content of the book. The crystals remove the text and transform the books into aesthetic, non-functional objects. The books, now frozen with heavy crystal growth, have become artifacts or geologic specimens imbued with the history of time, use and nostalgia. (Source)

Arnold says even though she primarily uses the laundry detergent ‘Twenty Mule Team Borax’ in boiling water, and other Salt Crystals, you can use a number of different household products to try it yourself. You can even check out how to experiment at home with the help of this video. (Via The Creator’s Project)

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Gregori Maiofis’ Darkly Humorous Tarot Cards Satirize Human Existence

Gregori Maiofis, Tarot Decks - Photography

Fool, from the Deck of “Public Sanitation”

Gregori Maiofis, Tarot Decks - Photography

Lovers, from the Deck of “Butterflies”

Gregori Maiofis, Tarot Decks - Photography

Justice, from the Deck of “Obscene Enjoyment”

Gregori Maiofis, Tarot Decks - Photography

Empress, from the Deck of “Taxidermy”

Gregori Maiofis is a Saint Petersburg-based photographer who stages elaborate scenes that illustrate the follies and mysteries of human existence in ironic and fatalistic ways. Many of his works are based around literary and philosophical traditions, such as proverbs and fables. This particular series, created in 2003-2004, uses tarot cards as its theme, pairing dark and absurd imagery with written titles to humorously encapsulate a facet of life and/or identity. The “Fool” card, for example — the prototypical image from a deck Maiofis imagined would be called Public Sanitation — depicts a man in a ludicrous bird costume as he prepares to jump off a roof. The “Empress” card — traditionally signifying fertility, femininity, and beauty — displays a taxidermied primate. Much of his work is produced via the bromoil process, a challenging photographic process that was popular in the early twentieth century that involves ink being painted over a black-and-white photograph printed on bleached paper. Maiofis’ resulting images have both photographic and painterly qualities, appearing historical and artifactual while satirizing human existence on a trans-generational, cross-cultural scale.

Born in Russia into a family of artists and architects and further trained in new art practices in Los Angeles, Maiofis fuses his international experiences into works that explore the strength of the image to overcome boundaries of nation and culture. While those knowledgeable about Russian history, identity, and traditions may have specialized insight into the significance behind Maiofis’ dark and clever imagery, there is still a lot of meaning left for the rest of us to identify; the figure of Justice — usually depicted as a stately figure — is naked and blindfolded, straddling her double-edged sword in a sexual manner, satirizing (perhaps) the representation of justice as a “fair” and purely objective entity. What makes Maiofis’ images so mysterious and intellectually engaging is that their meanings are never directly provided. It is up to us to divine their significance (as well as their playful, biting critiques of humanity) just as we would interpret our own lives with real tarot cards.

More of Maiofis’ clever and thematic works can be viewed on his website.

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Spectacular Ice Castles Captured In Hyper Lapse Documentary

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Looking like a scene from Lord of the Rings, the Ice Castles of Lincoln, New Hampshire are the result of some very talented artists. Their work has been captured by Filmmaker Julian Tryba in collaboration with time lapse artist Michael Sutton in a new documentary called Frozen Fortress. The film features not only the amazing work of the ice sculptures but an innovative technology which captures the activity in a sped up time lapse format. In the film, we first witness the ice castles at dawn sparkling like gigantic petrified crystals. Once night falls and under multi-colored lights, the glass-like structures change dramatically.  The hyper lapse technology enables us to see the same environment come alive as ravers flock to the scene at dusk to experience the castles’ unique beauty in a club-like setting.

Each winter, thousands of icicles are grown and carved into amazing sculptures. Through a process which sprays water on metal, the frozen material is transported daily to build the magnificent site-specific collection of motifs, paths and caves. Artists continue building on the structure during the run and ultimately create an incredible Matterhorn-like structure. The scope is deceiving and in Tryba’s film takes on a much grander scale.

The castles are visited daily by hundreds of people during the winter months in four U.S. states (New Hampshire, Vermont, Utah and Minnesota). They have been the unique setting for music videos and now a well made documentary. (via creators project)

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