Martin Strauss is a Berlin-based photographer whose artistic imagination knows no limits; whether he is shooting high fashion, lingerie, or creative portraiture, he always aims to “push the boundaries of photography a bit further” (Source). His images are consistently beautiful and surreal — two words which describe this particular series, entitled Irresistible. Throughout the images, models wearing leather and couture dresses pose in front of gothic backdrops; with their faces ensconced in masks suggestive of barbaric torture devices, they resemble predatory machines. The result is a set of photographs that are both realistic and fantasy-like, beautiful in the danger they pose.
As a long-time admirer of fashion photography, Strauss wanted to create his own vision of it by adding a new, experimental dimension: a style that he identifies as “dark beauty.” At the core of his concept was a biomechanical theme, a violent and industrial aesthetic in harsh juxtaposition with the soft beauty that often characterizes fashion photography. Strauss was not alone in the creation of this dynamic and narrative-rich series; working alongside him was Fercho Ma Do — an artist known in Berlin for his theatrical and SFX makeup — who helped design the masks and also provided ideas of his own. “Our creative work was kind of irresistible,” Strauss explains, speaking of their collaborative effort, and also of the reasoning behind the title, which was well-chosen; the series’ brilliant combination of beauty with dark eroticism and the macabre makes it visually and mentally engrossing.
The dresses featured in Irresistible were provided by Nicole Hellrung from Struppets, an avant-garde German fashion label. The model was Deborah Frey, who played the role of the biomechanical “mistress” perfectly. Check out the rest of Strauss’ work on his website and Facebook, and more images after the jump.
Designer Ignacio Canales Aracil has created delicate floral sculptures that recall the garden and home. Aracil doesn’t use any adhesives; he dries and presses the flowers for months at a time and then lightly sprays them with varnish. The resulting works are fragile yet strong enough to stand on their own.
“The flowers of these sculptures have been collected in the private gardens of the most renowned landscape designers of Europe,” Aracil says. He also says that a key part of his work is to “show the plants and flowers which represent the better the spirit of the garden in a different place where you wouldn’t expect to find it.”
Aracil acknowledges the history of the art of pressing flowers. “Tradition is a very important value in my work,” he says. Just as traditional or long-lived as the medium, perhaps, are the themes that Aracil seeks to tackle.
“Working with flowers trying to preserve their beauty, faces directly the fears that we share in the society about time,” Aracil says. “Life and dead are confronted in a piece which celebrates beauty, sexuality and time.”
Street artist Pejac uses trompe l’oeil to fool our eye in everyday places. The Spanish creative paints realistic-looking doors and windows that’ll make you do a double take while walking by. His skilled artworks perfectly blend colors and textures to give them the appearance that you could reach out and touch them.
In addition to the optical illusions, Pejac also paints playful and serious scenes, often using silhouetted figures. A young girl – a giant – uses the power of a magnifying glass and the sun to set tiny figures on fire. Another person attempts to deface a wall, but the splatter features Manet’s iconic The Luncheon on the Grass. And, in a more poignant piece, a portrait of the world appears to run down a sewage drain.
The common thread of Pejac’s work is that it is all clever – in its execution and concept. Even though the imagery is disparate, you can tell it’s his signature. (via WETHEURBAN)
Sculptor Jonathan Brilliant builds universes using the residue of coffee. Not the natural kind but the recyclable paper stirrers and holders millions throw away each day after ordering their morning joe. These common conveniences end up as swirling dervishes in Brilliant’s work, referencing everything from musical rhythms to Andy Goldsworthy. Like Goldsworthy, who takes items from his natural surroundings and builds site specific installations, Brilliant does something similar using the coffee shop instead of a rural location, signifying a place today where a lot of our organic interaction takes place.
His process oriented storytelling has a viral mentality. Rows and rows of sticks (sometimes as many as 40,000) invade staircases and ceilings throughout his installations. The effect likens itself to looking inside a grand piano when notes by Mozart or Beethoven are being played. Dozens of sounds spiraling off each other entwining into a grand design. The free form technique makes the work interesting and gives it a profound quality. A product that was manufactured by man from a natural resource on earth that goes full circle to rejoin with similar material in a recycled format.
Brilliant stands as a new type of environmental artist. Another that works in this style is Wade Kavanaugh. Kavanaugh creates structures out of measurements taken from motion such as running or walking and creates patterns with this information, mostly in rural environments. He also collaborates with painter Stephen Nguyen to build viral structures some as large as trees made out of recycled paper and other found materials.
The Amsterdam-based company NL Architects has proposed a beautiful and “slightly insane” project: a series of luxury hotels resembling amethyst geodes. The unique buildings would all vary slightly in their shapes, sizes, and forms, but their layout would be similar: hallways along the periphery (or shell) of the building that connect to rooms adjacent to the violet, crystalline center. The architects describe this project as “a mutation of the innovative hotel typology as developed by the architect and real-estate entrepreneur John Portman: hotel rooms lining a sensational void” (Source). Portman — who has designed hotels for Hyatt, Westin, and Marriott — is known for his high-rise buildings with interior atria. The Amethyst Hotel is similar in structure, only it has been bisected, thus revealing a spacious and awe-inspiring interior.
The goal of the Amethyst Hotel chain would not only be to produce structures of stunning (and arguably utopian) beauty, but to replicate and harness the well-known positive energies of the violet mineral. Deriving etymologically from an Ancient Greek word meaning “without drunkenness”, amethyst was thought to prevent intoxication. Today, it is still attributed with natural healing powers, and is believed to detoxify the body and mind, helping to cleanse the consciousness from “drunken” (delusional) thoughts. It is also seen as an aid in the treatment of stress, insomnia, depression, and anxiety. While the concept may seem somewhat idealistic and far-fetched, should these effects be simulated in the Amethyst Hotel, NL Architects will have designed a space wherein the geodic form matches and manifests the building’s function: a hotel that fosters both “hospitality and well-being” (Source).
The first Amethyst Hotel would be located on China’s Ocean Flower, a man-made island currently in development. Check out NL Architect’s website for a slideshow explaining their concept and goals for this project. (Via designboom).
Quite often the saying of fact being stranger than fiction is true, and this story is no exception. Photographer Arthur Drooker has been attending the most unusual conventions around America and compiling the images into a series called Conventional Wisdom. He recently attended a celebration of mermaids and mermen at The Triangle Aquatic Center in Cary, North Carolina. Over 300 Merfolk attended Merfest this year, and Drooker was there to capture this wondrous and enchanting subculture.
This year the participants were able to attend workshops on breath-holding, underwater modelling, talk to a professional mermaid, and purchase different mermaid accessories – tails made from fabric and silicon (and ranged in price from $80 – $4000 for a custom made tail).
For many attendees, the desire to be a mermaid was spawned in childhood after seeing a movie, reading a book, going to the beach or an aquarium. A mermaid embodied an idealized self: beautiful, graceful and confident. To emulate a mermaid one developed a mersona, akin to the fursona that a furry at Anthrocon inhabits to model an animal character s/he aspires to be like. (Source)
For most Merfolk the transformation that happens when they either pull on their costume, or the moment they enter the water is something that cannot be compared to in any other way. Christian Obrocki, a merman from Baltimore tells Drooker of his experience:
It’s a rush. What better way to be in touch with your love for the water than to be kind of a part of it. When the tail goes on, the human side goes out the door. (Source)
Drooker’s other series include his visits to Clown conventions, gatherings of Santas, an assembly of Ventriloquists, a meeting of Furries, and a Bronies meet-up. See the other sets here. (Via Cool Hunting)
Have you ever looked at a black and white photograph and wondered what it would look like if it were taken in the modern day? The Dutch website NSMBL recently uploaded GIFs of vintage photographs being colorized. We are not only able to see the original range of black, grey, and white tones, but we can see the color each hue translates to. As each nostalgic scene turns to color, we realize how different contemporary technology is and how far it has come. The new colors and tones are not muted or faded like we might expect a color vintage photograph to be. They are ultra-bright and full of vibrancy, leaving each image looking near perfect.
Because the images look too high quality for real vintage color photos, they almost make it seem as if we were in the frame of the picture within the scene, or like the photos were taken in modern times. Either way, it breaks the time barrier that creates such a nostalgic distance between the photograph and the viewer. It makes you wonder what images would have been captured if they had better technology during those times, or perhaps, what advanced technologies will capture images of our lives in the future. Contemporary film photography is becoming more and more obsolete, as vintage film is becoming aged and damaged over time. These images are refreshing to see as these classic photographs are now often documented digitally. We can both marvel at the technological advances in film photography while still seeing the timeless and beautiful original.
Artist Dan Witz seamlessly combines traditional, academic realism with rebellious vibes of the underground punk scene to create his massive paintings of mosh pits. His impeccable technical skill allows him to paint photorealistic scenes that embody the pulse and energy of the punk music scene. Each painting is an energetic force to be reckoned that demands a serious presence. The amount of people crammed into each piece accurately captures the chaos and action involved in mosh pits in real life. Dan Witz’s work is packed full of incredible movement and human energy that can be felt in the viewer. Because in almost all of these paintings the image is completely devoid of an environment or setting, they have a deeply psychological affect. An excitement and anxiety is created as you see the range of expressions on each person’s face in the sea of bodies. As Witz fills each frame from right to left with herds of people, an unmistakable flow of powerful strength is formed.
Based in Brooklyn, Witz is a painter as well as a street artist. Spending time in punk clubs and playing in bands when he was younger influenced the subject in which he paints. However, we can also see the influence of classical painters due to his more traditional painting style. This type of hyper-real approach is often associated with a more academic way of thinking within the establishment. He is able to take this conventional method of painting and use it to rebel and revolt. Dan Witz’s Mosh Pits series has recently been featured in this past month’s issue of Juxtapoz. This quote from the interview explains the influence and effect punk rock has had on Dan Witz.
“Punk rock had opened my eyes enough for me to understand that art could be about more than providing expensive wall candy for rich people. I could actually speak truth to power…”