Tim Noble and Sue Webster are a creative duo who assemble trash heaps that project shadows of recognizable—and often grotesque—forms: lumps of scrap metal cast the shapes of fornicating rats, and elsewhere shattered wood pieces align into a bickering couple. As a critique of human consumption and waste, their work falls under the category of “Gluttony” in Beautiful/Decay’s Book 9: “The Seven Deadly Sins.” Also featured in Book 9 are Tom Dilly Littleson’s wrathful portraits of self-mutilation (who we wrote about last August) and illustrator Brendan Danielsson’s crude, bloated portraits of sloth.
The concept of gluttony in Noble and Webster’s works arises from the idea of “perceptual psychology,” which concerns itself with how humans identify and interpret images. As it states on their biography page:
“Noble and Webster are familiar with this process and how people evaluate abstract forms. Throughout their careers they have played with the idea of how humans perceive abstract images and define them with meaning. The result is surprising and powerful as it redefines how abstract forms can transform into figurative ones.” (Source)
The junk heaps and their shadows produce startlingly different (yet somehow thematically similar) images—a ball of congealed road kill, for example, projects a human head impaled on a stake. This disparity compels the viewer to produce an interpretation and discern how the images are related. Bridging the gap, one may read the figurative signs of human over-indulgence, waste, and destruction.
To learn more about Noble and Webster and how other contemporary artists explore the seven deadly sins, grab a copy of Beautiful/Decay’s Book 9. Limited copies are still available at our shop.
Mary O’Malley is a New York based potter trained in traditional English and Japanese techniques. Her work is primarily an ode to her craft and an homage to her childhood spent by the sea. However, it is also structured around delicate binaries involving the human need to search for beauty. She states:
“The technical difficulties I began to encounter when enveloping the service ware with ferocious and unforgiving aquatic life got me thinking about a common need we all have to control our own representation of beauty. There is so much fastidious control involved in creating each one of the Bottom Feeder pieces, but with ceramics there is always a margin for error, and some degree of control must be sacrificed. The composition of barnacles and crustaceans populating each piece, the way the iron oxide discovers every nook of the creatures I’ve created, the way the tentacles warp in the firings, etc., is always a surprise. I’m never exactly sure how anything’s going to turn out.”
She fuses different modalities, both literally in her potting techniques as well as what each form represents. The more classic aspects of porcelain, the cream white tea pot, the gold rimmed vase, correlates with a more tamed, predictable side of life. These pure little moments of calm crafting are then overtaken by octopus tentacles, barnacles, and coral, representing the aspect of chaos the is inevitable in everyday life. She explains:
“This play between total control and inevitability has sustained my interest and attention because it mimics life in so many ways: we try our hardest to compose the aesthetics surrounding us—from the buildings and environments we live in to the way we dress and present ourselves. Our daily fight against nature is a fruitless pursuit, yet one we never seem willing to abandon. I find this play between forces endlessly challenging. The dance that results from trying to find a balance between what we can control and what we cannot is where I believe true beauty lies.” (Via Colossal)
Glass boxes reveal human silhouettes made out of drawings, newspapers and discarded cutouts of images. Dustin Yellin, an artist based in New York, piles up layers of glass sheets and ripped up medias. It took up to 6 years for the artist to complete this work initially produced for New York City Ballet’s annual Art Series. He was influenced by the movement and the discipline of the dancers.
The artist’s work consists on drawing on slides of glass. He collects newspapers, magazines and cuts out heads and shapes he finds interesting to apply to the character he is working on. He only depicts humans. By stacking up the collages, drawings and the slides of glasses he creates a “window sandwich”. The 3D silhouette designed in the end is poetic, colorful and up close extremely creative. He calls the series of his 12 characters, “Psychogeographies”, or archive in the shape of humans.
His purpose is to redefine the insides of individuals. In order to bring humans together and to evolve together towards a brighter future, we need to make one. He claims that countries, borders and religions are not relevant when it comes to human kind. Instead of being divided by external elements, Dustin Yellin believes in exchanging as much as we can before the world of differences we produce and live in collapses. (via High Fructose).
Artist Livia Marin’s Nomad Patterns is a series of classical ceramics depicted in a most unconventional manner. Her representation of the destruction of ceramics is fascinating in the sense that she has chosen to use melted ceramics rather than breaking, chipping, or shattering them in the way they are known to do. In this sense, she has brought a sort of silent, unconventional destruction to the ceramics in her series.
The fascinating aspect of her work lies in the way the ceramics are being destroyed. She merges the ideas of “care and ruin” by making it difficult to distinguish whether the ceramics are being destroyed or put back together.The fluidity of the melted ceramics and the way that the patterns are maintained add a touch of surrealism to the series. The physically impossible nature of her project as well as the aesthetic aspects of her work make for an original merging of physics and art.
In this sense, her work reaches beyond its artistic capacities and underlines the artistic aspects of physics as well as the merging of science and art. Marin’s work merging of the notions of restoration and destruction also provides a reflection on these two notions, which are, in her work two sides of the same coin.
French photographer Eric Lafforgue has dedicated his craft to documenting various cultures around the world, from Panama to North Korea and beyond. In this particular series, titled “Scarifications Ethiopiennes,” Lafforgue provides a close-up view on the scarification practices of Ethiopia’s Omo Valley tribes, including the Bodi, Suri, and Mursi peoples. Lafforgue traveled throughout the region, visiting the locals and observing their cutting ceremonies. In stunning detail, Lafforgue provides images of the scars—both healed and in process—as well as ethnographic descriptions and insights into the scars’ social and ritualistic purposes.
Among these peoples, scarification plays an important role in tribal life. Patterned lines and dots are embedded into the skin using thorns and razors—a process that one of his photographic subjects, a teenage girl, confesses to being very painful. But enduring the pain holds several social significances: the Suri people see it as a sign that the participant will be able to endure childbirth, while the Mursi embrace it as a mark of beauty and strength (Source). While some urban Ethiopians view scarification as a sign of “primitivism,” for many it remains a valuable signifier of cultural belonging.
Lafforgue’s oeuvre is impressive, spanning the globe several times over. His works can be viewed on his website and Facebook page.
Naked hyperrealist sculptures made out of polymer clay. South Korean artist, Choi Xooang, uses the human naked body as a mean to express pure emotions. The artist doesn’t represent his personal state, he is trying to extract collective emotions.
Choi Xooang manipulates the outcome of his sculptures, enabling us to relate faster to the point he is making. It’s easier for most of us to connect with a human body than a painting, or an abstract sculpture. The characters are bold and skinny. Attributes that accentuate our vulnerability. The artist, by using these shortcuts, has us standing in front of his pieces with all our fragility and our compassion at the surface.
The purpose of Choi Xooang is twofold. He is presenting his humanistic vision of the world. Human emotions are the only thing that were given to a man and a woman apart from their social status in a capitalistic society. Therefore, he has chosen to show through his art, the most intense and dark emotions an individual can come across such as fear, sadness, desire, sexual tensions and relationship confusions. If this process is not clear when facing the sculptures, the realization that something is touching us deeply eventually happens.
We might not know exactly what it is. The weird combination of animals and humans, the poses of same sex characters, the suggestive poses and the non expressive stares have us reflect internally. We are seeing in this sculptures what we are feeling inside. It might not be obvious at first, and we might not know what detail sold us out, but we are. (via Juxtapoz).
Japanese designer Dan Tomimatsu’s latest project is a short film film entitled O: -les amants d’eau-, based on a poem by fukudapero. It is a five minute surrealist film narrated in Japanese and subtitled in English which provides an oscillating view of different sceneries, places, and objects.
The magnificent simplicity of this film lies in the technical aspects of how it was made: Tomimatsu shot a drop of water through the hole of a 5 Yen coin, through the lens of an iPhone. The coin was stuck to the lens of the phone in such a way that filming through it would allow a close-up of the drop of water. The result is a truly dreamlike sequence of images, which are tinted, filtered, and displayed through the drop of water. The film plays a lot with the notion of movement and the fluid, unpredictable nature of water.
In this sense, the drop of water provided a sort of natural lens for the film to be shot through as well as a new angle concerning the iPhone as a legitimate filmmaking device. His project underlines the role of new media and technology within the realm of filmmaking and the process of creating something simple yet so intricately beautiful as a film shot through a drop of water.
As crazy as it may seem, there was a time when computers did not exist. Before the days of digital manipulation tricks, also known as CGI, the magic of the movies was created by hand. Instead of “copying and pasting” in explosions and aliens, hundreds of artists would gather to create miniaturized life-like movie sets. These sets would then allow filmmakers to generate a larger-than-life type scene on a more manageable sized scale. They act as little doubled false realities, that on film, become truths.
The crafted preciseness of these rooms are absolutely spectacular. As you peek through the models, you’ll find an endless amount of detail that will leave you in awe. Not only are the replicas life-like through spot on accuracy in scale and space, but each room has carefully selected fixtures and decorative touches, grounding them in time. With windows that look as if they have had their own personal histories, kitchens fully equipped with tiny utensils, a library thats perfectly slight disorder allows it to seem genuinely used, these miniatures truly own their connected to reality. What further enhances the believability is the way light floods through these places, positioning them in certain moments of day a certain time of year. To think about the amount of work and craftsmanship that used to go into the production of a film is mind-blowing.
CGI has completely changed the nature of what it means to make a film; something that was once a collaboration of artists and craftsmen talented in skilled labor, now falls to a man behind a machine. These sets are a reminder of how much we have truly changed, how our association with the word skill has moved away from a physical sense and has fully been relocated to a cyber one.