Mostly considered for the way they might make you feel, it is less common to consider what a drug might look like. Artist Sarah Schoenfeld had this thought while working at a Berlin nightclub. She converted her photography studio into a laboratory and exposed legal and illegal liquid drug mixtures to film negatives. She then created large prints from the resulting chemical reactions. The body of work, titled All You Can Feel, consists of bizarre images of heroin, cocaine, MDMA and other drugs. The work is meant to explore the relationship between alchemy, pharmacy and psychology, but also emerges as a visually interesting and sophisticated photography series.
The images appear as visual incarnations of the physical effects of the drugs they depict—they evoke bizarre altered states that feel both alluring, otherworldly and dangerous.
Using an assortment of discarded paper goods and household items, artist Lisa Hoke creates large-scale collage installations on walls. From afar, you might not realize what materials that she’s used, but upon closer inspection you’ll notice there are cardboard boxes, trading cards, cups, plates, cups, stickers, and more. The use of these items is Hoke’s way of commenting on the amount of refuse we produced and how we overlook the beauty of these objects. She’s right. If you think about all of the work that goes into designing and producing packaging, then it is a shame to discard it. Her color-coordinating, lusciously textured work gives these objects a second life and a chance for viewers to appreciate it beyond it’s primary function. Hoke even allows them to participate by donating items to be used in her work.
In an article in Arts Sarasota, Hoke says, “Castaway treasures become my tools for expression of beauty.” Her work unfolds organically, as she recognizes that you can’t completely plan for any installation.When she’s finished, the work is often a surprise to not only the viewers, but herself.
There is a both a visual delight and over stimulation that comes from looking at Hoke’s installations. This representation of our over-abundant consumer culture has a dizzying amount of bright colors, logos and patterns. They vibrate against each other, competing for our attention. Here, it seems the old adage “art imitates life” rings true. (Via Junk Culture)
In Phillip Toledano’s new book, A New Kind of Beauty, you will find photographs of those whom have gone through extreme cosmetic surgery. The images are quite shocking, but there is also something quite unusual about them; you can see, through the sitters’ victorious stances, that they actually feel quite powerful and actually beautiful.
‘A New Kind of Beauty’ possesses an interesting aesthetic. The photographer decides to portray his subjects, not under a glamorous light, but instead in way which exudes an air of strength and power. Although the artist says that he is referencing 16th century artist Hans Holbein (which he is) I say that he is also reflecting an aesthetic that very clearly references that of Greek and Roman sculpture. I find it compelling that Toledano’s juxtaposes something so contemporary as cosmetic surgery, to something so dated. But, his line of thought makes sense.
We all know that the Greek and Romans were obsessed with beauty, perfection and youth. They found beauty in perfect young bodies, hence the many grand sculptures of young naked bodies (usually men). Their stance, for the most part, was stoic; emotion made the beauty fade away…their stance was always upright, a symbol of power and honor. Similarly, the photographer renders his sitters in poses that clearly show off their wannabe young bodies and faces (some are covered by draped robes and veils, yet another detail that references this particular stylistic period). They stand tall and emotionless, even if their highly transformed faces say otherwise. Their ‘beauty’ is fake, but it is theirs, and they are owning it.
In a way, Toledano is documenting contemporary human beauty as well as ‘admiring beauty’ in the same way the Greeks and Roman did in their time.
“We will be able to redefine what it means to look human, and I think these people are the vanguard of that type of evolution.”
However, it differs in that this kind of beauty is manufactured and maybe not so beautiful after all. The photographer wants to make sure we realize that this is our society’s standards of beauty. Whether it is actually beautiful or not, real or not, well that’s not something to fret about. It is an obvious fact that the public is eager for perfection, youth, and hypersexualized physical attributes, so here’s the outcome of the pressures to be just that.
“I wanted to make beautiful and distinguished portraits of these people. … I wanted to represent a particular part of beauty from our time. It will be very interesting to see in a few years time how I compare physically to these projected images.”
There is a special feeling associated with winter, evoked by the likes of The Polar Express, time with friends and family, and adventures in snow-covered nature. The below artists have all created work that, for me at least, brings to mind that magical winter spirit.
Italian artist Walter Niedemayr’s photographs are winter scenes presenting images of startling beauty. Upon further study, his works invite contemplation about man’s evolving relationship to the environment.
Though his work is largely about nature and human’s relationship to it, Toronto-based artist Kim Dorland’s phantasmagoric woodland-scapes often have a spiritual feeling about them. With the right amount of imagination, they evoke the sense of silence and feeling of peace a wintery landscape can inspire.
The miniature worlds created by Walter Martin and his partner, Paloma Muñoz, are surreal little stories encapsulated in a photograph or a snow globe. Some of the works have a darker feeling to them, possessing a strangeness that inspires a sense of winter wonder—the idea for the work seemingly coming from a bizarre Christmas fairy tale.
Based on memories, Mark Thompson’s paintings are snapshots of times and spaces that became rooted in his mind. First making a viewer feel an icy chill while imagining herself transplanted into Thompson’s paintings, we then might imagine it being the view while looking out from a cozy cabin, a fire blazing.
Each of these artists carefully constructs a narrative, evoking feelings associated with winter and all its beauty, danger, mystery and magic.
“Your staff are the nicest pooch lovers in the world. Penny, my precious little wiener…is looking forward to her next stay.”
“Quality of toilet paper could be better…3-ply minimum…otherwise it was a great room and enjoyable stay.”
“I had just given an unflattering review to a volatile pop star’s latest album and heard through the grapevine he was staying at the hotel. I was certain he was going to exact some kind of revenge…after many anxious phone calls…one of your staff kindly offered to stay up with me until I calmed down.”
For the holidays, the Standard Hotels produced a 2014 calendar that details a look back at 2013. In a collaboration with advertising agency and publisher KesselsKramer, the hotel chain reviewed and recreated moments from 2013’s favorite guest letters, comments, and special requests. From all of the bizarre things they had received throughout the year, they narrowed it down to 12 that were reenacted by the hotels’ staff.
If you’ve ever worked in the retail or service industry, you know how weird or picky some people can be. The comments and requests that the Standard Hotels receive is no different. One customer claimed their TV was possessed. Another believed that the hot tub had melted their prescription lenses. One guest was a music journalist (directly above) so anxious about recent scathing review he published that hotel staff stayed to keep him company until he calmed down. He was very appreciative.
Roseline de Thélin, a Spanish artist, creates stunning, larger-than-life holographic light sculptures and installations. Her projects feature what she calls, “Homos Luminosos,” or luminous beings. Using scientific properties of light such as reflection, conduction, refraction and transparency, Roseline creates these transparent, mystical bodies that look like they are hovering in mid-air. These fantastical works are inspired by astronomy, quantum physics, definitions of perception, and other-worldly-creatures.
Thélin uses a wide range of materials including mirrors, wires, chains, fiber optics and quartz crystals in her work. She combines the use of digital technology and exhibition space, as she works on producing these mystical beings by creating illusion and deception effects withing specific sites. The empty spaces between the light points serve to create a loose definition of what real space is. Are we looking at something that truly exists? Or is it just as illusion? Furthermore, is the visibility of the illusion a justification for its existence in the tangible world?
Her latest holographic sculptures, presented in FREQUENCY 2011, the Lincoln Festival of Digital Culture at the Saint Swithin Church in Lincoln, England, are a reflection on life, illusion and the evolution of mankind. This series features a series of these ‘light beings’ that exist in a parallel, timeless dimension.
In the midst of the holiday season, with record cold temperatures in parts of the world and Winter Solstice, the shortest day/longest night of the year, upon us, I’ve been spending time studying work made with a simple organic material: Ice. Truth be told, despite spending my childhood in Minnesota, I now live in the desert, and the only ice I see is in my drinking glass. After studying art works made with ice as a central material, I am struck by a number of repeated inclinations by a number of artists. Much of the works I present here demonstrate that the transitory and temporal qualities of ice lend it to meaningful works about the body, time, climate, a sense of place and elements of endurance. Though this list is in no way exhaustive, artists included are: Marina Abramovic, Jay Atherton and Cy Keener, Nele Azavedo, Kirsten Justesen, Greatest Hits (a collective), Julie Rrap and Tavares Strachan.