Photographer Nat Wilkins spent two weeks documenting the ceremonies and death rituals of the Troajan tribe in the highlands of South Sulawesi in Indonesia. In his series Dealing With The Dead, The Troajan Of Tana Toraja, he takes a close up look at this fascinating world and wishes to examine his own understanding of death and decay. The funerals carry on for a number of days and are one of the most important part of the culture in the highlands of Tana Toraja. When a family member dies, they are embalmed and lay waiting inside the family home until the ceremony can take place. Wilkins explains a bit more about the process:
When the time of the funeral comes illegal cock fighting, illegal gambling, buffalo fighting and the slaughter of buffaloes and pigs mark the occasion. The wealthier the family the grander the funeral, with this grandness being marked by the number of buffalo slaughtered, a minimum of one buffalo is required to pass to the land of souls but wealthier families will slaughter 10 to 20 sometimes 30 buffalo and the richest Torajan’s will kill hundreds.
To some these rituals may seem over-elaborate, and excessive, but to the Troajans, it is essential to ensure their loved ones cross over safely to the ‘land of souls’. Devoutly Christian, the tribe places great emphasis on life after death, or the treatment of the body and soul once dead. The living who are left behind, make great sacrifices to provide what is needed for those who have passed. But with the weight of this responsibility comes much hardship. Wilkins explains again:
From an outside perspective it can seem that to the living these funerals are used as a reflection on the importance of the deceased’s family, a status symbol for the rich. On the flip side though, death can be a serious burden on the poor. Every spare penny earned by the living goes to honoring the dead and the importance of a good funeral puts serous weight on the poorer Torajan’s with the poorest getting serious debt problems just to slaughter a buffalo.
A digital arts/new media professor at The University Of Oregon, has found a clever, new way to recycle Styrofoam. He builds gigantic robots out of it. The robots are massive and according to artist Michael Salter, reflects the local streets he sees everyday. It’s not the livelier sections, but the mundane, plain parts which inspire him to create. It’s a bit hard to see the connection to this statement because there is nothing plain or boring about his Styrobots. Perhaps what the artist means is that they embrace quiet, domestic scenes reminiscent of these faceless places, which is true.
Exhibited in about 20 museums to date, the Styrobots can stand 16 inches to 22 feet high. Various displays have shown them upright, sitting, holding hands with a tiny friend, surrounded by a smaller group or headless and torn apart. The standing bots embody characteristics mirroring the lead character in The Iron Giant. For those not familiar, the animated movie centers around a giant war robot who crash lands in a small town and befriends a young boy. The Styrobots have the same gentle giant quality displayed in the movie.
Salter finds his material through donations. Styrofoam is primarily used for packing but can be utilized as pipe insulation and preventing roads from freezing over. The material itself, polystyrene is extremely flammable and carcinogenic. When lit, it has the capacity of releasing 57 different kinds of chemical by-products. (faithistorment)
David Spriggs‘ installations are crafted meticulously with acrylic paint on panes of glass, producing an otherworldly effect that is utterly complete. Appearing like holograms before the viewers, they make a spectacle out of the conceptual, exploring ideas such as perception and emergence and consciousness.
In many of his pieces, it’s as though Spriggs has caught something ethereal and fleeting on a microscope slide, allowing us to inspect it however temporarily. His painstaking methods and striking presentation force viewers to look beyond the surface of his works, allowing the amorphous metaphorical nature of his subject matter to take center stage.
“Perception of Consciousness,” for instance looks at first glance like the many layers of a cloud. However, suspended in mid air, the image beckons and implies a deeper meaning. “My interest in clouds and atmospheric phenomena is not one so much of learning about them as natural phenomena, but rather an interest in their symbolic nature and representation,” Spriggs explains. “The cloud is an ephemeral form, without boundaries, and in constant change; interesting properties that in the context of history of art find affinity with Futurist theories and certain concepts of the light and space artists of the 60/70′s on the nature of space and form.”
Spriggs draws his inspiration from a wide variety of disciplines, such as psychology and the information age. He seeks to examine the relationships and dichomoties between abstractions and the way they affect the material world. The space they occupy is just as important as their shapes themselves. (via Hi-Fructose)
What do you get when you combine underwater sea creatures with elegant and sophisticated lighting? You get the weird and whimsical octopus chandeliers of artist Adam Wallacavage. The Philadelphia based artist uses traditional ornamental plastering techniques to create working chandeliers in the shape of octopus and fantastical sea life. Each chandelier is created from a wide range of materials such as epoxy resin, iridescent powders, spray paint, and glitter. His inspiration and ideas come from a very eclectic range of sources such as flashy church decoration, tales of underwater adventure, and, not surprisingly, taxidermy. His absurd style is both gaudy and Victorian while still being absurdly fun.
Wallacavage’s childlike imagination turns a seemingly normal object into wonderfully gaudy and kitschy chandeliers full of shiny colors and tentacles. Each chandelier Wallacavage constructs is unique with their wide array of pastel, glittery colors and their endless ocean-life motifs. These include green seashells, purple tentacles, pink pearls, and even big, round eyes starring straight at you. Some of his chandeliers seem to be inspired by the pastel colors and ornate design of the Rococo period, while his other chandeliers have a louder palette with strange faces and eyes. His octopus creations create a surrealistic atmosphere as each sea monster is suspended from the ceiling, reaching out its tentacles, which happen to hold the chandelier lighting. After seeing Wallacavage’s highly imaginative and extravagant chandeliers, you realize how much chandeliers already looked like octopus! Not only can you find the artist’s octopus chandeliers in several New York City galleries, Wallacavage is also an accomplished photographer. He even has a book published on his photography titled Monster Sized Monsters available in many museum stores.
Chicago artist Mike Rea builds hyper-realistic wooden replicas of objects that have a connection to the culture of a stereotypical heterosexual male. His sculptures are either props from science fiction cinema, or personal memories – made primarily from wood, burlap and Styrofoam. Rea builds things like jail cells, video cameras used for filming pornography, Anaconda snakes, pick axes, robots, strange bits of machinery, Scuba diving tanks, and amplifiers. All are meticulously crafted and are rooted in pop culture. Rea is a self confessed film geek, watching up to 3 films a day and draws a lot of inspiration from the ‘swagger’ and macho attitudes in films like Quentin Tarantino’s Death Proof.
Rea describes his own take on his practice:
There is a kind of wry sense of humor to the work, but at the same time it’s coupled with this process—this meticulous, very specific kind of over-detailed expression of these contradictions and maybe the most stupid stuff for subject matter. I’ll spend six months on a stupid joke seeing if that makes it better. They’re these large wooden sculptures that are hopefully a little funny and a little bit dark. They’re probably over-built, which is usually just a process of me making lots of mistakes and having to add another layer to cover up where a seam didn’t match. (Source)
Using humor and wit, Rea is trying to see how our desires and obsessions (usually those of a hetero male – weapons, substance abuse and the opposite sex) are tied into popular culture. Whether you are a nerd or not, you will no doubt be delighted by the incredible wooden wonderland Rea creates. See more sculptures after the jump.
Icebergs, while massive in size, are usually seen in one way – as white objects that stick out of the frigid water. But, in rare situations, they take on a different, more brilliant form. When an iceberg is flipped over, it appears as a gem that cloaks itself in the color of the surrounding water. Interface designer Alex Cornell happened upon this phenomenon last month as he sailed through the Drake Passage to Antarctica. He was able to shoot pictures of the iceberg using his Canon 5D Mark II camera.
“We were lucky to see a massive iceberg flip; when this happens, the color is a surreal, alien blue,” he tells PetaPixel. “They don’t flip often, so it was a pretty rare sight to see. It’s hard to tell scale, but this was an epic iceberg.”
It’s often said that 90% of the iceberg itself is below the surface, and this is the cause of it being topsy-turvy. “It was amazing to see the interior. There were air bubbles and flowing water throughout. It looked like an alien artifact.” (Via 123 Inspiration and PetaPixel)
Stumble onto Matija Erceg’s Instagram account — inconspicuously named @seriousdesign — and find yourself immersed in a gallery of delight and disgust. Erceg, a Vancouver-based web and graphic designer, combines images of food — usually raw meat — with everyday objects. Among his hilariously gross “inventions” are shrimp earbuds, pizza irons, ground pork trolls, and sausage vibrators (the latter design taking the “food porn” trend to an entirely new level). The idea emerged when Erceg came across a photoshopped image of sandals with cooked beef as soles; while contemplating the absurd experience of putting them on, Erceg decided he wanted to try and evoke similar reactions among people, discovering as he went that food “lends itself nicely to being a part of an inanimate object” — hence how easily a chicken breast can be made to look like an oven mitt.
In addition to making people laugh and cringe, Erceg’s designs are experiments in context. If food is presented neatly — and properly cooked — on a plate, it is seen as acceptable and appealing; but, as Erceg observes, when the same food makes contact with “your skin (hands, feet, ears, face, etc.), [it] becomes gross or weird” — shrimp, while often considered a delicacy, does not belong inside the ear canal. There are several possible reasons for this discomfort, whether it’s in regards to phobias surrounding the (potential) toxicity of raw meat, or just the idea of dead, cold flesh lying around the house as a useable object. Erceg, however, pushes it further, commenting on how his designs confront us with the unglamorous realities of modern food production: “We admire food, but typically only when we don’t need to get too close to it — [the] raw texture, pre-cooked form, farming, and slaughtering.” His designs remind us of how alienated we are from the foods we eat; food — like sunglasses, housewares, and sex toys — has become grossly commodified.
When I asked Erceg where he aims to take his project next, he said he would like to collaborate with a fake food artist and create real-life versions of his designs. Follow Erceg on Instagram and see what edible objects he dreams up next. But be warned — you may not look at packaged chicken breasts or slabs of beef the same way again.
Using a device which was ahead of its time, Robot Chicken animator, Dillon Markey brings back part of his childhood. Released in 1989, The Nintendo Power Glove was a huge flop due to the fact its associated games weren’t popular. Nintendo has always been known not so much for advancing technology but for gameplay and story lines. In my opinion, the best video games are still the SNES versions of Donkey Kong Country 1,2,3, and Super Mario Bros. These 2D, platform games didn’t need a lot of flashy stuff because the game itself was superior. Like, who doesn’t remember Forest of illusion (the music, *sigh*) or Torchlight Trouble? Both so clever and fun.
The work in stop motion action is similar to creating video games and according to Markey, is extremely labor intensive. He was looking for something to ease the burden, when the glove idea came to mind. He started collaborating with a co-worker’s husband and created a circuit board. This allowed him to control his characters using the same basic function of a SNES controller. With a kind of Dennis Hopperish zeal, Markey explains how the glove works using a program called Dragon. In the background, we catch a glimpse of his cast looking a bit clayish and colorful.
His first “glove” project, is a scene featuring Nintendo founder Shigeru Morimoto. Mario’s creator jumps into a small, backyard jacuzzi.. secret mushroom style. Bill Gates is there waiting to give him a low key “Windows 90″ high five. Radical. Just Radical. (via BOOOOOOOM)