C. Owen is a Chicago-based artist who creates eerie, black-and-white portraits of insects and animals — particularly those that have died or have been resurrected as taxidermied objects. The series featured here, titled Ordinary Overlooked, explores the alien beauty of dead insects that Owen finds outside or in the corners and windowsills of her house. With a strange alertness and intimacy, the images capture with startling detail the characteristics of each tiny body — such as the hairy legs, segmented antennae, and compound eyes — that otherwise go unnoticed. What was once creepy and “ordinary” becomes familiar and nuanced. In a statement provided to Beautiful/Decay, Owen explains:
The insect world is something the average human rarely pays any close attention to — that is, unless they are invading your home. Something ordinary as a moth, housefly, or ant can easily be overlooked and considered a pest. For me, they have opened my eyes to a tiny new world. […] The more I photograph these insects, the stronger my curiosity grows.
What makes Owen’s images especially uncanny are the states of limbo they portray. Floating in surreal, nocturnal worlds, each insect carries the illusion of life while curled in the postures of death. As manifestations of uncertainty and ephemerality, they are transformed through the camera’s gaze into sentient ghosts, lost in purgatory; “taken in one hair at a time, the images are suspended somewhere between metamorphosis and reincarnation,” Owen writes. The result is a series of contemplative photographs that provide both the time and focus in which to foster respect while exploring the beauty of alternate, living worlds.
Visit Owen’s website to view more of her work, including Trophies, a haunting portraiture series of taxidermied animals who likewise trouble us with the indistinctness between life and death.
Last night I had the pleasure of seeing Wes Anderson’s newest film Moonrise Kingdom. I usually don’t blog about movies unless they are documentaries but Moonrise Kingdom is nothing short of a masterpiece!
Set on an island off the coast of New England in the summer of 1965, MOONRISE KINGDOM tells the story of two twelve-year-olds who fall in love, make a secret pact, and run away together into the wilderness. As various authorities try to hunt them down, a violent storm is brewing off-shore — and the peaceful island community is turned upside down in more ways than anyone can handle. Bruce Willis plays the local sheriff. Edward Norton is a Khaki Scout troop leader. Bill Murray and Frances McDormand portray the young girl’s parents. The cast also includes Tilda Swinton, Jason Schwartzman, and Jared Gilman and Kara Hayward as the boy and girl.
As usual with all of Anderson’s films Moonrise Kingdom not only delivers in plot and superb acting but also features incredible casting, costume, and sets. The film is one hour and thirty four minutes of aesthetic mastery with every square inch of the film is covered in Anderson’s signature vintage chic aesthetic. I can’t recommend this movie more to anyone who enjoys ANYTHING visual. You will walk out of the theater reminded of how magical life is and inspired to push the boundaries of creativity.
Amanda Clyne’s paintings compare the similarities between fashion photography and historical portraits of society’s elite. Amidst today’s cultural fascination with beauty and persona, Amanda’s paintings critique our digital obsession and question the consequences for human intimacy.
Old school meets new school in Nunub’s recent animation entitled “The Hulk Hands Theory,” which combines old-fashioned ink, graphite, paper, etc. with rotoscopy. The real treat comes when you pause the reel to reveal the individual frames that make up this short. Enjoy!
While living in Germany for the past seven years, photographer Samaneh Khosravi noticed that there were many misconceptions within the Western understanding of Iranian culture. In a project titled “Among Women,” Khosravi seeks to shed new light on a lesser-known facet of modern Iran: its diverse women’s fashion and beauty scene. In the photos, Khosravi accompanies the women as they shop, socialize, and even visit with their plastic surgeons. The images were compiled into a book titled Among Women, which Khosravi describes below:
“This photo book documents the beauty ideals of today’s Iranian society, which are hardly known outside of Iran. It focuses on the young, confident Iranian women, who define their ideal of beauty with the interplay between modernity and tradition. More often, the simple beauticians are not enough for the young Iranians, and therefore the plastic surgeons need to lend a hand sometimes.” (Source)
In a world wherein the media is so often dominated by Western standards and perceptions, Khosravi’s project is important in providing us with an authentic glance into her culture—one that hasn’t been filtered through a Western lens. We see familiar images—the nail salons, the shopping arcade, the self-conscious glance in the mirror—but Khosravi’s candid style reveals a cultural distinctness in Iran’s approach to beauty, one that has its own nuances, such as the combination of traditional head scarves with modern makeup styles. “Iran is different,” she writes. “Iran is not only different from Germany, but also from the image presented by mainstream media” (Source).
It is Khosravi’s dream to disseminate this detailed perspective of Iran to the world. She is currently seeking support to publish her book with Kerber Verlag, which means it would reach a greater number of people. If you’re curious about Iran and you wish to support an image of the country that doesn’t fall under the umbrella of Western unilateralism, be sure to visit her crowdfunding page and help her reach her goal. The book is aimed for publication in October 2015. Visit Khosravi’s website, Facebook page, and Instagram to follow her progress and learn more.
Othelo Gervacio’s Horror/Skate/Metal ink wash work is where it’s at. Gervacio’s technique renders skeletons, reapers, and ghosts just softly enough to mix up the whole graphics game. With a nice mix of controlled bleeding and tight line work, this is a prime example of how this stuff should be done. Where Neckface might parody, Gervacio comes in and celebrates, proving that imitation is not always a form of surrendered creativity.
As a bit of a followup to the previous post on shadow art, here is a video on Kumi Yamashita. Her work is incredibly innovative. After looking at the images and wondering how she made them, watching this video is quite insightful.