Renowned for its experimental installations and out-of-this-world designs, self-proclaimed “spatial laboratory” Loop.pH crafts site-specific, highly collaborative works all over the world. For their latest piece, Atmeture, the studio has created an illuminated structure that, through the use of vitreous, inflatable membranes and a system of air pumps and circulating smoke, appears to breathe.
Woven from thin fibres comprising a geometric trellis, the structure is cited as “an ephemeral luminous architectural tunnel that draws visitors into an open and animated form woven from lightweight fibres.” As viewers walk through the tunnel, they become surrounded by swirling smoke and ethereal luminescence and are able to interact with the seemingly sentient structure.
Like much of Loop.pH’s pieces, Atmeture was imagined and created as a site-specific piece. Commissioned by onedotzero, a cultural organization praised for “curating and producing memorable and engaging events, exhibitions and experiences,” Atmeture was intended for Letchworth’s ‘Fire & Fright Festival,’ which took place from October 28 through November 5, 2014.
While Atmeture’s glowing presence in the festival has unfortunately come and gone, you can still take a stroll through the otherworldly tunnel with the click of a mouse! Be sure to check out the video for the living, breathing experience. (Via The Creators Project)
German photographer Frank Bauer takes celebrity portraits. It’s an interesting conundrum, capturing a famous face on film. The picture is taken because the audience wants to see that well-known (if not loved) face, but the resulting image is of a sight we’re used to seeing. How, then, to make the ubiquitous new again?
In Bauer’s skilled hands, the celebrities seem to relax. The inner sanctum opens a bit, and the person behind the celebrity peeks out. Actress Tilda Swinton, known for her androgynous fierceness, softens. Cool, coture-wearer Cate Blanchette smolders. Clearly not camera ready, director Steve McQueen stifles a yawn. Musician Iggy Pop looks stripped of artifice in his rear-view mirror shot.
For all the personal exposures in his work, Bauer is remarkably hard to find. His website is neatly organized, with a news section that documents his recent work, but there’s no “I” there, no personal commentary or gossip. Same with his Facebook page: friendly-seeming and public and absolutely impersonal. Perhaps it’s his way of creating a void, one that these performers will want to fill. Maybe he’s seen what it means to reveal oneself. It could be a business decision, an unconscious choice, a cautious reticence. Whatever the reason, Frank Bauer, unlike his famous subjects, is a bit of a cipher, one who lets his intimate and beautiful work speak for him. (Via It’s Nice That)
Robert Larson uses discarded cigarettes packaging, matchbooks, and rolling papers to create his compositions. Somewhat reminiscent of Tom Fruin’s drug baggies, the artist creates abstract patterns from smoking paraphernalia, and turns the ugly and destructive act of smoking into something unexpectedly beautiful.
Larson finds the materials by scavenging neighbourhoods in Santa Cruz, where he lives and works. There’s an interesting play between personal and impersonal in his work. The consistent grid of the items, be it shiny packaging or used matches, gives a sense of the systemic nature of urban life, while their individual treatment – worn by weather or use – sustains a sense of individual experience.
Cigarettes are rarely if ever associated with beauty, at least in our moment. Certainly in the past they were glamourized, but happily, people are beginning to see quite clearly their highly detrimental effect. Still, they maintain a heavy presence, and it’s exciting to see something positive come out of a predominantly negative thing. Larson’s compositions are surprisingly colourful and dynamic. He has a good eye for placement, as in the Marlboro packaging where he distributes the various tones of grey-brown wear to radiate outwards from the middle of the work. His pieces are mostly quite large, reaching over six feet. It makes me wonder how long it would take him to collect his materials, which could give him some understanding of the smoking population of each neighbourhood he collects from.
Chris Burkard is a photographer based in Central Coast, California. He captures lifestyle and action sports, and some of his most compelling works are these pictures of people surfing among the snow-covered mountains in places liked Iceland, Norway, and Alaska. There’s a cognitive dissonance that comes from viewing these photos – surfing is typically a warm-weather sport that doesn’t seem like it’d mix with the cold temperatures. But here, Burkard’s subjects are traipsing among glaciers and a white landscape in their head-to-toe wet suits.
Despite the initial reaction of “buuuurrrrr,” there’s a palpable bliss in Burkard’s idyllic photos. The natural beauty is undeniable no matter the temperature. Skies are clear, the water is blue, and it’s all made even brighter with the peppered throughout. Burkard purposely searches for wild, remote destinations, and, according to him, “portrays the humble placement of the human in contrast to nature.”
Photographer Brittany M. Powell has an ambitious project worthy of your support. She has embarked on a project of taking portraits of people that have incurred debt. Having already taken at least 15 photographs of different individuals, she has a Kickstarter project to help realize her goal of 99 different portraits. After losing her own job in 2008 and facing severe financial hardship, Powell decided to find others in a similar situation, to tell their stories and to dispel the social stigma surrounding bankruptcy, debt and talking about money issues in general. She says this about her project:
This [project] spurred my interest in investigating the role debt can play in our identity and how we relate to the world. Debt is publicly enforced and highly stigmatized, but is almost always privately experienced. It is in many ways an abstract form without material weight or structure, yet with heavy physicality and burden in a person’s everyday life. (Source)
Her subjects include James Riggs Davidson III who is an electrical contractor with a total debt of $52,335.63, Grace Ragland a family support worker with $75,000 in debt after her ex-husband was incarcerated and she became the sole carer of her family. She ended up working 2-3 jobs 7 days a week for 7 years. The range of people Powell profiles is so varied she really shows how common this problem is today.
My goal is to bring people together to recontextualize an abstract, often shamed experience. It is my hope that by having a platform to discuss this issue, it will encourage the viewer and participants to question and reframe our perception of debt and how we contribute to it’s power and role in our social structure. (Source)
To support her project visit her Kickstarter page here.
In his unconventional series, Raíces Aladas (Winged Roots), Spanish artist David Cata explores the possibilities of plant growth by transplanting vegetation into an unusual and unheard of herbaceous foundation: the palm of his hand.
For this project, Cata physically manipulated his hands in order to create a sustainable—albeit temporary—basis for plant habitation. By strategically peeling a designated layer of skin from his palm, Cata was able to create a small, vacant pouch. He then filled this compartment with soil, and, finally, with transplanted flora, which he then documented and compiled into a photographic series.
Much like A Flor de Piel—a preceding series in which the artist used a needle and thread to stitch sentimental portraits onto his own skin—Raíces Aladas presents, challenges, and defies known limitations of the human body—and, ultimately, effectively proves its opportune abilities as a canvas for artistic expression. (Via Design Boom)
Jonathan Payne’s sculptures of remixed human body parts are utterly disgusting. Warty skin and overgrown toenails, a tooth-penis-nipple hybrid, and a tongue with teeth in place of taste buds are some of the highlights of his shudder-worthy pieces. The sculptures evoke a very physical reaction in the viewer. They are extremely life-like, and so it’s easy to project your own senses into the toes and teeth, to imagine what it would feel like to have those body parts connected together. They’re anxiety inducing, but you can’t look away, they’re so horrifyingly real. If you’re wondering what they’re made of to look so realistic, Payne uses super sculpey, polymer clay, acrylic, and human hair.
Payne calls the sculptures Fleshlettes, and in his description says that he’s interested in “bizarre and fantastical surrealist characters”. Surrealism was concerned very much with the psyche, and I think Payne’s work does a good job of withdrawing and exploring some deep set insecurities with ugliness and deformation in his strange body part sculptures.
In an article on the blog Street Anatomy, it’s listed that each sculpture has a kind of name and character. The toothed tongue, for instance, is Tonya, and she’s the mother of all Fleshlettes. The eyeball is named Eileen “for obvious reasons”. This sense of humour is refreshing and also seems to suit the strange though ultimately nonthreatening characters.
In San Francisco’s Tenderloin neighborhood sits Aunt Charlie’s Lounge, a small, windowless locale that’s the only remaining gay bar in an area once known for its nightlife LGBTQ attractions. It features an evening-length drag queen show, which is the subject of photographer James Hosking’s intriguing images.
Hosking first visited Aunt Charlie’s in 2009 after moving to the city from New York, and he was drawn to the older entertainers there. What was their connection to drag when it was “illicit and less accessible,” and why do these people continue to perform? “They open themselves to ridicule because of their age, yet they seem to relish the opportunity for provocation and confrontation,” the photographer told Slate.
Hosking’s curiosity played out by photographing three performers at Aunt Charlie’s during 2013 – Collette LeGrande, Donna Personna, and Olivia Hart. He also teamed up with journalist Jeremy Lybarger for a story published in Out Magazine, and completed a documentary about the drag queens titled Beautiful by Night.
It’s in these gritty candid photos and film that we see just how laborious performing is. Putting on makeup, wigs, and costumes can take time a lot of stamina that only gets harder with age. And with all that effort, audience members can sometimes be disrespectful, Hosking tells Slate, “But, for the most part, I think the joy comes from the audience’s excitement and pleasure, which creates a feeling that everyone is there to have a good time together. I imagine that makes all the bullshit worthwhile. The tips don’t hurt either.”
Check out the documentary to hear the drag queens talk about their experience and to see the transformation process take place.