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Todd Baxter’s Photographs Fool Us Into Thinking That They’re Paintings

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Believe it or not, these images by Todd Baxter are not paintings. They are photos, crafted with a painterly touch that clearly demonstrates the photographer’s influence of other fine art media such as painting, drawing, and sculpture. Baxter loads his compositions with exquisite details, and we see hand-made badges, fur scarves, and even exposed entrails that make up his series Owl Scouts. The surreal coloring and controlled lighting makes it easy to forget that what we’re looking at is a well-considered photograph.

Narrative images tell the story of young scouts that trek through the wilderness and encounter a series of adventures. Some are neat, like when they find an owl that’s been burrowed underground. Other times are more gruesome and include a near-drowning and cut, bloody hand.

The formal considerations of the photographs and their subject matter can’t help but make someone think of Wes Anderson’s film Moonrise Kingdom. Baxter’s work is more surreal and dark, however, where the woods is a character in the tale of these young scouts. (Via Optically Addicted)

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Marwane Pallas’ Disturbing, Provocative Photographs Ooze Sexual Tension

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The French photographer Marwane Pallas’ painterly photographs contain within their borders an uncomfortable blend of allure and violence. His work centers around the body, honing in on its urges and most private yearnings. At times, the body itself is seen in profound sharpness, crystal clear, while it also sometimes bleeds sensual color, as if painted on a canvas. Pallas’ highly stylized images read more like murals than photographs, deliberately and seductively drawing us into a fictitious and allegorical narrative.

With his series What I Eat, the artist presents human appetite as an visceral marker of identity; a housewife is forced to eat her clothes iron, and a (possibly transgender) woman, having undergone a breast augmentation, munches on a plastic barbie doll, symbolic of the idealized female form. A cancer patient dips his cigarettes in ketchup, and a priest hesitates for just a moment before devouring a wooden crucifix.

In This Is My Body, religious allegorical icons stand in for an overwhelming eroticism. Eve in the Making presents the artist as still and pale as marble, wounded like Jesus Christ, engaging in an act of intimacy with a translucent head, whom we might imagine to stand in for God. In another self-portrait, a nose bleed causes blood, seen as wine like the blood of Christ, to drip over his parted lips into a glass below. A candle drips onto a pair of praying hands; on closer inspection, we see that the waxy light lays in place of a man’s erect phallus. Like Eve, the artist into apple that ultimately brings death, containing within it an ominous skull.

In Sur/Face, this sensualized physical body undergoes a metamorphosis, veering into a metaphysical and spiritual realm. Enchanted forests cover the artist’s head, and mossy roots stand in for veins. The flesh cracks open to reveal a layer of fresh new skin. Take a look.
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Lauren Renner’s Photo Series Invites Strangers To Write Stereotypes On Others’ Naked Bodies

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Around three years ago, Brooklyn-based photographer Lauren Renner began her project, “In Others’ Words,” a series that captures the vulnerability with which people self-identify. During a period of transition wherein Renner began to date women, the photographer started to notice people treating her differently, trying to categorize or label her because of her sexuality, even though she didn’t feel like a fundamentally different person. She found this observation fascinating and she began to wonder how others were stereotyped in accordance with their bodies and relationships. Renner’s project captures these intimacies by shooting her subjects in open, public spaces as well as having her subjects become vulnerable to strangers, allowing them to inscribe stereotyped descriptors onto each others’ naked bodies.

Renner says, “When it comes down to it, no matter who is labeling you, all of those words and constructs become a mish-mash inside of you, and seem to inform each other. Words carry a tremendous amount of power, which is why breaking away from some and holding onto others can feel so insurmountable. On the flip side of that coin, I think people tend to become very comfortable in the ways in which they categorize others, to the point where they may not even be aware that they’re doing it in the first place. ”

After all, at the end of the day we put people into boxes because subconsciously it makes them easier for us to mentally digest. Seeing people view my work for the first time was a huge experience for me because I got to see how people reacted when the boxes they were accustomed to had been taken away.”

“In Others’ Words” is an ongoing project and Renner is constantly seeking subjects of all ages, backgrounds, genders, identities, cultures, and abilities to participate. (via feature shoot)

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Florenica Durante’s Electric Photos Wrap Her Subject In A Spectacle Of Energy

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Photographer Florencia Durante’s series uses light to wrap her seated subject in a brilliant spectacle of energy.  It appears as fractured, gestural drawings that dances on the floor, up the bald man’s (named Ruso) legs and sometimes around his head or out the door. The white-yellow spirit is erratic and is chaotic.

In addition to having a drawn quality to them, these photographs are sculptural. Durante builds up form and by layering line upon line, taking into consideration the contour of the knees and the head. She creates a halo and a veil around her subject.

The light seems simultaneously helpful and terrifying. Ruso sometimes sits idly as it moves around and throughout him. Other times, he has his head in his hands waiting for impending doom.

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Jonny Sutton’s Photos Allude To Themes Of Pornography And Memory

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English photographer Jonny Sutton creates subtle but powerfully symbolic photography that alludes to various themes including the quotidian, sexual experiences, and memory.

Athough Sutton is interested in depicting scenes that are familiar to past personal recollections, the haziness and [sometimes] cinematic feel of his compositions make the viewer feel disjointed and distant to what they may otherwise feel very familiar with. Sutton’s recent series, Remains and Pornography, explore the memory of sexual experience through objects and familiar scenes that may trigger flashbacks to ones own past regarding sexual involvements.

Remains focuses on sex and the relationship it has with our surroundings. His photographs record the aftermath of a night of passion. By photographing what is left behind, the artist creates an interesting narrative that again brings the viewers to remember with hazy and distant thoughts.

His other series, Pornography, explores the themes of sexual documentation, pornographic films and violence, and the sexualization of children. In this case, Sutton uses a Barbie Doll and manipulates it in a way that presents the viewer with subtle, but obvious sexual positions. The artist’s prop here works as both the subject of his composition but also as a very important part of his concept and main messege. The dolls’ body, identifiable with the female form and a child’s innocence, is easily taken and manipulated to reenact sexual positions. This might be a reference to rape or a man’s power over a woman/child, however, its meaning is unclear and not explained by the artist himself. Nonetheless, it is certainly a logical conclusion to come to. Moreover, Sutton’s way of blurring the images leaves the spectator to witness a sequence of events that are blocked off and partially remembered [on behalf of whom is theoretically experiencing that manipulation,etc]. On the other hand, from an outsiders’ perspective, we acknowledge that the intrusiveness of the camera, or our gaze, in this case, is what makes the work the ultimate source of manipulation.

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This Is What Humans Looked Like 30,000 Years Ago

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The Paris-based sculptor Elisabeth Daynès listens to bones, to the remains of our evolutionary ancestors that have lived up to three million years ago. Throughout her prolific 20 year career, the “paleoartist” has worked from the skulls of wooly mammoths to species of hominid to create vividly detailed figures. Based on 18 data points that mark the bone, she can use a computer to model facial features that she later shapes out of clay. She refers to research and other bone samples to determine the build of her subjects, and ultimately she creates a silicone cast, complete with delicate painted features: veins, goosebumps, blemishes.

In a final step towards humanizing her sculptures, Daynès includes prosthetic eyes, teeth, and hair, each of which is as historically and scientifically accurate as possible. Current research suggests that Neanderthals, for example, had red hair; for her uncanny hominids, that range from Homo sapien to Homo erectus, she uses a blend of human hair. In her mind’s eye, the artist draws an informed portrait of each subject she reanimates; from the bones, she can determine period, sex and age, along with finer details like culture, climate, diet, and health.

For Daynès, this process is as much an art as it is a science. Ultimately, she hopes to reconnect with our past, embarking on a forensic search of what makes us human. Dismayed by the ways in which early human ancestors are reviled as unintelligent brutes, she injects her creations with a powerful dose of humanity; their brows furrow with concentration, and their eyes are painfully gentle. She explains “missing” them when they leave her studio for a permanent home in a museum. Take a look. (via Daily Mail and Lost at E Minor)
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Unexpectedly Poignant Portraits Of Star Wars Action Figures

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Zahir Batin’s delightful series of photographs is sure to get you excited for the upcoming release of Star Wars: Episode VII. When the artist bought a Canon EOS 1000D in February 2012, he had no idea that he would discover a passion for shooting miniature Star Wars scenes, but sure enough, he has since created a whimsical body of work cataloging the misadventures of Jedi, Sith lords, clones, and droids.

Batin’s work is certainly humorous, serving to decontextualize the often fearsome characters. A pack of clones is shown to be comically miniature beside a group of adorable ducklings; one even kindly offers a leaf to the giant baby animals. During their time off, they play with their vehicles like a group of rowdy teenage boys. For a more relaxing evening, they unwind riverside and confide in one another in a language inaudible to human viewers.

Despite the comic conceit of the miniature work—and perhaps even because of it—Batin imbues his imagined scenes with a poignant humanity and deeply-feeling heart. After a day of play, the clones lose a companion, and their heads move toward the sky in despair. After digging a grave, they place the fallen man’s tiny helmet above the moistened dirt and position a carefully-crafted gravestone at the head. In a moment of grief, they press their armored bodies together and embrace. Through Batin’s emotive lens, these small action figures, normally beloved only by children, become sentient beings with whom we can relate and empathize. Take a look. (via KoiKoiKoi)
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Kathleen McDermott’s “Personal Space Dress” Guards Against Sexual Harassment On Public Transit

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On a subway, personal space is a luxury that you don’t always have. People invade your “bubble,” and while annoying, it can be especially problematic for women. Artist Kathleen McDermott set to even the playing field with her Personal Space Dress, a garment that physically extends the space around a wearer’s body.

This dress is the second in a series titled Urban Armor. It’s a relatively simple concept with technology integrated into its design. When proximity sensors identify that someone’s too close, the sharp plastic scaffolding within the garment causes the hemline to expand outward. Anyone who’s in its area will be ushered away by a patterned-pink skirt.

McDermott got the idea for garment while living in Hong Kong where she’s currently finishing her MFA. Interested in wearable technology, the artist wanted to expand its purposes beyond something that only techies might have. She tells Co.Design, “Taking a photo of your sky diving experience while wearing Google Glass is awesome, but it’s really a small minority of the population that will have this experience. I wanted to explore how wearable technology could impact your physical world, and help the wearers, specifically women, exercise more control over their surroundings.”

While it doesn’t excuse and or solve the problem of sexual harassment on public transportation, it certainly makes a clever point. McDermott plans on making instructions and code for the Personal Space Dress available for download. So, theoretically you could make one of your very own and give yourself some extra breathing room. (Via Co.Design)

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