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Todd Baxter’s Stylishly Retro Sci-Fi Utopias

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Multimedia artist Todd Baxter has created a retro futuristic image series inspired by narratives of science fiction utopia. Long fascinated with the technology and physics of the Space Race era, with “Project Astoria: Test 01,” Baxter tells a story that revolves around the experiences of children growing up in a an Earth-like world that has recently been colonized. Baxter’s wife, Aubrey Videtto, is writing the story that the two created together. They hope to collaborate with other artists for the project, including a graphic novelist and musician, to further execute their concepts and designs.  Of this project, Baxter writes, “With Project Astoria, I wanted to play with that childlike hopefulness — that anticipation of humans finally mastering our existence and our technology. Especially as we were reaching such new and magical realities as landing on the moon, the late 60s was the perfect period, in my mind, to add in this alternate history where we all get together and say, ‘Hey! We could go colonize this other Earth-like place and really do it right this time. It could be perfect. Utopia!’ Of course, it doesn’t go perfectly, which is good. Otherwise, it wouldn’t make for a very fun story.”

Baxter’s process is quite involved, but it starts with him pulling out sketches for ideas he’s had. He then browses the images on his computer for environment and landscape images he’s shot, and begins to weave together these environments with Photoshop. Baxter then plans the next elements based on these general compositions, producing photo shoots of his subjects that he continues to compose and retouch with Videtto until each image is fully realized. The result is a playful narrative with an almost kitschy aesthetic, evocative of the likes of Wes Anderson. (via behance and bleek magazine)

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Antonio Mora Transforms Human Portraits Into Mind-Bending Illusions

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Double exposure portraits by Spanish-based artist Antonio Mora (a.k.a. Mylovt) blend human and nature worlds into surreal hybrid artworks. Mora works with images he’d found browsing through online databases, magazines and blogs, and then fuses them together using skillful photo manipulation techniques. His seamless way of mixing various concepts together leaves the viewer with mind-tricking illusions.

“I want people to feel inspired when observing my artworks, and that is what I long for. I often look at images hundreds of times without finding anything, and then the spark just arrives. It’s a bit like fishing, a matter of patience and intuition.”

Mora describes his artworks as cocktails, mixtures of ordinary elements merged into forceful and expressive daydreams. According to the artist, his inspiration is provided by the limitless Internet itself and he feels as a medium between the two parallel worlds: real-life and the Web.

Antonio Mora originally graduated from graphic design. Right after his studies, he started a personal design studio which turned him into an art director for 15 years. Gradually, artist decided to concentrate on his art solely. Mora is one of the artists whose instant fame relies on social media: “Social networks, especially Pinterest, have been an important vehicle to spread by artworks”.

His mind-bending photo manipulations are very accessible to the public, as Mora offers anyone the chance to have their own portrait turned into an astounding work of art. (via Writeca)

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Intimate And Intense Photos Of Shaolin Monks

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Shaolin Kung Fu, developed in China beginning in 495AD, has infiltrated popular culture in the West. Depending on your age, you might be familiar with the 70s TV show “Kung Fu” or Mortal Kombat : Shaolin Monks. Neither captures the essence of Shaolin Kung Fu. Based on Buddhism, its major forms of expression are martial arts and techniques. Shaolin emphasizes meditation, development of the body through rigorous training, and pain endurance.

Training in Kung Fu is mostly done without an opponent, as it was never meant to kill, and the poetic names of the moves imply that it is more of a meditation than a fight. However, the only difference between breaking a clay jug and smashing a human skull with one’s bare hands is consciousness of will. Despite the commercialization, Kung Fu retains a mystical character closer to a monastic discipline than to the performances of modern gladiators.

Tomasz Gudzowaty captures the monks in artistic black and white. The classical composition of these photographs only serves to enhance the amazing strength, endurance, and concentration of the monks as they train. Gudzowaty doesn’t use effects or manipulation to increase the impact of the images—he doesn’t have to. The monks provide all of the interest themselves: walking up walls, standing on their heads, balanced on a foot and an elbow. They seem fully immersed in their training—oblivious to the camera, wholly in the moment.

“Sports fascinates me as a spiritual practice, which is not readily visible today in mainstream events. I made it my long-standing quest to photograph peripheral, exotic sports.”

This series is a masterful match of content and form, skilled subjects and talented artist.

Via The Mind Unleashed

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Roberto Foddai Turns The Camera On Himself In His Dramatic, Erotic, And Comedic Self-Portraits

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It is the age of the selfie, and yet Roberto Foddai’s self-portraits feel like anything but. His images range from dramatic, erotic snapshots to costumed and posed portraits. The Photoshop manipulations he executes, notably in the “make it double!” series, are both subtle and transformative. He merges pictures of himself into the same frame, doubling the impact. Two Robertos laughing together, two lying on the same bed, and, memorably, one pleasuring his “other” self. The effects are transparent and the narrative in the pictures exists outside of their computerized genesis.

Why the costumes, the playacting and grimacing? Why two Robertos in the frame? He answers:

1. I like to be other people as I am often bored of myself.

2. It is easier to be boring in my daily life and dressing up in photographs fills the need I often have to be different.

3. I think, as Feminist and writer Carol Hanish said “The Personal is Political” so it is me in the pictures but they are often a political statement and maybe not as personal as they look.

We see Roberto Foddai as Freida Pinto. Roberto Foddai as a pink gowned ingénue. Wearing a necklace of shuttlecocks. In a swim cap, a nightgown. In underwear and red socks. Cindy Sherman’s self-portraits in disguise are called to mind, but unlike Sherman, Foddai makes very little effort to camouflage himself completely.

I always liked the idea of documenting my own life for myself. Keeping a visual diary of my life also gave me other ideas or other subjects I could work on. This is clearly a work in progress and without any doubt one of my favourite parts of my work. I often struggle with the way I look but it helps me to look at my life in a more objective way.

In many of these self-portraits Foddai is not conventionally attractive. Sweaty, with decayed looking teeth, and testicles poking through his underwear, these images are raw and unadorned. And it’s that truth in the images, in the portraits, that makes it difficult to look away.

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David Irvine Enhances Crappy Thrift Store Paintings With His Own Funny Additions

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If you’ve ever visited a thrift store, you’ve no doubt seen the wonderfully-awful paintings that people have given away. Completed paint-by-number sets, idyllic landscapes, and amateurish attempts at impressionism are common sights. Artist David Irvine takes thrift store paintings and enhances them with additions of his own. He brings in characters from popular culture to these compositions, such as Darth Vader, the Marshmallow Man, and Bambi. Irvine maintains the original style of the paintings when creating the mashup, making the figures look as though they’ve been there all along.

Some of the paintings are subversive and a feature villains about to tear through the town or city that they’re in. Other times, the characters are helpful, like the Storm Trooper that’s helping with yardwork. Twisted or not, these works are funny, and the kind of artwork from the thrift store that you’d actually want to display in your home. (Via Demilked)

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Cory Arcangel Satirizes Aspiring Authors With His Book Of Tweets From People “Working On [Their] Novel”

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Cory Arcangel’s recently published book – which originally exists on twitter as @wrknonmynovel – is a compilation of people who have tweeted “working on my novel”. The tweets come in all kinds: humorous, pathetic, emphatic, delusional. Seeing the phrase over and over again kind of makes your mind numb. I imagine these people probably NOT writing and then Arcangel completing a work of their impotent attempts. It’s the post-modern cyclical concept: I make a novel of you not making a novel, but the novel isn’t really a novel, it’s just your tweets about (not) making a novel. Maybe this is too cynical, though, as another way to look at it is that, now at least, these authors are published! In any case, the tweets themselves can be entertaining, if not sometimes painful, and from what I can tell each of the aspiring authors will receive a copy of the book from Arcangel.

Arcangel is a bit of an enfant terrible; a computer programmer, composer, and artist, his work spans a large range of media and he has received wide approval from institutions such as MoMA, Tate, and Smithsonian. What’s often interesting in work like Arcangel’s is its very serious reception from these highly respected art authorities. It presents a sort of ‘Emperor wears no clothes’ situation, where its unclear how seriously Arcangel takes himself, but painfully obvious how easy it is to buy his wares. The best way to enjoy him is to find entertainment in his projects and remember to be wary of the orbiting bullshit. (Via The Fader)

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Joel Tretin Makes Jokes With His Camera

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Joel Tretin calls himself a Photo Humorist and that description seems perfectly apt. His photo series Stranger in Paradox “looks at what’s true and totally screws with it.” At first glance, the pictures seem deceptively straightforward—portraits of the city shot in a somewhat generic ad-agency aesthetic. Hidden in plain sight are the visual jokes: a parking ticket on the windshield on a sports car in a building height ad; a carousel over a revolving door; an elephant walking though the green murkiness of a subway. The Photoshop manipulations are mostly seamless—it really looks like that woman is pushing an eight-seat stroller, and that sporty yellow cab looks real next to its stodgier brother. A stack of cars make the most of a lone parking space.

The subtlest images make you work for them. A lit Wall Street façade, American flags… oh, there. The don’t walk sign is flipping the bird. The traffic sign points to the “Road Most Taken” an apparent play on Robert Frost’s Road Less Taken.

Photo manipulation in art is often used to create surreal imagery. And these pictures are surreal in that they portray things that are unreal and often fantastic, but the photos lack the intention and technique that transform pictures into fine art. Which seems to be just fine with Trentin, who says:

I am a failed stand up comedian, who now tries to make people laugh through photography.

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Luis Hernan’s Photographs Reveal Colorful WiFi Signal Visualizations

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Designer Luis Hernan‘s project, “Digital Ethereal,” captures colorful “spirit photographs” of Wi-Fi signals. Using long exposure photography alongside the Kirilian Device mobile app, an app created specifically for this project that translates WiFi signals into color gradations, Hernan creates stunning photographs that feature ghostly swirls of color and activity. Hernan’s project represents the ways we can thread different kinds of technology together to create something new – something that visualizes a field of energy that is omnipresent, yet eludes our physical sensibilities. Of his WiFi light paintings, Hernan writes, “I believe our interaction with this landscape of electromagnetic signals, described by Antony Dunne as Hertzian Space, can be characterised in the same terms as that with ghosts and spectra. They both are paradoxical entities, whose untypical substance allows them to be an invisible presence. In the same way, they undergo a process of gradual substantiation to become temporarily available to perception. Finally, they both haunt us. Ghosts, as Derrida would have it, with the secrets of past generations. Hertzian space, with the frustration of interference and slowness.” (via laughing squid

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