If you’ve ever taken a road trip, you are probably familiar with tourist attractions (also known as tourist traps). Caves are not an uncommon destination for these off-the-highway places, and are often ostentatious with not a lot of intellectual substance. Large-format photographer Austin Irving travelled across America and East Asia photographing these places, which were developed for weary travelers. She titled the series Show Caves.
The caves feature unnatural lighting, revolving doors, public restrooms, and man made design elements. There are penguins, for instance, that line the path of one interior and feels like a disingenuous attempt at showcasing the wonders of the wonders.
There aren’t any crowds in these photos, which allow us to see the attractions clearly. It also showcases the fact that these places are not much different than some place like a suburban shopping mall. (Via Artlog)
There is no doubt that the current resurgence of the .gif medium is indicative of how image-based and internet-dependent our networked society has become. Born of and propagated through the Internet, .gifs offer a perfect medium for our constantly consuming Share-Culture, a culture that artist Mark Vomit masterfully samples from, and takes particular pleasure in critiquing. Inspired in equal parts by nostalgic ’80s and ’90s ephemera and modern Internet imagery, Vomit’s aesthetic has made him a leading voice in a new online visual arts movement, despite his often apathetic and apocalyptic style.
When asked via email to describe his motivation, as well as his aesthetic, Vomit responded adroitly:
“1. Mark Vomit is documenting the Apocalypse.
2. Mark Vomit manipulates images and sounds.
3. You Have No Voice, You Have No Choice, the New Order Nation has Taken Over and
Everything You Like Is Wrong.
4. Vomiting is the involuntary, forceful expulsion of the contents of one’s stomach through themouth and sometimes the nose.
5. Manipulate: to use or change in a skillful way or for a particular purpose.
6. Studies in Post 20th Century Culture and Media.”
This philosophical and aesthetic difference made Vomit (who also performs in the the art-doom-rock band Bollywood) a competitive contender in a recent head-to-head tournament of the world’s best .gif artists organizes by the influential new media art and tech site VIA. Considering the often too-cutesy and completely referential (read: unoriginal) work which proliferates Tumblr posts, it serves as a refreshingly radical reaction to have an artist defacing and exploring the medium with a grittier, grimier approach.
Photographer Nina Röder creates Mutter Schuhe (Mother’s Shoes), a series that through a variety of portraits visually explores the evolution of three generations of women: her (Nina Röder), her mother, and her mother’s mother. All three women are wearing Röder’s grandmothers clothes and they are sitting around in the old rooms of her (Röder’s) mother’s childhood home. All women maintain more or less the same expression, one of nostalgia for the most past, as they reenact mundane activities throughout the home. Through her choices of clothes and props, the artist is looking to explore how different individuals, her family, recall the past and how it evolves as time wears on.
“The personal narrative of my mother and my grandmother effects my life in a very dominant way: Almost every artwork I’ve done so far is influenced by conscious or unconscious aspects of family stories. For example, my grandparents were expelled from Bohemia (now Czechia) after the Second World War so they lost everything they had. I guess that is the reason why my grandmother now is keeping all her old clothes or furniture from the last 40 years. Almost all my ‘models’ are wearing clothes from my grandmother.”
Angela Strassheim is photographer who used to capture crime scene images for forensic study. Her series, “Evidence,” documents the inside and outside of homes where domestic homicides have occurred. While the homes’ outside images ring familiar in a non-intimate way, the black and white, long exposure images of the homes’ insides offer a haunting glimpse into a more intimate space. The most unsettling aspect of these images are the noticeable physical traces of disputes – the bright, white flecks and splatters observed in the photos are the result of “Blue Star” solution being applied to surfaces to activate the “physical memory of blood through contacting the remaining DNA proteins.”
Of her series, Strassheim says, “Perhaps we have all processed a question in certain love relationships: Could we be a victim of violence or perform an act of violence against a loved one out of our immense capacity to feel jealousy, anger, rage, and desperation in a moment of extreme emotion? These photographs allow for the viewer to entertain the idea that this situation could involve anyone of us…The crime scene is presented on two levels; it is both an accurate, tragic, and dramatic transcription of the event and a mysterious backdrop onto which one can project their imagination.” (via it’s nice that and women in photography)
Scottist sculptor David Mach has a penchant for unexpected materials: magazines, matchsticks, and scrabble pieces, to name a few. In his series “Coathangers,” the artist constructs lifelike animals from wire hangers, allowing the pointed metal hooks to extend past the boundaries of the figure. To build these strange cacti-like creatures, Mach works from a plastic mold, applies the hangers, and coats the finished product in nickel.
Mach’s wild beasts, depicted with near realism, look magnificently aggressive when protruding hooked metal. Like defensive porcupines, the seem to be coated in a layer of quills, warding off the touch of curious viewers. The tiger, the stag, and the gorilla each occupies a distinct role in the hierarchy of the natural world; their predator limbs frozen outstretched or fearful mouths held open, they cannot help but resemble the taxidermied animals that roam the halls of natural history museums. Unlike those passive creatures, however, Mach’s animal kingdom is electrified with the addition shining, threatening spokes, eliciting trepidation as much as they do curiosity. Similarly, the artist’s crucifixion presents Jesus Christ as an explosive, angry being, emitting in his pain an agonized cry; here, we might imagine the biblical lines, “My God, why hast though forsaken me?”
Mach’s coat hanger method allows for the rules of sculpture to be broken; his figures are defined not by their enclosed form but also by material that emanates from their bodies as we understand them. Like characters on a static-filled television, they appear as illusions or mirages. Their blurry boundaries allow them to exist in a mysterious space beyond the corporeal. Are these creatures inhabiting the space before us, or are they merely projections, subject to vanishing at any moment? (via Visual News)
It is difficult to believe that the astounding, realistic sculptures of husband and wife duo Allen and Patty Eckman are cast from paper. Inspired by cast paper techniques of mid-20th century Mexico, the couple has developed and trademarked a unique process called the Eckman Method®. Pouring paper pulp instead of bronze into silicone moulds, they are able to produce lightweight sculptures with an astonishing level of detail. Allen’s work centers on the history of the American West and Native American civilization, content that blends seamlessly with Patty’s focus on wild flora and fauna.
Allen, who himself is of Cherokee descent, seems to pick up where 19th century American bronze artists like Hermon Atkins MacNeil or James Earle Fraser left off. Echoing the sentiment of these early settlers to the West, Eckman portrays the vanishing Native American population with dignity and reverence. Many of their sculptures are colossal, looming above viewers with magnificent authority. Others are miniature, precious to behold. The Eckmans capture scenes both active and pastoral with equal attention to detail; the cowboy, blazing ahead on horseback, lasso in hand, is seen with as much clarity as the native American hunter, who rests for a moment with his equine companion, absorbing the sights of the natural world. Like living specimens of times and cultures too rarely recorded by history, mothers and children dance in historically-accurate clothing.
In their stunning visual work, the Eckmans are able to merge a new, innovative process with subject matter as timeless as our country, breathing new life into the cannon of work created by great American sculptures of the past. (via BeautifulLife)
Years ago, the American automotive industry was an unparalleled success not only in productivity, but also in the quality of their beautiful car designs. Unbeknownst to these automotive designers, they were also creating something beautiful that would last long after the processes they pioneered went extinct. Fordite (or Motor Agate, or Detroit Agate) as it has become known, was created by the process of hand-spraying cars with enamel-paint. A byproduct of the process, paint slag called “rough” was baked in the ovens, which hardened the automotive paint, creating layered slabs which crafty autoworkers realized could easily be polished, much like the naturally occurring agates they so resembled. Since this process has long been , these remaining stones have found a particular following, as they can never be created again.
Johnny Strategy, who documented much of the story for Colossal,writes, “Old car factories had a harmful impact on the environment, releasing toxic chemicals into the air, land and water. But it wasn’t all ugly. Oddly enough, one of the by-products of car production was Fordite, also known as Detroit agate. The colorful layered objects take their name from agate stones for their visual resemblance. But instead of forming from microscopically crystallized silica over millions of years, Fordite was formed from layers of paint over several tens of years. Back in the day, old automobile paint would drip onto the metal racks that transported cars through the paint shop and into the oven. The paint was hardened to a rock-like state thanks to high heats from the baking process. As the urban legend goes, plant workers would take pieces home in their lunch pails as a souvenir for their wife or kids.” (via mymodernmet, fordite.com, colossal)
On May 29 at the Musée d’Orsay in Paris, Luxembourgian performance artist Deborah de Robertis, wearing a gold sequined dress, plopped down in front of Gustav Courbet’s painting “The Origin of the World,” and spread her legs and vaginal lips, publicly exposing herself. The artist’s intent was to re-enact the famous painting, but with an open, exposed vagina in contrast to the vagina presented in Courbet’s piece. Eventually, de Robertis was escorted from the premises by police officers, and two museum guards filed sexual exhibitionist complaints against her after the incident.
“This is a typical case of disrespecting the museum’s rules, whether for a performance or not,” the Musée d’Orsay’s administration said in a statement. “No request for authorization was filed with us. And even if it had been, it’s not certain we would have accepted it as that may have upset our visitors.”
de Robertis, of course, disagrees with these accusations (as does Banksy). “If you ignore the context, you could construe this performance as an act of exhibitionism, but what I did was not an impulsive act,” she explained to Luxemburger Wort. “There is a gap in art history, the absent point of view of the object of the gaze. In his realist painting, the painter shows the open legs, but the vagina remains closed. He does not reveal the hole, that is to say, the eye. I am not showing my vagina, but I am revealing what we do not see in the painting, the eye of the vagina, the black hole, this concealed eye, this chasm, which, beyond the flesh, refers to infinity, to the origin of the origin.”
de Robertis says she’s performed this piece, “Mirror of Origin,” more than once in the same museum without causing a hysteric scene, and unsurprisingly, this is not the first time a performance artist has imitated a famous work of art by exposing their body: last year, performance artist Arthur G stripped down and appeared in front of Musée d’Orsay’s parade of male nudes, “Masculin/Masculin.” It is also not unusual for female performance artists to use their bodies as a medium for messages about our culture and the way it conceptualizes female anatomy and sexuality: I’m thinking of recent Beautiful/Decay features, like Milo Moire’s vaginal egg-dropping and Casey Jenkins’ vaginal knitting. The reactions garnered from such performances reflect our culture’s current conception of female anatomy and sexuality and prove that our stripped-bare biology continues to be seen as obscene, threatening, and attention-seeking, even within performance-based contexts. (via art fido)