British artist Mike Nelson‘s installations feel a bit like you’ve stumbled onto a movie set. He sets up eerie scenarios that are very minimal, but impactful. His piece To the Memory of H.P Lovecraft (1999,2008) saw him bashing holes in the pristine white gallery walls and freestanding plinths, as if some creature had torn it’s way through the room. Leaving the narrative vague and bare, Nelson leaves it up to the viewer to react to his installations as they want to. Nelson plays with simulation, representations of the real, replicas and objects placed in new contexts. By recreating something quite simple, but in a new and unexpected way, he is able to make us feel at odds with the space.
Nelson rebuilds interior scenes as well as destroying them. In The Projection Room (Triple Bluff Canyon) in 2009 he blocked the access to a replica of a typical south-London Victorian terraced house and forced the visitors to peek through a window. Objects spewed out of one tiny split in the wall in a very bizarre fashion. Nelson talks about his practice:
I’ve always had a slight fear of piles of junk that function purely as decorative ephemera but only act as a signifier of a certain type of installation…I think it’s a constant worry that you’ll make this amount of effort to have something that just becomes spectacle, as opposed to something which moves somebody or encourages somebody to empathize with what you’re trying to lure them into, or coax them towards. (Source) (Via Sweet Station)
Step into the world of photographer Phebe Schmidt, where everything is carefully constructed into a sickening sweet perfection. Her candy-colored world is filled with Barbie-like subjects, some even encased in plastic. Each hyperreal photograph seems almost too good to be true, like we have stepped inside a house of a Stepford wife. This draws the viewer in closer as we inspect the dark undertones of each photo that are surrounded by cheery colors. The objects in Schmidt’s photography, including her figures who look more like inanimate objects than people, are flawless and glossy, making everything seem like an advertisement. This viewpoint and concept is no doubt a comment on commodities and how contemporary culture is overcome with it. It has been said that “plasticity” is a term that defines Schmidt’s style.
Her work has a stylized plasticity and bright surface that acts as a mask that plays with ideas of self, theatrical role-playing, and what lies beneath. Plasticity is a key term Schmidt uses to describe her work and marks a contemporary obsession with homogenized, generic beauty ideals that conform to gender, social, and cultural norms.
It is true that generic beauty ideas are very apparent in Schmidt’s body of work. Each person shown in her photography seems nameless and ambiguous due to his or her impossible perfection. The figures do not look toward the camera, but out into space with a numbingly blank stare. This absence of humanity creates a futuristic atmosphere where commodity and beauty have altered our state of being. Schmidt’s seductive and incredibly intriguing photography evokes both a sci-fi future, and a mod, mid-century feel. Each photograph filled with sweetly colored backgrounds and flawless subjects keeps us curious in what lies beneath the generic beauty.
You might write a ton of emails, but how many letters do you sit down to write? The kind that require pen, paper, and often a stamp and envelope. Probably not many. If you hate the task but need an extra-special note, then the company Bond will help you out. It’s an intelligent scribing system that mimics human handwriting. Thanks to automated robots with ink pens, they’re able to write notes and send them to the person of your choice. A pen is attached to a machine that applies weight to the paper as if it’s a human hand.
Bond has a few pricing tiers for their product. If you’re looking for a generic, all-around “handwritten” feel, then you’re not too concerned with it appearing as your actual penmanship. For that, the service is free (with additional costs like the card). But, let’s say you want to send a note that’s to a relative or someone who has an idea of what your scrawls look like. That’s where the cost goes up. Services that are tailored to your penmanship start at $199. Paying $499 will give on an hour of time to work alongside Bond’s experts to refine your handwriting. (Via Laughing Squid and Ubergizmo)
Location is everything to photographer Lara Zankoul. Her latest venture garnering some attention shows models in a human sized fish tank. “The Unseen” is a series of photographs taken in 2013, which comment on the complex relationship between what appears on the surface and what is submerged underneath. It examines our ability to project a false facade outwardly while thinking the opposite inwardly. Some examples to this idea show two girls in a carefree stance while underwater one is cutting the other’s dress. Another is a handsome male model in traditional waiter’s clothing on top while wearing a tutu below.
The photos exude a surrealist gaze due to the water effect. From an underwater perspective, the bottom half of the pictures take on a dreamy, ethereal quality which is perfectly naive. The subjects are all aesthetically pleasing to look at and become a bit mundane if not for the little weird subtleties at hand. The colors are wrought from a bright, monotone palette which lend themselves at times to the impressionists. Not an easy task to say the least.
Zankoul is a self taught photographer who originally majored in Economics from The American University of Beirut. According to her biography, she was born photographically in 2008 after completing the 365 project where participants took part and posted one picture every day for a year. (via hifructose)
Caras Ionut is one of those rare photographer/Photoshopper hybrids whose work stands head and shoulders above even some of the best retouchers. Some of his images tend towards the realistic, others towards the fantastic, but all of them display a skill with both a camera and post-processing techniques that’s truly remarkable.
Ionut says his goal is to create dreamscapes — both the positive and negative kind.
“Most people when considering dreams would think of good positive dreams, and I like to think I captured that in my work,” he writes in his biography on 500px. “I also seem to visit the darker side of what people may see of dreams, not necessarily what one would see as negative, but possibly a dream that one could not quite understand or may feel alone.”
View a selection of our favorite images Ionut has captured, each available to license on 500px’s photo marketplace: 500px Prime” after the jump.
Cathy van Hoang, owner of PetitBeast, is a California-based artist who has cleverly designed a new and eye-catching way to display your air plants: by placing them in sea urchin shells — which Cathy has painted in gradients of beautiful pastel hues — and suspending them. Her creations are aptly named “Jellyfish Air Plants,” because there is no denying that their domed heads and trailing “legs” are redolent of those elegant sea-dwelling invertebrates. Their gravity-defying appearance will also likely appeal to any Metroid fans out there, as Cathy’s designs do slightly invoke your favorite parasitic alien species — although these particular specimens are less likely to seek galactic domination, and instead hang gracefully in your room as beautiful conversation pieces.
These “little beasts” are affordable and unique additions to your space. Each set comes with hanging and care instructions. And if you’re not plant-savvy, the good news is that air plants are easy to maintain. As Cathy writes on her Etsy, “all they require is watering twice a week and a nice, bright room with indirect sunlight (or your desk lamp in the office) to thrive in” (Source). Custom colors are also an option.
Etsy is an exciting venue for independent designers who want to share their creativity with the world, and it is always exciting to come across artists like Cathy who are hand-making such imaginative pieces. Check out her website and Etsy page to learn more about her Jellyfish Air Plants. The product photography featured here is also by Cathy. (Via Colossal)
Adam W. Hill is a photographer whose work centers on the creation of alternative portraiture. This particular series, titled Dollface, explores the effect of doll-like makeup on people of various ages; with heavily rouged cheeks, thick eyebrows, and contoured lips, his subjects are a magnetic (and eerie) combination of adulthood and infancy. Hill has done an excellent job highlighting the brightness and color of their eyes, giving life and vibrancy to an artificial aesthetic. It is fascinating, too, how the models have chosen to express their doll-identities; some look passive and innocent, others playful and mischievous, the rest serious or melancholic.
Peruse Adam’s website, and you’ll see that all of his series explore portraiture in an unconventional way; his subjects are youthful, playful, and sometimes a bit absurd. In his portfolio’s “About Me,” he expresses his views on the historical significance of the portrait, stating how it has traditionally been used “for people of privilege and power, and as a means of affirming the authority of certain individuals” (Source). While he resists this sort of elitist representation, he is also fascinated by the aesthetics of formal portraiture; as a result, his work displays alternative subjects in a quasi-traditional way by infusing them with an appearance of “power and privilege, […] decadence and despair” (Source).
Dollface is an amusing and fascinating example of Adam’s manipulation of photographic tradition. By posing his models in conventional ways, but dressing them with hyperbolic, doll-like makeup, he “plays” with and subverts the elitism behind formal portraiture, thereby producing a commentary on the artificiality of the genre. Check out Adam’s website for more examples of his work.
Artist Peter Kogler takes ordinary spaces and converts them into optical illusions with little more than paint and projections. His installations completely encompass the gallery room or public space in which they inhabit and cause it to appear warped, stretched, distorted and twisted. These eye-tricking spaces devour the viewer in their endless lines and pattern while they creates a disorienting effect. Each strategically placed line is created by paint, but also sometimes by a projection onto the walls. Because Kogler’s patterns and lines are often on every side of the space, including the ceiling and floor, they create a powerful and overwhelming environment. The wall-to-wall spaces are completely taken over by lined grids, tubes weaving around each other, and swirling scribbles that create funhouse walls.
The settings for Kogler’s elaborate and impressive installations vary from gallery rooms to subway tunnels. One can truly get lost in these complex compositions trailing all over each wall. Each installation is like a beautiful labyrinth that entraps and engulfs the viewer. Kogler’s work uses mostly bold colors like white and black, and sometimes red. This creates a harsh, stark contrast that allows the optical illusion to be more apparent with a highly dramatic feel. The artist’s talent does not only lie in his incredible installations, but also his sculpture and two-dimensional work. His use of geometrics and line is similar in his other work, which makes them look absolutely stunning when they are exhibited within his installations. Kogler’s multifaceted style compliments whichever medium he desires.(via Illusion.scene360)