Japanese photographer Takehito Miyatake’s images capture darkened compositions with illuminated trails of fireflies and forests. The ethereal works are lyrical in their treatment of light, and we see it dancing throughout fields, streams, and into the night sky. It captures not only the beauty of nature, but of the way that darkness can feel magical.
Miyatake’s work is influenced by two things: the devastating Tohoku earthquake and subsequent tsunami of 2011, and waka, a classical form of Japanese poetry. These types of poems are written in 31 syllables and arranged in five lines, of 5/7/5/7/7 syllables, and they are meant as an expression of the human heart’s response to nature. The photographer considers his work similar to the poetry form, as “snapshots” of the forces that have shaped and destroyed Japan.
In an interview with Mia Tram, Associate Photo Editor at TIME, Miyatake talks about an influential piece of Waka poetry, stating:
The poetry of Kubota represents what I saw and felt when I took these images. When I photograph, a mystic feeling comes over me. I sometimes admire the mysterious legends that are a part of Japanese folklore that express a fear of nature. I believe Waka also intends to capture this sort of fear of the mystic beauty of nature. (via Lightbox)
Photographer Robert Landau captured stunning rock ‘n’ roll billboards in the late ’60s and ’70s. Primarily inspired by album art, the billboards were massive monuments that took on a life of their own. Reigning over the Sunset Strip, which was at the time the lifeblood of the music industry, the billboards became more than just advertisements. They were physical embodiments of a vibrant scene populated by colorful rock stars and tantalizing music idols.
In an interview with Collectors Weekly, Landau says, “There was a whole scene going on along the Strip, but it was really focused on rock ’n’ roll. The billboards captured all that energy, and also some of the excess of money and drugs.” The billboards themselves were anything but flat; at the time, they were hand painted using specific techniques to ensure they could be read from a distance.
Around the time billboards roamed the streets was also the height of some true album art artistry. “It was a joint process,” Landau says of the intersection of the two, “… in most cases, the musicians had already commissioned amazing artwork for their albums.” The tricky part was then translating the album art from a square sleeve to the more traditional rectangular frame of a billboard. The solution was to add an extra dimension to it, enabling figures and objects to burst out of the picture and become almost 3D in effect. Billboard artists got creative, lighting up 3D lampshades and creating silhouettes that seemed to loom like titans.
“It wasn’t about getting somebody to a cash register to buy something,” Landau says, commenting on the uniqueness of these everyday artworks. “It was about creating an image, and about a trust between the artist and the record companies.”
Even as people bemoan the death of the album, at least there are photos like Landau’s that remind us of a time when music was larger than life.
San Francisco-based photographer has a few different ongoing projects, but the one I like the best is the tentatively named “The Inhabited West.” The series consists of aerial photographs parts of the American landscape: “pursuing themes of mapping, vertigo, human impact on the land, geology, and various aspects of the sublime.” Some interesting points on how we’ve constructed our world around nature, and how the two interact.
Manifest Destiny! is a temporary rustic cabin occupying on of the last remaining unclaimed spaces in downtown San Francisco. Positioned above and between well established city buildings the tiny cabin can be seen affixed to the side of the Hotel des Arts, floating above the restaurant Le Central like an anomalous outgrowth of the contemporary streetscape.
Created by Jenny Chapman and Mark Reigelman, Manifest Destiny is a commentary/critique on the unwavering perseverance of San Francisco’s early settlers. During the mid 19th century, as the eastern United States became over-crowded and expensive, the West offered limitless possibilities for those willing and able to make the journey. The drive to seek new possibilities and establish a better life at any cost is the conceptual motivation for this project. See more photos of this piece and some installation shots after the jump.
The German graffiti crew have covered Palmitas, a Mexican city with swirls of rainbow colors in a giant mural, hoping to change some of the damaging behavior and negative attitudes there. The community-focused team took to the hillside village and splashed neon bright paint all over the sides of houses, garden walls, fences, window frames and roofs.
Covering more than 209 houses, the super sized mural is dramatic, eye catching and apparently achieving quite dramatic results within Palmitas. Together, the graffiti group (called Germen Crew) and the Mexican government hoped the mural would be a step toward rehabilitation of the Mexican town. Known for drug-related problems, the community is quietly changing it’s focus. The power of color is working.
The mural directly affects around 500 families and apparently is eliminating youth violence and street crimes. The power of the mural is not overlooked and goes to prove that the graffiti crew really does focus their artistic skill on the community. Seeming like such a simple project, the psychedelic rainbow mural has definitely changed the character of the town, and no doubt the characters of the inhabitants. Such a great example of artist organizations and government working together to benefit the locals. (Via Bored Panda)
A curious emptiness permeates the work of painter Chris Ballantyne. Pulling inspiration from the flat, graphic façades of industrial buildings and cookie-cutter suburban streets, Ballantyne merges elements of the banal with the absurd. Upon closer inspection, the vibrant, delicately rendered landscapes reveal strangeness that showcases the artist’s wry, observation-based humor. A giant cavern appears between bright, friendly row houses, surfers ride breakers down a peaceful mountain stream and a tiny footbridge spans a huge geological tear through a grassy plateau—shifting the viewer’s expectation of what “should” appear in the context of each frame.
His subdued, sophisticated color sense marries well with the stark, simplified structures Ballantyne creates. He intentionally omits visual information in the hopes that viewers will instead focus on the subtlety of each scene, their attention swallowed by the strange beauty of each place. The empty, isolated nature of the subject matter also quietly points to our own relationship to space, built structures and contemporary landscape.
Brighton-based artist Jake Wood-Evans‘ classical influences are readily apparent. A 21st-century Caravaggio? Who knows. But dude’s definitely on the right track. Celebrating his heroes while producing work that’s relevant to his period, Woods-Evans executes drips and fades in disaffected, casual gestures. Laurel wreaths and nuclear explosions are likely to meet in a single composition. If you’re near Brighton next month, check out his work at the Brighton Media Centre the 7th through the 16th. More images of the artist’s work after the jump.
Derek McDonald & Scott La Rock are keeping the art of the hand-painted sign alive at Made For Glory Sign Co.! I had the opportunity to watch these two in action last weekend at the Tiger Rose Tattoo & Music Festival where they demonstrated, in person, their steady hands and their unique art form. This duo hails from the California’s Bay Area but their work can be spotted around the world; from Barcelona, to Spain & even Japan