Boston based pilot and photographer Alex S. MacLean captures aerial images of playgrounds, parks, and other American leisure spots. The simple shots expose an interesting variety of colorful compositions that gather an almost abstract and often painterly representation of modern urban planning. His compositions are often unintentionally metaphorical and insightful, as their lively presence unofficially represent the types of things that these landscapes stand for: beautiful, fun, and often pleasurable places to be in and to look at.
“It really is about combining art and information. Some of it is sort of subliminal – you can’t quite put your finger on it but it sort of draws you in and engages you.”
In December, New Zealand’s Antarctic Heritage Trust released their discovery and restoration of photographic cellulose nitrate negatives that were clumped together in a box and found in expedition photographer Herbert Ponting’s darkroom in Captain Scott’s last expedition at Cape Evans. As part of the Ross Sea Heritage Restoration Project, the trust recovered 22 images from Ernest Shackleton’s 1914-1917 Ross Sea Party, including a striking image of Alexander Stevens, Shackleton’s Chief Scientist, standing aboard the Aurora, the expedition’s ship. Though many of the photographs are damaged and the identity of the photographer is unknown, landmarks around McMurdo Sound were recognizable to the Antarctic Heritage Trust.
So far, more than 10,000 objects have been conserved at Captain Scott’s Cape Evans hut. Four years ago, the same conservation group discovered 3 crates of whiskey and 2 crates of brandy under Shackleton’s 1908 base. (via npr)
If you are a collector of random things or have an impressive junk drawer, then you will probably appreciate the work of artists Edwige Massart and Xavier Wynn. The duo, who are also married, have taken a random assortments of trinkets and chachkis and assembled them into cross-section sculptures of the human head. Their surreal series is aptly titled Heads, which appear to look like medical diagrams.
In Massart and Wynn’s portraits, we see stones, seashells, door handles, yarn, and even pieces of wood that make up the contents of the skull. There doesn’t seem to be any sort of thematic tie to any of the objects, but that doesn’t detract from how fun and interesting these works are. This series could tell us more about the artists themselves rather than tying a story to the heads. We’re able to see all of the things they’ve collected and all of the memories made by virtue of owning these possessions. (Via Colossal)
For “Phonies,” the UK photographer Dan Rubin turns celebrity selfies into works of fine art. In his unusual street photographs, the smartphone itself stands in for the face of passersby, projecting the grins of social media-savvy stars like Kim Kardashian, James Franco, and Harry Styles. Rubin’s series is equal parts playful and scathing, capturing the narcissism of celebrity in the 21st century in such a way that highlights the anonymity of the digital age.
Within the medium of street photography, normally characterized by raw and gritty from-the-hip shots, Rubin replaces candid captures with shiny screens projecting perfectly made-up celebrity faces. In these clever doubles, these photographs of photographs, notions of identity are complicated. Our faces, especially in photographs, have the power to betray our innermost selves and to define our perceptions of that self; here, the subject’s visage is shown only to be a reflection of the media we consume. As we are continuously bombarded with social media, how do we shape our egos in relation to the rich and famous?
From images, we derive meaning. Flawlessly inserting the HTC One mini 2 phone into his compositions, the artist creates a hybrid human that is simultaneously a celebrity and just another face in the crowd. As we become more vain and the innocent selfie borders on arrogant self-indulgence, do we stifle our individuality? Here, the realm of social media is ambiguously seen, a powerful force that is both fun and disconcerting. Take a look.
“Your childhoods belong to me now,” says the concept artist Dan LuVisi of his terrifying portraits of beloved cartoon characters turned grotesque and murderous. LuVisi’s chilling series, titled Popped Culture, holds a scathing mirror to Hollywood ethics, to the exploitation that goes on behind the scenes of even the most innocent movie productions. Accompanying each of his images on his blog, the artist, who has a background in comic books and has illustrated for DC’s Batman and Superman, includes short stories outlining Tigger and Goofy’s tragic path to corruption.
LuVisi’s spare text reads quite like a noir mystery novel, filled with darkened, moody diners and mugs of bitter coffee. The characters that we associate with our own youths age, hardened by years out of the limelight. The residents of Sesame Street are seemingly evicted, cast out into a generic urban cityscape simply called “THE STREET.” Seduced by industry executives, Kermit takes a role in a brutal adult film. Those who refuse to compromise themselves for the sake of the industry are defeated, as is the case with poor, piteous Gonzo.
The Disney cartoons fare worst of all, transformed from lovable animals into nightmarish ghouls. Mickey Mouse’s gaunt body grows saggy with age, his small, round ears torn and his slimy tongue dripping hungry drool. Donald Duck’s beak opens to reveal rows of teeth, emerging like claws and cruelly lining a mass of tissue; a tiny drop of blood stains his collar. In these disturbing images, we find both humor and pain, forced to reconcile our nostalgic hopes with the realities of Hollywood corruption. (via Demilked, Huff Post, and Elite Daily)
In the wake of a horrific incident in which Sasha Fleischman, an 18 year old “agender” youth, was set on fire after falling asleep on a bus in the Bay Area, San Francisco Magazine commissioned photographer Chloe Aftel to capture a series of portraits of young people (including Fleischman) who defy the male/female gender binary.
Aftel’s “Agender” series seeks to raise awareness of an overlooked and misunderstood community of gender fluid people who face oppression and harassment simply for not conforming. Preferring terms like “genderqueer” and “nonbinary” and the pronoun “they” over “he” or “she”, this growing community includes people who identify across the gender identity spectrum, from agender (neither male nor female) to bi-gender (both male and female) to gender-fluid (shifting from male to female).
“They have a real strength of character and complete clarity about who they are,” Aftel told Vocativ. “I found it fascinating that there is this whole group of people galvanizing the debate about what gender is, and to a certain extent, what love is and what self-expression is. It’s about what works for you.” (via feature shoot and policymic)
In her visceral, raw still lifes, the 21-year-old photographer Madison Carroll captures the grotesque remains of meaningful moments gone by. Used condoms, pregnancy tests, and blood stains grace her compositions, punctuating a narrative that skips dizzyingly from girlhood to womanhood, from innocence to experience. As if plucked from last night’s waste basket, these soiled items emerge; in the context of Carroll’s clean, immaculate technique, they become all the more haunting.
As if part of some unusual crime scene, waste products are left out, forensically archived by Carroll’s lens. Here, rotting fruit and old bandaids mark not a murder but the more gradual, subtle trauma of growing up, of being woman. Like a pool of blood, tea spills from a delicate, shattered china cup; a lemon, once fresh and aromatic, rots. An egg cracks, the yoke spilling out into a satin pair of Victoria’s Secret underwear like a giant, monstrous ovum released during menstruation.
In Carroll’s disturbing yet thrilling realm, the dangers and joys of femaleness collide in a moment of brutal self-reflection. Death and fertility become indistinguishable. In a frilly, feminine doily, a cockroach lies dead, rotting beside a snuffed-out cigarette. A Clear Blue pregnancy test sits on an old rust-stained rag, the urine and tissue in the toilet simply a blurred afterthought.
Like a hoarder of significant items, Carroll’s lens seeks out that which might be thrown away, forgotten by time. A male lover, sprawled on the bed, is captured asleep, in a state of heightened vulnerability, his pale nakedness pressing against the border of the frame. At the artist’s feet, a condom evidences the intimacy that occurred minutes or hours before. (via Feature Shoot and iGNANT)
If you read about “The Great Wall of Vagina,” you know that walls made of modeled human genitals are nothing new, but student artist Peiqi Su’s 3D printed “Penis Wall” raises the bar. This interactive installation is composed of 81 interactive phalluses, which go erect and flaccid according to the viewer’s presence and gestures, each of which is registered with ultrasonic sensors. These little guys can be linked to stock market and translate data visually, or they can be programmed to play along with “Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy” from Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker.
Inspired by the widespread notion that “everyone on Wall Street is a dick,” Su satirizes the male sexual organ. But she also treats it with the utmost reverence, referring to it as “one of the oldest and probably the most attractive thing that humans can interact with.” The wall is a very literal manifestation of male desire; the viewer is in total command of the erections, which rise like small columns of vertebrae, giving new meaning to the term “boner.” (via Animal New York, Lost at E Minor, and Huffington Post)
Dancing along to Tchaikovsky’s recognizable composition, the phalluses look delicate and agile as a prima ballerina; instead of the deliberate, immaculate movements of the female form, we see a surprising representation of male sexual impulse. These penises seem not like organs governed by erotic urges but rather like whole creatures with minds of their own, capable of executing the most complex choreography. Like ocean tides, their careful movements speak to a strange and unexpected unity and harmony between the self and the community. Here, the genitals aren’t base and vulgar but intelligent and thoughtful. What do you think?