Photographer Ben Hopper‘s “Transfiguration” project transforms his subjects into living sculptures. Each photo is charged with kinetic energy, only heightened by the bold streaks of body paint and splatters of white powder.
“Like a mask, the layers of body paint and powder disguise the identity and release something animalistic from within,” Hopper says. “It also creates a sculptor / painting looking figure, more abstract and less human.”
For his subjects, he chose to work with dancers and circus artists whose athleticism and grace enabled them to contort themselves into the surreal shapes needed. Some of the photographs look like cubist paintings because of the contrast between black, white, and human flesh along with the seemingly impossible angles and feats of flexibility performed by the subjects. The body paint looks almost like strokes of charcoal, creating depth while also the illusion of two-dimensionality.
DI$COUNT UNIVER$E is a Melbourne-based brand that combines art and eccentricity in the creation of a highly successful (and undeniably unique) fashion line. Enter their webpage and you cross the threshold from dull reality into a psychedelic circus full of fashionable madcaps donned in acid-bright garb. DI$COUNT founders, Nadia Napreychikov and Cami James, describe their aim at the crossroads of art and fashion:
“[DI$COUNT is] a culmination of ideas, imagery, the dialogue between us and the world, the desire for transformation and evolution; it’s about personality, spontaneity, humor and irony, cliché and imitation. It’s our art!” (Source)
“Culmination” and “spontaneity” are indeed the perfect words to describe DI$COUNT’s designs. The fabric is bestrewn with sequins, glitter, and studding, and the graphics include sparkling and bleeding eyeballs, open mouths, and disembodied, groping hands. Radiating with humor and seemingly random absurdity, the hyperbolic strangeness of these styles pokes fun at the highly conventional and artistically-vacant designs that dominate the popular fashion industry.
Both graduates of RMIT University, Napreychikov and James began the company “with little business experience, no capital and no intention of taking out a loan” (Source). Their solution? To turn to the internet and foster a cult following using platforms such as Instagram, Tumblr, and their blog. This way, they were able to connect with other people who view fashion as a potential form of alternative art and social satire. Visit their website and Facebook page and follow them as they explore the capacities of art, creativity, and social wit to explode the limitations of the fashion industry. FELLT also features an interesting interview with Napreychikov and James about their brand.
Credits: Photography from the Penthouse Mouse Midmouse Runway (March 2012) by Meagan Harding.
Graham Caldwell sculpts intricate organic-like structures from hand blown glass. His artworks mirror natural life forms on a molecular level. He pulls, twists, stretches and blows 2,000 degree glass into all sorts of shapes, arranging them into globular, spiky, prismatic, concave, convex, and densely myopic configurations. Caldwell uses the hard shiny metallic properties of glass in contrast to the forms he is recreating. He references nature – flowers, leaves, tropical fronds, water drops, fly’s eyes and eyebrows, but chooses to present them in a man-made, futuristic, fractured, cubist fashion.
Using mirrors, metals, steel and epoxy he likes us to reflect on the way we see the world around us. His interest lies in the act of perceiving, the function of eyes, the purpose of lenses, and how sight works.
Much of my work focuses on glass as a conduit or modulating agent for light and its parallel in the functionality of the human eye: using a lens to flip an image of the world, upside down and backwards, into the brain where it is reassembled, through illusion and forensics. (Source)
Caldwell is the ultimate advocate for art as science. His process is all about trying to recreate an organic process through a completely manufactured one. He enjoys the tactility of glass and the bizarre shapes they can inhabit.
Imagine the shape that balloons take on when they’re half filled with water; now imagine them flash-frozen and sticking sideways into space. Glass, says Caldwell, “is a slowed-down, meaty version of water.” (Source) (Via Hi Fructose)
From the sounds of it, Skellie is your average girl. She loves Starbucks, takes full advantage of open bars, and goes on shopping sprees. Skellie chronicles her life on an Instagram account, where she’s known as @omgliterallydead. The caveat, though, is that Skellie is a skeleton – a fake one that you’d normally see around Halloween.
This project started as an inside joke between co-workers, and Dana Herlihey, a social media manager, is the brainchild behind Skellie and her antics. “In early October, a pose-able, plastic skeleton arrived at our office,” she told Buzzfeed. “My coworkers took to it; someone taped a Starbucks cup to the skeleton’s hand and I took a photo for my personal Instagram. (This was at the height of the Pumpkin Spice Latte craze.)”
Herlihey thought that it’d be funny for the skeleton to have its own Instagram account, and she realized the potential for contemporary satire. Skellie plays the part of a “basic” person who gets super excited over the most average things – Fridays, sushi, and snow are just a few. Each photo adds another definition of the term.
Herlihey has a lot of dedication to Skellie. When you see the skeleton at the coffee shop, at the dentist office, and at a bar, that means that Herlihey took her with her. “Some people love it, laugh, ask to take a photo, or make a witty pun as they pass by,” she explains to Buzzfeed.. “Others will pretend there is no skeleton sitting beside me or give me frequent disapproving side glances.” (Via Bored Panda and Buzzfeed)
Through elegantly beautiful works, Vandana Jain uses corporate logos and symbols, to study the effects of institutionalized repression. Her metaphor, an illusory philanthropy implies how corporations subliminally demoralize and enslave cultures. Her depiction manifests most commonly in an architectural setting, and through icons of religious nature including mandalas and totems. These logos are beautifully manipulated by Jain into mesmerizing works, that distract from the symbol’s intended purpose. Mostly working in installation, Jain engages all media in this format including drawing, sewing, painting and video. Her most recent project, “Dazzle” is the result of her residency at Brooklyn’s Smack Mellon. For the project, Jain created a series of murals, inspired by naval camouflage used during world war l. Before sonar, brightly colored lines were painted on warships in various patterns. These were used to confuse the enemy of a ship’s size, speed and direction. Jain applied the same technique to the huge interior walls of Smack Mellon. In colored artist’s tape, her familiar corporate logos are masked behind camouflage, which continues her conversation with the corrupt and exploitive nature of corporate brands. Her training as a textile designer comes through in the pattern making ability needed to make the walls come alive. The dazzling lines recall circus tents and opt art made in the 60′s and 70′s.
Spanish artist Guillermo Mora creates oozing folds of vibrant color from little more than piles of acrylic paint. An accomplished artist whose work was recently featured at this past Art Basel in Miami, this innovate sculptor creates incredible installations made from just two simple materials. Rubber bands and leather belts are the only things holding together his shiny clumps of paint. Mora’s process is almost surreal, as he dumps buckets of acrylic magentas and baby blues onto the floor to begin. After the paint dries, he simply lifts the now hardened paint, and proceeds to fold and wrap his glossy, pastel creations. To add further to Mora’s highly textural and tangible installations, many of the artist’s sculptures have a crackled, rough grain to the paint.
Many of Mora’s installations are unique, as his work often morphs and transforms to the space that it inhabits. Mora’s choice of medium allows him to manipulate it to fit in the space as he sees fit, such as hanging from the ceiling, running down a wall, or folded into a corner. This allows the artwork to demonstrate a strong focus on color and form. Mora’s use of seemingly traditional materials continues to mystify us as he changes the way viewers think about acrylic paint and what it is capable of.
Maxime Ballesteros is Berlin-based photographer who captures the strange, incidental, and oft-intense encounters that punctuate our late-night sojourns into debauchery, pleasure, and excess. The openness and playfulness of his subjects (many of whom are his friends) denotes a party that has reached a fevered, dissociative pitch. Not unlike the fragmentary memories flickering through the brain after a night of indulgence, his photos always suggest there is a much greater narrative going on: from cars abandoned along a dark roadside, to entangled legs, to people kissing and groping in the company of others, we are privy to only one piece from such nighttime revelry, making us curious voyeurs into a fleeting moment from a stranger’s erotic and/or emotional life.
Something happens to us human creatures after nightfall – our energy changes, an “edge” develops that wasn’t there while the sun was still shining. We become desiring, sensate, and slightly odd night-dwellers. Given the recurring images of heels and garter belts and glimpses into the world of BDSM, it is not surprising that Ballesteros’ repertoire is commonly identified as “provocative” and “sexual.” However, it is important not to reduce his photography to such; Ballesteros expresses that his “work is [only] as provocative and sexual as the world is,” and that we interpret sex in everything because — of course — it’s what “driv[es] us most” (Source). What he also explores is the humor, beauty, pain, and gracelessness that motivate and underwrite these late-night experiences.
The way Ballesteros manages to capture the honesty and frankness of these experiences lies in his photographic techniques. His core tactic, in his own words? To “get lost” (Source), to become invisible in his surroundings while remaining receptive to the energy of the people around him, so that he can decipher people’s facades and understand the true dynamics of an encounter. With his camera, he tries to get in close; he avoids re-cropping so that the image is a true representation of that moment; and he uses a high flash, centering the object or body of interest. The result is raw, stark images that confront you with their candor and intensity. And even when his work dips into the surreal — the latex-clad woman screaming while being pushed down a hallway in a wheelchair, for example — the photos still bear a realist, honest aesthetic, as if they truly could be moments from a strange, semi-lucid night.
Following Ballesteros’ wisdom, I encourage all readers to “get lost” in his website, where he has organized his collections under such intriguing titles as “entre chien et loup” and “love me – i’m trying.” You can read an interview with Sang Blue here. The Corner Berlin also features a fascinating video of Ballesteros comparing the nightlife in Paris to that in Berlin. More of Ballesteros’ work after the jump.
Anne Simone combines her knowledge of computer programming with a love of music. Bittersweet is her new lp which features a twist. The lyrics of lead track “Digitize Me” make up a running computer program and the words you hear are directly taken from written code. The idea came to Simone when she thought about a computer reading language. In that environment, a simple machine responds to basic commands of yes/no, true/false and 1s and 0s.
The artist compared it to human nature and concluded that life would be so much simpler, if we just followed these Zen-like rules. If we did, there would be less complication and miscommunication in our lives. Getting a further glimpse of what actually occurs when two different disciplines collide, it can be witnessed on the actual computer printout of “Digitize me”. Nothing too complicated or elaborate in the aesthetic sense, it reveals just a simple drawing. The real innovation is in concept and design. A place marker for today’s interdisciplinary melding of styles and tastes. Originally from Vancouver, Canada, Simone currently resides in Seattle, Washington, where she works as a software designer. Her passion has led to a double life that now overlaps and is reflected in well written, emotionally charged songs. These are further enhanced by an equally lovely voice, reminiscent of Imogen Heap or Tegan and Sara. Besides uplifting music, other novel bits on her new record take cues from classic synthsters Kraftwerk. The German outfit had a single called “Pocket Calculator” where the sound of fingers pressing a keypad accounted for the actual beat. Another, “Computer Love” taken from the same album, falls in line with Simone’s dreamier tracks. For the technically minded or just curious, the code/lyrics to “Digitize Me” is available on GitHub (https://github.com/kineticsongs/digitizeMe).