Normally you would be quite concerned if you could see the inside of any firework, explosive, or pyrotechnic device. But Seattle based photographer Andrew Waits has thrown caution to the wind and dissected different fireworks, creating a strikingly graphic series called Boom City. The result is something that is almost as beautiful as the fireworks are when ignited. The explosives turn out to be quite interesting indeed – columns of cardboard or mulched paper encased in colored tissue, or some delicate covering, and stuffed full of intriguing colored pigments. Resembling some sort of school science project, the fireworks look deceptively amateur, and certainly not something that can cause such serious accidents. Names like Flying Color Butterfly Rocket, Lightning Flash, Ground Bloom Flower, Moon Traveler’s Bottle Rocket, give the impression of fireworks being delightfully playful.
Waits quite often chooses subjects where he can study differences by comparing similarities. His past projects have included studies of people traveling in motor homes, living permanently on the road, and comparing the same site at both sunset and sunrise. Also having taken a series called Artifacts and Specimens, he seems to enjoy ordering and analyzing the things that surround us. Boom City is the perfect example of how Waits’ curiosity is piqued by examining the details of a particular subject.
See here for more of Waits’ beautiful aesthetic and interesting projects. And here is a video of drone footage seeing fireworks from yet another angle. (Via Boingboing)
In her ongoing series “The City,” photographer Lori Nix creates incredibly detailed scenes by hand in miniature, then photographs them. The result is an amazing collection forecasting scenes of danger and disaster. The pictures share some commonalities with Matthew Christopher’s “Abandoned America,” recently covered on b/d, but instead of finding places that have been left behind, Nix constructs them.
“In my newest body of work ‘The City’ I have imagined a city of our future, where something either natural or as the result of mankind, has emptied the city of it’s human inhabitants. Art museums, Broadway theaters, laundromats and bars no longer function. The walls are deteriorating, the ceilings are falling in, the structures barely stand, yet Mother Nature is slowly taking them over. These spaces are filled with flora, fauna and insects, reclaiming what was theirs before man’s encroachment. I am afraid of what the future holds if we do not change our ways regarding the climate, but at the same time I am fascinated by what a changing world can bring.”
The images are classically composed, with a balance of color and space. Even once the viewer is told that these are dioramas, it’s difficult to believe. The intricate details, realistic lighting, and cohesive scale make them absolutely lifelike.
“My scenes can be as small as 50×60 centimeters and as large as 182 centimeters in diameter. It takes approximately seven months to build and photograph a scene. I build it for one angle of view and never move my camera from that spot. I will change the lighting, the placement of the objects and re-shoot until I’m fully satisfied with the results.”
Nix’s apocalyptic visions are both familiar and fantastic. She presents a world on a tabletop that is beautiful and alarming.
The work of Australian sculptor Sam Jinks may haunt you for quite a while. Although they are made from silicon, resin, paint, fiberglass, calcium carbonate and human hair, his hyper-realistic figures look like real humans caught sleeping. It is hard to believe they can’t just wake up and walk away. Jinks recreates all details accurately and painstakingly, creating amazingly anatomically correct characters, each complete with a history embedded into their wrinkles and tattoos.
Captured in private moments, these beautifully serene characters seem to be contemplating their past. Instantly intimate, Jink’s work has a way of using these quiet characters to reflect our own sense of mortality back onto ourselves. From a grandmother holding a new born baby, to a man grieving over a lost relative, or an elderly woman displaying her youthful tattoos on her torso, all of these figures are somehow a reminder that our human bodies disintegrate and decay as wonderfully, beautifully and as easily as they strengthen and grow.
[His] sculptures [have] a powerful presence, which at times is confused with a man’s. This is unusual…. You’d never confuse a Bernini for a real human. You just accept that it’s an illustrious effigy and not a real person. But, as with the realist sculptures of Ron Mueck, the proximity to human textures is uncanny. The slightly puffy belly, the hardness of the ribs, the lankness of the unsupported legs: it’s almost too lifelike. (Source)
Jink’s work fits into a theory of “Uncanny Valley” (an idea relating to robotics, computer animations and body modification) where an inanimate object is uncannily similar to a human, but isn’t actually one. This effect supposedly creates feeling of repulsion and disgust, which could well happen with these sculptures as well. They are unsettling, yes but definitely objects of curiosity.
For Japanese designer Yuri Suzuki, dyslexia prevented him reading music in the traditional sense. But that didn’t stop him playing it. Instead, he adopted a playful approach and created an installation that invites viewers to produce their own music using color markers. Visitors draw along the curvy lines on the floor, and then the robots translate their marks into one-of-a-kind sound pieces.
The robots are called Color Chasers, and they associate each color that they find on their path with a sound. This small, unique orchestra features five different machines that each have their own sound and shape. The Basscar has a Dubstep-like sound, the Glitchcar reproduces computer-like sounds, and the Melodycar, Arpeggiocar, and the Drumcar to add rhythm.
This imaginative work was recently selected by the New York MoMA for their collection. (Via Spoon and Tamago)
Based in the Netherlands, artist Stefan Bleekrode creates astonishingly intricate drawings and paintings of landscapes, architecture, and urban environments. For his Cityscapes series, the artist has rendered unbelievably detailed drawings depicting metropolises both existing and imagined.
Using ink, Bleekrode composes dense and realistic images of buildings, streets, lights, and bridges. With stark tonal contrasts, precise perspective, and a stunning amount of detail, the scenes portrayed in each drawing look almost photographic, as if each one were taken from a bird’s-eye view.
While some of his pieces are set in very distinctive and familiar locations, like London Bridge& the Shard or Broadway and 5th, most possess ambiguous—albeit conceivable—titles, such as Italian City, City in Holland, or City at the Foot of the Mountains. This is because Bleekrode works entirely from memory, describing his completed works “as snapshots of things I’ve seen when traveling or just going through my everyday routine, small bits of beauty in familiar settings.”
Whether representing actual settings or conveying scenes rooted purely in fantasy, the cities depicted in Bleckrode’s elaborate drawings are surprisingly realistic and undeniably impressive.
If you want to say something, say it on a cake. People have come out via frosting, and now graphic designer Sarah Brockett created the Bold Bakery project as a way to impart some sassy sayings onto sweet treats. Curse words abound, they are on full display on cakes, cookies, and in the filling of a pie. The juxtaposition between the beautifully-crafted baked goods and their harsh sentiments make this series amusing. It might make you hungry, too. Brockett explains the thinking behind her bakery:
Though it’s branding may make it appear cute and friendly, the Bold Bakery is not where you want to purchase Grandma’s birthday cake from. It is, however, the perfect place to have a pie created for your cheating husband, or your bratty pre-teen daughter. This establishment simply oozes with sarcasm and sass. Don’t have anyone on your “shit list”? That’s okay. Plenty of our customers partake in “cake wars”, where they gift their friends with raunchy baked goods for no reason at all. Sometimes a little crude humor and chocolate cake is all you need to get by in life. (Via iGNANT)
Sometimes it seems that the more successful one is as a professional artist, the more important personal projects become. Such is the case for photographer Zhang Jingna who has partnered with video concept artist Tobias Kwan and several guest artists for the project “Motherland Chronicles.” A weekly project, the series of 52 images has recently been completed.
“It’s an exploration of sort. An attempt at putting together elements and themes I’ve loved since I was a child. It has a bit of a don’t-want-to-forget-my-childhood-dreams sort of thing going on; since I’ve been working for almost 7 years now, I don’t want to lose track of who I am, but it’s easy to as you grow and do too much commercial stuff, you know? So it goes back a lot more to my creative roots, more illustrative and painterly, like artworks that inspired me to create. Loosely linked together with hints of dark fantasy.” (Source)
The themes for the series developed organically. As the weeks progressed, the fantasy element became pronounced, colored with Jingna’s affinity for manga, Japanese rock, and fashion. The artists’ whose work she was inspired by includes Antoon van Welie, Suemi Jun, George Frederic Watts, and Yoshitaka Amano, and their illustrative influence can be seen in the work, particularly in the even light. Each image takes between 5–7 hours and a team of 5–6 people to complete. In her fascinating blog she writes about the process of beginning a personal project, using “Motherland Chronicles” as an example, and gives excellent, step-by-step instructions on what to consider and which pitfalls to avoid.
“Pictures always start from a single point; it could be an item, a piece of jewellery or even just a vague idea for a concept. Say I want to do a shoot with firs, I’ll ask myself questions such as: what kind of environment am I creating? What types of fire can I make? How does my character interact with it? What type of character does that? At the same time I do research on art, costumes, culture and sometimes also myths and legends.” (Source)
Jingna and Kwan hope to have a book for “Motherland Chronicles” completed and ready for sale in early 2015. (Via Juxtapoz)
Lisbon based graffiti artist Odeith has a very specific talent – one he has refined since picking up his first spray can in the mid 1980s. He has a unique way of using only paint on flat walls to create amazing eye-popping 3D effects that seem to float in between surfaces, or jump out from corners. He earned his chops in the 90′s mostly bombing on train tracks and street walls, until he started noticing large scale murals around the place, and wanted to follow suit – to paint something with a message. Slowly his murals began growing more ambitious in size, and more detailed.
Early on, [Odeith] showed a special interest in perspective and shading, in an obscure style, which he later called “sombre 3D”, where the compositions, landscapes or portraits, messages or homages, stood out for their realism and technique. (Source)
After deciding to shut his tattoo parlor in 2008, he dedicated all of his time to graffiti art and eventually gained international recognition, in particular for his optical illusions and anamorphic graffiti. But that’s not to say Odeith is a one trick pony, or only limited to spraying his name with different effects. He also paints large homages and portraits of musicians, actors, politicians, as well as film scenes, commercial billboards, banners for football clubs and murals for Portuguese city halls. He has created artwork for London Shell, Kingsmill, the Coca-Cola Company, Estradas de Portugal, and Samsung.
Odeith talks about his success and having to have confidence in ideas that seem unsuccessful at first:
If [you] want to put your name on top, you need to work, no matter what people say, you need to believe [in] yourself. After years thinking [about] what I could do different[ly] I start[ed] with that crazy anamorphic idea, and it worked well. (Source)