Photographer and pop surrealist Dina Goldstein’s large-scale project titled Gods of Suburbia features a collection of deities and religious figures set within the context of modernity. Buddha, Mohammed, Satan, and others exist alongside technology, science, and secularism as it relates to living in the (anywhere) suburbs. Goldstein explains:
The series plays with narrative and religious iconography in order to communicate how organized belief has become twisted within a global framework driven by consumerism and greed. The project challenges the viewer — religious or secular — to embark on a journey of self-reflection as they contemplate the relevance of dogma in modernity.
Goldstein’s moody images highlight some less-than-stellar facets of our modern culture. Lack of compassion, unwillingness to learn/accept other beliefs, and bullying are just some of the themes that the photographer touches on. The series, while strange, is poignant and relatable as we read more and more bad news everyday.
Each photo in Gods of Suburbia features thoughtful and interesting explanations of how every figure relates to contemporary society. Read it on Goldstein’s website.
While the professional portfolio of photographer Claudia Gonzalez is comprised of portraiture spanning classic high-fashion shots and intimate boudoir photos, her personal work presents a much more touching focus. In her series, Reassign, Gonzalez teamed up with CENESEX, Cuba’s National Center for Sex Education, to offer a glimpse into the country’s transgender community through before-and-after portraits of individuals undergoing gender reassignment surgery.
Comprised of two photos—one depicting the individual as they appear pre-procedure, and the other presenting the “after”—each piece in Reassign speaks to the complexities and astonishing results of this life-changing resolution. Since the differences between the photos that comprise the pairs are remarkable, it may surprise you that each was taken on the same day; most of the before-and-after sets are merely representative of these individuals’ journeys, and do not document the literal, typically years-long process.
Clearly, the changes in clothing, addition of make up, and styling of hair indicate an obvious change in gender identity. However, it is the individuals’ expressions—often somber and aloof in the “before” shots and self-assured and radiant in those that follow—that truly demonstrate an undeniable shift in confidence, elevated happiness, and, poignantly, an uplifted sense of self. (Via Feature Shoot)
Since 2011, Raptor Blood (Blackie Burns) has been following a group of urban explorers (going by the name of Cave Clan) around the tunnel and cave networks underneath Sydney in Australia and photographing what they see, where they dwell and how they live. Connecting with the group through their shared interest in urban decay and abandoned architecture, Burns is able to access areas that are usually closed off to outsiders. He says of his first encounters with some members of the group:
The two dudes I met with seemed pretty cool and were informative about the group and had a strong appreciation for the architecture of the tunnels we visited. Although, our expedition was a little worrying when I was walking between the two going down a drain that was barely my shoulders width. We were walking for about 10 minutes, [and] as the tunnel got deeper, hotter and more humid, our conversation started to get a little strange. The guy walking behind me started to talk about masturbation and how he liked to watch himself through a mirror… I asked to leave and luckily enough nothing too strange ended up happening.
Cave Clan thoroughly live their passion of exploring underutilized and forgotten spaces. They turn the most understated corners into homes, personalized with objects of meaning and importance. Burns talks about his surprise of how comfortable some of the dwellings he visited were:
The first, which is located under a huge castle looking sandstone bridge was equipped with electricity, bbq and bar. The area was dusty though, to the point where anybody would feel sick from being in there too long. The second was in a connecting chamber in a network of tunnels running underneath one of Sydney’s secondary CBDs. The drains were surprisingly dry with no bugs. Any Storm water was directed from the living areas and during summer it was surprisingly cold down there, really not a bad place to live!
See more footage of his explorations here on his tumblr and here on instagram.
Stephen Orlando uses LED light to track all sorts of movements from recording kayaking, canoeing, whitewater kayaking, swimming, and other sports. The images of paddle sports are stunning, like light skipping across water as a stone does. It’s fascinating how regular the strokes can be, but the most interesting are when they’re over uneven waters and the kayaker had to compensate. The pink, purple, and blue traces that are particularly nice because you can sense the slow stroke of the canoe paddle. The reflections of the light in the water are quite surprising as well.
Orlando explains his interest in recording these motions in light:
“I’m fascinated with capturing motion through time and space into a single photograph. Using LED lights with custom color patterns and long exposure photography, I’m able to tell the story of movement. This technique reveals beautiful light trails created by paths of familiar objects. These light trails have not been artificially created with Photoshop and represent the actual paths of the objects.
My photos focus on motions in nature and in urban landscapes, as well as human movement. I am inspired by the works of Étienne-Jules Marey, Anton Giulio Bragaglia, Gjon Mili, and Frank Gilbreth and their pioneering techniques.” (Via Colossal)
Dually based in both Los Angeles and New York, photographer Dan Eckstein is no stranger to the inescapable traffic of a bustling metropolis. While travelling across Rajasthan’s highways and byways during a trip in 2011, however, he noticed a striking addition to the thoroughfare: highly adorned, technicolor trucks. Inspired by these shimmering “goods carriers,” Eckstein opted to create his series and book, Horn Please: The Decorated Trucks of India.
In addition to vivid paint and ornately-inscribed text—including the phrase “Horn Please,” found ubiquitously on India’s trucks and designated “the mantra of the Indian highway” by Eckstein—the trucks’ exteriors are encrusted with gleaming lights, images of deities, intricate patterns, and even portraits of pop culture staples. While the trucks boast impressive façades, their interiors are just as embellished; given the exhaustive hours and long journeys innate to this line of work, the drivers seek to be comfortable and, thus, decorate their cabins according to their unique tastes.
While highly individual, the trucks also speak to a specific culture and its highly distinctive aesthetic:
What Eckstein produced is a singular portrait of the subcontinent–distinctly Indian, and a vividly colored reflection of this country in flux between tradition and modernity. Horn Please serves as a psychedelic guide to design in India, from the hand-painted lettering covering the trucks, to the mindboggling use of color, to the specifically Indian patterns and motifs, and a showcase of the visual vernacular of the subcontinent.
Beautiful and jubilant, the decorated trucks of India are truly a feast for the eyes. (Via Slate)
Be sure to pick up your own colorful copy of Horn Please from Powerhouse or Amazon!
Designer Matt Shlian, self described as a “paper engineer,” utilizes geometry, origami, and design to formulate and build beautiful 3D paper sculptures. His work combines a love for science and design to open a whole new realm of creating. Working with the US National Science Foundation, Shlian is researching how Japanese origami shapes can be used to benefit nanotechnology. In the past he has worked with clients such as Apple, Levi’s, and Facebook. Finding the harmony within these facets has produced a body of work that is breathtaking and enigmatic.
Shlian describes the process of working with the sciences and the steps they take,
“My team and I work closely together and although we donâ€™t always speak the same language, our work – the transformation of two-dimensional materials into three-dimensional forms – unites us.Â It is typically the case that we are not entirely certain about what it is we are looking for at the outset. On a recent occasion, one of the scientists told me that when we first met it was as though I had this big box of solutions and it was their job to figure out which questions were best solved with my work [three-dimensional origami]. I thought this was both an amiable compliment and a good way to describe the process.”
In many respects, the scientific community explores their mediums with a similar interest and intensity as artists explore theirs. As Shlian says,
“Real scientists are like real artists. They are always asking questions, always curious and always indiscriminate when seeking both solutions and good questions.” (Excerpt from Source)
If you weren’t already convinced that Tilda Swinton is a dream-walking faerie queen, then Tim Walker‘s photography will certainly dispel all doubt. Whether she’s mingling with surreal objets in the home of Dominique and John de Menil (a series aptly named “The Surreal World“) or resurrecting lush jungle dreams (“Las Pozas“), Swinton punctuates each scene with a piercing gaze and an incandescent question mark.
Walker plays up Swinton’s otherworldliness with a deft hand and eye for stark contrast and color. In one photograph, it’s Swinton versus Swinton against a backdrop of surrealist paintings. In another, staring out from beneath a veil of gauze, Swinton poses like a bust in virginal white.
The description of Walker’s work from his biography — “extravagant staging and romantic motifs” — is certainly apt. From one stage to the next, Walker coaxes out a variety of subtle expressions from his subject: severe, pensive, and — just a hint — inviting. His photographs are transportive, giving viewers a brief glimpse of what it’s like to be an oneironaut circling the psychic deep. (via Dark Silence in Suburbia)
Photographer Juuke Schoorl‘s collection is called “Rek,” which means “stretch” in Dutch. It’s a fitting name for both the act observed as well as that demanded of viewers as they are asked to consider all manner of textures both natural and unnatural. In her artist’s statement, Schoorl says that she “[explores] aesthetic possibilities of the human skin through a mixture of image capturing techniques.”
Using nylon fishing rope and cello tape, she creates temporary perforations and artificial patterns on what she calls “this curious stretchable material.” Some of her experiments look natural, almost like scarification. Others approach alien, such as one that tugs the side of a woman’s neck into what look similar to gills or another kind of grittier protrusion.
Interestingly, Schoorl’s subjects all look composed, serene even as viewers might flinch back on instinct. Perhaps that is the point; Schoorl invites viewers to be curious, to wonder at these new patterns and human landscapes. She wants us to consider our “biological upholstery that aside from it’s [sic] protective capabilities could also serve as a medium for aesthetic expression.” (via Juxtapoz)