David Welch’s photographs document sculptural assemblages that form pseudo monuments, or totems of consumer goods and debris. The totems speak of accumulation and materiality and encourage debate about consumption, media, class, gender and the ways in which we feel compelled to consume.
Step into the world of photographer Phebe Schmidt, where everything is carefully constructed into a sickening sweet perfection. Her candy-colored world is filled with Barbie-like subjects, some even encased in plastic. Each hyperreal photograph seems almost too good to be true, like we have stepped inside a house of a Stepford wife. This draws the viewer in closer as we inspect the dark undertones of each photo that are surrounded by cheery colors. The objects in Schmidt’s photography, including her figures who look more like inanimate objects than people, are flawless and glossy, making everything seem like an advertisement. This viewpoint and concept is no doubt a comment on commodities and how contemporary culture is overcome with it. It has been said that “plasticity” is a term that defines Schmidt’s style.
Her work has a stylized plasticity and bright surface that acts as a mask that plays with ideas of self, theatrical role-playing, and what lies beneath. Plasticity is a key term Schmidt uses to describe her work and marks a contemporary obsession with homogenized, generic beauty ideals that conform to gender, social, and cultural norms.
It is true that generic beauty ideas are very apparent in Schmidt’s body of work. Each person shown in her photography seems nameless and ambiguous due to his or her impossible perfection. The figures do not look toward the camera, but out into space with a numbingly blank stare. This absence of humanity creates a futuristic atmosphere where commodity and beauty have altered our state of being. Schmidt’s seductive and incredibly intriguing photography evokes both a sci-fi future, and a mod, mid-century feel. Each photograph filled with sweetly colored backgrounds and flawless subjects keeps us curious in what lies beneath the generic beauty.
Sandy Kim’s images feel like an ode to twenty-somethings; nearly breathless, as they walk that tightrope between self-discovery and madness. Looking at her images gives me that same excitement for the wildness of possibility that you feel when you’re young and hitting the road with a new pair of sunglasses and a cooler full of Hot Pockets and Miller Light. Anything can happen.
Scott Jarvie is an artist and designer whose works are unique in material and in concept. Jarvie runs a multi-disciplinary design consultancy, and most of the projects presented on his website involve furniture design with special attention paid to materials. The piece above, entitled ‘Clutch’, is a chair made from 10,000 drinking straws, a research piece commenting on our disposable culture. Jarvie’s work is fantastic, make sure you check him out.
Who knew skull chairs were a thing? Here is a small collection of our favorite chairs that resemble the most iconic part of the human anatomy. Pictured above is the Skull Chair from the Vanitas collection by Vladi Rapaport.
In his project Original/Ideal, British photographer Scott Chasserot tries to answer the question “What would we change about ourselves if no one were looking?” Using photography, image manipulation software, and an Emotiv EEG brain scanner, Chasserot’s project attempts to discover each individual’s ideal self-image without having the subject utter a word. It’s an interesting combination of art, science, and perception.
The first step of the process is to remove or reduce accessories and enhancements from the subject being photographed. Makeup is removed, hair is pulled back, clothes are adjusted so as not to appear in the frame—the goal is neutrality. The photograph is taken, then manipulated into 50 versions, each with tweaks to facial features, head shape, coloring, and more. The subjects are then hooked up to the Emotive scanner which records brain activity while they are shown the altered images. The scans are examined for signs of “engagement”—particular mental focus which Chasserot interprets to be a positive reaction. The image that produces the most positive brain reaction is thought to be the subject’s ideal version of his- or herself.
“What do we find instinctively beautiful in the human face, and how does this translate to self-image?”
It’s interesting that Chasserot equates an unvoiced preference to instinct. After all, even though the person’s reaction to his or her images is ungoverned, societal influences, cultural ideals, and pre-existing ideas about attractiveness are all learned, not instinctive.
“The methodology is still in pilot study phase,” Chasserot told The Creators Project. “There is plenty to be improved upon. The ‘Ideal’ image is simply the one with the greatest positive reaction immediately after presentation and that cannot be distinguished from any theoretical, specific ‘ideal self’ reaction.”
In the photos below, the original image is on the left and the chosen “ideal” version on the right.
Cuban artist Rubén Fuentes creates euphoric and surreal ink landscapes that serve as an admiration of nature as well as a quest within a meditative and serene space. Fuentes, inspired by the lush greenery of his homeland, uses his work as a means to sympathize and glorify “all of the ecosystems of our planet.” He greatly uses Chinese shan shui ink drawings as an influence methodically, aesthetically, and philosophically. Shan shui works are known for their beautifully detailed yet simultaneous almost mystical, abstract and dreamlike quality. They are strongly referential to Daoist notions of living in harmony with all— and, similar to the Abstract Expressionist movement — shan shui paintings bend and evolve the notion of what a painting is meant to achieve; these works are a vehicle for less tangible elements such as meditation and philosophy. Fuentes believes that art acts as a means of self reflection, and thus, creating art allows one to practice and improve on one’s ethical behavior and cognitive self. Therefore, the act of creating art is simultaneous, in a sense, to the act of meditation.
Within the statement of his series titled Mind Landscapes, Fuentes’ states that he tries “to represent in my art works an inner strength, a cosmological and telluric force within us that transcends the duality of matter and spirit. The practice of zen, along with a worship of mother earth and the invocation of vital forces in nature, inherited from the past of the native Cubans, Afro-Cuban culture, as well as Chinese Taoism, mark the center of my latest works.” (via INAG)