Nope this isn’t all the subscription money i’ve been stuffing in my mattress for the last ten years. Rather it’s a trompe l’oeil sculpture by Randall Rosenthal. Each sculpture is hand carved from a single block of wood and then painstakingly painted for months. See more of Randall’s amazingly realistic wood sculptures after the jump.
For their series Geolocation, Nate Larson and Marni Shindelman mined for Tweets with publicly available GPS coordinates. They then traveled to and photographed those data-suggested locations and present their photographs with said Tweets as captions. The results are sometimes funny, sometimes poignant, and successful in exposing perhaps how little people think of what data they are putting out into the world and how easily it can be appropriated.
Melanie Authier’s paintings bring together visual contradictions into one imaginary space. By drawing upon the histories of abstraction and the strategies of representation, she presents improbable environments. A sense of disorientation comes about through the way in which colour, texture, line and shape compete for room within the canvas. Each work presents a brimming jostle of oppositions that the viewer is invited to bring into a certain order.
As part of our ongoing partnership with In The Make, Beautiful/Decay is sharing a studio visit with artist Claude Collins-Stracensky. See the full studio visit and interview with Claude and other West Coast artists at www.inthemake.com.
Claude’s studio is in a commercial building in Downtown, Los Angeles right where two fairly busy streets intersect. It’s a few floors up, and as soon as Klea and I stepped out from the elevator doors Claude’s Vizsla dogs greeted us with wild tail-wagging enthusiasm and then lead the way into the studio. It’s a huge corner space with tons of natural light streaming in through the wide windows that lends an almost limitless feel to the room. I took a few minutes to wander around and take it all in— the dogs tumbling about together in play, the dust particles fluttering in and out of the hazy afternoon light, and the many projects underway, all of them in various states of completeness. At any given time Claude is often at work on multiple endeavors, taking time with each to experiment, re-think, tinker and tweak. His studio is a like a research lab where he plays around with concepts and materials, creating mock-ups and models, and then tries to bring these ideas to life with his hands. There is a bit of a “mad scientist” in Claude— he approaches his work with unfettered imagination and whimsy, totally unafraid to scheme and dream big, and he seems almost possessed by a rampant curiosity about the natural world and how it works. At the core of Claude’s practice is a preoccupation with physical systems and processes and the innate dynamics of different materials, and the ways in which these forces and elements can interact to bring about a new consciousness of one’s surroundings. Embracing a range of mediums, his practice often plays with perception and aims to expand his viewers’ visual experience and spatial awareness to create impressions that go beyond an everyday understanding of the world. I got the impression that the wheels in Claude’s brain must always be spinning at top speed, never at rest, always at work on questions, always in a state of assessing and hypothesizing. Which is kind of funny, because he comes across as super mellow… but I didn’t let that easy-going vibe fool me!
Moroccan interior design company Habibi Interiors invites us to watch master craftsman create beautifully hand carved terra cotta tiles. These tiles are used in the creation of zellige (also known as zillij, or zellij), a form of Islamic tile work that uses geometric patterns to form mosaics that decorate various surfaces. The most common shapes used are the star, square and cross. The mosaics only portray geometric patterns due to the fact that historically, islamic artists were working in accordance of aniconism, the forbiddance of portraying sentient beings. This art is a primary characteristic of Moroccan architecture. Traditionally, a house decorated using zellige was a sign of a high class family. It is not only the creation of the mosaics that is considered an art form, the sculpting of the tiles is also a highly skilled process. The art is handed down through the generations by maâlems (master craftsmen) and is a long process that begins during childhood. As shown in the video, the tiles are crafted by making clay sheets that are ten by ten centimeters long. The tiles are then painted. Afterwards, the desired shapes are traced onto the tiles and then carved down slowly by hand. Each small piece is crafted perfectly to fit within its neighboring piece. The tiles are then patterned into place and sealed together.
Microbiologist Christina Agapakis and scent artist Sissel Tolaas‘ science-meets-art project “Self Made” seeks to challenge the way we think about microbes, scent, and the nature of disgust. Most cheese is made by taking milk and spoiling it with the bacteria, Lactobacillus. This bacteria transform milk sugars into acid, causing it to coagulate. The chunks are removed from the liquid and aged with specific yeast that creates specific cheeses. Lactobacillus and yeast can be found all around us, including our own skin. Agapakis and Tolaas take microbes from people’s skin – like Michael Pollan’s belly button or artist Olafur Eliasson’s tears – and add them to milk in order to create a human microbial cheese portrait (a cheese selfie?).
“The idea was to recognize, how do we get grossed out? Then to think about it and move beyond that initial idea of disgust,” Agapakis says. “Why are we more uncomfortable with bacteria on the body than we are with bacteria in cheese?”
From the artists’ statement, “Many of the stinkiest cheeses are hosts to species of bacteria closely related to the bacteria responsible for the characteristic smells of human armpits or feet. Can knowledge and tolerance of bacterial cultures in our food improve tolerance of the bacteria on our bodies? How do humans cultivate and value bacterial cultures on cheeses and fermented foods? How will synthetic biology change with a better understanding of how species of bacteria work together in nature as opposed to the pure cultures of the lab?”
Bruce Ingram’s sculptures feel both natural and fantastic. Like discovering a new cave system or a perfectly preserved dead hummingbird in your garage (which really happened to me; the bird thing not the cave thing). I’ve always felt like one of the signs of “good” art is that you kind of forget that someone had to make it. Ingram’s work feels like it manifested itself–like the world meant for it to be.