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Olivier Valsecchi’s Photographs Of Models Erupting Into Ashes Capture The Chaos Of Creation

Olivier Valsecchi, Time of War - Photography

Time of War

Olivier Valsecchi, Time of War - Photography

Time of War

Olivier Valsecchi, Time of War - Photography

Time of War

Olivier Valsecchi, Dust - Photography

Dust

In this stunning project titled I Am Dust, photographer Olivier Valsecchi has created powerful images that embody the essence of creation and the will to survive. Currently, the project is divided between two series: “Dust” and “Time of War.” While both series depict models frozen in dynamic poses as ashes erupt off and around their bodies, there are slight thematic differences. “Dust” explores creation using Ovid’s definition of Chaos as “a crude and indigested mass, a lifeless lump, unfashioned and unframed” (Source) —  essentially, an embryonic ball of matter that explodes into being. Valsecchi likens this concept to the Big Bang theory. What fascinates him is how these preexisting, scattered elements eventually fuse together, despite having once existed elsewhere in another form. Thus, in his work, he seeks to explore the reincarnation and infinitude of matter:

“What I looked for in the ‘Dust’ series was to curve around the timeline like a circle and capture, in the same image, something and its opposite, like endings and beginnings, dead and alive, floating in water and flying in dust, so in the end the viewer can never know when it starts and when it ends.”

The models in “Dust” capture this atemporal moment of creation perfectly. Their bodies are frozen in time and space, but with their eyes closed, they become expressions of pure energy. The ashes erupting off their skin resemble particles of their physical bodies being sent back into Chaos as matter lost in the violence of creation.

Ashes, of course, often occupy our imagination as symbols of death and a return to the earth. These associations make their explosive presence doubly significant in Valsecchi’s second series, “Time of War.” Inspired by the photographer’s fascination with Time, these particular images explore how Time is a circular phenomenon, and that we, as living beings, always seem to be fighting against it.  As Valsecchi writes:

“I wanted pictures that would blur the viewer’s perception of before and after, and maybe, think about [the present moment]. Thinking about now, about our impermanence and our urge to live, in regards to our environment.  Wars, conflicts, power, money: it is a struggle. That’s why ‘Time of War’ […] was more about surviving, standing up to the tests, [and] going forward.”

Demonstrating survival, the models twist and turn against an unseen threat, pushing against the darkness that surrounds them, while ash signifying their own material death sheds from their skin. Valsecchi has made powerfully visible our eternal struggle against mortality.

Curious about how Valsecchi created these dynamic shots, I asked him about his creative process. Not surprisingly, his method was just as interesting as the philosophies and perspectives driving his work. Each photo session was a ritual achieved in stages of inspired motion, mimicking the slow-but-accelerating process of creation itself. He describes the method as such:

“Before anything, I would explain the intention and say: ‘The ashes symbolize Death and it wants to [cover] you but you have to get rid of it.’ Or: ‘Close your eyes, you don’t want the ashes to blind you, plus you will focus on your energy and forget you’re naked.’ […] Then the model would undress and kneel down. I would shower him or her with ashes. […] Then I would stand in front of the model and show what kind of movement I’m expecting to shoot. […] The model and I are gradually sharing a trance, because the process is three or four hours long, and in the end, due to the jumping, swirling, and the closed eyes, you kind of lose your marks and only [feel] the energy.”

At this point, the challenge would be to capture the ashes before they diffuse into the air. But it goes without saying that the results are remarkable, and each dynamic photo captures the body’s struggle amidst and against Chaos.

Valsecchi hinted that there will be a third chapter in the I Am Dust series, which he will be working on this summer. Check out his website and follow his Facebook page to keep up with his compelling and thought-provoking work.

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Documentary Watch: The Knife Maker

 

Meet writer turned knife maker Joel Bukiewicz of Cut Brooklyn. He talks about the human element of craft, and the potential for a skill to mature into an art. And in sharing his story, he alights on the real meaning of handmade—a movement whose riches are measured in people, not cash. Watch the full documentary by Made By Hand after the jump.

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Joey Piziali

Joey Piziali’s work takes on abstraction full force with geometric order mixed with a bit of painterly chaos. See Joey’s work in San Francisco this Saturday in a group show at Guerrero Gallery. See more of Joey’s work after the jump.

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Gowri Savoor’s Compelling Sculptures Created Out Of Seeds

Gowri Savoor
  Gowri Savoor

Gowri Savoor

Gowri Savoor

Although Gowri Savoor experiments with dozens of different mediums, ranging from drawing and painting to mixed media sculptures made from fabrics, woods, her Seedscapes series might be the most immediately powerful. Taking various plant and fruit seeds which are pinned against boards like butterflies, in more geometrically-challenging patterns and formations, the sculptures resemble other natural forms, such as waves, sound-waves and snow or sand dunes.

The Leicester, England-born artist currently lives and works in Vermont, USA, where she gathers the various seeds used as materials in her metaphorically ephemeral works (including pumpkin, apple and sunflower). Says Savoor of her loaded-material choice, “In themselves they’re very fragile. No matter what I do, the pieces will continue to decay. There’s a human sadness as well, that everything will eventually die.” (via junk-culture)

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The Unlimited Hand- Virtual Reality Armband Brings Simulation From The Screen To Your Hands

UnlimitedHand-ListHunt-2

Tokyo-based startup H2L is currently in the process of developing the Unlimited Hand, a virtual reality armband. This armband is designed to merge man with machine in such a way that the user feels like they touching onscreen objects. The armband itself is a slick, discreet white band that can be worn on the users arm. It would allow users to “simulate bodily encounters” with elements in the virtual world. This is possible due to the inner workings of the armband which is composed of a haptic sensor, which monitors and reacts to movement as well as a series of electronic muscle stimulators (EMS) which simulate the feelings associated to touch.

An interesting component of this armband is that it is also meant to simulate the feeling of pain, which would bring up a series of ethical questions concerning the limits and potential of such a piece of technology. The immersive nature of the process ties in well with questions of interactivity and art, and with a device of the sort, the possibility of creating interactive artworks would be expanded on many levels.

The impact of such a device on different art forms is interesting to think about, in the way that it would allow a full immersion of the senses. A full immersion of the senses in the virtual world would be a fascinating combination of science and art and would allow us to push the boundaries of both disciplines.

 

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Design Month: Michael Beitz

 

Michael Beitz kicks of our first Design Month, in which we will be exploring all the best stuff the design world has to offer.

Michael Beitz’ Picnic Table was commissioned by the Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts, in Omaha, Nebraska, as a permanent installation on its front loading dock, in conjunction with the Bemis Gardens exhibition and design laboratory.

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Sveinn Davidsson

Sveinn Davidsson

Icelandic designer Sveinn Davidsson has garnered some much deserved attention as of late, mostly for his work with demolished cars. Although most of his press has stemmed from the signage and promotional work in the ‘Cargate’ project for the ’07 Iceland Academy of the Arts graduation exhibition, I find his typographic work to be the most impressive. Davidsson’s typographic designs and logo designs are all so clean and polished, but not that sterile type of design that lacks the human touch, he adds illustrations to his type showcasing his capabilities with a pen and a mouse.

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Jörg Brüggemann’s Heavy Metal Fans

Jörg Brüggemann’s work captures the raw aesthetic behind the fans of heavy metal in order to illustrate the genre’s ability to unite the fans of it’s sound in order to create a unique culture, despite social, economic, or political differences. The photographs have been taken all around the world including Argentina, Austria, Brazil, Egypt, Germany, Indonesia, Malaysia, Switzerland and the USA.

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