At the end of life: a camera lens, desperately recording and archiving the fears of the dying. For the series Life Before Death, the photographer Walter Schels captures the terminally ill in anticipation of the unknown and again in the moment after death. These intimate portraits are the last of a lifetime, documenting the body after some ineffable human essence has vanished. Informed by the words gathered in interview with the subjects by Schels’s partner Beate Lakotta, the haunting shots imagine the invisible, giving form to the most unconquerable human fear.
Schels’s portraits, in their silvery black and white tones, are reminiscent of Victorian post-mortem photography, presenting the dead as if sleeping, their eyes closed and brows gone slack in seeming comfort. These images are poignantly juxtaposed with the interviews, conversations in which even the most mundane, peripheral things of daily life are assigned significance; beside wizened and terrified eyes and coupled with existential wonderings are thoughts on fridge-freezers and local football teams. The banal works against and in service of the tragic; when confronted with death, a burial site and a cup of coffee are equally potent reminders of our mortality.
At the turn of the 20th century, it was believed that the eye recorded the last sight seen by the dead, that with careful study of the ocular nerves, we might reconstruct the moment of death. Schels’s subjects, pictured with gleaming eyes and contained within unrelentingly tight frames, seem to stare into the viewer as they confront inevitable passing, as if to implicate us or to say, “You are the last thing I saw.” (via The Guardian)
Michael Kontopoulos, a grad student at UCLA Design|Media Arts has created a system of sculptures that are constantly on the brink of collapse. His intention was to capture and sustain the exact moment of impending catastrophe and endlessly repeat it. This documentation gives me the chills, makes me sweat, and I almost scream when each machine comes close to collapse. Good job Michael.
Shannon Partridge’s Behavioural Enrichment series is a response to the curious worlds of the zoo exhibit and the set of the mid-century modern interior design photograph. She has merged imagery to draw comparisons between these staged sets, focusing on American mid-century interior design and Western zoos exhibits, to emphasize the theatrical artifice of both environments.
Andrew Laumann utilizes multiple media and presents the viewer with tongue-in-cheek installations that are witty and often irreverent. He seems to revel in destruction and humor. In one piece we see The Wipers logo combined with that of The Wu-Tang Clan. I find it interesting that elements from both emblems appear on albums released in 1993 (Silver Sails and Enter the Wu-Tang 36 Chambers).The resulting composite of 90’s punk and rap iconography speaks of his youthful energy and disregard for the conventional. It takes an astute artist to simultaneously mock and enlighten.
Artist Lisa Park‘s performance titled Euonia – a Greek word that can be translated as “beautiful thinking”. The title is apt as Park’s thought’s are central the beauty of her performance. She makes use of an EEG headset which monitors various brainwaves and eye movement. The resulting information is translated into sound directed to one of five speakers. A shallow pan of water sits on each speaker, vibrating and shimmering with each of Park’s various thoughts. Park associated each of the five speakers with a different emotion and would recall various memories of people important to her in order to manipulate the speakers. She had hoped to develop the ability, through practice, to end her performance in silence but could not – an outcome perhaps more interesting than she had intended. It may be the brain is much more difficult to quiet than it seems. Be sure to check out the video to see Lisa Park’s brain in action. [via]
Adam Friedman celebrates the unchanging mystery of nature in his surreal, hybrid paintings that dissect landscapes from the real world. His newest body of work is bold in color and line, as he portrays scenes of glorious mountains and unwavering glaciers. His unique style depicts scenes of tremendous natural beauty, transformed them into something even more stunning. Plates of the earth seem to shift and glaciers are mirrored in a reversed world that Friedman so skillfully creates. The artist experiments and warps perspective in his paintings, like an M.C. Escher drawing toying with our mind. Sections of mountains are divided and manipulated into geometric patterns and shape that make you question exactly what it is you are looking at. Friedman describes his artwork’s intent.
“Millions of years are compacted into a single instant and rocks become fluid. I strive to present a moment that defies human intervention in the landscape, and pays homage to the potential in the inexplicable.”
Friedman explains that his work celebrates the unknown that the natural world possesses. Society attempts to explain, examine, and make sense of our environment, but there are some things we cannot understand. The beauty in the unknown can be felt in Friedman’s powerful series that radiates with intensity. Mirus Gallery in San Francisco, California currently has a solo exhibition of Friedman’s work on view until July 11th. If you have the chance to see this exhibition, titled Into the Aether, make sure to check out his compelling paintings in person.
Mike Ruiz presents us with the ultimate (and completely not real) luxury collaboration. The funny thing about this is that it isn’t too far fetched. I can see it now, hundreds of sneaker heads waiting for days in line around their Mercedes dealership for the chance to drive the Michael Jordan Jumpman.