On an ethereal ground of white light Christophe Avella-Bagur shows us archetypal representations of male and female bodies that answer our expectations of mass-produced perfection. Avella-Bagur disrupts this ideal with a second layer of portraits painted in visceral flesh-tones that never quite register with the face’s outline. The two portraits are collapsed together to create disturbingly distorted juxtapositions painted in the grotesque manner of El Greco or Goya.
Avella-Bagur first began the Floating Souls series in 2005, working in a medium-sized format. These paintings contained archetypal figures with their eyes closed, in which a “floating soul” was depicted attempting to register with its host. Now the idealized bodies have their eyes open, creating tension and visual complexity between the two faces.
Uk based designer and illustrator Drew Turner’s illustrations look into our evolution through time and space. They depict the psychological differences found between ourselves and present day organisms. With a shroud of mystery over other lifeforms, they are a visual reflection of our greater ability to imagine and argue a question of thought towards an animal as a conscious being.
Kit Webster challenges the conventional use of space in a gallery with his installation, Enigmatica. Using light to create an illusion of mass, Kit breaks up the room and reconfigures the environment with this digital sculpture. I’d definitely like to see this in person.
Victoria Williams, Valley State Prison for Women, Chowchilla, California.
Anonymous , Ionia Maximum Correctional Facility, Ionia, Michigan.
James Bowlin, United States Penitentiary, Marion, Illinois.
Anonymous Backdrop Painted in State Correctional Facility, Otisiville, New York.
Photographer Alyse Emdur offers a fascinating look into the world of prisoner portraiture in her ongoing project Prison Landscapes. If you aren’t familiar with the concept, visitation rooms of penitentiaries have backdrops where friends and family can get pictures taken of/with the inmate to commemorate the time they spent together. Often, these backgrounds are idyllic landscapes that offer the inmate a moment to emotionally escape their sentence. Emdur’s series is two-fold; It features inmates posing in front of these faux scenes, as well as the rooms that the giant paintings inhabit.
There’s a stark and ironic contrast between the prisoner-painted backdrops and the rest of their interiors. “Prison visiting room portraits are constructed to intentionally leave out the reality of prison. The aim of my project is not to be an authority on that which is left out, but to rather make the artifice visible. Although the paintings on the backdrops represent freedom, they are vehicles to control the representation of prisons and prisoners.” Emdur explains to Featureshoot.
To obtain the some of the portraits seen here, Emdur spent years corresponding with inmates. “My role was to document a system that I did not have physical access to. I did this by asking those with access, to send me their own photographs,” she says. The limitation of her available sources adds to the institutional critique of prisons that are inherent within the scope of this project. (Via Featureshoot)
Freelance illustrator Sam Brester pulls humor into social commentary, and sometimes criticism with his work, which is cut even more effectively through his odd perspectives and quirky characters. His illustrations can be found accompanying many a newspaper article both in the states and abroad. His personal project Hand of Man Publishing should not be missed… particularly if you’re in the market to purchase, publish, or peruse some zines.
T.I.M. (tracking interactive mechanism) is a kinetic installation by artist/robot builder Danny Bertner. Using the open source development environment, Arduino along with Processing, Danny uses an OpenCV library (open computer vision ) to track faces of the viewer. The mechanisms behavior is interactive, yet random when the audience “provokes” it (i.e. stepping within range of a photocells value spectrum). Interested in our association with movement and how physical behaviors can provoke our innate behaviors, Danny is aesthetically inspired by early 90’s sci-fi animatronics and horror. Watch a video of the installation in action after the jump.
Bryan Dalton is a multi-faceted artist creating a broad range of projects, from a website entitled “Sweet Gifs” devoted entirely to the increasingly popular early 90’s proto-web-wizardry of, you guessed it, sweet gifs, to a bi-annual independently published “pyschedelic field trip” ‘zine. On top of this all, he runs a freelance photo-illustration, design and animation firm in Portland Oregon. The unifying aesthetic that unites all his divergent practices is a playful irony and with a touch of kitsch-magic.