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.
After stumbling across a photograph on the internet depicting people posed in a dwarf theme park, Belgian photographer Sanne De Wilde conducted a little research and discovered that the Dwarf Empire, or Kingdom of the Little People, is a real theme park that operates in the Yunnan province of China. In this park, dwarfs provide entertainment – singing, dancing, and various other forms of amusement – for tourists who visit the park. De Wilde eventually contacted the park’s manager and was invited to take photographs of the park and its 77 little people for a project she calls “The Dwarf Empire.” As soon as she arrived, she immediately felt compelled to consider questions regarding the morality of the park’s existence, namely if the workers were happy there, or if they felt more like they were being put on display and exploited. Additionally, “For me, it’s about how this kind of place can exist,” De Wilde says. “What does it tell you about a person who starts this and creates it? What are his intentions?” Founded by a tall, rich man who wanted to “do something good” for the little people, this park is a “Chinese charity dressed in commercial attire.” Much of the park appears run-down, but seems to have a solid foundation.
While she partook in the project of documenting the park, De Wilde, a tall blonde woman, found that she stood out in the park – for the tourists, she became a character in the show created at the park, something she found exhausting. She would even hide with the little people “to be free of the claws of the tourists…they want to touch you and have a part of you.” After she got home, De Wilde spent about a year culling through her images; during this time, she even received letters from some of the people claiming they’re happy and thankful to be working at the park, something that De Wilde viewed as a bit suspect.
From her statement, De Wilde writes,
“I embarked on an adventure with a handful of ethical questions about commercializing social care. Every story has two sides but in this place every question and every answer seemed contradictory. My adventure ended up as a modern anti-fairytale, a collection of images of my making, and theirs. My own trick forced upon myself.” (via lens culture and slate)
Akira Nagaya is a Japanese artist whose intricate cut-paper creations largely depict the beauty of nature. They are so skillfully done that you might be surprised to learn that Nagaya is self taught in paper-cutting, also known as kirie in Japan. He first discovered this type of art about 30 years while working at a sushi shop. There, he had to learn sasabaran, which is a technique used to create decorations by cutting slices into bamboo leaves. Nagaya found that he was naturally talented and enjoyed the process, too.
These small cut paper pieces fool the eye into thinking that they’re something like energetic pen sketches or decomposing leaves. The precise craft makes them appear as though they’ve been cut by machine, not by hand, because of the incredible, minuscule details.
Although the artist had been creating these pieces for years, it wasn’t until much later that his work was discovered. Eventually, he opened his own restaurant and displayed his kirie on the walls. A local newspaper came to write about the establishment, and while there remarked on his artwork. They encouraged him to show it in galleries, and you can follow Nagaya on Facebook to see his new cutouts. (Via Spoon and Tamago)
Artist Chris Dorosz uses a unique painting technique. He drips paint droplets onto plastic rods. When arranged the rods form a three dimensional image, a pointillism like sculpture. Step back from the screen for a moment – the disparate dots congeal to from images of people. The fact that this is similar to the way a low resolution digital image works is not an accident. Dorosz revels in the idea of the drop as a basic unit of constructing a painting. He says:
“Out of material discovery I began to regard the primacy of the paint drop, a form that takes shape not from a brush or any human-made implement or gesture, but purely from its own viscosity and the air it falls through, as analogous to the building blocks that make up the human body (DNA) or even its mimetic representation (the pixel).”
In January 2011 Drew Melton got the idea to start designing user submitted words and phrases in order to practice his craft in community. In his own words, “Most design sites or blogs are merely feeds of disconnected visual stimulation. I wanted to do something that you could actually influence and invest into.” He quickly purchased the domain Phraseologyproject.com and setup a very basic submission form. Receiving over 90 submissions in the first week confirmed that people were interested and fueled the project forward. Ray Brown was soon brought on to help develop the new site. Phraseology was underway.
“The Phraseology Project is meant to be a running experiment in typography. It is meant to be a framework for exercise and practice in Typography. We try our best to come up with our best work always but more importantly we value practice and healthy process. In other words, these pieces aren’t perfect. But they are honest. We celebrate the process of design and creativity in all of its’ outcomes.” – Drew Melton
The performances of Zhu Ming are filled with almost a lonely kind of pensiveness. Covered in paint, he enters the bubble often floating on water. The bubble is specially created for the piece and specifically designed to slowly fill with water. Soon the paint is washed off Zhu Ming’s body as he floats quietly alone. The bubble emphasizes the solitary nature of his performance, and underscores ideas of existential isolation. Zhu Ming’s work unfolds silent and strange sort of dignity that is difficult to not project onto life as a whole.
Cattelan’s personal art practice has led to him gaining a reputation as an art scene’s joker. One of his best known sculptures, ‘La Nona Ora’ consists of an effigy of Pope John Paul II in full ceremonial dress being crushed by a meteor and is a good example of his typically humorous approach to work. Another of Cattelan’s quirks is his use of a ‘stand-in’ in media interviews equipped with a stock of evasive answers and non-sensical explanations.
Bela Borsodi is a prolific image maker. And not only does he make brightly colored, cartoonish images by taking photos of balloons wearing funny costumes. Since 1999 he has been taking photographs of still lifes full of humor, optical illusions, weird proportions, color play, and whimsical objects. His work may look like child’s play, but his clients have included Vogue Russia, Bloomingdales, H&M, Puma, Target, Hermes and Swarovski. His hilarious campaigns feature sunglasses casually draped on blocks of cheese, faces made out of folded clothes, outfits worn by invisible people and masked figures juggling shoes. The Austrian photographer says:
I love making things and putting things in an unusual context incorporating various visual languages coming from art and graphic design–eroticism is also a fascination of me that I love exploring. (Source)
Borsodi has a knack for turning the plainest things into something surreal and wonderful. By simply styling, or suggesting a few details, he can animate mundane objects into jovial caricatures. Add a wig to a balloon and it is no longer an inflated bit of latex, but now it is suddenly transformed into Marge Simpson. Or add a few brooches and faux fur to pink balloon, and we go from a child’s party to a drag show. Or another one: just fasten a tie, a belt, wrap on sunglasses and place a pile of string on a strangely shaped balloon, and we now see a boss trying to party on Casual Friday. Borsodi goes on:
Often when you only change the context of things you can find new meaning. Or you add something to an object or you take something away from it. Or you put it upside down. All this can change it – a glass put upside down loses all its original function and becomes just a “thing”. (Source)