Since 2011, Raptor Blood (Blackie Burns) has been following a group of urban explorers (going by the name of Cave Clan) around the tunnel and cave networks underneath Sydney in Australia and photographing what they see, where they dwell and how they live. Connecting with the group through their shared interest in urban decay and abandoned architecture, Burns is able to access areas that are usually closed off to outsiders. He says of his first encounters with some members of the group:
The two dudes I met with seemed pretty cool and were informative about the group and had a strong appreciation for the architecture of the tunnels we visited. Although, our expedition was a little worrying when I was walking between the two going down a drain that was barely my shoulders width. We were walking for about 10 minutes, [and] as the tunnel got deeper, hotter and more humid, our conversation started to get a little strange. The guy walking behind me started to talk about masturbation and how he liked to watch himself through a mirror… I asked to leave and luckily enough nothing too strange ended up happening.
Cave Clan thoroughly live their passion of exploring underutilized and forgotten spaces. They turn the most understated corners into homes, personalized with objects of meaning and importance. Burns talks about his surprise of how comfortable some of the dwellings he visited were:
The first, which is located under a huge castle looking sandstone bridge was equipped with electricity, bbq and bar. The area was dusty though, to the point where anybody would feel sick from being in there too long. The second was in a connecting chamber in a network of tunnels running underneath one of Sydney’s secondary CBDs. The drains were surprisingly dry with no bugs. Any Storm water was directed from the living areas and during summer it was surprisingly cold down there, really not a bad place to live!
See more footage of his explorations here on his tumblr and here on instagram.
Christian Rex Van Minnen’s remarkable paintings showcase a mastery of traditional oil painting techniques that are paired wildly with a fascination for historical painting, witty humor, and a strong inclination towards the grotesque.
His still lives pay homage to Dutch vanitas painting yet, even using modes of traditional depiction, they expand to encompass modern sensibilities through the addition of present-day objects and graphic symbols; rainbows, uncanny mushrooms, Cretaceous plant life and hearts and stars accompany decaying flowers, rotted fruit, and scenic lands far away.
His portraits reference the unconventional Mannerist painter Guiseppe Arcimboldo, as well as contemporaries such as Glen Brown and Ivan Albright. Like his still lives, Christian’s portraits are conventional in composition and style, yet his subject’s faces are unrecognizable, malformed and undefinable. They are constructed from a cluster of earthly refuse; human and animal skin, organs and entrails, fruit, insect parts, fur, and textiles come together to emanate feelings of unease, horror, and wonder through intricate, realistic depiction.
Heidi Whitman’s Invisible Cities consists of a series of floating paper cutouts mapping real, ancient, and fictitious city routes and passages. Seeing the outlines of cities from this perspective makes you question how our cities are built and how truly organic and ever-changing the concrete and stone roads, streets, and passages that we take are. Heidi’s work can be seen this month at Christopher Henry Gallery in NYC from March 25th-April 23rd.
Psychologically dark and a bit grotesque, the watercolors of Montreal based artist Tammy Salzl are meant to be like beautiful parasites. She wants the images of scared children, fragile adults or lonely humans to disturb viewers at first, then slowly over time, delight them with their unique beauty. These emotional studies have evolved from Salzl’s earlier work where she placed the disturbed characters based on Grimm fairy tales in lush, busy backgrounds. Wanting to isolate the figure to exaggerate their state of mind, she has cleared the background and focused on the complexities of skin and the different emotions it can express.
I want the flesh I paint to make a connection between the material of paint and the material of the body, to reflect not only a psychological makeup but to suggest an ‘objectness’ of the body – a medium that is vulnerable to the stresses of life. I want the flesh I make to embody the human condition. (Source)
The figures in Salzl’s art are all suffering from some kind of conflict or anguish. She says she is most interested in expressing the psychological and emotional aspects of human nature, and does it in a personal way rather than in a cliched, way about our society as a whole.
I use allegory and metaphor to to express my particular anxieties and what I perceive to be a generalized psychosis in society. Instead of portraying dead Afghanistan civilians or animals that are going extinct at exponential rates, I paint people with gnarled, anguished flesh and and haunted faces that place them in conflicting settings that are familiar yet foreign. (Source)
Studio DRIFT, an artistic team from the Netherlands, has created lamps that blossom and twirl like flowers. “We’ve always been very fascinated by movements in nature, and this is how we started the project that we call Shylight,” the team says.
Part inspiration from the elegant lines of the natural world and part engineering craftsmanship, Shylight is an immediately captivating and evocative installation. The lamps are made from silk, billowing and swirling as they descend 30 feet (9 meters) from the ceiling. The name Shylight is apt: The lamps’ blossoms open invitingly then close again as they retreat, as though they’ve thought twice about being too forward.
“Shylight is a performative sculpture,” says Studio DRIFT in their short video. “When you enter the space, it becomes kind of a dance that is performed in front of you.”
Though Shylight is by turns an installation, a sculpture, and a dance performance, it’s also interactive in a way. The form and beauty of the piece is immediately accessible to the audience, drawing out an emotional reaction and sense of wonder that might not be otherwise possible. Studio DRIFT says:
“The satisfaction in our work comes from the moment the audience engages with the piece and they forget where they are, who they are, and they discover this new world between nature and technology.” (via This Is Colossal)
During his graduate studies in microbiology, artist Zachary Copfer invented a new type of photography, one grown entirely of living bacteria. By exposing sections of microscopic organisms to radiation, he accelerates their growth, allowing them to multiply and compose vivid photographic portraits. Copfer’s subjects include both artists and scientists who inspire him; famous images Albert Einstein and Pablo Picasso are replicated in Serratia marcescens, a human pathogen often associated with infections of the urinary tract and respiratory systems. The portrait of Stephen Fry is made of bacteria found in the actor’s own body.
Copfer’s portraits closely resemble the art of Roy Lichtenstein; his faces bear the same comic book-style polka dots made famous by the legendary pop artist. Also like Lichtenstein’s paintings and prints, they are duplicates of mass-produced, iconic public domain images. But quite unlike the work of Lichenstein and his colleagues, Copfer’s images are imbued with an undeniably unique and human tenor. These bacterial cells, some drawn from the bodies of the subjects they portray, are corporeal and therefore inevitably personal. In contrast the ink used by the pop artists, these cells will someday die. Though iconic, these portraits are ultimately of mortal men, and the fact that they are rendered here in disease-causing bacteria only underscores that fact.
In addition to portraiture, Copfer experiments with photographs of celestial bodies. Here, in glowing green E. coli genetically modified with GFP, the vast cosmos are paradoxically formed from the microscopic, reminding us that in the end, all matter great and small is profoundly interconnected. Take a look. (via Jezebel)