Jeff Bark’s prismatic gems are dark, enigmatic, sticky sweet photographs of ethereal beauty.
Designer Becca McCharen is the creative brain behind Chromat, a NYC fashion label that artfully merges fashion, design, architecture and — more recently — technology. Chromat’s designs are more conceptual than practical, but still beautiful and wearable: steel dresses, caged masks, and coiled skirts are but a few examples from the label’s fascinating repertoire. Driving Chromat’s unique look is McCharen’s background in architectural theory and urban design. During her studies in architecture at the University of Virginia, she became very interested in scaffolding and building exteriors, especially those whose structure or wiring was visible on the outside (Paris’ Centre Pompidou is one such example). Wanting to experiment with art, fashion, and human “architecture,” McCharen moved to NYC in 2010 and began her “structural experiments” for the body. (Source)
Caging, straps, and corset boning have always been integral to Chromat’s work, but for Autumn/Winter 2014, the design company introduced another element into the art/fashion/architecture triad: robotics. Their new line was called Bionic Bodies, inspired by a love story McCharen envisioned between a human and a robot. The result? Bodies scaffolded like bionic arms and exoskeletons, chromed ribcages studded at the seams, and, most strikingly, faces and bras illuminated with blue LEDs. When the lights are off, the cyborg effect of the LEDs is eerily sexy; have a look at Chromat’s runway video above and see for yourself.
What McCharen and the Chromat crew are creating is more than just experiments in fashion and architecture — their work is fascinating from a theoretical perspective, as well. Absorbed in our daily experiences and emotional lives, we forget that we are, in fact, bones wrapped in muscle and flesh, propelling ourselves through space by the miracle of physics. By engineering such structures on the outside of the body, Chromat celebrates such functionality and mechanical perfection. The parallel between structural facades and fashion is interesting, as well, if we understand fashion as a way to construct our identities and shift the way people interact with us. Like the exterior of powerful structures, Chromat’s revolutionary works exude strength, self-assurance, and impermeability — hence the eerie power and unsusceptible beauty of McCharen’s cyborgs.
Check out Chromat’s online store here. VICE conducted a fascinating interview with McCharen about her Bionic Bodies line. For a discussion of Chromat’s upcoming Spring/Summer 2015 line, read The Glass Magazine’s article.
Credits: A big thank-you to photographer Koury Angelo, who let me share his incredible pictures from the MADE runway show.
Documentary photographer Cristina de Middel’s striking new series, This is What Hatred Did, displays a collection of beautifully cinematic photographs that bend the boundary between reality and magic. Her photographs are both playful, yet inherently insightful. The series acts as a photographic narrative of Amos Tutuola’s book, “My Life in the Bush of Ghosts,” a novel loosely based on Yoruba folklore. Written in child’s prose, the book follows a 5 year old Nigerian child whose village was attacked by soldiers, leaving him without his mother, and provoking him to flee in order to avoid the chaos. He manages to find his way into a magical bush where no humans are allowed. The novel follows him for 30 years, during which he achieves many states of being. Tutuola’s book, published in 1964, caused him to flee the country due to a violent reaction, leading him to open a new path for African literature. Cristina de Middel explains the series; she states:
“The series “This Is What Hatred Did” (derived from the mysterious last sentence of the book) aims to provide an illustrated contemporary version of the book, adapting the characters, and ambiance to the current situation of the country. The “Bush” is now the Lagosian neighborhood of Makoko, a floating slum with its own rules, commanded by Kings and community leaders, often the subject of popular media coverage. A place where logic does not prevail and forbidden for those who do not belong. With the conviction that contemporary issues should be described in a way that includes the agent’s traditions, perspectives, fears, and hopes, this series documents the enhanced reality of one of the most iconic places in Nigeria.”
Cristina de Middel, a spanish born artist now living on London, is known for her important, self-published photo book, The Afronauts, 2012.
Taiwan based Hsiao-Ron Cheng’s work alludes to the deformation that physically separates humans from plants and animals. The environments and situations that she paints are often surrealist in nature nature, reminiscent of her life as a student in school, and partly based on fantasy. Hsiao-Ron’s aim is to create more complex worlds with complicated stories of childlike and cruel creatures, showing the fragility of life.
The impenetrable geometries of John Powers’ abstract sculptures call to mind a wide range of influences, borrowing equally from art movements like postminimalism and pop culture icons like Star Wars. Meticulously constructed by hand, Power’s forms are constructed out of a limited formal vocabulary: Polystyrene blocks cut to a selection of preset sizes, attached to each other at 90 degree angles. The resulting structure gives the appearance of being a computer-aided design but is in reality the outcome of a human-executed algorithm, dictated by the artist’s intuition expressed through the repetitive action of connecting blocks.
Let Underware wrap you up in type! This pan-European design collective creates sophisticated, versatile font collections and delivers them with a hints of tounge-in-cheek (check out their blackletter titled Fakir!) This group exceeds the definition of type-designers by pursuing new venues for educating others about the fabulous world of fonts; you can listen in to their typeradio broadcasts and catch up on the latest and greatest from Underware’s ongoing type workshops from around the globe.