Nearly 10 years ago, photographer Rachel Sussman began researching with biologists and traveling world to document forms of natural life that are at least 2,000 years old for her project titled “The Oldest Living Things in the World.” Part art, part science, Sussman’s project engages with the natural world in order to capture a brief moment in the organisms’ millenia-old lives; her photographs ask viewers to consider their own lives alongside these natural ones, some on the verge of extinction. Each of her photographs includes text below the image describing the subject, its location, and its age. In the preface to her project’s book, Sussman writes,
“What does it mean when the organic goes head-to-head with the geologic? We start talking about deep time and the quotidian in the same breath, along with all the strata in between. All of these organisms are living palimpsests: they contain myriad layers of their own histories within themselves, along with records of natural and human events; new chapters written over the old, year after year, millennium after millennium. When we look at them in the frame of deep time, a bigger picture emerges, and we start to see how all of the individuals have stories, and that all of those stories are in turn interconnected — and in turn, inextricably connected to us all.
The oldest living things in the world are a record and celebration of the past, a call to action in the present, and a barometer of our future.”
Unlike most sandcastles, Sandcastle Matt’s creations appear wholly organic; as if birthed from the sea, his structures resemble organisms composed of some primordial tissue, emerging like great unknown beasts from the deep. The artist uses wood, sticks, or vines as a base for these abstract visions. Later, he covers the sculptures in sand using a special technique you might recall from your own childhood: mixing sand and beach water, he creates a sort of paste, which he allows to fall from his hands in drips, which eventually dry and harden.
The artist must carefully construct the bones of the structure according to mathematical law so as to prevent it from toppling over when weighted; the arresting marriage of calculated geometry and unpredictable, organic-looking dribble results in a uniquely seen vision, one that is not easily discerned as either natural or manmade. It is, in fact, both, though one of Matt’s images was circulated on the blogosphere as a meme and mistakenly identified as the startling result of lightning hitting sand.
Like any good sandcastle, Matt’s architectural monuments allow for imaginative play. Viewers are invited to wonder, to make up stories (viral meme or no): are these the relics of some ancient, tiny civilization? The bones and flesh of a sea monster? Seen through the archway of one of Matt’s distinctive structures. the entire Boston skyline is dwarfed, silhouetted as if reflected in some strange mirror; seemingly against all natural law, his castles balance effortlessly, stretching out to the waves before them. (via Colossal)
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Always Fascinated by pop-up books, Thomas Allen displays an infallible talent for the creation of the illusion of three dimensions, using old pulp fiction books as the subjects for his sets.These books tattered covers and yellowed pages are not mere objects to display on a shelf, for the artist but a prodigious inventory of actors and scenes, just waiting to be directed.
Allen patiently cuts out the figures, freeing them from their two-dimensional state: the actors are then raised from the covers and come alive thanks to skillful use of lighting and the camera’s lens. Bent and positioned, the scripted drama is staged, bringing to life the stories written and not written in the books that act now as the stories stage.
I’m absolutely loving these sleepy narrative illustrations by Japanese artists Fuco Ueda. It’s as if each painting was painted with the tears of fairies from a far away distant land where animals and cute teenagers lived as equals.
Alzheimer’s Disease is sometimes called The Long Goodbye, a gradual loss of memory, self, and eventually, life. When artist William Utermohlen was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s he began to make a series of self-portraits that would continue for five years. Looking at the pictures in chronological order is looking at a life diminished by degrees. As his technical skill ebbed, so did Utermohlen’s apparent sense of self. Still, the urge to create persisted.
In an essay about the self-portraits, Utermohlen’s wife, Pat, wrote:
“In these pictures we see with heart-breaking intensity William’s efforts to explain his altered self, his fears and his sadness. The great talent remains, but the method changes. He sometimes uses water-colour and paints a series of masks, perhaps because he could more quickly express his fear. In both the oils and water-colours these marvellous self portraits express his desperate attempt to understand his condition. There is a new freedom of expression, the paint is applied more thickly, art-historically speaking the artist seems less linear and classical, more expressionist, and I see ghosts of his German heritage.”
Worldwide, nearly 36 million people have Alzheimer’s or a related dementia—almost everyone will be touched by Alzheimer’s in some way during their lifetimes. Although Pat Utermohlen told the New York Times, “It’s so strange to be known for something you’re doing when you’re rather ill,” it was also a testament to William Utermolen’s ability as an artist that he was able to transcend his own experience, even unknowingly, and create work that was at once profound, heart-breaking, and universal.
Thierry Dreyfus doesn’t hang his art on the gallery wall, but instead splits it. His Rupture installations use the white box gallery space as a starting point. The pristine walls seem to have cracked and slightly seperate as if it were a tectonic fault line. Inside is the craggy masses of wall bathed by a warm golden glow or a cold silver light. The fissure encourages the imagination to speculate on what lies beyond the walls. It is interesting to notice how the color of the light colors the imagination in connection with the ruptures. While the golden crack nearly conveys a fairy-tale like curiosity, the silver rupture has a menacing sort of undertone.