Nothing if not disturbing, Alex Van Gelder’s Meat Portraits portray carcasses, flesh, entrails, organs and other animal parts from an abattoir in Benin. Found and photographed in the marketplace, or carefully staged into contorted compositions, Van Gelder’s photographs are corporeality at its most raw. Thoughtfully describing them as portraits rather than some kind of protest, or statement, Van Gelder is specific about his process. The photographs possess an abstraction that is compelling and unnerving. The artist says of his work, “African butchers don’t use electric saws as Europeans do but cut up the meat by hand which produces a variety of styles.The slaughterhouse was in the open air and in front of it a small market where they would sell the still warm meat. I worked there on and off for one year producing my Meat Portraits. I consider these portraits still lives.”
Appalling and even nauseating in their uncensored savage-ness, there is a strange beauty to the images when one steps back and pretends they’re something other than meat. Surprisingly not a vegetarian, Van Gelder’s images are less about animal rights and more about the emotionally evocative formal qualities the camera can capture.
The figurative drawings and paintings of Pasadena based artist Ching Ching Cheng are remarkably captivating to me. She uses members of her family often as subject matter but continually chooses to portray them in a conceptual way embracing different ways to illustrate a memory of that person in her past more so than the realistic representation of them. Ching uses sculpture and installation mediums in her work, such as her vintage polaroid and mm camera sculptures made of found books & maps. Each camera sculpture has tremendous amounts of character to them feeling to me as if they are alive beings or the “true” soul of whatever camera they are embodying. Ching’s work is thoughtful and personal slivers of her life past and present. Her primary influences include nature, and psychology.
Saul Bass (1920-1996) was a legendary American graphic designer and filmmaker. In 1980, twenty years after collaborating with Stanley Kubrick on storyboards for Spartacus, the two artists came together again to produce posters for The Shining. However, many drafts were needed before the recognizable, yellow one-sheet depicting a crazed, stippled face emerged into existence. Here, you will see four designs from Design Buddy and TOH, all of which Kubrick rejected, his reasons for each scrawled (somewhat harshly) in the margins. Bass’ cover letter and Kubrick’s response are also included.
Among the rejected designs are images of the maze and the hotel, which Kubrick deemed respectively as “too abstract” and “looks peculiar.” Bass also tried more interpretive approaches, such as a toppled tricycle lying eerily inside a hand, or the family of three crumbling into terrifying abstraction. Kubrick’s response was likewise as blunt: “too irrelevant,” “looks like science fiction film.” While Bass’ designs are skillfully done and represent genuine efforts to capture the essence of the groundbreaking psychological horror, most of us would probably agree that the final product — the face disintegrating into madness — suits the film best. (Via The Film Stage).
German design studio FOREAL has created an impeccable set of 3D alphabet renderings for their personal project “Sculpted Alphabet”. Playful series features the whole English alphabet made from various everyday objects, food products and even body parts. The whole set of 26 letters was created by two designers, Benjamin Simon and Dirk Schuster.
“New tools, new playgrounds. One single rule: Choose a letter and sculpt it! Maxon gave us it’s new sculpting tools with the last releases of Cinema 4D. Our goal was to create the whole alphabet and achieve some completely new ways how type can be built and seen. A playful execution of that self-initiated project helped us to gain some significant experience in cgi sculpting techniques while having a lot of fun. We hope you enjoy these as we did.”
The project by FOREAL is a candid illustration of how three-dimensional CGI (computer-generated imagery) has moved forward and continues to grow in capabilities. The artistic 3D alphabet was designed using one of the agency’s illustration tools, Maxon Cinema 4D. According to the producers, it is one of the greatest tools for recreating even the slightest details, such as hair or fur.
Stumble onto Matija Erceg’s Instagram account — inconspicuously named @seriousdesign — and find yourself immersed in a gallery of delight and disgust. Erceg, a Vancouver-based web and graphic designer, combines images of food — usually raw meat — with everyday objects. Among his hilariously gross “inventions” are shrimp earbuds, pizza irons, ground pork trolls, and sausage vibrators (the latter design taking the “food porn” trend to an entirely new level). The idea emerged when Erceg came across a photoshopped image of sandals with cooked beef as soles; while contemplating the absurd experience of putting them on, Erceg decided he wanted to try and evoke similar reactions among people, discovering as he went that food “lends itself nicely to being a part of an inanimate object” — hence how easily a chicken breast can be made to look like an oven mitt.
In addition to making people laugh and cringe, Erceg’s designs are experiments in context. If food is presented neatly — and properly cooked — on a plate, it is seen as acceptable and appealing; but, as Erceg observes, when the same food makes contact with “your skin (hands, feet, ears, face, etc.), [it] becomes gross or weird” — shrimp, while often considered a delicacy, does not belong inside the ear canal. There are several possible reasons for this discomfort, whether it’s in regards to phobias surrounding the (potential) toxicity of raw meat, or just the idea of dead, cold flesh lying around the house as a useable object. Erceg, however, pushes it further, commenting on how his designs confront us with the unglamorous realities of modern food production: “We admire food, but typically only when we don’t need to get too close to it — [the] raw texture, pre-cooked form, farming, and slaughtering.” His designs remind us of how alienated we are from the foods we eat; food — like sunglasses, housewares, and sex toys — has become grossly commodified.
When I asked Erceg where he aims to take his project next, he said he would like to collaborate with a fake food artist and create real-life versions of his designs. Follow Erceg on Instagram and see what edible objects he dreams up next. But be warned — you may not look at packaged chicken breasts or slabs of beef the same way again.
Adam Alaniz can make pretty much anything look warm and inviting. The depths of the ocean, the mysterious rainforests–even germs! He draws much of his inspiration from landscapes, fables, science, and nature. For some reason, his paintings, especially Someone Is Calling, reminds me of a cuter version of FernGully: The Last Rainforest, one of my favorite childhood movies.