Subtle and steady gestures provide the backbone to Tom Haney’s movable figures. He creates characters using a craft called ‘automata’ which replicates human movement using mechanical devices. Each is constructed out of wooden found objects which eventually turn into characters pulled from novels like Winesburg, Ohio by Sherwood Anderson. Haney’s narrative mostly finds its way through small towns of the 40’s and 50’s back to a time when rebellion meant getting drunk off whiskey on a Friday night or flying a kite made out of an American flag. It stays put in a simpler time when things were mostly done by hand and craft meant something. This also manifests in the facial features of the artist’s figures which are painted with deadpan humor recalling Norman Rockwell. This dynamic paired with slight movement focuses your attention on a specific moment which sets it apart from ordinary puppets. It spawns a type of poetry created from gesture. Haney chooses to slow down time and focus on little things that enhance life through his wooden cast.
Perhaps the fascination for artists utilizing chrome and mirror in their works is the increasing divide between seeing ourselves more and more via social media, yet understanding ourselves less. This is particularly evident in the work of New York-based Korean multidisciplinary artist Kimsooja, which often deals with the self-perception and the self and the other. In her installation To Breathe – A Mirror Woman at the Palacio de Cristal, Parque del Retiro, in Madrid, Kimsooja transformed a classic greenhouse by removing everything and replacing it with a mirrored floor. Next, the Tague, South Korean-born artist used a translucent, light-diffracting film to coat the windows, which cause an array of naturally occurring rainbows, which were in turn continuously reflected by a mirrored surface that covered the entire floor. Like many of her projects, an audio pairing accompanied the visuals. Visitors would experience a recording of Kimsooja breathing, enhancing the contemplative yet personal and relatable mystery of the installation.
Taken from Kimsooja’s description of the project, “Outside light filters through the glass of the pavilion and reflects off the diffraction film. It diffuses into rainbow spectrums, transforming the external panorama seen from within the palace. The resulting effect is that the entire structure as well as the rays of colour reflecting off the mirrored floor. Natural light, colour, and sound are all ethereal elements within the empty space. The artist’s breathing from the performance, The Weaving Factory, bounces off the mirrors and fills the entire building to intermix with it, breaking down barriers of inside and outside, self and other, and reality and fantasy.”
The first question Maurizio Savini is asked about his work is one he hates to hear: does he chew every piece of gum he uses to make his sculptures? He admits this question is very annoying, but if everybody is still genuinely interested, then no – no he doesn’t chew the gum. Instead he has two full time assistants unwrapping each stick of gum and melting the pink sticky stuff into layers of usable material. Savini begins his lengthy process by layering the sheets of gum around plaster molds which give his sculptures stability and shape.
Working with the gum for over a decade, he has created some amazing pieces. One sculpture – ‘La Lupa‘ (the figure who nursed the founders of Savini’s birthplace of Rome back to health) is made from 14 kg of chewing gum. He has animals bearing different flags, business men clutching pillows, chandeliers and women’s shoes among many other things. His work is usually loaded with some sort of socially and/or politically focused message.
He says chewing gum has a unique cultural context. It is connected to art history, industry and world history, and is a loaded symbol for Savini. He says after being introduced to Europe when WW2 was ending, the material became a symbol (along with Coca Cola and nylon stockings) of a new era.
When Savini began making his chewing gum sculptures, he has the misfortune of several pieces disintegrating. He now combines the gum with formaldehyde and anti-biotics to preserve it, so the high sugar content doesn’t destroy the pieces. You can see some of his new pieces at the upcoming Art-Southampton, July 9-13, 2015, or find out more about how he makes his creations in the video above.
Staring at the solid blocks of color, the light shifts and patches of bright light begin to pull forward from the wall—where works by artist Jay Shinn exists with perfect geometric precision. Angular and illuminated by a small overhead projector, the pieces seem to float just above the surface of the wall, feeling simultaneously tangible and ethereal with their reflective, neon-like rays. Shinn has previously worked with elements of symmetry, suspended light, and illusion with his varied serial investigations in mirror, pencil-on-paper, neon and paint. He experiments with placement, perception and disorientation in these works, paying careful attention to color selection, form and relative scale. The result is slightly mesmerizing, if not entirely hypnotic.
Sage Sohier spent three years at a facial nerve clinic, photographing people in the beginning stages of treatment of facial paralysis for her series “About Face.” The portraits of men, women, and children of all ages and ethnicities with varied causes and visible extents of paralysis are striking. Looking directly into the camera, directly at the viewer, the patients smile.
Most people I photograph are acutely aware of their imperfections and try to minimize them. Some have confided in me that, in their attempt to look more normal, they strive for impassivity and repress their smiles. They worry that this effort is altering who they are emotionally and affecting how other people respond to them.
In our image obsessed society, facial oddities can be difficult to live with. When we see images of celebrities with shaved noses and plumped lips, carving and injecting their way to plastic perfection, having a face twisted and pulled by nerve damage seems unthinkable. In an absurd twist, some of the patients are treated with Botox, which is a medical treatment as well as a cosmetic one. The strength of character it takes to allow a portrait when one’s face is so far from “the ideal” is astounding. The pictures that include loved ones show them touching, kissing, and connecting, illustrating how appearance doesn’t matter, that they person they love is still there.
As a visual artist, I find myself fascinated by the intensity of glimpsing two expressions simultaneously, a literal “two-facedness” that mesmerizes by its terrible beauty. At the same time, I hope these pictures bear witness to the incredible courage required to deal with medical afflictions, especially when they affect one’s primary appearance. Even minor facial problems challenge and potentially diminish a person’s sense of self; the poise and inner strength that it takes to deal with this, while at the same time presenting oneself to the world, is remarkable.
It’s important that images like these are taken, and even more that they are seen. These people have a medical condition, reversible to differing degrees, that makes them look different than what we expect. And this is what humanity is composed of—people who look like themselves at any given point in their lives. (via Design Taxi)
We usually don’t post about emerging fashion designers, but Iris van Herpen is definitely an exception to this rule. Her designs, handmade with lace, leather, wire gauze, and gold brass, are sculptural masterpieces! Excellently crafted and textured, her designs are fierce, futuristic, and feminine (yay, alliteration!). The Dutch fashion designer only graduated from the ARTEZ School of Arts in Arnhem in 2006, but her unique, avant-garde fashions are already being showcased at Amsterdam’s International Fashion Week!
More photos after the jump!
Edie Fake resides in Chicago. In his work with zines, comics, and illustration, he applies a unique sense of design to playful postmodern compositions, and creates original musings on eroticism with subtle, deft penwork. He recently received a book grant from Printed Matter in NYC. He does pretty rad tattoos as well.