Andrew Hayes combines his passion for metal work with a musty lust for pulp– book pages chopped, twisted, bent, and pressed in bulk. What I admire most about each piece is not just the clean, firm edges, but more so, the understatement of this being a distant relative to book art. In fact, the reverence for printed matter and its conceptual demise is not even a driving force; instead, its emphasis is on material and how paper not only lines our shelves, but also collects as a form of sculpture . . . but with a little more grace and curve.
Dutch artist Ruud Van Empel is following in the footsteps of his Flemish ancestors and is creating some pretty confronting portraits. He digitally collages images of innocent, wide eyed children into environments of lush, hyper-colored, tropical forests, ponds and gardens. While his pictures are in no doubt beautiful and aesthetically pleasing, there is definitely something unsettling about them. The children seem a bit out of place – staring a bit too intensely at the camera as if they were possessed or hypnotized. Everything seems a bit too perfect, a bit too beautiful.
Van Empel sometimes spends weeks collating images from multiple sources to build one digital portrait. The reason his portraits seem so weird is because they are pictures of people that don’t really exist. This is a bit of an insight into his process:
First he collects all the features he needs by shooting a variety of young models in his studio and by subsequently wandering through Dutch forests, in search of fine leaves, perfect branches and the right waters. Only to tear it apart and spend weeks reconstructing it all until both the person and the setting match his desired standard of photo-realism. (Source)
It can also not go unnoticed that a majority of the kids in Van Empel’s photography are black. The artist himself grew up in a small Dutch village with a large white population. He speaks more about this influencing his work:
I grew up in a small Catholic town in the south of the Netherlands. There was only one black boy in my primary school class. In the portrait Generation 1 I expressed this situation. It shows a white class with just one black pupil. With World#1 I decided to work with more black children. It set off a whole new series of work. First I thought of portraying a girl in a dirty, old and torn-up dress, as if she were very poor. I suppose this idea popped up in my head because of the image we westerners are often given. I didn’t really like that idea though, and decided to give them the clothes my generation wore when we were kids, especially because those clothes looked very innocent to me. (Source)
With continuing scientific investigation, perception and consciousness increasingly seem to be much simpler than they truly are. Its no surprise a great deal of contemporary art address issues of perception, and many artists are skeptical of assumptions about it. This is where photographer Isabel M. Martinez picks up the topic with her series Quantum Blink. She explains the series by saying:
“According to quantum mechanics we have forty conscious moments per second, and our brains connect this sequence of nows to create the illusion of the flow of time. So, what would things look like if that intermittence was made visible? This body of work explores that hiccup, that blink, that ubiquitous fissure in the falling-into-place of things.”
Martinez modified her camera to allow her to capture two exposures in an alternating stripe pattern to create one image. The two exposures are timed only a moment apart and in a way mimic the model of perception she describes above. Perhaps, what is most powerful about the images, though, is what they don’t capture: the moment in between the two. Her series appears to mischievously encourage a curiosity and suspicion about our perception of the world around us and the amount assumption involved. How much creativity is involved in simple observation? This series is in line with Martinez’ larger art practice.
When photographer Bez Uma finished his latest series, “Pieces of June,” his camera suddenly died, fitting right in line with the mysteriously magical and spiritual journey his photos depict. His photos are understated, all the while offering glimmers of the surreal, like small insights to a fantasy world.
Just in time for Valentine’s Day, we have stumbled across this bizarre series of graphic illustrations warning soldiers against the dangers of Venereal Disease. In a nationwide crusade aimed at changing a whole population’s sexual habits and attitudes, the American government enlisted the help of creative professionals. Artists, designers and ad-men teamed up to create these striking and very frank posters.
At a time when discussion of sexual activity was anything but frank, the VD posters of World War II addressed the topic directly using clinical language, ominous symbolic imagery, and jingoistic slogans to help enlisted men steer clear of sexually transmitted infections. While American sex-ed programs have taken many forms over the last hundred years, the military’s VD campaign left a unique trail of ephemera in its wake, featuring imagery that’s both gorgeous and deeply unsettling. (Source)
Found by Ryan Mungia in the National Archives and the National Library of Medicine, this series of posters caught his eye primarily because of their aesthetic, more so than the unusual subject matter. He describes them as
…reminiscent of film noir or B-movie posters from the ’40s, those pulpy-style poster designs, and they also reminded me of the Works Progress Administration artwork, which I love. (Source)
Using bold shapes and colors, the designs were a success in capturing people’s attention. Plastered all over the walls at bases and training facilities, they were sure to get people talking – during a time when sex, and certainly not sexual diseases, were discussed publicly. After a significant drop in VD by 1945, the need for the poster campaign no longer existed. Even though the campaign was a success, the message had quite shocking undertones. Mungia explains more:
Once I was looking at them as a whole, I started to see certain themes arise. Women are often portrayed in a negative light, and it surprised me how they used Nazi imagery or depictions of Hitler and Mussolini to drive their message home. There’s somewhat of a disparity in them because the posters are very attractive, but their messages are very dark. There’s one in particular of a woman who looks like a skeleton and is walking arm in arm with two Axis leaders, Hitler and Hirohito. I think it’s so interesting that they suggest that the Axis powers were behind venereal disease. (Source) (Via Collector’s Weekly)
The creative brains at Studio Nos, one of the premiere independent stop motion animation studios in New York City has teamed up with Action Cam by Sony in The Picture Machine, an incredibly delicious collision between technology and on of the oldest forms of Animation.
The zoetrope is perhaps one of the best pre-film animation devices to ever be invented. This simple setup takes a sequence of drawings or photographs of progressive phases in motion and through the use of speed animates them before your eyes. Studio Nos’ contemporary twist on the age old medium consists of a remote controlled car pod rigged with the Sony Action Cam driving on a track inside a zoetrope. As the car speeds up and zips around in circles a series of animation cells come to life.
The result of this imaginative mashup was a collaboration between man and machine to bring to life a non-stop parade of hand illustrated dancing mushrooms. Watch the video yourself and dream up how you can use the Sony Action Cam to create your next video masterpiece.
Bryan Olson lives and works in North Carolina. He combines vintage imagery to form an ongoing science fiction themed narrative. Many sci-fi elements are prevalent; portals, UFOs, analytical graphs, and celestial bodies are common in his work.The collages represent our never ending fascination with the unknown and the search for our place in the Universe.(via)