The surreal photographs by Christopher McKenney are haunting, as a (mostly) faceless figure interacts with a deserted environment. The desaturated images are shot in the middle of the woods, a corn field, a lake, and back country roads. Sometimes, we see a ghost. Other times, a man is lit on fire. Whatever the situation, McKenney crafts a quietly desperate image.
The photographer recently told art blog iGNANT that he one day found himself in the woods with nothing but a sheet, chair, and frame. He placed the sheet over his head and photoshopped his body out. He tells iGnant, I like taking away identity when photographing and to leave people thinking. “I only make the photos I do to express myself and what other people see or think is up to them, as long as I make them feel anything I’m ok with that.”
Personally, I experience cognitive dissonance when looking at McKenney’s work. I find a lot of these images disturbing yet beautifully composed.. For instance, the photo Fragile Perspective (above) features someone with a burning box over their head. Formally, the colors are rich and the orange of the fire is stunning against the blues, browns, and grays. But, then I study the content of the photograph and realize that it depicts someone who is essentially set on fire.
Not all of McKenney’s photographs are like that. Other times, they are simply whimsical and nonsensical. In Let Go, a suitcase with a balloon tied to the handle stays on the ground as its owner floats away. Another photograph has a chair in an empty field with a pair of hands (only hands, no body), infinitely holding a mirror. It’s these photographs I enjoy more – ones that are odd, but don’t communicate utter despair. (Via iGNANT)
Bay Area-based printmaker Amber Fawn Keig‘s works on paper are a collection of colored pencil, gouache and lithographic prints—pulled together under the cohesive investigation of memory. The likenesses scratched out in her careful, stylistic black-and-white prints have the visually-loaded tinge of early 1990’s Americana. Keig usually works with imagery of her friends and family to create these works, although the narratives expressed are somewhat vague and seemingly fictional.
If anything, the litho prints pull the viewer in for a moment of intense technical examination, to look closely at Keig’s tiny, expert strokes, and to take in her careful thematic twists and turns, often embedded in the layered images she pulls together. While the black-and-white works stand well on their own, they’re complimented perfectly by the fluid, intuitive colorwork of her painted and pencil-drawn works. THe moments where the two mediums intersect are the most interesting, but each part of Keig’s current series seems to feed well into the same conceptual vein. While the scale is small, the subject matter is quite curious, and these works carry a kind of welcome, yet weary hominess in their portrayal of contemporary American experience.
Often in our daily lives, something needs to be taken out of it’s normal context to be seen with renewed appreciation. In Arnaud Lajeunie‘s recent photoseries Water meets colour, colour meets water, the Paris-based photographer explores new waves of seeing the constant ebb and flow of ocean waves by making them more visible, through the use of biodegradable, sugar-based dyes. Arnaud’s interventions tint the surging water with a plethora of colors, which are captured using an extremely fast shutter speed, which produces photos of violent, colorful takes of traditional landscape photography. Taken out of a normal context, one can see more clearly the natural beauty and fury.Says Arnaud, “Here, colour is seen as a raw material, as are the waves and the rocks. Colour adds density and thickness to transparent water, thus enhancing the flux fixation process.”
As writer Eugenia Lapteva notes in an essay on the series, Colours of Absence, “As the colours bleed into the sea, the texture of the water thickens and the motion of the waves is (re)defined, revealing its hidden course and complex networks. The crashing waves, which are carefully contained within the camera frame, pull the viewer into a vortex of frozen shapes and novel configurations that are otherwise indiscernible to the human eye.”
In his own words, the photographer explains, “I rely on the camera as a device with technical features that can give tangible shapes to ever-moving fluxes, in this case the waves. The high shutter speed transcends the human reflex of persistence of vision: it reveals existing shapes that the ‘mortal eye’ cannot perceive on its own.” (via mymodernmet)
Trixie Whitley performing at the Constellation Room in Santa Ana, CA on May 28, 2013.
Trixie Whitley who’s husky, but soft spoken voice turns into quite a powerful instrument when she starts to sing played to an intimate audience the other night at the Constellation Room in Santa Ana, CA. Playing songs from her debut LP Fourth Corner (released independently earlier this year on Strong Blood Records), Trixie showed us why musicians like Daniel Lanois, Marianne Faithfull, and Robert Plant have collaborated with her. Backed by a keyboardist and drummer, she played both electric and acoustic guitar and even sat at the Wurlitzer for a few songs ending the show with a stirring version of her single, “Breath You In My Dreams”. She came back onstage to play one of the first songs she ever wrote, “Strong Blood” which I’ve heard her in the past dedicate to her father, the late blues singer/guitarist, Chris Whitley.
Trixie’s currently on a West Coast tour which will find her at the Troubadour in West Hollywood tomorrow night, Friday May 31st and at San Francisco’s The Chapel on Saturday, June 1st. She’ll also be performing at this year’s Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival in Manchester, TN on June 14th. Check out her new video for, “Breathe You In My Dreams” that premiered the other day on Vogue.com and definitely try to catch her perform live to hear her incredible voice.
Andres Guzman is a Peruvian artist based in Minneapolis, Minnesota and also 1/3 of the art and music collective STEAKMOB. He’s an artist I’m surprised we haven’t already featured before. STEAKMOB is a loose crew of creatives who do everything from design to sounds to illustration. They invite anyone who is their creative to work with them in their space (an attic studio). “We just love to make stuff for the eyes and the ears,” states Andres. Which I think to “the T” describes Andres perfectly. He has always been drawing and experimenting, trying out new techniques and mediums to further expand his artistic vision.
Andres is a force to be reckoned with when it comes to his sketching ability. He never ceases to have new journal entries to share of ladies and heated Midwestern narratives, a vast portfolio of hand-drawn typography, and a keen sense of nailing portraiture. Andres is currently working on a music video animation for Tame Impala, and working with Colonel Blimp UK. I included more illustration samples than the usual after the jump because he has so many golden pieces on his tumblr and his other blog! All of his portfolios are worth your time to check out and contemplate.
Robert Fontenot’s sculptures, made out of bread dough, present the viewer with extremely humorous, yet severely violent worlds. He’s the author and designer of three books. Two of which are about the histories of ancient mythologies and the other of which is an illustrated history of performance art – that is, in my opinion, far more entertaining than Roselee Goldberg’s classic Performance Art: From Futurism to the Present. However, skillfully sculpting the human form’s most revealing gestures is not Robert Fontenot’s only mastered practice. He also has an ongoing series, where he embroiders textiles, as well as another project entitled Recycle LACMA – in which he buys deaccessioned items from the museum at auction and then turns them into items of use. For example, he transformed a Brocade evening dress into a fully functional fanny pack. If you have your wits about you, then it won’t take long to recognize the awesomeness of Robert Fontenot’s work.