Massachusetts-born photographer Mitch Epstein has been documenting life in America since the early 1970s. As Rachel Esner says, “much of Mitch Epstein’s work is…a reflection on America, on American values and ideology, on America’s place in the world today. It is the formal and associative elements in Epstein’s images that lift them to a higher plane. These are not documents in the strict sense, because they transcend and reinvent the objects photographed and in the process invest them with symbolic meaning.” Well said, Ms. Esner.
Microbiologist Christina Agapakis and scent artist Sissel Tolaas‘ science-meets-art project “Self Made” seeks to challenge the way we think about microbes, scent, and the nature of disgust. Most cheese is made by taking milk and spoiling it with the bacteria, Lactobacillus. This bacteria transform milk sugars into acid, causing it to coagulate. The chunks are removed from the liquid and aged with specific yeast that creates specific cheeses. Lactobacillus and yeast can be found all around us, including our own skin. Agapakis and Tolaas take microbes from people’s skin – like Michael Pollan’s belly button or artist Olafur Eliasson’s tears – and add them to milk in order to create a human microbial cheese portrait (a cheese selfie?).
“The idea was to recognize, how do we get grossed out? Then to think about it and move beyond that initial idea of disgust,” Agapakis says. “Why are we more uncomfortable with bacteria on the body than we are with bacteria in cheese?”
From the artists’ statement, “Many of the stinkiest cheeses are hosts to species of bacteria closely related to the bacteria responsible for the characteristic smells of human armpits or feet. Can knowledge and tolerance of bacterial cultures in our food improve tolerance of the bacteria on our bodies? How do humans cultivate and value bacterial cultures on cheeses and fermented foods? How will synthetic biology change with a better understanding of how species of bacteria work together in nature as opposed to the pure cultures of the lab?”
“Self Made” is currently on view (and smell – the project is for thinking, not eating) at Gallery Science in Dublin until January 2014 as part of the “Grow Your Own” exhibition along with other synthetic biology projects including a mouse cloned from Elvis Presley’s DNA, a yogurt drink that yields disease-diagnosing feces, and a project that proposes a future in which humans could give birth to endangered species. (via huffington post, npr, and la times).
Diggin’ on this Bodies of Thought photo series from San Francisco based artist and photographer Kristin Smith. The pictures deal with the concept of “an intelligent body, where the body’s thoughts are realized through movement.” Smith’s process removes any normal definition of personality from the figures and reveals, instead, a more ethereal consciousness that perhaps resides within us all. The works, blurred bodies full of motion set against black backgrounds, come off as very pure. Smiths models for the series (some of which, over the years, have been professional dancers) find a way, through Smith’s eye, to release a particularly distilled form of expression. “Intellect” is definitely present here, but not that of any worldly concerns. This series goes above (or below) the surface. (via)
For three nights the sky above Woodward Avenue in Detroit was filled with bellows of smoke and light as the artist studio Minimaforms transformed the Detroit Institute of Art into a transient light environment. The ephemeral clouds acted as smoke signals, each cloud carrying a unique message and story. Memory Cloud Detroit was a platform that offered the people of Detroit an opportunity to engage in a dialogue about the city. This interactive space animated the DIA Woodward entrance with stories collected from the public. During the two weeks leading up to the event, messages consisting of memories, stories and personal aspirations for the city of Detroit were collected and archived on-line at Voice Of Detroit. Each individual expression became a part of a continuous story about the city, a narrative written by participants over the duration of the project transforming the steps of the DIA into a dynamic space for communication. Audience members were also able to contribute messages via text-message during the performance each night. These collected text messages will be added to the Voice of Detroit archive, becoming part of an evolving diary and a voice that will speak of Detroit’s past, Detroit’s present and Detroit’s future. An archive of collected stories and documentation of three day performance will go live at Voice Of Detroit in the coming weeks.
I don’t particularly consider myself an artist and certainly not a painter. But last week, I had the opportunity to be both when photographer & fashion designer Kandace Wilson invited me to participate as a collaborator in her ongoing horse painting project. Kandace grew up at the track, always around horses -the underlying inspiration behind building this body of work. The end products are a portfolio of stellar images of the painted horse, textiles created from the painted imagery, and fashion designs using those textiles. There were a host of constraints and challenges in the process that make the experience one-of-a-kind: time is your biggest challenge as you’re working with a large furry animal that gets bored quickly and requires both entertainment and breaks; the fur, in both color and texture provides a challenging canvas to work on; working on location requires a certain degree of spontaneity and creativity… but beyond the challenges came some sweet and unexpected rewards both in the finished product that begins to take on a living, breathing life of its own, and in the experience of working with this majestic animal. Kandace continues to search for, and looks forward to connecting with willing participants, artists (and horses) of any variety who would be interested in future horse-painting collaborations.
Subtly hilarious paintings by New York residing Leidy Churchman.
Hilarious and ingenius Christmas sleaze, mess and raunch to counteract the bloated saccharine tin carols and pop-punk remixes of all those festive songs you hate. “Stick that chocolate Santa up your butt!” proclaims PauL McCarthy, and ya can’t help but love him for it.
Photographer Claire Sloan spent the last year documenting her life in a photographic journal, “the diary,” recording images of sleeping, meals, and the weather, so that each month stood out from the last. Be sure to check out her site and the rest of “the diary;” I love how she moves from black and white to stronger and stronger color as she transitions from the cold winter months into the summer.