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).
Stripping is pretty cool, but stripping to songs takes it that much further. Imagine, if you will, the H.M.S. Pinafore with g-strings. Or just imagine burlesque, which combines showmanship, rump shaking, and a generous pinch of snark to create one saucy form of theater. But performers are more than the sum of their tassels, and photographer Nicky Devine has been smart enough to document the burlesque community from behind the scenes, giving us a candid look at those who spend their lives in service of this bawdy entertainment.
In her project “City of the Dead”, Iraqi-Canadian photojournalist Tamara Abdul Hadi documents the lives of families living in the cemetery of Bab al-Nasr in Cairo. For the past 60 years, generations have been residing in this modern day necropolis among their deceased ancestors. Children were born and raised in the ruins of the graveyard, they attend schools nearby and even work in the area.
“This is a cemetery of the living”, says one of the residents, Mohammed Abdel Lateef.
Such illegal settlements as the City of the Dead, date back to the 1980’s. They were a primary coping method for local poor and “ultra-poor” inhabitants. Despite unsanitary conditions with no electricity or running water, workers were moving to the urban slums in order to stay close to employment. Overall, there are five main cemeteries like Bab al-Nasr and the whole area was said to have a population density of a whopping 12,000 inhabitants per square mile.
Abdul Hadi is already widely known for her documentary photographs of the Middle East, giving us a close-up look at their controversial culture and society. She states that the Arab world faces many misconceptions, such as oppressing patriarchy, ignorance and others. In her work, Abdul Hadi tends to bring up the softer and peaceful side of the communities which is rarely shown by the mass media. (h/t Middle East Revisited and The New School)
Illustrator/Photographer/Filmmaker Matt Mahurin has published illustrations in Time Magazine, Rolling Stone, The New York Time, and more. He’s compiled photo essays on the homeless, people infected with HIV/AIDS, the Texas prison system, and more. He’s directed music videos for artists like Tom Waits, R.E.M., Metallica, David Byrne, and MORE. That word- “more”, comes to mind a lot when going through Mahurin’s work. He just seems to be doing everything at once. And he does it so well. I’m always astounded when I come across a multidisciplinary artist making work in each of his or her chosen platforms that’s just as good, if not better than that of artists who choose to focus in only one area of practice. I mean it’s just not fair. Check out more of Mahurin’s widely varied projects after the jump.
At first glance, this series by photographer Stacey Tyrell seems to portray nothing out of the ordinary, just portraits of white women living their lives. At closer inspection, however, you realize all of the women look the same; they share uncanny similarities with just a few differences in hair, eye, and skin color. In reality, Stacey Tyrell has staged these scenes representing depictions of Caucasian women using herself as a model. Interestingly enough, the artist herself is black. The title of Tyrell’s deeply memorable series is BackraBluid. Backra, originating from West Africa, means white master or person. Bluid is a Scotch word for the blood of men or kin. These two words combined represent two different points of origin in the artist’s family heritage. Tyrell explores her ancestry in this series, which includes English, Scottish, and Irish.
Most everyone in post-colonial societies, especially in the Western world, is the descendant of a diverse range of ancestry, producing many individuals with what may appear to be ambiguous ethnicities. These individuals may identify with one, multiple, or even none of their racial or cultural identities. However, by nature, humans want to make sense of their surrounding and tend to place others in categories. Stacey Tyrell has experienced this first hand. She explains the significance of this experience in relation to Backra Bluid.
Upon viewing my physical features I am automatically assigned a racial identity by whoever is looking at me. Skin color often obscures and over-rides the features and markers of other races that may be present in my genetic make-up. By simply changing my skin color and making subtle tweaks to my features I wish to show that if someone were to take a closer look at my face they would see that it might not be that much different from their own.
Common movie scenes are showing us police mug shots, incognito faces in crowds and wanted killer posters. None of these seem unnatural or chocking anymore, we are tamed by cyberculture and technology. We could not imagine having to go through an identity check other than with our passport, signature or a police officer physically present in front of us. Yet, we’ve already left those ancient methods and engaged with facial, retina and odour recognition; fingerprints and hand geometry. We’ve entered the biometric data era. Not always conscious of how fast the world evolves around us, Tony Oursler has set a mission to “invite the viewer to glimpse themselves from another perspective that of the machines we have recently created”. He has been exploring the link between the growth of our technological dependance and its effect on our psychology.
The artist has created magnified face images, some of them coated with a stainless steel panel embeded with video screens and others marked with geometric patterns of algorythmic facial recognition mapping. He is embarking us with a dash of humor into the disturbing technology’s effect on the human mind. Tony Oursler plays with the face. Starting with the eyes and going down into the neck, he is suggesting that technology will use every bit of skin and organ to study the daily behavior, emotions and rituals of humans in order to categorize them. The viewer when facing those giant profiles is left with the strange feeling of being watched. The artist wants to highlight how uncanny is the process of teaching machines how to observe only the external appareance and to pretend, from there, to understand human’s true nature.
Interested in landscapes, San Francisco artist Jenny Odell spends quite a bit of time looking at places viewed from above on Google Maps. Searching for industrial forms and shapes that, when combined create an unusual and striking kind of landscape. Odell then creates digital prints, the likes of which have even been exhibited in the Google Maps headquarters. Of her work Odell says:
“Much of the strangest architecture associated with humanity is infrastructural. We have vast arrays of rusting cylinders, oil rigs dotting wastelands like lonely insects, and jewel-toned, rhomboid ponds of chemical waste. We have gray and terraced landfills, 5-story tall wastewater digester eggs, and striped areas of the desert that look as though they rendered incorrectly until we realize that the lines are made of thousands of solar panels. Massive cooling towers of power plants slope away from dense, unidentifiable networks on the ground and are obscured in their own ominous fog. If there is something unsettling about these structures, it might be that they are deeply, fully human at the same time that they are unrecognizably technological. These mammoth devices unblinkingly process our waste, accept our trash, distribute our electricity. They are our prostheses. They keep us alive and able, for a minute, to forget the precariousness of our existence here and of our total biological dependence on a series of machines, wires, and tubes, humming loudly in some far off place.”
Drawing attention to our dependent, but odd relationship with this infrastructure Odell is also exploring what it has to reveal about our habits, patterns and the elements of our everyday life. She is also interested in viewing this infrastructure in a way where it takes on the quality of being the remains from a time and civilization gone by. In other words, her images take on “tragic air: they look already like dinosaurs, like relics of a failed time from the perspective of a time when we will know better—or when we are no longer here.”
Much of the work of Brandon Vickerd carries an uneasy quality about it. They often feel as if a situation is suddenly shifting from normal to worst-case-scenario. Vickerd’s work reveals the death and disaster hidden beneath the mundane we take for granted. For these pieces, The Passenger and The Passenger II, Vickerd creates life like sculpture from previously living material. Taxidermied animals appear to make up the body of a person that is otherwise waiting. The sculptures were installed in public areas wearing normal clothing.