Photographer Todd Davis doesn’t just take snapshots of gas and fluids, he creates beautiful, ever-interesting abstract images that are impressive and captivating. In his Viscosity Series, he presents different forms of smoke in hundreds of variations – as a colored lump, twisting and turning in on itself, or as a light and airy wisp, silently falling down and fading into the background. Reminiscent of lava lamps, or science experiments when you test different chemicals out against one another, Davis’ work is a gorgeous juxtaposition between weightlessness and form. The smoke exists on the boundary of disappearing or falling apart. Here’s an excerpt from his representative gallery:
The Viscosity Series is a photographic study of the fleeting, random shapes created when two or more dissimilar fluids are introduced. The series is called Viscosity because fluids of different densities permit a moment of suspension before they disseminate in the other giving one the appearance of being more viscous. (Source)
In true abstract fashion, his photos take on many different ideas and images. They can look like paint thrown at a wall and left to coagulate into gooey lumps, or some strange marshmallow cake that’s spilled over the edges of it’s dish, or like a blob of inks and dyes dumped into a glass of water.
Davis not only is able to flatter inanimate subjects (including beverages and tabletop set ups), he also takes beautiful portraiture photography, showing off his skill with intricate lighting configurations.
Fueled by his reverence for the natural world, the Northern Utah-based artist and photographer John Poppleton paints fluorescent landscapes onto the backs of nude bodies with temporary pigments. Photographing his models under backlight, he constructs starry nighttime constellations that conform to the curves of the female silhouette. As a commercial photographer with a passion for fantasy, Poppleton incorporates his masterful painting in this “Black Light Bodyscapes” series. Each piece takes a few hours to complete, and many of them are personalized or custom-made for his subject; one painting includes a teepee to honor its model’s Native American heritage, and the mountainscapes that are visible from Poppleton’s own window make numerous appearances.
Poppleton’s mesmerizing work is both current and timeless. While echoing the electrifying aesthetic of techno raves and the like, it also maintains ancient themes. Like mythologies surrounding the figure of the Mother Earth, the “Black Light Bodyscapes” tie the female to the natural world. In a manner reminiscent of the story of the ancient Greek goddess Gaia, the planet seems to spring forth from a fertile well of female power. Here, as with folklore surrounding the deities of Greece, Europe, Asia, and Africa, the silhouetted woman becomes equated with the moon and the lunar calendar; in darkness, she lights the way, delighting the eye with an irresistible shine. Dotted with radiant celestial bodies, backlight painting may be seen as a sort of divination, reminding us of the splendor of nature that we too often forget in this modern age. Take a look. (via My Modern Met)
Dutch artist Henriëtte van ’t Hoog’s installations look 3D, but are completely flat. She uses trompe l’oeil to give her work depth, designing space in a way so that our eye is fooled. To do so, she uses geometry and specifically placed and angled shapes, sometimes building out of the wall to create more complex structures. In an interview with Visual Discrepancies, van ’t Hoog describes why she makes her work. Not surprisingly, her explanation is light-hearted. She states:
…I have been poking around for a while hoping to make people aware of color and shape, and of non-existing space. In Joint I [above] transformed a little area into something new and unexpected, joking around with color and shape while not knowing where it would lead – just having fun, and working through ways that would perhaps mislead the audience.
van ’t Hoog’s color palette is light and very colorful, at times sickeningly so. She regularly uses day glo yellow and hot pinks, which vibrate against one another in industrial spaces and white walls of a gallery. Her installations are based on believability, meaning they must be precise; She paints crisp lines and plans the angles of extra walls and surfaces so that her work appears 3D at all viewpoints. Even though there is a lot of planning involved, van ’t Hoog wants to make it look effortless. It’s important to her that the viewer see something unexpected. Later with Visual Discrepancies, she says:
…I hope when people step inside this small space and see the play with the flat and the three-dimensional, the play with the perspective and the triangular objects and how a painted piece of paper is disturbing their expectation, together with the strength of the color, that their experience will hit the roof.
Billelis (Billy Bogiatzoglou) is a digital artist, illustrator, and art director currently living in the UK. With an eye for bold contrasts and colors, complex machinery, and the macabre, everything he produces has a hyperreal and futuristic quality. In the series featured here, Billelis has chosen one of his recurring motifs — the skull — and reproduced it 50 times, digitally engraving each one with “key patterns that influenced humanity through the millennia” (Source). Open up his dark, digital sepulcher and you can see skulls marked with patterns resembling Aztec, Greek, Roman, Celtic, and folk designs, as well as geometric patterns and — on a different note — Space Invaders.
Each skull is uniquely sculpted in 3D. Focusing on texture, geometry, and symmetry, Billelis has perfectly enmeshed skeletal anatomy with complex patterns. The effect is both beautiful and haunting — hollowed eyes and fleshless mouths are framed and flowing with undulating lines, giving the skulls a morbidly antique and museum-like quality. This is not the first time Billelis has combined bones and geometry; check out his fascinating Man vs. Nature project for something similar.
Modeled after the iconic Terracotta Warriors, artist Prune Nourry’s series Terracotta Daughters is an installation featuring eight life-size sculptures modeled after eight Chinese orphan girls. It’s meant to reflect upon gender preference in China through the familiar symbolism of the soldiers, and Nourry created an army of 116 figures using the same clay that was dug up over 2,000 years ago for the original warriors. In this project, the artist also learned the local copyists’ technique based off the ancient practice.
Together, India and China represent ⅓ of the world population and both have a similar gender imbalance. This is because of the preference that parents give to having a son; the number of single men has been increasing since the 1980’s as well as the misuse of ultrasounds to choose the sex of the child. This has detrimental consequences for the women in Asia including kidnappings of children and women, forced marriages, prostitution, and more.
Nourry met the 8 orphan Chinese girls that inspired the artworks through the non-profit organization The Children of Madaifu. She photographed the girls during her visit to their villages in August 2012 and used the portraits as models for the sculptures. Nourry series that go beyond the sculptures and does good, too:
With the idea of continuity in mind, Prune works hand-in-hand with The Children of Madaifu to support the education of the 8 little girls for a minimum of 3 years thanks to the sale of the 8 original sculptures. In addition, each one of the little girls will be invited to the exhibition in Beijing in order to meet their terracotta double. The girls will also receive a 30 cm artist proof of Prune’s Mini Terracotta Daughter.
Thus, each collector who acquires one of the 8 unique original terracotta sculptures supports the project, as well as 3 years of the education of the little girl depicted in the Artwork.
Terracotta Daughters has travelled the world, and now they are in New York City. From September 11 to October 4, you can find them at China Institute.
CF, offspring of Fort Thunder, and Providence-based artist/musician has consistently created some of the best comics in the underground genre. His work in undeniably his own, and although it is often duplicated, his work remains distinguished from the rest. The delicacy and humor of his masterwork, POWR MASTRS (1,2,3), puts him easily in my top 10 for contemporary comic artists. He blogs and twits, he is a Picturebox regular, and he performs under the moniker Kites while he blasts out sonic booms. He is a gem.
Tania Shcheglova and Roman Noven are a Ukrainian photography duo also known as Synchrodogs whose surreal imagery frames the human body in odd-yet-intimate relations with the surrounding landscapes. This particular series, Reverie Sleep, takes this theme of the “strange natural” a bit further, drawing on the expansive and unearthly realms of lucid dreams. Made with the support of the Pinchuk Art Foundation in 2013, this project emerged from visions the artists experienced while wandering somewhere between sleep and awakening:
“[Reverie Sleep] deals with the stage of Non Rapid Eye Movement sleep, during which some people may experience hypnagogic hallucinations caused by [the] natural process of falling asleep. Experimenting with those lucid dreaming techniques, [Synchrodogs] woke themselves up in the middle of the night to make a note of what they had just seen, gathering their dreams to be staged afterwards.” (Source)
In order to recreate their dream imagery, Synchrodogs traveled to Iceland where they immersed themselves in dangerous and bleakly beautiful environments. As they explained in an interview with NYMag, they shot near “glaciers where you can fall into an ice hole and be found in a week, or in hot lakes where you can get boiled alive if there is a geyser which decides to eject hot water while you are in [it]” (Source). This earthly threat lends the images an impassive quality, just like the intangible lands we explore in our sleep while uncertain of what threats or joys await us.
Inhabiting Synchrodogs’ eerily sublime landscapes are female figures, nude or bedecked in colorful paints and surreal costumes. Bodies morph into ferns and fruit, or lie on cold earth and exalt in the light of an alien sun. Each figure is simultaneously human and inhuman, existing in a hallucinogenic, unquestioning state that dissolves and realigns our notions of reality. Shifting between forms and consciousness, they represent creatures of a limitless and symbolic universe.