Adam Voorhes, a photographer residing in Texas, has released an amazing book documenting 100 extremely rare, damaged, and malformed human brains. This book, called Malformed: Forgotten Brains of the Texas State Mental Hospital, was released this November through PowerHouse books. As Voorhes’ work shows, there is an aesthetic beauty to the contours and shape of a brain that only add to the intrinsic mystery surrounding them. Through a twist of fate, Voorhes gained access to a medical niche and has built a body of work that will prove to be historically priceless. His project created a detailed photographic archive of the brains that has led to a new, revitalized interest from the medical community. Scientific journals have voiced intrigue and the researchers at the University of Texas at Austin are now producing MRI’s of these brains, which will be displayed in their new medical school.
Voorhes explains how he came into this subject:
“I had been sent to the University of Texas’ Animal Resources Center to borrow a brain to photograph for a magazine article. I was shown through a laboratory into a storage closet filled with human brains stacked in jars from floor to ceiling, two rows deep. All told, there were more than 100 rare specimens extracted from former patients at Texas’ state mental hospital in Austin, and all displayed distinct abnormalities. Each jar had been labeled with a date, an observation in archaic Latin and a case number.
I took the brain I’d been assigned and returned to my studio to work, but I quickly became preoccupied with the vision of this decaying collection. I wanted to know more about the donors, their quality of life and experiences. The gravity of what I’d seen haunted me. The thought of cataloguing the collection and preserving it with my camera became an obsession.
Eventually, my photography team and I were granted access to the lab. Uninterrupted and unsupervised, we donned respirators and heavy gloves. Over the course of two days in the locked research facility, we documented the collection. The history of these brains remained unknown, however. Although the descriptive text on some of the jar labels had faded or worn away, most had corresponding case numbers. Those case numbers referenced medical records, and those records became my secondary obsession.
In over my head, I collaborated with journalist Alex Hannaford to track down the story behind the brains. As he pored through archaic documents and tracked every available lead, he uncovered not only the history of the collection, but also the unfortunate loss of nearly half the original specimens. Our hope for this project is to help preserve the remaining portion and foster greater interest in its beauty, historical importance and medical value.” (via Slate)
Australian sculptor Paul Kaptein handcrafts laminated wood into exquisitely seamless sculptures. Interested in materialism and inspired by both nature and the concept of time, Kaptein creates works that are realistic yet surreal, rooted simultaneously in real life and in fantasy.
To Kaptein, the use of laminated wood is central to his practice. Representative of the dialogue between expansion and contraction and the relationship between interconnection and incompleteness, “the panels slip and slide, creating their own holes which exasperate the gaps in the fabric of the universe.”
While his wooden works vary in subject matter—a common motif being hooded, faceless busts—they all convey Kaptein’s innate interest in portraying of “the immaterial as an expression of the overt reliance (and ignorance of the composition) of materialism as a somewhat naive description of reality.” In one of his most recent works, And in the endless sounds there came a pause, the artist tackles reality through illusion: while the meditative figure is clearly distorted by the river-like grooves of his robe’s drapery when observed from the front or back, he appears perfectly normal when viewed from either side.
Ultimately, with its deceptive composition and well-crafted aesthetic, And in the endless sounds there came a pause merges two qualities characteristic of the artist: his interest in fabricating new realities and, of course, his undeniably superb woodworking skills.
It’s no secret that Melbourne-based artist Phil Ferguson is fond of food. After all, giant slices of crocheted pizza, cracked eggs, bacon, hot dogs, and much more are strapped onto the top or side of his head. They take the form of decorative hats and costumes that frame the wearer’s face, and their larger-than-life scale makes them a delight. Ferguson posts as @chiliphilly on Instagram where he has 14.2K fans (at the time of writing).
The artist is originally from Perth in Western Australia, and he started crocheting the food and sharing on Instagram as a way to connect with other artists in the area. It all began with a burger that was inspired by Tuck Shop Take Away, his place of work. “From that point onward I thought about how to do food hats,” he told Daily Mail. “[Food] has been the most accessible thing people can relate to and it will stay that way until I’m bored.”
Depending on the design, Ferguson is able to complete a piece in two to three days. The artist describes himself as a self-taught crocheter (he watched instructional YouTube videos) who has never learnt to read patterns. Even so, he’s crafted 24 delectable creations so far. (Via Daily Mail and Milk Made)
BillDomonkos is a visual artist and filmmaker who we previously featured in May 2011. Most recently, he has begun posting gifs he’s made to his Tumblr page. If you’re familiar with any of his film work, then the animated gifs should resonate with you as they similarly reflect Domonkos’ aesthetic. In both forms, he collides and combine ideas and images using digital effects, editing, and manipulation to assemble a new experience of form. His work is largely informed by the elusive part of cinema, the ineffability of an expression that can only be sensed by evoking particular images, sounds, and feelings. The endless loops of the animated gif form brings something new to Domonkos’ aesthetic, allowing for the endless contrast of an animated image with a static image. His work reminds me of the last gif artist I posted, Tony Kinglux, who uses a similar process and method when creating his gifs, though there are obvious differences in their overall aesthetics. Domonkos lives and works in San Francisco.
After spending a few decades shooting high-concept high-fashion spreads for the likes of i-D, Vogue, W Magazine, Yves Saint Laurent, Alexander McQueen and Christian Dior, photographer Nick Knight has recently launched a body of work in London, nearly 10 years in the making. Inspired by paintings from the Baroque period, Knight’s altered large-format photographs of elegant floral arrangements take on a psychedelic, gorgeously twisted liquidity. By exposing the prints to various combinations of heat, chemical and water treatments during the printing process, he’s able to interject each piece with an intriguing, painterly flair.
Tokyo based sculptor Hirotoshi Itoh learned the art of stone carving through his family business of Stonemasons. However he take the ancient art and puts a modern and humorous twist to it using the found stones natural forms to create clever images that make you question the history of the material and laugh out loud all at once. (via)
Ernie Button lives and works in Phoenix, AZ. He has an ongoing project entitled Vanishing Spirits in which macro photographs are taken of evaporated single-malt Scotch whiskey. What remains resembles intergalactic microcosms and psychedelic landscapes. In his own words: “The idea for this project occurred while putting a used Scotch glass into the dishwasher. I noted a film on the bottom of a glass and when I inspected closer, I noted these fine, lacey lines filling the bottom. What I found through some experimentation is that these patterns and images that you see can be created with the small amount of Single-Malt Scotch left in a glass after most of it has been consumed. The alcohol dries and leaves the sediment in various patterns. It’s a little like snowflakes in that every time the Scotch dries, the glass yields different patterns and results. I have used different color lights to add ‘life’ to the bottom of the glass, creating the illusion of landscape, terrestrial or extraterrestrial.” (via)