Published in 2011, Ricardo Cases‘s stunning photo book Paloma al Aire (Pigeons In the Air) depicts colorful and unusual moments from a unique form of pigeon racing that takes place in Valencia and Murcia, Spain. This “sport” involves the release of one female pigeon and dozens of painted male pigeons – the winner of the “race” is decided by how much time the male spends with the female. Each male pigeon is painted by his owner, in much the same way color is used to distinguish teams. The pigeons’ breeders, mostly older retired men, invest lots of time and money into their birds – some of the pigeons are worth thousands of euros in addition to the amounts placed during bets on these flighty contestants. For these retired men, these birds are emblematic of their later-life hopes and dreams – each painted pigeon becomes a projection of the pigeon-keeper, representing sportive, economic and sexual success or failure in the community. Be sure to check out Cases’s other work, including his similarly colorful series of the 2012 Florida Republican Presidential Primary for TIME Magazine. (via foam magazine)
Compelled by her love for birds of prey, the Connecticut-based artist Brenda Lyons paints naturalistic images of animals real and imagined onto delicate feathers shed by wild turkeys. Her painting style is heavily influenced by the work of 19th century ornithologist John James Audubon, the author of the legendary illustrated text The Birds of America. Juxtaposed with the indexical aesthetic of her illustrations is the imaginative and fragile surfaces, which miraculously hold the luminous, soulful animal portraits.
Lyons’s work is a true marriage of science and imagination; alongside the more objective Audubon, she cites influences like Arthur Rackham and Susan Seddon-Boulet, famed for their magical images of faeries and mythological beings. With her brush, pen, and pencil, Lyons depicts the fantastical phoenix with the same realism as she grants the gray-nosed golden retriever. Domestic animals are afforded the same wildness as feral creatures; a cat sits, a mischievous glint in his eye.
The paintings, like living beasts, blend seamlessly into the turkey feathers, as if they grew and sprung forth from the same mother bird. The curves of the lost feathers dictate the movement and form of the animals; an eagle’s wing vanishes into the downey tufts of twin feathers, their shafts seeming to support his body. The phoenix crouches, his talons caught in the ashes that collect at the base of the feather.
For the artist, the painted features are a way of satisfying her wanderlust; like birds of flight, her hands dance, imagining strange and wonderful worlds where animals run wild. Take a look. (via Oddity Central)
For his series Animal Eyes, the Armenian photographer Suren Manvelyan captures close-ups of animal eyeballs belonging to diverse creatures, revealing both the complexity and universality of the organ. Beneath his macro lens, these small circular organs appear paradoxically vast; at times, their curved surfaces resemble the entirety of planet Earth as seen from space, cloudy with ribbons of pigmentation. Here, the eyes, considered to be windows to the soul, reflect back a cosmic realm that evokes the metaphysical, but at the same time, they are startlingly material. The pupil, a seeming abyss ascending into the unknown, is cushioned by substantial tissues that ground us firmly within the corporeal world.
Though the species shot here vary immensely, a comforting uniformity emerges from the images; through the changes in iris hue and pupil dilation, there is a shared urgency in each gaze, a sweeping desire simply to see. The horse, his eyes veiled in straw-like lashes, fixes the lens with the same intensity as the hippo, whose wrinkled, fleshy eyelids peel back. Where most photography relies upon the assumption that we may watch without fear of being observed ourselves, Manvelyan’s images inspire within us a sense of being seen; are these opened eyes, these celestial orbs, looking back at us? What do they see? Check out the artist’s photographs of the human eye here. (via Agonistica)
Madrid-based artist Sara Landeta juxtaposes the natural world with the chemically engineered by using medicine boxes as her canvas to creates beautiful ornithological drawings inspired by the work of 19th-century artist John James Audubon.
By using the bird as her prime subject, the artist looks to explore the idea of freedom, or lack there of, in constricted and open spaces, and the notions of a natural world that is dependent on the synthetic to survive.
Imagine your favorite teddy bear and or snuggly stuffed animal shrunken down to fit atop your fingertip, and you have the magical creations of Su Ami, an artistic company in Vietnam devoted to creating delightfully miniature crochet animals. The family run business includes only 5 expert craftsman who work to imbue the tiny woven creatures with unique and touching personalities.
Because of the animals’ itty bitty frame, each stitch is noticeable, highlighting the careful handmade nature of the work. In each turn of the yarn, we imagine the delicate movements of human fingers, and each being becomes impossibly precious. Heightening their dearness is the fact that delightful creatures are so easily lost; like microscopic pets, their vulnerability inspires us to cherish them and hold fast to their tiny bodies. In this way, the pieces recall the nostalgic yearning of a child for his toy.
Despite their smallness, each creation has an impressively distinct character. With the slightest opening of the mouth, a gecko exudes a curious and playful attitude; a long-beaked bird stares in awe of her own crochet egg. Two squirrels tell a story, peering up at the sky in unison; similarly, a parent elephant watches over her child, whose plastic button eyes seek approval. A lion turns his head with a poignant frown, as if startled by his own size. All animals great and small, from the littlest snail to the tallest giraffe, inhabit the same magical space, cautiously yet courageously exploring the large world they miraculously inhabit. (via Demilked)
New Zealand-based artist Karley Feaver creates assemblages that involve a mixture of stuffed birds and various costume-like adornment ( human hair, gold plated metal, wood, and more). The artist claims that the animals she uses are ethically sourced and have died of natural causes.
Through her grotesque yet beautiful sculptures, the artist explores the idea of transformation and adornment, as her current interests rest in nature’s ability to survive in different forms by adapting, adjusting, and mutating into an increasingly man-made environment.
She intends to make these birds look other-worldly. Interestingly enough, she is successful at doing this by using materials that we are very familiar with (human hair, gold, and wood). She makes an interesting juxtaposition between the natural and the unnatural, the familiar and the unfamiliar- specifically to make a point about the unnatural efforts animals (in general) have to make in order to survive in a man-made environment.
Through the ages people have made beautiful things for themselves and others by using materials from their nearby environment. Birds are known to do the same, especially when seeking to attract a mate. Feaver’s new works bring the image of beauty almost to the edge of absurdity, their appearance is both bizarre and extraordinary, unlike any other creature on earth.
(via Brown Paper Bag)
‘Dirds’ is a series of Photoshopped images that combine the heads and bodies of birds and dogs. We’re not sure exactly who started this new internet craze but we have to admit that we can’t stop looking at these perplexing creatures.
Although they are incredibly cute, you might still find yourself thinking about how these flying pup hybrids are actually quite disturbing.
Photoshop allows us to have more power than ever before. We can literally make anything come to a tangible existence.
What do you think about these ‘creations’?
Artist and desinger Fabrizio Lamoncha works with more than a little bit of humor. His Pooprinter project statement begins with the quote “A common idiosyncratic habit in all birds is their inevitable punk nature to shit over our most precious belongings.” The project is as innovative as it is gross. Lamoncha slowly prints an alphabet on large sheets of paper by using strategically placed perches and the birds own droppings. Check out the time-lapse video of the bird poop in action above and enjoy Lamoncha’s toungue-in-cheek explanation the project:
“A group of male zebra finches underwent this experiment with rigorous commitment. The author/captor, taking the role of some kind of 1984´s Big brother, is providing the implementation guidelines for the transformation of this countercultural attitude into a marketable artsy product. The observation of this group of non-breeding birds in captivity and the experimentation with induced behaviors has been rigorously documented for this task.” (via booooooom)