Through careful manipulation, Silvia Grav‘s ethereal black and white images capture a psychological realm where death and fear lurk around each corner, a world beyond the material where rich blacks and blinding white tones evoke a heightened anxiety and ecstasy. In her spooky portraits, the self is blurred by smoke and transparency, as if transported from the page by some unknowable force.
As with the works of the prolific photographer Francesca Woodman, Grav’s images are often set against the backdrop of the domestic space. The house, associated symbolically with the female, is no longer seen as safe or comforting; deteriorated walls and filthy floors cannot protect or contain inhabitants, and a woman rises ghostly towards a lit window. In another eerie image, the sleeping female is disturbed in sleep, her delicate floral bedding overcast by a foreboding shadow whose presence forces her to cover her breast and frightfully clasp at her back. Later, she is shown to be levitating, reaching out for the comforts of her mattress.
Within the terror of the images lies a sort of ecstasy, a dreamy surrender to instability and fright. The woman subject, surrounded by smoke clouds that seem to melt away her flesh, clasps her skeleton hands in rapturous prayer. Her nighttime slumber is seen in mysterious light, and she basks in its warmth, seeming to wriggle with delirium so that the majority of her body is pulled out of the frame.
The impressive work seems to invoke the memory of troubled women artists who came before. In one poignant image, the artist seems to mirror the famous profile portrait of Virginia Woolf by the photographer George Charles Beresford, down to the dark, pulled-back hair, the white blouse, and the ominous shadow below the eye. Contributing to the dialogue on femininity and mortality began by the likes of Woodman and Woolf, Grav adds a unique and potent modern voice. (via Colossal)
Like many directors, Stanley Kubrick (known for such iconic films as The Shining, Clockwork Orange, 2001: A Space Odyssey, and Full Metal Jacket) began his love of film for the medium’s capacity to immediately capture scenes developing around him. The award-winning director’s photographs show early promise, mastering stylistic elements such as composition, lighting, balance and subject, which might not be surprising. However, the young Kubrick’s subject matter, mostly street-scenes with everyday New York and Greenwich Village people, life and struggles, might surprise some coming from the famed science fiction director. The photos, which have a nostalgic tone not necessarily associated with the forward-thinking director, certainly bring a romantic mood to the seemingly simpler time.
Many of these photos were taken during the 1940′s, while Kubrick was employed as a photographer for Look Magazine (a gig he landed while still a student at City College New York). It was while working for Look that Kubrick began associating with the film programs at the Museum of Modern Art, a connection which eventually launched Kubrick into a career in his life-long interest of film. (via everyday-i-show)
In an unusual attempt to explore their own digestive tracts, student artists Luke Evans and Joshua Lake swallowed single frames of 35mm film, folding each piece in a brightly colored capsule that allowed for the acids and bodily fluids to process the film with minimal risk of colon damage. Once excreted, the negatives were recovered, cleaned, and studied in detail by an electron microscope; ultimately, they were printed into giant black and white works.
The project, titled “I turn myself inside out” is an almost uncomfortably intimate and human exploration of the photographic medium. Normally, images are produced and processed by machinery, light, and chemicals, but this provocative series substitutes the artists’ own bodies and their fluids for the impersonal metal gears and glass lens of a camera.
The images themselves are so strong because of their unexpected three-dimensionality; while most film photographs flatten space, condensing foregrounds and background to create a compelling work of art, Evans and Lake’s work does the opposite. Each frame looks like a scientific image taken from a microscope. The digestive process and the resultant breakdown of the film’s emulsion afford each image its dimensionality, transcending the medium’s traditional reliance on light and shadow to convey space.
The most miraculous aspect of the work lies perhaps in the tension that arises between the intimate and vulnerable bodily process and the somewhat impersonal aesthetic of the resultant images. Once printed, the images become abstract explorations of tone and space, their apparently inhuman, unemotional form subverted only by the knowledge of their painfully visceral creation. What do you think: gross or cool? (via Wired and Oddity Central)
As we wave goodbye to Halloween, let’s take a minute to mediate on the innately striking work of Diane Arbus and her unbiased approach to documenting not just the spookier side of humanity, but even more so, the masks or costumes we present to the world as a species, as human beings, as ourselves . . . year-round.
Now, when I use the word “unbiased” here I am not suggesting Arbus’s eye is roaming and invisible. Quite the contrary. Her eye is always distinctly there: focused, from one frame to the next. This “unbiased” quality has more to do with her indiscriminate examination of each subject in the same oddly intimate and unflinching way– regardless of class, age, gender, sexual preference, or race. In other words, a child with a toy hand grenade in the park looks equally as strange as the a woman lounging next to a toy poodle or a handful of residents dressed up on Halloween at a home for the mentally retarded. No one person, group, or act is more privileged. No one is all the more beautiful. We are all playing dress-up as far as identity and image is concerned.
By seeking out each individual’s innate desire to present him or herself and critically or creatively twisting that into her own perception of costume in each person’s presentation, Arbus became not just a photographer, but an alchemist, shifting our ideas of self, reality, and personal intention. Whether you are a part of celebrity culture or a more marginalized society spread out along the fringe, Arbus’s certain way of looking did not glorify one way of living over the other.
In his new book, Across the Ravaged Land,photographer Nick Brandt features petrified animal remains found along a lake in Northern Tanzania that contains lethal levels of alkaline.
Brandt explains, “I unexpectedly found the creatures – all manner of birds and bats – washed up along the shoreline of Lake Natron in Northern Tanzania. No-one knows for certain exactly how they die, but it appears that the extreme reflective nature of the lake’s surface confuses them, and like birds crashing into plate glass windows, they crash into the lake. The water has an extremely high soda and salt content, so high that it would strip the ink off my Kodak film boxes within a few seconds. The soda and salt causes the creatures to calcify, perfectly preserved, as they dry.
I took these creatures as I found them on the shoreline, and then placed them in ‘living’ positions, bringing them back to ‘life’, as it were. Reanimated, alive again in death.” (via gizmondo)
The photographs of Jan Erik Waider seem to turn natural formations into abstract sculptures. His series Ice on Black captures icebergs in stark black and white photography. The textures, movement, and shape of the floating ice is surprisingly sculptural. The graceful masses of ice juxtaposed against the larger field of open sea nearly seem like a painterly decision. Waider is a graphic designer by trade, but his passion if for photography and the northern landscape. He specifically captures the majority of his photographs in and near Greenland and Iceland.
Street Artist Joe Boruchow is an expert at manipulating positive and negative space. His work intertwines stark black and white graphic cut outs, often cleverly playing each off the other. Boruchow’s street art compositions are made up of simple but powerful images, wheat paste posters in public spaces. He interacts with his work, much like a stencil or etching, indeed, frequently creating corresponding cut paper pieces of his posters. While adeptly balancing positive and negative space in each poster, Boruchow also give careful attention to the postivie and negative space of the city. His posters can be found filling empty areas of doorways, windows, and walls.
It may take a few glances to realize the work of Juan Carlos Manjarrez are paintings and not photographs. Manjarrez captures an amazing amount of detail and realism in his work. His black and white palette coupled with a photographic sensibility only add to his paintings’ hyper-realism. Amazingly, Manjarrez is a self-taught painter – though he has attended graduate school, he majored in architecture. Manjarrez has been exhibiting professionally for the past twenty years.