Joel Tretin calls himself a Photo Humorist and that description seems perfectly apt. His photo series Stranger in Paradox “looks at what’s true and totally screws with it.” At first glance, the pictures seem deceptively straightforward—portraits of the city shot in a somewhat generic ad-agency aesthetic. Hidden in plain sight are the visual jokes: a parking ticket on the windshield on a sports car in a building height ad; a carousel over a revolving door; an elephant walking though the green murkiness of a subway. The Photoshop manipulations are mostly seamless—it really looks like that woman is pushing an eight-seat stroller, and that sporty yellow cab looks real next to its stodgier brother. A stack of cars make the most of a lone parking space.
The subtlest images make you work for them. A lit Wall Street façade, American flags… oh, there. The don’t walk sign is flipping the bird. The traffic sign points to the “Road Most Taken” an apparent play on Robert Frost’s Road Less Taken.
Photo manipulation in art is often used to create surreal imagery. And these pictures are surreal in that they portray things that are unreal and often fantastic, but the photos lack the intention and technique that transform pictures into fine art. Which seems to be just fine with Trentin, who says:
I am a failed stand up comedian, who now tries to make people laugh through photography.
Here at Beautiful/Decay, we don’t limit our features to art and design created by the human species. In large cities like Tokyo where there are few trees, birds may find it hard to come by nesting materials. Because of this lack, crafty crows have begun to use wire coat hangers to build their abodes, stealing them from nearby apartments. Crows’ nests are typically composed of interlocking twigs and some wire to create a sturdy structure for the birds’ eggs so it’s not hard to understand how hangers could be deemed appropriate materials by the crows. These wiry nests appear sculptural in their construction, their placements among tree branches marking a stark contrast between the natural and man-made. Crows are intelligent creatures and have been known to recognize human faces, bend wires into hooks in order reach food, crack open walnuts by dropping them from a height, and even memorize garbage truck schedules in order to track down food supplies. (via amusing planet)
Artist Nathan Walsh‘s paintings of urban environments seem impressively realistic. The attention to detail in turn demands the viewers attention to small pockets of each canvas. Varying textures, reflections on water and glass, effects of light are all captured so acutely, it’s nearly mesmerizing. Exploring each piece is similar to exploring that little patch of neighborhood as a tourist. However, it is Walsh’s careful attention to perspective that set his work apart. It is easy to understand why he may often be lumped in with a larger group of Photorealist painters. However, close consideration of his work reveals Walsh isn’t set on a meticulously faithful reproduction of a photograph or scene. Rather, he seems to endeavor to depict the idea of a space, the feeling of depth.
In his essay on the artist, Michael Parasko expounds on this and writes concerning Walsh’s use of perspective:
“The way Walsh constructs pictorial space takes two forms. The first is a horizontal extension and the second an illusion of depth. Both are exaggerated so that neither method results in the reproduction of nature; yet in such exaggerations Walsh has sought to create believable space. We are convinced into thinking these are images of the world as it is, but the truth is that space in these paintings is not really like the space we inhabit at all. They seem to prove Quintallian’s old adage, ‘The perfection of art is to conceal art.’…Although there is real quality in the way Walsh extends space in this lateral way, my personal view is that Walsh’s most individual works are concerned with the illusion of deep space within the canvas. In these there is a real sense of an artist balancing the need to maintain the illusion of reality with the desire to push the illusion of very deep space to its limits.”
Film maker and photographer Michael Shainblum captured familiar city scenes in a way you’ve likely never seen them. Shainblum captures time lapse sequences of cities such as Las Vegas, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Chicaog, then folds it in on itself. The urban landscapes are seamlessly divided and replicated into four segments. In a strange way, this hypnotic abstraction of the city nearly seems to make it easier to see the city as whole. Each metropolis appears to pulse and glow as if it were a living being or complex computer system. The video allows the viewer to step back and see the city as a complex collective system. [via]
The cities of Amy Casey exist precariously. Buildings tower, tilt, and balance about to topple. Much like actual city life, the metropolis’ in Casey’s paintings can seem like a hard-fought existence bound by community. Further tying her paintings with actual cities are the buildings that actually inhabit both worlds – amazingly, every single home and building in Casey’s paintings is based on one of her numerous photographs of actual structures. In her statement, Casey says of her work:
“Cities are fascinating creatures that I am just beginning to scratch the surface of. The work and organization that goes into a city’s creation and evolution, the constant shifting and adaptations, and the sometimes hidden history of these changes and a city’s dependence on civilian cooperation are things I like to think about.”
Also, check out a short documentary on Amy Casey here.
The photographic images of artist Ahn Jun unfold at dizzying heights. Ahn captures her self-portraits perched atop ledges and windowsills. The frightening heights don’t act as a gimmick it does in the current Russian fad that may come to mind. Rather, Ahn uses the elevation more as a narrative tool. While clearly referencing suicide, she pushes the story beyond that also. She nearly seems not only to be involved in an inner drama but interacting with the cityscape as a whole – she looks as if to be addressing the city personally.
Shaun Kardinal transforms found and scavenged postcards into geometric altered spaces that are hypnotic. His site is full of places, people and things that he’s created on found images and redistributed into the world.