Stunningly Beautiful Photos Of Man o’ Wars Resemble Technicolor Rorschach Tests

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Using a custom light table, photographer Aaron Ansarov has captured the ethereal and frightening beauty of Portuguese Man o’ Wars in his series “Zooids.” Each one of these floating, compound marine animals are actually a colony of four different kinds of organism, each adapted to perform a specific function for the benefit of the whole, unable to survive on their own.

“As if looking through a special lens into a different dimension, Aaron has given them personalities that seems to shift with every viewer. Through Aaron’s masterful use of light, technique, and ability to go beyond the obvious, we are able to see patterns come together to create a fine-art collection of images entitled, Zooids: Faces of Tiny Warriors-beautiful creatures seeking their place in the world.”

Like gorgeous Rorschach tests, the images are symmetrical and abstract, familiar and indecipherable. The photographs are fine art, ready for display, yet scientists use them for research as well, since the creatures can only be kept alive in a lab for a limited time.
Why are these creatures so beautiful? From an ecological perspective, they don’t need to lure their prey with their multi-colored translucent displays. They look like blown glass, colorful and tactile, yet touching one would result in painful stings and welts from its long, stringy tentacles. It’s certainly a metaphor, that something so lovely can cause so much pain.

Ansarov finds the Portuguese Man o’ Wars on the beaches in Florida, having been blown ashore by the wind. He takes them to his studio, shoots them, and then returns them to the place on the beach where he found them, allowing nature to decide their fate.

“I have two rules with this project. The first is that captured creatures must be released unharmed. The second rule is that I keep shoots to 15 minutes or less, even if I don’t get the picture I hoped for. I don’t want to frighten my subjects. Besides, there’s always another time-they live right here.” (Source)

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Timo Vaittinen

Timo Vaittinen

I found Finish painter Timo Vaittinen while browsing The Company of People (international community art project based in New York). Mystical centaurs, hot dogs on a grill, and weird people in creatures-of-a-furry nature outfits sound like a lot of fun…it also sounds like my birthday party (happening right now!)

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Will Ainley

Hairy Beast

Hairy Beast

Will Ainley is bringing weird back! His illustrations are all about creatures with spindly arms, crazy teeth, and funky personalities. You have to wonder what a conversation might be like with one of them; they seem like they could be friendly, maybe just misunderstood, but sweet. His portfolio consists mainly of pencil illustrations and vector work, sometimes together, sometimes separate; Ainley’s Prog Rock Monster is a cool example of how he drafts and produces his creatures, down to the last detail. He’s got a great sense of color, and adds a lot of character to his illustrations by exploring line theory, texture, and distortion. More after the jump!

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