Austrian photographer and diver Andreas Franke has created a hauntingly beautiful series of images called “The Sinking World” in which he layers studio photographs over underwater ship wrecks. In 2009, the USS Vandenberg was lowered into the ocean off the coast of Florida to serve as an artificial reef. When Franke encountered the ship while diving, he was inspired by the vessel’s haunting emptiness. For the Vandenberg project, Franke superimposes photographs of recognizable, everyday scenes; the studio figures appear ghostly, as if they are re-enacting scenes that previously took place in a lively atmosphere. The empty ship becomes a site that reveals snapshots of a lost, surreal world, discovering the humanity that lurks among the ships hallways, passages, and decks. Franke creates an unexpected dream world where a viewer is pulled into a strange, new, and fantastical place.
This sunken ship not only provides the setting for Franke’s superimpositions, but also serves as a gallery where divers can swim up to Franke’s work, viewing his photographs in the very place that inspired his images. From the project’s website,
“The pictures engender extreme polarities: the soft, secretive underwater emptiness of sleeping shipwrecks is paired with real, authentic sceneries full of liveliness and vigor, thus creating a new world, equally bizarre and irresistibly entangling…
These spectacular underwater galleries make divers fall under their spell and display the work of the ocean itself. During the weeks and months under water the ocean bequeaths impressive, peerless traces to the pictures. It adorns them with a certain, peculiar patina, endowing them with the countenance of bizarre evanescence and transfiguring them into rare beauties.”
Franke has also created two other series of shipwreck images using period piece studio photography, as opposed to the everyday activities of the Vandenberg project. For the SS Stavronikita shipwreck, Franke superimposes photographs of people dressed in clothing and participating in activities evocative of Rococo. For the USS Mohawk, a WWII shipwreck, Franke imagines what life on the ship might look like, and creates a series of images in which the sailors have returned to haunt the ship. (via slow art day)
Brooklyn-based graphic designer Victoria Siemer, also known as Witchoria, has an ongoing photography series updated weekly called ‘Human Error” in which the artist digitally overlays an existential or lovelorn computerized error message over a scanned Polaroid. The error message prompts the viewer for an action or to wait, illustrating the futility of this technological exercise when perceived in the context of heartbreak or ennui. Siemer’s series elegantly pairs new technology, represented by the computerized message, with older technology, represented by the vintage mode of a Polaroid photograph, combining the nostalgia evoked by a Polaroid with the technological angst that fuels many of our modern relationships.
London-based Japanese photographer Chino Otsuka has created a series of time-traveling photo manipulations that allow her past and present selves to exist in the same time and place. Titled “Imagine Finding Me,” the series is a result of Ostuka digitally splicing her image into old photographs from her childhood during the 70s and 80s, creating seamless collaged manipulations. These photographs represent a doubled identity for Otsuka, reflecting both her Japanese roots and the heavy influence of Western culture. They also raise questions about how we remember our pasts and how these stories intersect with our modern lives. Otsuka explains, “The digital process becomes a tool, almost like a time machine, as I’m embarking on the journey to where I once belonged and at the same time becoming a tourist in my own history.” (via my modern met)
Perhaps the digital artwork of Antonio Strafella isn’t so profane as it may at first seem. His series Spiritual Hero at once compares and juxtaposes saints and superheroes, the holy and the vulgar. Comic books are often thought of as the exclusive domain of young people, rarely taken serious. However, in a strange way the superheroes don’t seem exceptionally out of place in Strafella’s work. Indeed, many of the grand story lines of the characters featured by Strafella have clear Biblical references. He goes on to say:
“These icons have various aspects in common: saints do miracles and superheroes have superpowers, both are venerated, opening the conflict between faith and zealotry.”
Suellen Parker builds each character from unforgettable moments of strangers or friends. First, she starts with sculpting the shape from plastiline clay before photographing it with a blank backdrop. Then, simultaneously, she scavengers for props, walls, or environments that might suit a certain character well and shoots those too. All of these images are finally loaded into a computer, where the art of merging and manipulation occurs. Skin tones are “digitally painted” and human faces technologically blend with clay while backgrounds stitch together to create a new imaginative world.
Of Letting Go, her most recent series collected here, Parker strives to twist not only mediums, but also gender roles. She suggests her characters concretely and conceptually have a fine blend of both, and states, they “are attempting to find a sacred space, a place of vulnerability, a place where they allow themselves to be really seen. By quieting one’s life, even momentarily, an opportunity is presented to learn truths about oneself. By engaging in private play, one is able to let go of expectations and rules. The result is a private and truthful moment that may be enjoyed without fear of judgment or consequence.”
Hungarian artist Bence Hajdu digitally edited out all the characters from old master paintings for his aptly titled series Abandoned Paintings. What started as a simple study of perspectival drawing turned into a series about the environments of renaissance painting which, outside the world of art historians, is largely ignored. Previously encouraged by the painters to focus on the Virgin Mary, Jesus and his disciples, Horatii warriors, and baby angels, we now shift our attention to tiled floors, towns outside the window, empty dinner tables, arches, boats, and gardens. Work this flawless is always stunning to stare at, and will hopefully inspire lots of photoshop-savvy art history enthusiasts to do this with all their favorite paintings. Bence’s statement:
“I am a student at the university of fine arts, hungary. At one of the descriptive geometry classes we had a task to find and draw the perspective and horizon lines of renaissance and other pictures with significant perspective space. I thought it is not that interesting to just draw lines, so I decided to erase all the characters from them and examine how the painter really created the perspective space and how it actually looks. I saw this could be something exciting and continued thinking and working on it. After a while I found myself interested in the new atmosphere and the new thoughts the retouched pieces generated without their main subjects.”
( via )
Flemish artist Filip Dujardin often uses digital manipulation to create not-so-unbelievable architectural fictions. Juxtaposing his Orwell-ian structures of corrugated metal against antiquated fireplaces he shines a rather dismal light on our architectural future. But, if there’s one thing HGTV has taught me it’s that with some new drapes and a fresh coat of paint nothing is impossible!