Viola’s plaid suitcase was empty except for this tiny scrap of paper.
When Willard Psychiatric Center in New York’s Finger Lakes area closed its doors in 1995, staff member Bev Courtwright made a miraculous discovery. Tucked away in the attic were a collection of over 400 abandoned suitcases containing the possessions of their original owners before they were committed to the institution. Photographer Jon Crispin began documenting the collections of belongings in 2011, offering a poignant look into the lives of the people who entered this place (and often never left).
The patients and their suitcases arrived at the Center between 1910 and 1960. Since many of them were treated for chronic mental illness, it wasn’t uncommon that patients died while in the hospital and were buried in the graveyard across the street. If no family member came to claim their belongings, they were taken and stored in the room where Courtwright eventually found them.
The suitcases and trunks vary in their contents, of course, and some were more robustly-packed than others. This fascinating series that examines the objects we hold sacred and what we’re personally attached to, as strange as they may seem. Crispin’s website sheds light on the individual stories of each patient, and in a way memorializes those who owned them. (Via Let’s Get Lost. H/T Meighan O’Toole)
Japanese Photographer Hal has crafted a bizarre-yet-eye catching series titled Fresh Love, which features an intimate couple vacuumed sealed together. It’s part of an advertisement for Condomania Shop in Tokyo, and it plays on the idea of what the shop sells, which, if you couldn’t guess, is condoms.
This series cleverly references a tightly-encased object and the aesthetics of a condom in all of its shrink-wrapped glory. We see an abstracted and visceral view of people, distorted by both the plastic, proximity towards each other, and the lack of space. Flesh is pressed against the surface and every hair and blemish is visible. It’s partially disgusting to see flesh that contorted, but creates a fascinating effect.
Due to the limited air supply, the couples could only be left inside the sealed bag for about 10 seconds. If you’re curious about the photographer and his creative process, check out the video after the jump. It explores the ways in which he achieved his vision and the feelings of the couples involved with the project. (Via designboom)
Polish photographer Maciek Jasik creates blurry, colorful compositions that feature both female and male nudes. Jasik’s subjects exist in a surreal, hazy and colorful landscape, one that nullifies their identity but exposes their natural state of being. The artist is particularly interested in conveying privacy, expression through a medium [photography] that, for the most part, focuses on revealing detailed and realistic portrayals.
Inspired by the emotionally charged impressionist painting of the 19th century, Jasik insists in creating work with photographic techniques that more or less do the same as a loose brushstroke on canvas.
“I began experimenting with an in-camera technique to dissolve the focus and saturate the space with color. There were several post-Impressionist paintings there that stunned me with how emotionally powerful they were, with scarcely any detail, I wanted to evoke that same feeling in photography by emphasizing color and movement.”
As natural gas reserves lessen and human population increases, many artists have taken the task of portraying dystopian versions of our world, visually demonstrating the costs of urban sprawl. Viennese-based photographer Hubert Blanz has taken the expansion of the world’s highways to their terrifying logical conclusion, offering a digitally collaged set of images which imagines the road systems stacked upon each other in endless repetition.
Offering visions of a planet covered by concrete and blacktop, there is a swirling, organized chaos found in the photos, one which mirrors the many present day megalopolis of the world. Displaying roads which lead to nowhere, but are expansions built upon assumptions of the future we are heading towards, the Hindelang, Germany-born Blanz explains his quixotic photoseries; “Roadshow is a series of images formed and built up from the digital recordings of pre-existing freeways networks, roads, bridges, and intersections. The images are both documentations of actual built spaces and the imaginary re-creation of potential new cities.” (via foxgrl)
Simultaneously showcasing the art of construction as well as deconstruction, photographer Brandon Edgar Allen captures the inner workings of some of our favorite video game controllers in his series entitled Deconstructed. The Sega Dreamcast, Nintendo 64, and Playstation consoles are all represented with their circuit boards, buttons, and plastic containers neatly organized on a rustic wood background. Allen’s photographs depict controllers that were played until they wouldn’t play any more. Buttons are worn down and mutilated. Plastic is dirty and torn. Sometimes, the parts were fried.
Despite its niche appeal, these objects are so ingrained into our culture that even you can probably recognize them even if you don’t play video games. The shape of the controller has become an symbol for its specific console and our not-so-new national pastime, especially as the next generation Playstations and XBoxes come with increasingly more “non game” features.
Fans and non fans can both appreciate this series. Those who love video games will enjoy the nostalgia that comes from seeing these well-loved controllers. Those who aren’t video game fanatics can enjoy Allen’s work as a study of objects, and a series full of small idiosyncrasies. (Via Junk Culture)
For award-winning photographer Oliver Grunewald, the medium of capturing images offers the ability to document, share, and investigate the natural forces which shape our world. Grunewald, along with his partner, journalist Bernadette Gilbertas, travel the globe, focusing on natural wonder, which for the French photographer offers, “…a pretext for immersing himself in the world as it was in the early days of its creation, and his patient quest for the magical, ephemeral light that best underscores the wild primitive side of nature pays off.”
As part of a massive body of work focused on volcanic activity around the world, Serfdom of Sulphur Night, offers some of the more intense photographs taken at the Kawah Ijen Volcano in Indonesia. Grunewald explains the genesis of the series, “For over 40 years, miners have been extracting sulfur from the crater of Kawah Ijen in Indonesia. To double their meager income, the hardiest of these men work nights, by the electric blue light of the sulfuric acid exhaled by the volcano before climbing up to the top of the volcano with their heavy charge.” (via myampgoesto11)
Australian photographer Greg Briggs‘ new photoseries Melbourne Cleaners highlights the often nameless faces that clean and restore the seemingly untouched galleries, theaters and museums. By focusing on the people who keep these spaces pristine, Briggs not only acknowledges the work of these people, but also takes the viewer behind the scenes to an even more quite, contemplative place, rarely seen by most museum-goers.
Taking place via a virtual tour of important architecture and places throughout Melbourne, Australia, Briggs’ photoseries was captured over six months. Capturing these workers who generally work alone, they are seemingly oblivious to the camera, and are caught in intensely private moments alone with their work. One cannot help but notice how these abandoned, quiet, spaces might be a better way to actually appreciate all the works of art we often walk right by during busy open hours.
Katie Hosmer at My Modern Met writes, “The artist captures what seem like voyeuristic moments as cleaners go about their work in some of the city’s important and iconic buildings including St Paul’s Cathedral and The Queens Hall, Parliament House. Surrounded by classic architecture andfamous artwork, each individual concentrates on the task at hand and seems completely unaware of the camera’s presence. Viewers can almost hear the low hum of polishing machines, the soft whoosh of feathers dusting across the nooks of a picture frame, and the splatter of bottle spraying cleaner along the surface of glass.” (via mymodernmet)
There’s a dog in every one of these photographs. Do you see it? Based on a famous game, Andrew Knapp and his border collie Momo find a variety of places to play hide and seek. Urban areas, grassy parks, graffitied walls and rocky terrain are just some of where you can spot Momo (or at least try). Knapp and his furry friend play this ongoing game called Find Momo with the fans of their blog around the world.
This light-hearted and amusing series is reminiscent of the Where’s Waldo books that many of us enjoyed as kids. Momo is good at hiding, and it’s genuinely difficult to spot him in some of these photographs. Further adding to the feeling of nostalgia, Knapp applies a vintage filter to his images, and they look like they are memories of another time.
If you didn’t know the premise behind them, you can still enjoy these images for the quirky American landscapes that they are. (Via DeMilked)