Photographer Jonathan May reveals a poignant narrative of the lives of former Mexican gang members now united through a love of art and tattoos. This series, titled Desert Ink, explores a compelling story of eight men now leading honest lives away from the troubles of their past. Coming from a background filled with gangs, violence, drugs, and death, the men have set out for a new life to change their fate and future. Now living in Indio, California, these once criminals are bonded together in a different kind of brotherhood, one that is connected through their passion for tattoo art.
The men, Chip, Dreamer, Sinner, Lazz, Assault, Case 1, Angel, and G-Money, all began tattooing due to unforeseen circumstances. Those of them who spent time in prison began tattooing themselves and other fellow inmates. The others were also self-taught, creating homemade tattoo guns to pursue their newfound artistic talent. The eight of them, now working in their own shop, find redemption and purpose in focusing on something as positive and meaningful as tattoo art. It is a chance to make a permanent imprint on someone, almost literally. By rechanneling their efforts and talents into a constructive outlet, these men have found a shared talent that has united them for life. Jonathan May sheds a warm light on men who by no means have had it easy, but have found a way to change their lives for the better. (via FeatureShoot)
Chicago-based photographer Evan Baden has captures the world of adolescent sexting in his series cleverly titled Technically Intimate. The word “sexting” was officially added to the dictionary in 2012—that is how common this word and action is. Selfies and nudes being sent back and forth to people via smart phones has become commonplace. The fact of the matter is, these explicit photos never truly disappear. Evan Baden shines light on the privacy issues at hand concerning digitally sent photos, especially ones that are meant to be intimate or private. Interestingly enough, the title of this series, Technically Intimate, refers to a level of intimacy that is perhaps supposed to be felt between the people doing the sharing of sexual photos. Although the intention of these photos may have started out as intimate between two lovers, they remain forever in the public sphere. Therefore, no intimacy can be achieved.
Evan Baden starts each photograph with an image from real life, found online. He then hires a model to pose in a similar way, in a similarly adolescent environment. The final result is a re-imagined version of the original photos that has been shared online, accessible for anyone to see. In this uncomfortably close series, we are a fly on the wall, looking into a both private and public situation. For more amazing photography with an eye on pop-culture and its digitalization, Evan Baden is in an exhibition that will be on view September 19th until January 17th at the NRW-Forum Düsseldorf Contemporary Culture Center titled Ego Update: The Future of the Digital Identity.
Baden delves deeper into his intriguing series explaining this incredibly relevant topic. (via FeatureShoot)
“The poses in my images emphasize the repetitiveness of the sexual images that pervade our society while the rooms that the scenes are staged in and the ages of the room’s occupant clash with those highly sexualized poses, causing an unease in the viewing of those pictured and reminding the viewer that with every leap we take in technology and convenience there is an equally deep crevasse into which we can fall.”
Bizarre and surreal animal manipulations are artist Sarah Deremer’s specialty. In her series titled Balloon Zoo, she transforms colorful balloon animals into the real life animals they represent. At first glance, you may think that the balloons have been painted to look hyper real. However, once you see the animal eye looking back at you, it is unmistakable that something is different about these balloon animals. Each creature is still in the shape of a balloon animal, but appears to have characteristics and features of its living counterpart. Their bright colors and fun shapes contrast against the visible textures of fur, shell, and skin. Both cute and a little odd, her quirky critters will have you staring, trying to decipher what is real and what is not.
After receiving her bachelor’s in photography, she took her work to the next level through digital manipulation. It is truly amazing how the details of the real animal bend and form around each part of the balloon version. Animal manipulation is a common theme in Deremer’s work, as she has other work titled Animal Food and Big Mouth Birds that will change your perception of what could be possible in the animal kingdom.
“Balloon Zoo is a photo-manipulation project showing the realistic rendition of children’s balloon animals. The balloons are all re-imagined with realistic elements, made by combining photos of balloons with photos of the animals they represent.”
Polish photographer Pola Esther takes us behind the scenes of the concert film of the K-Pop world’s hottest band, Big Bang. Although the South Korean band’s five infamous members star in this film, Esther has turned an eye onto the bad girls that steal the show. The unforgettable women in the film include Gia Genevieve, Stephanie Shiu, TK, and Briana Michelle, and cameo appearance of James Goldstein. The photographer gives us a glimpse behind the scenes us of the powerhouse characters on set.
The creators of the film, Dikayl Rimmasch and Ed Burke, have had their hand in cinematic music videos before. They also collaborated on Jay-Z and Beyonce’s film “Bang Bang” featured during “On the Run” tour which has a similar film noir feel as the Big Bang’s film. The film’s unmistakable style pulls inspiration from American mythology. This incredibly dramatic film portrays the group in high-speed car chases, like that of the Fast and the Furious, and Tarantino-like scenes similar to Reservoir Dogs that are full of high tension. Esther, now based in New York City, has a photographic style that fits together perfectly with the seductive qualities of the film directors’ approach. Her work takes us one step deeper, showing us a little of whom these bad girls are in the film. Each photograph holds a sense of classic mystery, with the flair of old Hollywood. Make sure to check out more of Esther’s captivating and sensual photographs on her website.
That seemingly irrational paranoia of always being watched begins to rise when viewing photographs from Andrew Hammerand’s series, The New Town. The artist, currently based near Phoenix, Arizona, has created a power play in the dichotomy between watching and being watched. He offers us a glimpse into the lives of a small, Midwest town and its anonymous inhabitants by electronically accessing and controlling a webcam on a cellular tower, taking screen-shots of what was captured over the course of a year. This camera, overlooking the town, is appropriately located on a steeple of a church, giving new meaning to “omnipresent”. This camera is watching over the people, not unlike a higher power. The question is who is in charge, who has the power? Do the townspeople have power through the safety gained by being observed, or do we have the power because we are doing the looking? We live in a world of meta-data in which digital snapshots are constantly being taken, whether it is through the lens of literal cameras, or by information given from our Google searches.
One element that is especially significant in this remarkably unique series is the anonymity behind every aspect of it. The artist is unknown to the subjects being watched, the town’s location and peoples’ identity are also a mystery to us. Although we see small hints of each person’s life, what he or she is doing remains unclear. We have no indication if their intentions are malicious or moral. By nature, even the viewer is anonymous to the artist, especially when the artist’s work is being displayed through digital publications like this one. The grainy quality of the photos makes each composition all the more intriguing. We are wrapped up in the mystery, in the unknown story of these peoples’ lives. We see them playing in a park, pushing a stroller, and texting, but we do not know them at all. Even further, many of the subjects seem isolated in spite of being around others. Are we all detached through the lens of a camera, or does the convenience of the digital age connect our existence? Hammerand brilliantly gives rise to a slue of challenging questions and tests society’s progression into a super-digital age. Interconnecting technology, privacy issues, and digital culture, Hammerand’s work confronts contemporary politics in authority.
Are you ready for some shocking art? Somewhere between science and art, Marc Simon Frei tests their boundaries by combining these two worlds into a stunning series of photographs titled Tesla Sparks. The innovative artist creates electrical currents with a Tesla coil and captures their iridescent glow with his camera. A Tesla coil, invented by engineer Nikola Tesla around 1891, is an electrical resonant transformer circuit that produces both high and low voltage. Frei manipulates this electrical current in fascinating ways by arching a variety of different objects to the coil. This produces mesmerizing bends in the current, resembling tiny lighting bolts. In fact, Frei plays off this likeness by staging miniature lighting storms of his own. He creates clouds out of wool and constructs a scene so that these electrical currents seem to shoot out of his “clouds.”
To add an even more striking visual, he adds an element of color by illuminating his clouds with different colored LED lights. As if the bright, purple and blue glows erupting from the Tesla coil weren’t awe-inspiring enough, his eerily beautiful clouds fill you with a surreal wonder. The intense hue that the electricity emits captivates us, reeling us in to every frame. There is a powerful tension between the undeniable beauty of the many bolts of voltage lighting up each photograph and the known dangers behind high-voltage. We are drawn to its attractiveness, but are aware of its dangers. The photographer has created a unique, dynamic series that demonstrates spectacular colors and patterns made from electrical currents. (via This is Colossal)
Capturing monumental beauty in the little things in life, artist Pyanek photographs captivating images of everyday objects up close and personal. In his series Amazing Worlds Within Our Worlds, he photographs ordinary objects like cornflakes, book pages, and soap foam. However, these seemingly mundane objects do not look so ordinary when they are taken in Pyanek’s close-up photography style. What was once a familiar object has now become unrecognizable through the artist’s lens. The images are zoomed up close, and dramatically cropped to the point of abstraction, with Pyanek referring to this technique as macro photography.
The incredible detail shown in this series goes beyond what the naked human eye can see. We are shown tiny worlds where a grain of white sugar appears to be a diamond and a kitchen sponge looks like a strand of DNA. These stunning photos reveal every texture and color in the commonplace objects that we overlook everyday. We are able to examine every fiber of the stalk of an apple or the page of a book. Pyanek reminds us to stop and notice the small things in this remarkably beautiful series. If you are hungry for an even more dramatic, striking photographs of ordinary objects magnified, than you are sure to love the video compilation of the series Amazing Worlds Within Our Worlds, which was edited and scored by the artist himself.
What would a television see if it could look back at us? Artist Donna Stevens reveals images of children hypnotically looking into a television screen in her series titled Idiot Box. Each photographs captures the entranced look on a child’s face as they gaze on with a zombie-like stare, complete with the glow of the screen lighting up their face. Although this series is somewhat comical, as the children have their mouths hanging open or a silly grimace slapped on, there is a heavy darkness to it. Stevens’s aims to question the role of technology in our society and explore the effects it may have as children are exposed to it at such a young age at such a high volume. Although we can benefit from technology, what is lacking in our lives because of it? Although Idiot Box includes fairly simple images, the affect the vacant eyes have on the viewer is enough to make you stop and think.
Stevens’ incredibly memorable photography explores themes of identity and hardship, as she is interested in people’s journey to find their place in the world. Humanity’s struggles can be found as a theme in her work, both in Idiot Box and in her series Thirteen. In the latter series, she poignantly captures the anxiety and uncertainty that comes along with becoming a woman. Stevens’ ability to encompass such strong emotions and themes in a single portrait is apparent in each photograph. Originally hailing from Australia, the photographer is currently based in Brooklyn, where she continues to create her sharp, thought provoking work.