Long before the magic of Photoshop and its ability to manipulate came the work of Herbert List, a surrealist photographer working from the mid-1930’s through the 1960’s. His black and white images feature fake scientific models with their skin cut away and their guts partially exposed. This isn’t a particularly unusual sight- they are things you’d see in a classroom or museum – and show historical ways of practicing medicine. But, it’s how he frames the images that gives them an unnerving feel. Compositions are tightly cropped and provide us little context for what’s around them; it creates an air of mystery.
List was influenced by the paintings of Giorgio de Chirico, which is evident as we see these statues that seem to exist in a void. They’re moody and strange, and List’s documentary-style photographs show how strange things are when presented a deliberate way. (Via Boing Boing and My Amp Goes to 11)
As a generation in Palestine confronts misery, violence, and rejection, the hip hop scene is an outlet to express themselves. Photographer Pierre Mérimée and journalist Jacques Denis capture the young people involved in this scene in their new book, Intifada Rap. In it, we meet MWR’s Mahmoud Shalabi, the girls of Arapyot, and the “veterans” on the scene, including Said Mourad, the voice of the first Intifada.
The book’s press release describes it as:
A dive into the heart of the Palestinian hip hop scene, Intifada Rap bears witness to the incredible strength of the musical movement, from the suburbs of Tel Aviv through to Ramallah. Pierre Mérimée and Jacques Denis’ work shines a glaring light on the reality of Palestinian rap while offering an unprecedented view into the daily lives of a generation confronted with misery, violence and rejection, fighting back against it all to escape their imposed fates. Far from the shocking image of television news and the continual discussion of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the two journalists have documented the day to day lives of youth facing a dark future, for whom hip hope is more than just an escape. Armed only with their words, these men and women on the cusp of their twenties express their need for freedom, hope and equality through lucid texts and heavy beats.
Photographer Claire Rosen uses self portraiture as a way to transport the viewers into a world of fairytales. Through her aptly named series Fairy Tales and other Stories, she creates fantastical worlds where the isolated subjects surround themselves with scenes of nature, piles of books, and more. Often, their faces are obscured in the darker, more introspective version of these classic stories.
Rosen’s work mirrors her unconscious, and she explains in her artist statement:
Inside my dreams, I am someone else. I create characters, like alter egos, presented as recognizable archetypes. The figure inside the image often looks away from the viewer, the face hidden by the turn of the body or by a mask. I hope that the viewer will imagine themselves inside fairytale, and interpret the narrative of the image as one might interpret a fairytale, searching for hidden meeting inside the story.
This series speaks to living in the 21st Century, a time when we are constantly bombarded with noise, information and moving images. Still imagery, by contrast, allows us to shut out the noise and hear ourselves. I use photography to both escape and convey the overwhelming nature of our modern reality.
The pastoral setting of this work recalls a simpler time, while reminding us of humanity’s attempt to conquer the enormity of nature. I draw on themes in classic fairytales – beauty, chastity, and passivity – not as a comment on post-feminism, but as an expression of a more universal experience. My aim with the use of folklore is to suggest the continuity of the human condition: outside, the physical world changes with dizzying speed; inside, our cerebral world remains timeless.
In Thailand, the term ladyboy is a nickname for transgender women, and they are a population often met with intolerance and prejudice. Their place in society is explored through photographer Soopakorn Srisakul’s series Mistress, in which he captures the daily life of his girlfriend and four other ladyboys. They all work at bars and as call girls in the infamous red-light Nana district in Bangkok.
Srisakul’s images are his journey in understanding his partner and the others experiences. There are few positions that are hiring transgendered women, so this community typically finds work in department stores, makeup counters, and cabaret venues. Those that are bargirls generally make better the better wages, which allows them to save up for gender reassignment surgeries.
Mistress presents us with poignant pictures of both work and home. There are moments of dark clubs, sure, but there are also quiet scenes in bright bedrooms. Srisakul writes:
They go out working, come back to their room, go relaxing outside, occasionally go back to visit family in the countryside, and then go to work. They, like anyone else, just try to get by. They laugh for joy, cry for sorrow, they work to earn a living, and they have an argument with their boyfriend, just like anyone else. In this sense, what makes them so different from us as to warrant a harsh treatment from the moral society, and do they deserve it at all? (Via Feature Shoot)
Coulie, Border Collie/ Golden Retriever cross, Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada
Taken by Coulie
San Diego-based photographer Chris Keeney might have orchestrated the series PetCam, but it’s not his artistic eye that captured the shots. No, instead he handed the job over to an unlikely set of collaborators: animals, including his dog Fred and cat Alice. Chickens, pigs, cows, and guinea pigs living all around the world partake in the fun with a lightweight camera that’s tailored to their size. Keeny set the shutter to click at specified intervals of time that range from a fraction of a second to many seconds.
The photographer stresses that these cameras don’t impede the movement or happiness of the subjects, and they’re given free reign to go about their day: exploring sights and sounds, relaxing under a car, and scaling rooftops. For us, the results present a view that we don’t often see – one that’s from the vantage point of an animal. Some of the photos are distorted, others confusing, but all are intriguing; they provide us a look into what catches these creatures’ eyes as the move throughout the world.
While these images might look like strange and surreal landscapes, they are actually macro images of different creatures. Armenian photographer Suren Manvelyan’s series Animal Eyes captures an extreme viewpoint that gives the average eye an otherworldly feel. The crackles, vibrant colors, and individual hairs are all visual in these beautiful photos. This isn’t the first time we’ve seen Manvelyan’s handiwork – he’s also shown the human eye in incredible detail.
Manvelyan is not just a photographer, but also holds a PhD in theoretical physics. In these images he combines technology, science, and art to show us something that’s unexpectedly familiar. We see brilliant blue pools, red rings, and crystallized whites; the close proximity makes this work appears as places to go hiking rather than something like a parrot’s eyes. (Via Featureshoot)
As summer winds down for many of us, designer Tim Lampe can say it was the summer of ice cream sandwiches. Because, for him, it was. The Atlanta-based creative started an Instagram project titled #SummerOfIceCreamSandwiches (and subsequent Tumblr) that documented all of the ways you can consume, trap, store, and display the delicious sweet treat. It’s a silly series that might make you hungry. Lampe explains the photographs, writing:
For Summer 2014, I wanted to explore pushing a concept as far as I could over the Instagram platform, so I set out to exploit one of my favorite treats growing up: Ice Cream Sandwiches. It was an exercise in execution and not overthinking. It was taking something universal and putting it in uncommon places, to make the viewer believe there is an alternate universe in which Ice Cream Sandwiches don’t melt fast and are universally available.
The photos are well composed and delightfully strange. Their bright-yet-diffused colors show what happens when you keep creating under the same theme – some magical, weird stuff happens, like carefully arranging food in a mailbox. (Via This Isn’t Happiness)
Swedish photographer Erik Johansson creates surreal photographs that capture the supernatural in the everyday. Although they’re obviously doctored, his skills make the compositions look as though they’ve really happened. We see a lot of things that take place in open spaces and nature, and Johansson’s subjects are shown literally sewing up a landscape, effortlessly rowing through a green field, and setting the ships in a painting free into the ocean.
Johansson looks at photography as a way to collect material and to realize the ideas in his mind. He looks at every new project as a challenge to make it as realistic as possible, and he often succeeds. It’s part of the fun that goes along with Johansson’s work, because we generally think of photography as a documentation of something that actually happened; seeing wintered ushered in via someone’s bed sheets, for instance, creates a delightful confusion. We know that there’s no way that this picture is possible, but Johansson has crafted it so realistically that for a second we might believe it.