Artist Andres Serrano‘s series of photographs The Morgue investigates ideas of death and our relationship with it. Working with a forensic pathologist Serrano photographed the bodies with a near classical beauty rarely associated with the morgue. Serrano ensured the anonymity of each person through tight cropping or veiling the face. The way in which the light interacts with the bodies and their veils is reminiscent of Italian baroque painting. The chiaroscuro of each photograph seems to underscore some mystery behind death balancing the morgue’s comparatively cold analytic approach. Further, the careful attention to detail and composition dignifies each person. Each subject, some actually unknown persons, are considered individually as initial shock gives way to contemplation and reflection. However, these are not sentimental images. There still remains a certain emotional detachment, a terrible loneliness in death, and Serrano’s intention is ambiguous. Each photograph’s title is each subject’s respective cause of death, and have been inserted in each photographs’ caption. Also, please note: Some may consider these photographs to be graphic and/or disturbing. (via boum!bang!)
Photographer Martin Klimas‘ series “What Does Music Look Like?” is a fun attempt at answering that very question. He uses paint as a vehicle for sound. Klimas places brightly colored paints on a surface that sits just above a speaker. Playing loud music such as Kraftwerk or Miles Davis makes the paint splatter above the speaker with the vibrations making it “dance”. The paint jumps and splattes while being captured by the camera. Klimas snapped approximately 1,000 photographs to capture the set.
The work of German graphic designer and photographer Stephan Tillmans combines a fusion of new and old technology. Outdated cathode-ray televisions are turned off to reveal a strange but familiar geometry, which are then captured with modern, high-resolution cameras and techniques. This kind of CRT technology is no longer used, and the images the Tillmans collects are equally rare, as each is a finite moment that can almost certainly never be repeated. According to Tillmans, his work is a “photographic series of old tube televisions taken at the very moment they are switched off. The TV picture breaks down and is abstracted to its essential element: light. Each of these photographs is from a different TV, but it’s also the length of exposure, timing, and time the TV has been running before the photo is taken that affects the results.”
Tillman’s recent portfolio is broken up into two categories – the Luminant Point Arrays, (seen above) made from color television sets, and the darker, more stark shapes of the Luminant Screen Shapings which are taken from black and white televisions (seen below). The more recent Screen Shapings lack color and some variation, but also have a more delicate, line-based visual strength. (via booooooom)
The photographs of Jan Erik Waider seem to turn natural formations into abstract sculptures. His series Ice on Black captures icebergs in stark black and white photography. The textures, movement, and shape of the floating ice is surprisingly sculptural. The graceful masses of ice juxtaposed against the larger field of open sea nearly seem like a painterly decision. Waider is a graphic designer by trade, but his passion if for photography and the northern landscape. He specifically captures the majority of his photographs in and near Greenland and Iceland.
Dietmar Busse is a German photographer who lives and works in New York City. It’s rare to encounter a body of work as wholly original as his extraordinary series, Fauna and Flora. An amalgamation of photography and painting, the pieces in the series manifest a beauty that occasionally veers into dark, dreamlike realms. Busse began painting (with photographic developer) on his prints. The resulting images so artfully meld the otherwise quite distinct media that they appear to coalesce — creating, in a sense, a new medium.
“I did not set out to [focus on those concepts]. These were just the images I found myself making — and it made sense, for fauna and flora are what I grew up with, and what I relate to.” (via)
There’s nothing better than starting your morning with a nice cup of coffee and a little photograph of Robert Plant in a Speedo, playing soccer, casually, in Encino. I mean, am I right? At least, this is how I feel about Brad Elterman’s vintage paparazzi photography.
Taken when he was a teenager in the 1970s, long before roaming candids overwhelmingly lined our checkout shelves and powered ad revenue for various websites, Elterman brings a wild naivety to these specific shots that are, strangely, almost endearing. This softness might be relative to time + distance, but I don’t know. I also like to think that it’s more so reflective of the person behind the camera: a teenage youth excited to relate and investigate not just icons, but also the heart of his beloved city: Los Angeles.
For instance, the most striking aspect of Elterman’s Joan Jett portraits is not her fame nor her coolness, but instead, it’s an understanding that the photographer has with Jett’s charming desire to dwell at the Tropicana and slum amongst LA’s Rock N’ Roll finest. There’s something very optimistic and lovely about identity and everyday social performance that is examined. Scroll down after the jump to see what I mean, and while you’re there, check out a perfect shot of super casual Rod Stewart mingling after a random soccer match in Coldwater Canyon, dragging a pint of beer and chatting up some pretty dog walker. In each image, we are not wowed by hot nightclubs nor couture culture. No. We’re impressed by Los Angeles and it’s rich variety of eccentric yet absolutely charismatic artists figuring out how to be seen and be in the world as they are, at the same time.
Lauren Semivan’s black and white photography raises the dead, feels rich with ritual, and sullen from the earth. To say it is simply an abstract psychological expression would be too easy. There’s something else happening here that is magically archaic, and it’s not just the finely tailored compositions that carefully, yet seemingly casually, dig at our remains by arranging drawn fragments, bodies, vegetation, bones, and string, against a sparse backdrop. This “something else” is movement or play not just in the environment, but as or with the environment, a dreamy surreal fade that lingers.
Technically, each image is a true representation of not just what collects, but how the collection becomes. Shot with a purist sense of photography’s past, Semivan uses an early 20th century 8 x 10″ view camera and, without digital manipulation or any touch-ups at all, develops prints from a scanned large format negative. The ephemeral result, interestingly, pushes on our own anthropological or archeological impulses as a species– asking us to engage and connect with our ancestors, creatively, scientifically, and divinely.
Of her work, Semivan states, “In scientific disciplines, a line is classified as an event. Something as primitive as a scrawl on a surface reveals an aggregate of events, intersecting and changing course. Drawings made on the seamless backdrop describe an emotional space. Science is inherently experiential, as is art making. Knowing and feeling are not separate, and the whole of the environment can be used as a pedagogic instrument. Observatory elegantly draws upon a tension that exists between irrational and physical worlds. Within each image, ghosts of previous drawings.”
The series Like Everyday of Iranian photographer Shadi Ghadirian is powerful in its simplicity. She created the images shortly after marrying her husband, and indeed the series explores her concerns associated with being a wife as well as gender roles. In the series figures appear to be veiled in patterned cloth similar to the traditional Iranian Chador. The figure’s face, however, is obscured or replaced with a household item, often one associated with daily chores. Ghadirian says of her subjects, “My series is exactly like a mirror of my life and other women like me — my sisters, my friends, the women who live in this country.” Though the series specifically addresses Iranian women, the photographs capture more universal anxieties concerning gender roles – the anxiety that accompanies building an identity as a woman and a wife, navigating issues of power within a marriage.