Artist Stefanie Herr’s topographic artworks are inspired by maps. When traveling, she writes, they facilitate navigation and orientation, and drawings by cartographers are the starting point of her work. To create her sculptures, images are printed on photographic paper, mounted on matboard, hand cut into tiny pieces and assembled. They resemble maps that show changes in elevation once completed. But, instead of rivers, plains, and mountains, Herr features faces of people.
She calls these pieces experiments on landscapes models that merge photography and sculpture. They often take weeks to complete. In an artist statement, Herr writes:
Photography abandons the two-dimensional plane and sets out to conquer the space. In search of suitable maps, however, I do not only focus on the shape of the terrain, but also on place names. As toponyms can inspire strong images or even stories, they often interfere in the development of my projects. When shooting photos, I mainly choose top, side and front view representations – I particularly like making use of “aerial” views on a scale of 1:1.
In addition to this inspiration, Herr is also concerned about environmental degradation and rapid loss of biodiversity. She further explains:
Unique natural heritage is gradually being depleted or replaced for the mere purpose of economic growth, and it seems that we have completely forgotten about the aesthetic values of landscape. As a world citizen, I am concerned about contemporary landscape change and the prevailing landscape perception. Topographic Fine Art mainly deals with these issues and, even though on a reduced scale, attempts to capture some of the natural beauty that surrounds us. (Via Lustik)
It might be winter where you live, but the cold that you experience probably doesn’t compare to this. New Zealand-based photographer Amos Chapple went on a two-day journey from Yakutsk, the coldest major city on Earth to Oymyakon, the coldest village on Earth. Oymyakon’s lowest recorded temperature is -67.7°C (-90°F) in 1933 while the average for January is -50°C (-60°F). Despite the intense weather, people have forged homes and lives in these places, and Chapple captures them in an unfiltered, documentary-style way. Just looking at them will send chills up your spine.
Residents of this extreme climate adapted to these conditions with little indoor plumbing. Vehicles that are outside heated garages must keep running to avoid freezing. And, their subsistence is meat because the ground is too cold to grow crops.
Chapple gives us some idea of just what this cold felt like, and he tells Weather.com “I was wearing thin trousers when I first stepped outside into – 47 °C (-52°F). I remember feeling like the cold was physically gripping my legs, the other surprise was that occasionally my saliva would freeze into needles that would prick my lips.” And for him, the hardest part of the experience was not the cold, but that his camera’s focus would freeze into place! (via Bored Panda)
These majestic, bird’s eye view images are of the remote Yuanyang Hani Rice Terraces located in China’s Yunnan province. Small bodies of water are punctuated by the bold lines that create the terraces, and they signify the harmony of man and nature. Their brilliant colors and complex designs give them the appearance of abstract paintings rather than natural splendor.
The 1,300-year-old terraces cover 461 square kilometers, and are said to display the best-developed in three valleys. And although it’s hard to tell from these photos, they cascade from a summit of 2,000 meters above sea level to the base of the Ailao mountain range.
From late April to late September, the Hani people grow red rice. The water from brooks, springs, and rain is collected by forests and distributed through the gravitational system. This accounts for the vibrant grounds we see here. (Via China Discovery Blog and Dana Boulos)
Photographer Rebecca Rütten is interested in the paintings from the Renaissance period and contemporary fast food culture like Taco Bell and McDonalds. You wouldn’t think that the two would intersect, but in Rütten’s series Contemporary Pieces, they do. The German artist combines elements of the traditional with greasy burgers and fries. ”I became enamored with the eroticism, presentation and charisma of paintings from the Renaissance Period. In the Late Renaissance, Italian and Dutch painters dealt with the middle and lower classes,” she writes in a statement about the work. To Rütten, fast food represents the two social groups. “To eat healthy is expensive,” she continues. “However, one can buy large amounts of food at a fast food restaurant for a comparatively low price.”
Rütten asked tattooed and pierced friends to model for her and recreate the poses of laborers, gypsies, and prostitutes in Caravaggio paintings. The exquisite and dramatic images are simultaneously beautiful and repulsive. For every flower or fancy goblet there are mounds of saturated fat. It’s not only a culture clash, but a fusion of foodstuffs associated with lower class and fine items for the upper crust of society. (Via iGNANT)
Photographer and pop surrealist Dina Goldstein’s large-scale project titled Gods of Suburbia features a collection of deities and religious figures set within the context of modernity. Buddha, Mohammed, Satan, and others exist alongside technology, science, and secularism as it relates to living in the (anywhere) suburbs. Goldstein explains:
The series plays with narrative and religious iconography in order to communicate how organized belief has become twisted within a global framework driven by consumerism and greed. The project challenges the viewer — religious or secular — to embark on a journey of self-reflection as they contemplate the relevance of dogma in modernity.
Goldstein’s moody images highlight some less-than-stellar facets of our modern culture. Lack of compassion, unwillingness to learn/accept other beliefs, and bullying are just some of the themes that the photographer touches on. The series, while strange, is poignant and relatable as we read more and more bad news everyday.
Each photo in Gods of Suburbia features thoughtful and interesting explanations of how every figure relates to contemporary society. Read it on Goldstein’s website.
Photographer Polly Penrose’s series A Body of Work was produced over the course of seven years. Her intention was to take pictures of strong, powerful, and interesting nude portraits. So, how did she achieve that? By using herself as a model. Penrose explains in an email to Beautiful/Decay:
…I was always available, and then because I realised something interesting was happening. I could push myself further than I could other models, and by shooting myself the pictures became a visual autobiography. The pictures are very spontaneous within the space, I never plan them I just work with what’s there, it’s like a secret conversation between myself and the space, a bit of silent theatrics which I document. Looking back I can see that my state of mind at the time of shooting definitely feeds into the imagery, my choice of pose and the general mood of the picture.
Penrose sees A Body of Work as ongoing, and that this simply marks its first seven years. “…I want to keep taking them until I can no longer move to do it – it will be interesting to see my body age and how the poses and locations will change with it.” Her photographs showcase a long time, but still relatively short in terms of an entire life span. We see just some of the changes a body goes through in that time and are intrigued with what the next seven will bring.
British set designer and artist Nicola Yeoman creates optical illusions via temporary installations. The complex arrangements use well-scoped vantage points and specifically-lit sets that conjure fantastical scenes. She uses both conventional and discarded objects in her work and places these objects in unexpected locations.
Yeoman combines moody lighting and a variety of textures to make her works appear simultaneously flat and three-dimensional. This is especially visible in her letter installations. The “D,” for instance, is crafted by negative space with chairs that occupy the foreground, middleground, and background. But, you wouldn’t necessarily realize it unless you looked closely – this photo is shot at just the right angle.
While some of Yeoman’s work is as specific as the alphabet, other installations are more mysterious. Outdoor scenes obscured by fog fill the composition, and paper planes and a silhouetted car on a journey into the unknown. Her work has the power to go in opposite directions – didactic and dreamy – and the well-thought compositions, allow her to take the viewer anywhere. (Via Yatzer)
Photographer Millicent Hailes recently completed a two-month stay in Los Angeles where she traversed some of the city’s finest strip clubs. “You can find the erotic anywhere, you just have to look for it,” Hailes told Dazed, and her journey included spots where Courtney Love danced pre-grunge era.
Hailes was on the hunt for a club that breaks away from the chauvinistic, clichéd joints that we’re used to seeing. She found a string of clubs where women hold the power, prostitution is low, and the women actually enjoyed themselves. In a place called Cheetahs, Hailes explains, “The girls each had a different style of dance and look, and each danced to a song of their choice,” she says. “It felt a lot more personal, and it was a lot of fun.”
To pay tribute to Cheetahs, Hailes began a project that mirrors the separation between dancer and customer. She placed a sheet of plastic between herself and model Nadia Lee. “The plastic sheeting is a metaphorical barrier between the model and the audience. She is pressed up against it, but you can’t fully see her or touch her,” Hailes explains to Dazed Digital. “I wanted the shoot to seem very ‘bodily’, and by having the body pressed against the plastic and capturing the breath creating a fog over the images, it feels a bit intrusive, but also has a distance because of the sheeting.” (Via Dazed)