If you’ve ever taken a road trip, you are probably familiar with tourist attractions (also known as tourist traps). Caves are not an uncommon destination for these off-the-highway places, and are often ostentatious with not a lot of intellectual substance. Large-format photographer Austin Irving travelled across America and East Asia photographing these places, which were developed for weary travelers. She titled the series Show Caves.
The caves feature unnatural lighting, revolving doors, public restrooms, and man made design elements. There are penguins, for instance, that line the path of one interior and feels like a disingenuous attempt at showcasing the wonders of the wonders.
There aren’t any crowds in these photos, which allow us to see the attractions clearly. It also showcases the fact that these places are not much different than some place like a suburban shopping mall. (Via Artlog)
Photographer Amelia Bauer’s series Burned Over showcases brilliant spectacles of light with a supernatural twist. The images are inspired by the deeply-infused religious history of the New York region, and the dark forests have an eerie light or haze that is concentrated in a tree or covered clearing. Bauer explains her photographs in an interview with Feature Shoot, stating:
My work is a series of discrete investigations into our cultural conceptions of the natural world. I examine my surroundings, specifically rural Central New York, through a lens of history and mythology. Aesthetic traditions are repositioned to create spaces that exist somewhere between our fears of the uncultivated wild and our romanticism of the ‘virgin’ landscape. In this way I explore the American experience of the frontier — the transitional landscapes at the boundaries of civilization.
In upstate New York, there’s an area called the “burned-over district,” where religious fervor tread through the landscape in the early 19th century. The territory was the birthplace of several early American religious and occult groups like the Shakers and Mormon, as well as the Spiritualists. It’s the Spiritualists who this series is really inspired by, and they believed that Mediums could interact with spirits via seances. They created photographic evidence of these meetings and used gauze, double exposure and darkroom techniques to produce their images. Bauer further explains:
Inspired by these photographs, I set out to make portraits of the landscape that hosted such religious and spiritual pursuits by those early settlers. Working with a pyrotechnics crew, custom fireworks were created specifically for the shoot, and hiked into the forests of rural upstate New York. The photographs that make up the Burned Over series reveal something felt but not seen about these forests, as though the land itself holds a presence we seek to uncover but fear revealing entirely. (Via Feature Shoot)
These surreal landscapes are a series titled Con/struct by South African designer and photographer Justin Plunkett. He compiles imagery into scenes of desolate or forgotten places, where often these structures are the tallest thing on the horizon amongst swirling clouds and dusty streets. They are patched together exteriors of slated roofs, windows, shipping containers with advertisements on them. An artist statement about this series gives insight to these unusual buildings:
Con/Struct is an exploration into the themes of empowerment and imagination. Plunkett, using his own photography, has created new juxtaposed environments that encourage questioning and exploration: inviting the debate around how marketing- induced aspiration and perceived value can empower but can also corrupt, how it can be both perverse and create beauty. At the same time, at the core of his work, he honours and applauds ingenuity and the creative spirit. (Via Colossal)
Photographer Tim Dodd has long loved space, so when he happened to find a vintage Russian high altitude space suit on an auction website, he had to have it. The purchase has definitely been worth it. After owning it six months, he’s worn the suit at least 17 times to photograph himself in the series Everyday Astronaut. It depicts Dodd as an astronaut character that’s doing the everyday activities we all do, like walking the dog, cooking dinner, and grocery shopping, but all with a hilarious (and sometime tragic) twist.
In all of these images, the spacesuit is present. It’s the narrative thread that connects all of the Dodd’s stylishly-shot photographs. The character is an everyman, just going through the day like anyone else, except that he has this special suit. Does it give him super powers? No, but we get the sense that he might think it does, which adds a humorous touch to this series.
It’s impressive at the amount of details that Dodd included in each image. Every photo is an attribution NASA in some way, and some are more obvious than not. Like shopping for tang, watching Apollo 13 on TV, and even down to the bedding, take a look and see if you can spot all of the photographer’s carefully-placed references. (Via Fast Co.Exist)
There’s a new fashion craze that’s happening along Eastern China’s seaside city, Qingdao. Publicly-dubbed “Facekinis,” are protective head masks that are being worn by many beachgoers (mostly women). Photographer Peng Yangjun has documented them in a series of portraits that are set against the backdrop of the beach.
The colorful style is no doubt a strange one, and it’s reminiscent of luchadore and ski masks. This bizarre fashion trend has a more practical purpose, however, and that’s to protect swimmers from the sun, in addition to repelling insects and jellyfish. It’s often paired with long-sleeve bodysuits that help people maintain their natural complexion because bronze skin is often associated with those who perform physical labor in many Asian countries.
We’re often used to seeing swimmers wearing next to nothing or going completely nude. This style takes modesty to the next level, completely covering people up rather than stripping them down. It’s a surreal sight to see someone posed with bare arms and legs but a completely covered face; the photographs showcase an individual style but are devoid of the feeling and emotion we read from the face. (Via Flavorwire)
Photographer Anna Ladd’s poignant series, Things I Told the Internet, But Didn’t Tell My Mom, examines the way that blogging has impacted her life. The Philadelphia-based artist has been sharing her thoughts and feelings via this medium for the past six years, and it’s changed her conception of privacy. Intimate and revealing admissions are made to seemingly countless anonymous people on the web, but has never been talked about in person.
Ladd’s photos depict landscape scenes of backyards with concrete walls, scalloped awnings, and parked bikes. The everyday places are adorned with cut-out letters attached to strings that spell out a phrase that was directly taken from something that she posted online. Sentences, while obviously out of context, communicate sadness and the pains that come from things like loss of love, growing up, or some greater trauma.
There’s a peculiarity to these images, a cognitive dissonance of sorts. We first see the letters like you would at a party, like they are decoration. But a phrase like, “I want to puke and sleep for six days” is not something you’d celebrate. It could be a metaphor for the facade we put on towards the outside world, where we seem happier than we actually are. The anonymity of the web knows our true thoughts and feelings.
Though he is perhaps most famous for his internet sensation photoseries, Everyday, where he has taken a photo of himself daily since 2000 (and which was then turned into a stop-motion video which went viral), Noah Kalina‘s work actually possesses a very distinctly subtle, and personal feel. In the series Internet/Sex, taken between 2007 and 2009, Kalina pairs empty hotel rooms, illuminated only by computer screens, and composite photography which suggests naked couples having sex. The dynamic of the empty and occupied rooms, when paired together, connect a portrayal of the inherent loneliness and longing of the human condition.
Kalina, who is based in Brooklyn and Lumberland, New York, has not explicitly said what these photos are documenting, it can easily be implied that these intimate moments with open computer screens simulate the connections and separations that both sex and connection through the internet offer. Taking place in various hotel and motel rooms, the series seems to suggest a lonely traveller, using their computer to make a primal, human connection. Surprisingly, the open screens and the desire they represent offers a loneliness more lewd than photographing sex.
Combining photography and painting, Polish-based artist Michał Mozolewski creates intriguing portraits of mysterious-looking subjects. Pictures of pictures of people are scanned into the computer and later remixed and using a variety of methods. They are set against dark backgrounds and the black and white base images have gestural strokes painted over top of them. The hues of white, cyan, and red don’t evenly cover the photographs and Mozolewski uses varying pressure that adds a sculptural element to the work by emphasizing certain features of the face or body.
The effect that the artist’s technique has on the mood of the work is dramatic. Diffused and distorted photographs combined with Mozolewski’s erratic marks make for a haunting and grotesque portraits that are dreamlike at the same time. There’s a lot left to the imagination with these works, and they communicate sadness but at the same time are provocative and overall very visceral.