Looking at these landscapes, you’d never believe that they were underwater. The incredible fishtanks are entries from the obscure Japanese-based International Aquatic Plants Layout Contest, the largest of its kind. Tiny worlds are meticulously assembled over the course of months or even years. This is not a cheap hobby; fragile aquascaping layouts like these are expensive to grow and maintain.
Considering how grandiose these tanks are, it’s no surprise to learn that the fish are not the primary concern. They aren’t included in many aquariums, although you can spot some of them in these photographs.
Competitors need to be skilled in more than just aqua construction to do well. They need to be experts in areas including biology, design, and photography. The best fishtanks are a combination of complex landscape arrangements and healthy yet unusual-looking greens. These aquatic layouts are escapist, in a way. For a moment, we forget what we’re looking at and that it’s underwater. Instead, its unusual miniature features make us feel like we’re an omnipotent giant that could destroy these worlds at any time. (Via 22 Words)
In a rather intense bit of wordplay, artist Vik Muniz (whose fantastic illusory work has previously featured several times here) has teamed up with Marcelo Coelho to create intricate and near-impossibly detailed sandcastles. Taking a single grain of scan, the duo has spent four years perfecting a process of microscopically etching fortress-like castles into single grains of sand. Each piece of sand measures less than one half of a single millimeter are created using an incredibly focused ion beam (FIB – typically used to create microchips) and documented with a scanning electron microscope, later enlarged to show the incredibly fine detail of the the project.
Muniz explains why the duo uses sand, as opposed to post-photographic editing (such as photoshop), “When someone tells you it’s a grain of sand, there’s a moment where your reality falls apart and you have to reconstruct it. You have to step back and ask what the image is and what it means.’” Adds Coelho, “I think photography is just re-starting. There’s a whole new kind of photography emerging now. A lot of it is happening because of this combination between computers and cameras, and story telling and narratives can emerge as a result.”
Decadent desserts are paired with sexy legs in Argentinian-based artist Camila Valdez’s series of life and table-sized sculptures. The faceless beings are placed in public and are posed on benches, seen exiting restaurants, and enjoying a picnic in the park. Despite the fact they can’t convey emotion through eyes or a mouth, Valdez has made their legs expressive. They are straight and together if trying to look pensive, or partially open as if trying to suggest something else.
This series literally objectifies women and compares them to a sugary treat that will rot your treat and should be enjoyed only every-so-often. At the same time, they reference outdated objects from the middle of the 20th century, where legs were attached to things like lamps (as seen in the film A Christmas Story). Valdez pokes fun at this absurd and fantastical objectification of the population. (Via HiFructose)
Artist Thomas Doyle’s work is done in a miniature scale, at the size of a model train set or smaller. Taking pieces from these types of sets, he alters them as dark depictions of suburban life. We see natural disasters literally tear homes in two and sometimes turn them topsy-turvy. The scenes are set up as a story with the characters trying to make sense of it all. They are kept under a glass shell and feel like they are suspended in time as if they are in a snow globe.
The scale provides a weird feeling that we’re omnipotent and could crush them like a bug. Doyle notes this in his statement about the work, adding:
Conversely, the private intensity of moments rendered in such a small scale draws the viewer in, allowing for the intimacy one might feel peering into a museum display case or dollhouse. Though surrounded by chaos, hazard, and longing, the figures’ faces betray little emotion, inviting viewers to lose themselves in these crucibles—and in the jumble of feelings and memories they elicit.
We feel a connection to Doyle’s figures, which is a testament to his ability to tell a story. You walk away from this work wanting to know more about these tiny lives. (Via Fast Company)
Yang Maoyuan is a Beijing, China-based multidisciplinary artist noted for his shaping and misshaping of the human form. Born in Dalian, China in 1966, the artist has been witness to one of the most massive cultural shifts ever to occur in human history, so it is not surprising that historical relics and remnants, loaded with archaeological connotations, become source material for Yang.
In a series of work created in 2009, replicas of classical sculptural busts are created in bronze, and systematically sanded, smoothed and rounded out, giving the once easily recognizable faces a new and updated quality. The mirrored effect of these bronzes contemporarizes the pieces, but also forces viewers to see their own reflection in history. Some of the series became Look Inside, while other replicas took their titles from their original source inspirations.
When photographed in their installation environments, the resulting images look similar to 2-Dimensional collages, with smooth cut lines and rounded edges. It is this new verbal language that not only consumes classical sculptural, but also affects the way contemporary audiences will continue to consume culture. (via notshakingthegrass)
Elaine Cameron-Weir latest work, titled Venus Anadyomene, 2014,consists of five similar pieces, each made a giant clam shell edged with neon tubing, and high-fire ceramic vessel each filled with olive oil, wick, flame, sand, mica, frankincense, benzoin, myrrh, brass. Each piece, suspended from the gallery by a brass rod, while the incense slowly burns.
Varying ideas of birth and bringing to life are present in the works, from the title (meaning ‘Venus Rising from the Sea’, a story of the Greek Goddess Aphrodite’s birth (and a famous work by Titian). The title of the work references both art history and god creation, as do the shells, which bring to mind Botticelli’s masterpiece of the Roman Goddess Venus (and one of the most recognizable and imitated paintings ever created). Meanwhile, the scent element in the gallery space of burning frankincense and myrrh recall the Christian nativity story and the birth of Jesus Christ, echoing the gifts brought by the Three Wisemen. Present throughout Cameron-Weir’s work are ideas of how symbolism is omnipresent to ideas of myth-making.
Elaine Cameron-Weir’s Venus Anadyomene, 2014 is currnetly on view now through April 6th at Ramiken Crucible in New York City.
Combining photography, sheets of plastic, and sewing, French artist Cyril Le Van reproduces life-size three-dimensional objects. They include small things, like a Polaroid camera, and large things, like a car. Le Van photographs his subjects from all angles then pieces them together using a blanket stitch. The result is something that’s a deflated, vaguely real version of something that already exists.
A portion of Le Van’s work focuses on consumerism. He reproduces expensive Nike shoes, Rolex watches, leather jackets, and more. These things are a status symbol for those who own and wear them, and his uncanny duplicates take power away from its branding.
Another facet of the artist’s sculptures are based on economic and cultural exclusion. Le Van photographed shanty towns and installed them in a gallery setting. His intention is that it challenges the viewer’s awareness of issues like poverty, and forces them to ask questions like, “what are these, and who uses them?” This, along with a car buried in luggage and a motorcycle weighed down by belongings, shows the transient nature of not having a permanent place to live.
Junya Ishigami (also identified by Junya Ishigami + Associates) has long been known as someone averse to the labeling or differentiating between art, design and architecture. Case in point, one of Ishigami’s most famous works which straddled various disciplines, and even played with ideas of weigh and weightlessness. Titled Cuboid Balloon, the helium-filled reflective vessel filled the hall with it’s five-story presence when it was installed at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Tokyo. Although it appears massive, and therefore massively heavy, it is actually weightless (as seen in the video link below, when a museum staff member pulls it down with one hand). The reflective material responds both to its environment and surrounding architecture, but also to the people around it, an important creative rule for Ishigami’s work.
In a review of the architect by Magali Elali for All Items Loaded, they described the artist-slash-architect-slash-designer as such.
“Junya Ishigami is one of the most controversial architects, for his artistic approach to his practice has helped to redefine the ever closer boundaries between art and architecture. He draws inspiration from the way nature appears to man and aspires to an architecture that floats, is infinite, transparent and has hardly any substance. It is not the logic of the design of a building that should stand out. Ishigami wants his buildings to appeal through their new spatiality and environmental richness. His work is a quest for the pure and essential in architecture.” (via 2headedsnake and allitemsloaded)