Shaolin Kung Fu, developed in China beginning in 495AD, has infiltrated popular culture in the West. Depending on your age, you might be familiar with the 70s TV show “Kung Fu” or Mortal Kombat : Shaolin Monks. Neither captures the essence of Shaolin Kung Fu. Based on Buddhism, its major forms of expression are martial arts and techniques. Shaolin emphasizes meditation, development of the body through rigorous training, and pain endurance.
Training in Kung Fu is mostly done without an opponent, as it was never meant to kill, and the poetic names of the moves imply that it is more of a meditation than a fight. However, the only difference between breaking a clay jug and smashing a human skull with one’s bare hands is consciousness of will. Despite the commercialization, Kung Fu retains a mystical character closer to a monastic discipline than to the performances of modern gladiators.
Tomasz Gudzowaty captures the monks in artistic black and white. The classical composition of these photographs only serves to enhance the amazing strength, endurance, and concentration of the monks as they train. Gudzowaty doesn’t use effects or manipulation to increase the impact of the images—he doesn’t have to. The monks provide all of the interest themselves: walking up walls, standing on their heads, balanced on a foot and an elbow. They seem fully immersed in their training—oblivious to the camera, wholly in the moment.
“Sports fascinates me as a spiritual practice, which is not readily visible today in mainstream events. I made it my long-standing quest to photograph peripheral, exotic sports.”
This series is a masterful match of content and form, skilled subjects and talented artist.
For his powerful series 141 Boxers, photographer Nicolai Howalt shoots young amateur boxers in Denmark before and after their first brutal fight. The artist, known in part for his elegant images of car wrecks, once again finds an eerie beauty in violence, capturing sweaty faces sprinkled in fresh blood. On the left, his subjects present their game faces, poised in a moment of calm determination prior to the battle; on the right, the violence and competition has ended, leaving their faces bruised and swollen.
For these teenage athletes, the first foray into the ring presents itself as a rite of passage out of childhood and into manhood. Afterwards, they are irrevocably changed, as if all of puberty were condensed into a single test of machismo. As viewers, we might be unsettled to see these round, blushingly cheeks marked by punches; though outwardly baby-faced, Howalt’s subjects possess a knowingness and understanding of aggression that transcends their youth. Thrust into the environment of the controversial sport, these pimpled, wide-eyed adolescents are aglow with their own glistening sweat and an uncomfortable sense of adult virility.
Arranged neatly in a grid as they are in gallery installations, Howalt’s violent images are paradoxically sterile. Set against a pale gray background, his subjects seem restrained in a way that contradicts the nature of their sport. Many of the photographs look like clean mugshots pinned cleanly and simply on a wall; the young boxers are at the mercy of our judgement. Do we condemn or celebrate this ruthless sport? Take a look. (via Agonistica)
The Super Bowl is perhaps the epitomy of America’s obsession with sports, television and mass entertainment, with a viewing audience of over a 100-million each year. Chad Langager at Sporting Charts notes the importance of the day, “There is so much attention paid to the game that 30-second commercials now command $4 million, which is equal to $133,333 per second, and Super Bowl half-time show now features some of the biggest acts in music. It has become a definite moment each year.”
But with each passing Bowl, perhaps one of the over-looked yetlasting memories is the art that each lucky ticket-holder carries with them. The Sacramento Bee took a trip through history yesterday by examining 48 Years of Super Bowl Tickets, documenting each ticket throughout the years for every season’s Big Game. While the iconic Lombardi Trophy is prominently featured on most tickets, several still offer sculptural, design-focused and painted images related to the grid-iron (though most of the artists responsible have become extremely hard to credit and some lost all together). It is an interesting look through the history of design, as well as to see the dated futuristic leanings often paired with athletic grandiosity on a massive stage. (via the sacramento bee)
As part of Coca Cola’s Move to the Beat program for the 2012 Olympics, London design partners Asif Khan and Pernilla Ohrstedt put together the Coca Cola Beatbox pavilion in the Olympic Park, an interactive architectural installation composed of 200 translucent air cushions. The cushions respond to movement from pavilion visitors with sound and light, effectively remixing a track commissioned by the bottling company for the Games. Different areas in the structure emit various sports-themed sounds like sneakers squeaking on the court and recorded heart rates. This one’s probably not for the claustrophobic, but London is definitely the place to be right now. Concept sketches and more images of the musical pavilion after the jump. (via)
Drawing inspiration from our oxygen-producing friends the trees, French architecture firm a/LTA created this basketball hoop. You can say a lot about the piece (which I guess is kinda functional) that may or may not be on point (“beautifying our public space so that our communities can grow and be healthy“), but mostly it’s just really cool. (via)