If you regularly tune in to Adult Swim, Austin based illustrator and animator Dax Norman‘s work may look familiar to you. Evoking a trippy aesthetic reminiscent of Mad Magazine and “The Yellow Submarine,” Norman’s gifs ooze and pulse with bright, fun energy. Citing classic and current influences and favorites such as Max Ernst, Man Ray, Van Gogh, Shel Silverstein, William Blake, Neil Anderson-Himmelspach, Reverend Bobby Anger, David Olive, and Joseph Noderer, Norman creates animations informed by popular culture and the world around him, as well as animations that represent strangely and wonderfully original characters, figures, and shapes.
Norman first started making gifs by re-purposing existing longer animations into loopable snippets, but as the form started to grow on him, Norman began creating original gifs, trying to finish a new one every day. He creates both 2D and 3D animated gifs that deal with alternate and multiple perceptions of reality. Of his animations, Norman says, “I see them each as ‘little paintings,’ or ‘picture poems’ each with its own universe of movement…Playing with the looping idea, and rhythm, is what appeals to me the most. Hopefully… people can hear something in my moving pictures, even though there is no sound.” In addition to his extensive archive of gifs on Tumblr, Norman also has full video animations available on Vimeo as well as a Tumblr page dedicated to demonstrating his process of creation.
Jon Jacobsen, a Chilean photographer, creates images and animations that are metaphorical in nature; his usage of image as allegory is often referential to surreal worlds and occurrences. Through his experience as a fashion photographer, Jacobsen is able to put forth a product that combines both a fashion-editorial aesthetic and the feel and look of something that, say, Salvador Dali created. His work is indicative of imagined scenarios that in a sense encapsulate real sensory experiences. Although there is no specific continuity to any of his work, any one of his photographs alone is enough for viewers to become interested in Jacobsen’s personal experiences and wild imagination.
“As a child I dreamt of becoming an astronaut, now I create a universe myself”
According to his short statement on his Behance profile, his animated GIFs are inspired by specific moments in times where feelings, thoughts, and the senses go out of control [smelling or seeing something that provokes strong emotions, going through a difficult emotional experience,etc].
Photographer Jeremy Ayer and graphic designer Julien Mercier have been collaborating on a series of photographs titled “Aude” that feature a nude female exploring, or used as a decoration in, a large mansion. In some of the photographs, the female body appears to be on ornamental display, almost doll-like, and contrasted with some of the other objects on display in the mansion. Despite her nude body, the photographs are shot in such a way as to leave the female figure shrouded in a bit of mystery.
“With her pale skin, her slender body, she represents a certain ideology of beauty, as dictated by contemporary magazines. But paradoxically, the raw image remains in a direct visual language, not constrained by any commercial obligations. There is no digital manipulation which would withdraw all of her natural eroticism. In the same process, the statues whth their perfectly carved silouhettes, oppose with her curves left intact. The brutal and frontal lighting, exposes here entire body. But always fleeting, she remains inaccessible to the viewer, out of reach, in height.” (via ignant)
Using the natural shapes and contours of the body, German artist Gisene Marwedel transforms the human body into a living, breathing work of art. Marwedel paints finely detailed images, ranging from animals to landscapes to abstraction. She first learned the art of body painting while in India, where she began painting with henna. This skill evolved into a full-time hobby (she has a day job as a speech therapist). Her work depicts scenes of movement and grace with a hauntingly surreal aesthetic. (via mirror)
Jessica Stoller‘s porcelain sculptures exaggerate the objectification of female bodies using 18th century French aesthetics. Through the medium of clay, Stoller sculpts fluid and grotesque shapes, emphasizing the lack of boundaries between bodies and other materialist images related to consumption. She embellishes this unsettling bodily abundance with a soft, feminine, candy and ice-cream color palette and opulent adornments. These figures are often erotically or mythically charged.This creates an experience of surreal bodily and material abjection for the viewer, while addressing cultural concerns about the control of the feminine body. Stoller’s work, “Spoil,” is currently on view at PPOW Gallery in New York until February 8. (via hi fructose)
Hikaru Cho‘s method of painting could best be described as a physical and unconventional type of doodling. Cho primarily uses acrylic paints on bodies or food to create believably 3D surrealistic effects, and even transfers this skill to stop-motion film and other video work. Her work alters our perspective of seemingly stable universal concepts, creating new forms that demand our engagement using only the special effects rendered through paint.
British photographer Vikram Kushwah recreates pieces of the past with staged photography. Working with fashion designer, writer, and researcher Trisha Sakhlecham, the two produced a series of images titled Memoirs of Lost Time. The subject matter, its tone, and coloring of the photographs are a dreamy and hazy. They straddle the fine line between what is a dream and what is a memory. Each image features a person gazing beyond the landscape, as though they are longing for something lost.
On his website, Kushwah writes about Memoirs of Lost Time. He says that the series is inspired by the romantic notions of childhood memories, and goes on to say:
…A biographical documentation of sorts, of seven creative personalities’ childhood recollections, this book captures not only what was, but also suggests a very imaginative take on what could have been.
Stories evocative of the intimate moments and bygone days of these personalities are embellished with wondrously staged pictures featuring the subjects themselves. Each chapter takes you into the personal and never seen before world of one of these personalities with a short story, an insightful interview and photographs, weaving in and out of reality, where you start beginning to drift into a realm of imaginative possibilities and yet remain attached to the facts that were.
With dreams, like distant memories, we sometimes question whether or not something actually happened. While this could be distressing, Kushwah chooses to embrace uncertainty and magic of it all. There are some fantastical elements, like a woman that is carried away by small umbrellas. But mostly, these images lack action. Instead, they depict quiet moments in the company of many books or the vast outdoors. Reading and nature provide the perfect fodder for imaginations to run wild. (Via My Modern Met)
The surreal photographs by Christopher McKenney are haunting, as a (mostly) faceless figure interacts with a deserted environment. The desaturated images are shot in the middle of the woods, a corn field, a lake, and back country roads. Sometimes, we see a ghost. Other times, a man is lit on fire. Whatever the situation, McKenney crafts a quietly desperate image.
The photographer recently told art blog iGNANT that he one day found himself in the woods with nothing but a sheet, chair, and frame. He placed the sheet over his head and photoshopped his body out. He tells iGnant, I like taking away identity when photographing and to leave people thinking. “I only make the photos I do to express myself and what other people see or think is up to them, as long as I make them feel anything I’m ok with that.”
Personally, I experience cognitive dissonance when looking at McKenney’s work. I find a lot of these images disturbing yet beautifully composed.. For instance, the photo Fragile Perspective (above) features someone with a burning box over their head. Formally, the colors are rich and the orange of the fire is stunning against the blues, browns, and grays. But, then I study the content of the photograph and realize that it depicts someone who is essentially set on fire.
Not all of McKenney’s photographs are like that. Other times, they are simply whimsical and nonsensical. In Let Go, a suitcase with a balloon tied to the handle stays on the ground as its owner floats away. Another photograph has a chair in an empty field with a pair of hands (only hands, no body), infinitely holding a mirror. It’s these photographs I enjoy more – ones that are odd, but don’t communicate utter despair. (Via iGNANT)