British artist Tom Phillips released the first edition of A Humument in 1970. To create this stunning book, Phillips illustrated and/or collaged each page of a found Victorian text – WH Mallock’s A Human Document – leaving parts of the original text exposed and uncovering a new story line with a new protagonist named Bill Toge, whose name appears only when the word “together” or “altogether” appears in Mallock’s original text. Of the text and his project, Phillips says,”It is a forgotten Victorian novel found by chance …I plundered, mined, and undermined its text to make it yield the ghosts of other possible stories, scenes, poems, erotic incidents, and surrealist catastrophes which seemed to lurk within its wall of words. As I worked on it, I replaced the text I’d stripped away with visual images of all kinds. It began to tell and depict, among other memories, dreams, and reflections, the sad story of Bill Toge, one of love’s casualties.”
Over the years, Phillips has revised and replaced pages of the text, resulting in updated editions. The most recent 5th edition was published in 2012. In 2010, A Humument made its digital debut as an app for the iPad and iPhone. Assisting in its develop, Phillips is very pleased with his work’s transition to the digital realm. For Phillips, a bright screen enhances his illustrations, lending them a glow his pens and paints couldn’t achieve, “almost like church windows at times.” After Phillips started working on the book in the 60s, he dreamed that it could one day be used as an oracle. Forty years of technology later, Phillips’ dream has been realized, and he’s become his own consumer: “Each night after midnight I consult, somewhat furtively (even though alone), the Oracle I have made. I’m often surprised by pages made long ago and almost forgotten, as well as by the sometimes uncanny predictions they offer their maker.” (via the guardian)
For his series Evolution of Type, the artist and graphic designer Andreas Scheiger creates living, breathing fonts; his ABC’s might be dissected like a human limb, revealing boney spines and straining ligaments. With surgical precision, the flesh of his curvy S is pulled back in a manner that is both grotesque and sensuous. In this strange marriage of art, language, and science, the artist is inspired in part by Victorian sentiments and the emergence of Charles Darwin’s On The Origin of Species and the theory of evolution, which spurred medical debate and disillusioned many a spiritualist.
Scheiger’s work is profoundly influenced by seminal Vicorian text The Alphabet and Elements of Lettering, written by Frederic W. Goudy, the designer behind famous typefaces like Copperplate Gothic and Goudy Old Style. Schneiger imagines the literal manifestations of Goudy’s analogies, which compared lettering to animated organisms; like creatures extinct and in existence, language too has a history, bringing with it the ability to record and preserve human thoughts and discoveries.
Within Schneiger’s imaginative font, E’s are skinned to reveal a muscular-skeletal system; deeper still, is a network of red and blue veins and capillaries that transport oxygen to some unknown organ. Much like actual bodies, these letters are capable of deterioration and decay; a G appears lifeless, mounted like dinosaur bones. Similarly, a P gets trapped and preserved in amber, and a prehistoric J is fossilized in stone. The terms “the life of language” or “the body of text” become spell-binding realities in this whimsical and thoughtful series. Take a look. (via KoiKoiKoi)
The French digital painter Lostfish creates an uncomfortable yet irresistibly alluring landscape of feminine powers; her bashful, pink-cheeked subjects reign supreme, adorned in precious jewels and sparkling crowns. The artist’s characters are abuzz with their own fertility, as expressed by bouncing nude breasts and lush flowers that seem to spring up from underfoot; also pictured are rabbits and eggs, symbols art historically associated with breeding and copulation.
The artist, influenced in part by 19th century art, works within a Victorian sensibility, reveling in an innocent, doll-like vision of femininity; her subjects, pale skinned and with impossibly delicate figures, become queens, armed with crowns and tridents. Lostfish’s female characters also seem pious, divine even; a few wear dismembered hands as jewelry, reminiscent of religious icons like the hand of God or the hand of Fatima. White flowers with yellow centers, often symbolic of the Virgin Mary in Christian art, stand in the place of youthful, milky nipples.
Yet within Lostfish’s ethereal and seductive images, there seems to linger an ominous supernatural strength within womankind. Where the Victorian woman is domestic and obedient, Lostfish’s heroines roam like wood nymphs, emboldened by their own reproductive powers; in one image depicting a human fetus within a pink oval, a foreboding reptilian creature seems to invade the womb, its grotesque navel in full view. In one painting, doll faces emerge in a group of six from blood red roses, reminiscent of biblical devil. These tempting, enchanting women dress in excess, giving themselves over to material pleasures. In Lostfish’s gorgeous imaginings the female is both delicate and demure, ravenous and dangerous. Take a look. (via HiFructose)
Argentinian artist Estela A Cuadro has a body of work both ethereal and precise. She has beautiful pen work layered with watercolor backdrops creating worlds of her own. Her pieces show themes of acrobatics and carnival in an understated way.