David Skazaly is a Hungarian/German graphic designer who has been creating hypnotic, mind-warping GIFs since 2008. Working under the name Davidope, Skazaly’s psychedelic GIFs and warped images have set the standard for animated GIFs across the internet. Even if you haven’t heard his name before (or his online pseudonym, Davidope), you probably recognize some of Skazaly’s technicolor, organic forms, pulsing in infinite loops, whether on art blogs or the annals of Tumblr. Skazaly’s animations are strangely hypnotic and entrancing, pushing a format that is now primarily used for cat memes and celebrity reactions into successful, technically adept artistic territory.
Skazaly got his start experimenting with animation program Macromedia Flash in the 90s before focusing on his own motion graphics. Looking at his Tumblr now, it’s clear Skazaly has mastered the art form of creating technically perfect GIFs, from trippy, twisting shapes to black and white worms perpetually moving forward. Skazaly’s mind-bending GIFs are dizzying, satisfying works of art, elevating a now common internet trend to a mesmerizing new level.
For Brazilian artist Fábio Magalhães’ hyperrealist oil paintings, the more grotesque the better. Using gruesome body horror imagery such as hacked up, barely identifiable body parts and suffocated faces in plastic bags, Magalhães’ work is as incisive as it is skillfully rendered. The breaking down of recognizably human appendages and entrails into chopped up, stomach churning chunks is purposefully reminiscent of a real-life counterpart: that of animal cruelty. Although we’re accustomed to seeing animals deconstructed into bright, vacuum-sealed packages of meat every time we go to a supermarket, it’s only when faced with the sickening sight of what our own bodies would look like if sold in similar plastic bags that truth of the cruelty behind the meat industry becomes stunningly clear. Magalhães’ paintings are nightmarish in portrayal, and certainly something you’d never want to see in real life, but when put to canvas are strong, provocative, and memorable works. Magalhães studied at the Federal University of Bahia in the city of Salvador, where he is currently based. (via Illusion)
Israeli artist Chaim Machlev is a Berlin-based tattoo artist, otherwise known as Dots to Lines. Working primarily with black ink (“I believe that black is the nicest color for tattoos; it is closer to our source than any other color,” he said in a recent interview), Machlev’s designs are complex line-based works that weave across skin with fluid, stunning precision. Incorporating mandalas, insects, and other images into his geometric tattoos, Machlev’s work go beyond simple designs into minimal, extraordinarily detailed works of permanent art. It makes sense, then, that Machlev bristles at the idea of grouping his work into any kind of predetermined genre. “I actually started to make those designs because it was weird for me that people try to categorize tattoos and other art forms. I could say that I have that split in my designs, just like in my personality; I make those art-minimalistic lines — the computer kid inside me — and very detailed mandalas, the spiritual man inside me.”
That spiritual motif makes way for some of Machlev’s most beautiful designs, such as symmetrical forearm mandalas and Joy Division-riffing chest designs of warped seismic waves. Machlev draws from his experiences traveling in India for the spiritual imagery in his designs, but for the more symmetrical designs, there is a prominent mathematical sense to the work. His line and dot work flows seamlessly over flesh in a way that looks similar to vectors on a computer, sprawling across chests and ribs with stunning exactitude.
Casa Tomada is a project of traveling installations started in 2007 by Colombian artist Rafael Gómezbarros in which giant sculptures of ants are fixed in swarms on buildings and structures. Self-described as “urban intervention” by Gómezbarros, the ants have been showcased in locations varying from London to Cuba with a very specific goal in mind: shedding light on immigration, forced displacement, and uprooting through historical points of departure for travelers and immigrants. The 2-foot ants themselves are crafted out of tree branches for legs and two joined skull casts made of fiberglass resin and fabric to make up the torso, making for a particularly morbid, visceral depiction of migrant workers in Latin America who are looked at as nothing more than vermin.
When placed on the facades of government buildings and blank gallery walls alike, the ants give off a chilling sense of foreboding and encroachment. By placing them in swarms, Gómezbarros makes the insects even more strikingly representative of the peasants displaced by war and strife in Gómezbarros’ native Colombia. The giant insects that make up Casa Tomada, which translates to Seized House, are certainly works that are bound to linger with viewers, whether in nightmares or otherwise.
American artist Evan Roth is no stranger to subverting digital culture into progressive art. In the past, Roth has developed a wall of gifs for Occupy the Internet and hacked the internet cache to create self-portraits, both of which fit neatly into his artist statement of “visualizing and archiving culture through unintended uses of technologies”. Drawing inspiration from hacker culture and philosophy, Roth helped found the Graffiti Research Lab, which merges graffiti with technology via projectile LEDs, which he used to famously tag the Brooklyn Bridge in 2008. For his Multi-Touch Paintings series, Roth tapped quite literally into a newly universal habit among people fully plugged into the digital era: that of using touchscreen devices. Created by “performing routine tasks on milt-touch hand held computing devices,” Roth used tracing paper and an ink pad to turn impressions of each finger swipe into stark paintings.
Each of Roth’s ink paintings are named after the task they’re depicting, from an entire wall of levels from Angry Birds to Twitter and e-mail check-ins. By turning mundane procedures we make on a day to day basis on our phones and tablets into textural studies, Roth blurs the line between the corporeal and the digital. One can’t help but be reminded of fingerprinting for identification when looking at the paintings, drawing a connection between the all-encompassing nature of technology in modern society and the lasting effects that may hold over our identities in the future. With iPhones that now literally use your fingerprint to access the device, it seems as though Roth’s paintings are even more prescient now than they were when he first premiered them in 2011.
In New Hampshire-based artist Megan Bogonovich’s magical ceramic sculptures, well-dressed women and men peek into gigantic anemones and castle-like coral reefs, plunging headfirst inside like Alice in Wonderland. Looking at the sculptures is similar to reading an enchanting fairytale, with each ornate detail given the attention and intricacy usually afforded to the illustrations in a children’s storybook. Bogonovich’s eye for detail is perhaps most evident in the underwater creatures poised to swallow their small-scale human counterparts. Made colossal in comparison, they foster the sense of wonder and impending adventure that Bogonovich is so adept at creating for each of her sculptures. There’s no end to the number of details one can glean looking at just one of Bogonovich’s sculptures, from the little girl peering into the rose-like openings in a slab of coral to the woman on the cusp of falling headlong into a multicolored anemone that, with its open valves, strongly resembles a human heart. Bogonovich’s sculptures are painted in vivid pastel colors of yellows, pinks, and greens, which lends them an even stronger storybook aesthetic. This serves them well in conjuring up all of the magical scenarios to follow the spellbinding scenes her sculptures capture. (via Hi Fructose)
Do you know what kind of trash you accumulate over the course of a single week? For California-based photographer Gregg Segal, this question comes with a loaded context: there’s the irrefutable issue of Americans producing more trash than nearly any other country, as well as the large-scale ramifications producing so much waste has on the environment. In his new ongoing series, ‘7 Days of Garbage,’ Segal recruited friends, neighbors, and other acquaintances to compile a week’s worth of their personal garbage and allow him to photograph them lying in it. The photos are provocative, with Segal crafting beaches, bodies of water, and other natural settings to place emphasis on the garbage his participants were willing to bring to him. “Of course, there were some people who edited their stuff. I said, ‘Is this really it?’ I think they didn’t want to include really foul stuff so it was just packaging stuff without the foul garbage. Other people didn’t edit and there were some nasty things that made for a stronger image.”
Segal aimed to include people from different socioeconomic backgrounds, providing for a fascinating display of different kinds of trash. By shooting from an overhead angle, garbage strewn between created natural environments, Segal crafts startlingly personal portraits that are oddly still detached, conveying a more poignant message lying underneath. “Obviously, the series is guiding people toward a confrontation with the excess that’s part of their lives. I’m hoping they recognize a lot of the garbage they produce is unnecessary,” he said. “It’s not necessarily their fault. We’re just cogs in a machine and you’re not culpable really but at the same time you are because you’re not doing anything, you’re not making any effort. There are some little steps you can take to lessen the amount of waste you produce.” (via Slate)
San Diego-based artist Seyo Cizmic works largely within the realm of the surreal. From hammers that droop to knock nails into their own bodies to wooden pencils with thorns built into them, many of the objects Cizmic creates are meant to confound the viewer. Barely any of them are usable in the practical sense of the item, presenting a challenge to viewers about what exactly these objects could be meant for. Some are rife with humor, such as Cyclops’ Shades, a pair of tie-dyed flower child sunglasses with only one lens, or Fish Machine Bank, a gum ball machine filled with goldfish. They’re sculptures that are meant to be questioned, scrutinized, perhaps even laughed at. Cizmic’s objects are of a different world, one in which backwards is forwards, in which objects that don’t follow reason are a new, cockeyed normal.
Within the nonsensical nature of Cizmic’s objects, however, lie larger issues at play. There’s With God on Our Side, a gold-plated sword with a crucifix at the base, joining religious iconography with an image of violence. Then there’s the self-explanatory In God, Money, and Guns We Trust, in which a pair of disembodied gold arms in military regalia hold a dollar bill up as if in prayer. Despite having his tongue pressed firmly against his cheek, Cizmic often layers his sculptures and installations with these deeper meanings, making the scrutiny and perplexity they evoke all the more rewarding.