Elizabeth Tolson‘s range of interactive, light up futuristic styled dresses are a light-hearted look at quite serious topics. Called Vessel, the concept centers around two garments – the Fertility Dress and the Chastity Dress. Combining cutting edge technology, soft circuity, connective threads, connective garments, simple switches and plain white cotton, Tolson has created two innovative wearable art pieces that are dealing with feminist issues.
The Fertility Dress works in cohesion with the female body. It contains lights that change color depending on the woman’s menstruation cycle and fertility. The lights turn blue to indicate ovulation, red for menstruation, and glow white to indicate excellent hygiene, and finally, turn yellow to denote poor hygiene levels. This dress is meant to not only display internal bodily states, but also to remind us that woman are fertile beings, all day, everyday.
The Chastity Dress is a combination of lights and sounds, triggered by sensors that go off if certain parts of the garment are touched. Tolson explains more:
So the final result of the Chastity dress had sensors so when the girl in it was touched inappropriately, sensors went off to remind her of how she should behave. It was creating an audience for the girl as an object because she needs to watched over. It was a way for people to be aware of her actions, but she also needs to be aware. I also created a bra that has sensors so if you push her chest it creates a high-pitched noise. (Source)
Inspired by strange dating books she was sent from her mother, Tolson wanted to draw attention to some outdated attitudes that still exist about female sexuality. With a playful , tongue-in-cheek mentality, Tolson manages to raise awareness about gender politics, marriage equality, abortion laws, birth control and a whole plethora of topics most people love to avoid. Read more about her work here. (Via Design Faves)
German sculptor Stephan Balkenhol‘s carved, expressionless wooden figures and reliefs have many critics wondering just what they are about. Balkenhol sculpts stoic characters standing on top of plinths with minimal detailing, wearing basic, unfussy clothes and who are often staring off in space. His figures are everyday people, caught in a disengaged daydream. Working in African Wawa, Oak, or Lebanese Cedar wood, Balkenhol uses a hammer and chisel to reveal the figure, choosing to leave bits of shavings, knots, grains and cracks visible in the finished piece. The rough hewed sculptures are then painted over in bright block acrylic color, emphasizing the plainness of their shape. Balkenhol manages to remove all personality and emotion from his figures, effectively turning them into a blank canvas, ready for the viewer to project their own story, and interpretation onto them. The artist explains:
I’m perhaps proposing a story and not telling the end, just giving a beginning or fragment. There is still a lot for the spectator to complete… (Source)
Balkenhol has been carving the human form for a few decades now, and has shown it in many different forms. He has figures dancing on top of plinths, carrying out various dance steps; a lady in a green dress with an animal head, standing still with her hands on thighs; a man in black trousers and a white shirt with his hand slouched in his pocket. But all are as nondescript as the next. One critic dissects his work:
In the crowd, the individual is freed from the tyranny of distance and transcends the limits of his own person. If Balkenhol’s heads remain anonymous individuals, it is because they have a memory of the crowd embedded within them. (Source)
Blankenhol’s figures are a little bit of all of us – humans as individuals, and humans as a mass group; the everyday people.
Tokyo born artist Ramon Todo splices pieces of stone, volcanic rock, obsidian, fossils, books and even pieces of the Berlin Wall with translucent layers of glass. Taking raw chunks of natural material and adding highly polished bits of glass, he creates sculptures that are unstated and surprising. The juxtaposition of the sharp hard glass surface wedged in between crumbling porous rock, or forced into obsidian, or slotted into an old frayed book cover is a quiet commentary on the nature of material. By combining these distinctly different materials, Todo is talking about fragility and stability. He questions the very nature of the objects he is working with, and exploits the properties that we understand them by having. He asks us: what makes a rock a rock?
Todo collects the original stones and fossils while out walking (he is based in Dusseldorf), and initially is drawn to them as artifacts of the culture and the land they come from. By inserting something alien into these pieces, Todo is effectively rewriting their history, and the place that these objects hold in the world. With titles like Artificial Stone of Paris; Bois de Boulogne Paris 2007 #4, and o.T. – Spitz, these art works are like something from the shelves of The Natural History Museum, or the Geology Department at a university. They are definitely objects of curiosity, and you can see more of them after the jump.
Rebecca Morgan is a wonderfully playful, expressive artist producing mostly drawings, paintings, ceramics and cutouts, all based on characters and stereotypes from her native Appalachian area in America. Long term fans of Morgan’s, we have actually featured her previous series of portraits of rednecks and peasants- ‘Deliverance‘, here on B/D. This time we are enamored with her latest ceramic collection of gnarled, twisted, almost gruesome jugs. As with her 2D work, Morgan takes inspiration from the off-beat “bumpkin” (as she calls them) folk she grew up around.
Her ceramics are quite the sight – with bulging eyes, leering at you, and with crooked smiles, mouths full of oddly shaped and yellowed teeth. Their colors are quite unsettling as well, some vases a sickly blue-green tone; another is bright pus yellow; some vases glazed in a metallic sheen; and yet another made from a dull grey ceramic with ghastly warts plastered all over it’s face.
Stylistically, Morgan embraces hyper-detailed naturalism, influenced by Dutch painters such as Memling, Brueghel, and Van Eyck, as well as absurd, repulsive caricature suggestive of underground cartoonists like R.Crumb. (Source)
The influence of underground comics are definitely evident in Morgan’s work and she makes sure to embrace a healthy dose of lewdness, as does Crumb. She obviously delights in pushing the boundary between repulsion and attraction; the grotesque and the ordinary. Thankfully these vases are neither repulsive, nor grotesque, and they are far from being ordinary.
The photographic studio founded and run by Robert Staudinger and Andreas Franke (based in Vienna) have been experimenting with many different post production techniques for a while. Their recent fascination is with water. Photographing different women just beneath the surface of water, their series Barrier is like a ghostly fairytale. The women seem to either be sinking down into the depths below, postmortem, or in a state of serenity and peace, enjoying a moment of calm. We are not quite sure whether the barrier is a help or a hindrance; something to protect the women or to hurt them. The images capture an intrusive moment, either like watching someone during their final moments of life, or having an intimate bathing experience. Whatever it is, Staudinger and Franke exploit the tension between tranquility and unease; push and pull; immersion and separation.
Playing with the concept of water in the past (The Phantasy Fairytales), Staudinger and Franke seem interested in exploring the quietness and other-worldliness of the substance. By including the element in their images, it changes the mood quite drastically, and in most cases makes it seem more surreal, ethereal and eerie.
Franke has also shot an old shipwreck off the coast of Key West (Vandenberg Project), digitally adding in components later on to complete the shots. Including ballet dancers, kickboxers, a girl holding a butterfly net, a woman hanging out laundry, and a whole lot of other surreal details, Franke became experienced in recreating watery effects on his subjects to blend them in seamlessly, and somewhat believably. To see more of their beautiful skills see here. (Via Art Fucks Me)
Chen-Dao Lee paints highly stylized pop images that are a kind of Taiwanese version of a Quentin Tarantino neo-noir film. Painted in candyfloss pinks, reds and blues, his work borders on anime, or a kind of twisted superhero comic. His subjects are powerful women (and peculiar men) who have a cynicism, sexuality and also a sickly sweetness about them. Posed together, armed with guns and wearing frilly socks and high heels, or engaged in a semi-erotic masked wrestling fight, Lee’s characters are contemporary individuals, expressing the whole spectrum of emotions.
In his recent series, Lee has shifted from depicting a logical scenario in his paintings to focusing on the figures entanglement to describe emotions or relationships which are ambiguous, embarrassing or even helpless. Beautiful young women and fallen heroes frequently appear in Lee’s works as a symbol of the projection of modern people’s inner contradictions. (Source)
With titles like Cat fight – Love Kick, Boss, Not The Hero Type, Valentine, BFF, Lee embraces a kind of feminism with a dark sense of humor. He paints scenarios loaded with sexual innuendo, but instead of them being erotic, or about power plays, he focuses on ennui. The women (and men) show a lack of enthusiasm and engagement, but rather a nonchalance about what ever is going on around them.
His past series have included paintings of women guiltily carrying loads of fast food, indulgent night life scenes with money being tossed around, strange card nights, groups of men eating sushi off a blow-up doll, and overweight men with bad tan lines wearing cute costume masks. Lee is able to blend sarcasm, skepticism and empathy to create instant modern day classics. (Via Illusion Scene)
Russian photographer Ilya Naymushin, based in Krasnoyarsk, has been capturing daily life around Siberia over the past few decades. Starting his passion for photography at the ripe old age of 10, Naymushin has developed quick reflexes and a sharp eye for the unusual. This past December he happened to be passing something that was quite odd indeed – an upside down house in his home village. The house was constructed as an attraction for local residents and tourists. Grabbing the opportunity to record something interesting and historical, he produced a series of images capturing local’s experiences of the unusual installation. Naymushin says of his inspiration:
I like shooting stories about people who belong to the “one in a million” category – unusual people doing unusual things. They can be amateur artists, builders, extreme sportsmen, winter swimmers, or people who live in difficult conditions in the modern world and manage to survive. (Source)
His passion for photojournalism has enabled him to experience and present both the sensational and mundane aspects of life. From snapping pictures of Putin’s tiger crossing the Russian border into China, to an 87-year-old Jewish Red Army veteran of World War Two, to harvests in the fields outside of Svetlolobovo, and now including this upside down house of Krasnoyarsk, he likes to celebrate all sides of Russian life. He says:
I take pictures for people all around the globe. I am one of the few journalists living in the vast territory of Siberia who have the chance to show life here to the whole world – something I have been doing for almost 20 years. (Source) (Via Fubiz)
New York artist Bing Wright has a clever way of creating something simple and visually striking. For his latest series Broken Mirror/Evening Skies, he has photographed various sunset scenes in shattered mirrors, resulting in beautiful, understated images akin to stained glass windows. The images are full of calming blues, glowing yellows, haunting greys and ferocious reds. In this way Wright really is a photographer painting with light.
While more abstract than some of his earlier works, the composition carries a narrative that enables the viewer to collectively experience the beauty of the sunsets the artist has captured, while facilitating an individual interpretation of the emotion they imbue. We are presented with pictorial images, fragmented and in disrepair – a reminder that everything beautiful is flawed and imperfect. Bing’s signature large format lends these images symmetry and exact composition, giving them a majestic quality. (Source)
Fascinated with the subtlety of changing weather patterns, landscapes and seasons, Wright is known for his poetic photographic series. His past work includes Greyscapes (very bleak, but not bland, views of nature’s tones of grey), Wet Glass (a close up series of droplets and drips on panes of glass), and Windows (a series that narrates the passing of time through the same one window).
Wright has gravitated slowly toward an aesthetic based around reflections, mirrors, silver tones, and foil. He has photographed silver bits on mirrors, mirrors on mirrors, and now simply has captured his surroundings in mirrors. But don’t let the simplicity undersell the elegance of this sunset series. The combination of a violently broken mirror and the tranquility reflected in the shards, has a surprisingly enchanting effect. The charm of these works lie in the juxtaposition between these two worlds.