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)
Australian photographer Brendan Fitzpatrick’s X-ray photographs expose the inner workings of toys. Fitzpatrick’s photographs are both whimsical and mechanical, evoking the curiosity of childhood and the desire to discover how things look and work from other perspectives. The strategic placement of wires, batteries, and screws are revealed, the complexity of the inside contrasting with the seemingly simplistic design of the outside. Fitzpatrick uses chest X-ray and mammogram machines to photograph flowers, toys, and creatures, then enhances the color in the images in order to more effectively distinguish the various parts that have been exposed. This photographs are part of series he calls “Invisible Light.” (via colossal)
Published in 2011, Ricardo Cases‘s stunning photo book Paloma al Aire (Pigeons In the Air)depicts colorful and unusual moments from a unique form of pigeon racing that takes place in Valencia and Murcia, Spain. This “sport” involves the release of one female pigeon and dozens of painted male pigeons – the winner of the “race” is decided by how much time the male spends with the female. Each male pigeon is painted by his owner, in much the same way color is used to distinguish teams. The pigeons’ breeders, mostly older retired men, invest lots of time and money into their birds – some of the pigeons are worth thousands of euros in addition to the amounts placed during bets on these flighty contestants. For these retired men, these birds are emblematic of their later-life hopes and dreams – each painted pigeon becomes a projection of the pigeon-keeper, representing sportive, economic and sexual success or failure in the community. Be sure to check out Cases’s other work, including his similarly colorful series of the 2012 Florida Republican Presidential Primary for TIME Magazine. (via foam magazine)
International architectural firm Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) has created a life-sized wooden maze reminiscent of European hedge mazes of the 17th and 18th centuries, currently on view at The National Building Museum in Washington D.C. Eighteen feet high and made of baltic birch plywood, this installation offers a glimpse into BIG’s work and their forthcoming exhibition, scheduled to open in early 2015. The thoughtful design of this labyrinth allows visitors to see the entirety of the maze elevated around them once they fully descend to the center of the structure. BIG describes the project, “As you travel deeper into a maze, your path typically becomes more convoluted. What if we invert this scenario and create a panopticon that brings clarity and visual understanding upon reaching the heart of the labyrinth? From outside, the maze’s cube-like form hides the final reveal behind its 18 foot tall walls. On the inside the walls slowly descend towards the center which concludes with a grand reveal – a 360 degree understanding from where you came and where you shall go.” (via design boom)
Beth Scher‘s “Female Soldiers” series depicts women in the military adorned with embroidery and other decorative elements. Scher’s mixed media paintings explore ideas concerning femininity and strength. Her images feature women in a variety of military contexts – Scher’s embellishments of her female figures recalls the idea of a “decorated” soldier while also referring to the art of craft and embroidery, concepts normally found within in a domestic setting. In images that include a bulls eye or target image, Scher conceals the women’s faces with black thread, evoking a sense of expendability that must inhabit a conflict-heavy environment. Scher explains, “In my paintings, I portray them as young women who intentionally seek to display their sexuality and vulnerability, yet are trained killers, in a position of power and placed in serious conflicts. I wonder what the consequences are in a society that must deal with this dichotomy.” (via lustik)
On Saturday, Japanese artist Megumi Igarashi was arrested for the crime of distributing indecent material. And what did she distribute, exactly? Digital data that represents 3D modeling information of her vagina. After raising around $10,000 via her crowd-sourcing campaign, Igarashi was able to complete the construction of her planned vaginal-shaped kayak. As part of the campaign, donors were promised the digital file from which Igarashi was able to complete her design – it is for sending these files that Igarashi was arrested, and faces up to two years in prison and a fine of up to $25,000. If you thought sexist double standards were beyond apparent here in the States, then let me direct you to Japan’s incredible double standards, most strongly evidenced by the celebration of penises in an annual penis festival and their stance on most international pornography standards. Known by the pseudonym rokudenashi-ko ( “good-for-nothing kid”), 42-year-old Igarashi began working with 3D models of her vagina as a response to the shame and ignorance she felt about her own genitalia.
From her web site: “I make art pieces with my vagina, which I would rather call Manko(MK). I thought it was just funny to decorate my vagina and make into a diorama, but I was very surprised to see how upset people get when they see my works or even hear me say the word Manko. Even when a TV station asked me to be on their show, they wouldn’t dare let me say DECO-MAN because “MAN” is from the taboo word “Manko”. Why did I start making these kind of art pieces? It’s because I had never seen the vagina of others and I was too self-conscious of mine. I did not know what a vagina should look like at the same time, so I thought mine was abnormal. Manko and vagina, have been such a taboo in Japanese society. Penis, on the other hand, has been used in illustrations and has become a part of pop culture. But vagina has never been so cute. Vagina has been thought to be obscene because its been overly hidden; although it is just a part of a woman’s body.”
There is a petition circulating advocating for Igarashi’s release that has already collected almost 19,000 signatures. You can watch her crowd-sourcing campaign video here. (via guardian and spoon & tamago)
When you think of fine art, one of the last places you’d probably consider finding it is in the laundromat. Photographer Yvette Meltzer, long fascinated with the transformation of soiled to clean clothes, first sought to explore her fascination by visiting many different laundromats in Chicago. During these visits, she documented various aspects of the laundromat experience, but it wasn’t until she saw the images of dryers tumbling clothes on her computer that she knew she had captured something beautiful – animal and human forms were revealed to her through the compositions of color and texture being tossed around in the machines. Thus, Meltzer’s “Revolution” series was born, a series that transforms an everyday, mundane image into an experience of abstract mystery. Meltzer says, “What I see is not what someone else does. But people do seem mesmerized by the images and attempt to discern what it is they are looking for. People seem to have such a need for definition and tend to be uncomfortable with the ambiguous.” (via slate)
Cuban-American artist Cesar Santos thoughtfully blends disparate styles and elements in a series he calls “Syncretism.” Santos’ amalgamations present representations from Renaissance, Modern, Classic, and Contemporary work, all blended together to create a pastiche of imagery. While combining genres, forms, and time periods is not a necessarily unique approach, it is Santos’ execution that is most impressive. Skilled technically in multiple painting styles, Santos is able to render images that appear uncannily similar to their references. Recontextualizing these images demonstrates the evolution of painting techniques while maintaining the universality and persistence of particular themes.
“I develop a painting by first working on an idea in a sketchbook, a simple drawing. Then I go to Photoshop and start composing the painting. In a way it’s [how] a classical artist would do it: constructing a color study. Once I have everything composed, tweaking the colors, it will almost look like the final piece. Using oils on linen, I go about painting that image. During the process things change. When I start applying the colors, I start with a raw umber underpainting, and block it in with local color. Even though I’m using modern tools, the process is very classical.” (via juxtapoz)