Spanish artist José Manuel Castro López seems to have the ability to transform the structural properties of rocks. He manipulates the surface of stone to create a new formation. He turns a classic object of solid nature into something strange, malleable and soft. His work, for just a moment, forces the viewer to question reality. For what should be “as hard as a rock” becomes reminiscent of having a materiality as flexible as dough. With loose folds, simple cut outs and pinches, it seems the artist is able to sculpt rocks as if they are as supple as clay. Each piece has a certain sense of humor to it, as it is an optical illusion that kind of asks the viewer to reflect upon his or her own common sense. Yet, simultaneous to its comical, light hearted absurdity, the work also has an almost unusual, uncomfortable resemblance to flesh, giving the work a darker, more complex facet. With these flesh like objects — quite literally for some of them, as they depict faces — the properties of what seems like skin begin to become distorted, perhaps depicting the moments directly after pain has been inflicted. For example, his sculpture of what looks like a ring puncturing skin. Or, the sculpture of what looks like the result of flesh that has been stretched through it’s ability to be elastic. With a large array of pieces, José Manuel Castro López creates clever work that truly plays tricks on your eyes. (via deMilked)
South Korean artist Lee Yun Hee creates narrative ceramic pieces inspired by literature and story telling. She uses both Western and Eastern influences, creating a style of her own that is striking, unique and undoubtably contemporary. Her work is fragile and flawless, almost creating an aura of effortlessness. She uses her work to reflect upon stories of everyday people; their struggles, fears, hopes, and anxieties. Yet, most importantly to her, she is truly interested in documenting their “cures” — the sort of “up from below” type stories that end with a protagonist who has had the strength and endurance to overcome a difficult task. For example, her piece La Divina Commedia, reinterprets the classic 14th century poem by Dante. In her version, she depicts a young girl’s search for truth. She explains the tale behind the piece in an interview with Brilliant 30. She states,
“there was once a girl that received an oracle, telling her future. The knowledge, the predestined desire and insecurity left her troubled. In search of happiness and peace, she embarked on a journey. Along the way, she encountered many obstacles; but at the end, she discovered the peace she has been striving for…By overcoming anxiety and suppressing desire, the girl reaches a state of ultimate peace.”
Her work acts as windows into her own version of a fairy tale; she is able to re-create morality stories within her own framework. She refers to her self as a collector— she takes influence from everything she sees. She explains, “I have been keen on collecting images since I was a child. I would rather cut out the pictures from cartoons than read them. Even the encyclopedia wasn’t safe. These processes have had more influence than anything else on my background as an artist.”
Lee Yun Hee’s work is mystical and fantastic. Though balancing modern, classic, Eastern, and Western styles, she has creating an epic body of art that is honest, profound, and truly unique.
French artist Travis Durden has created Star Wars inspired classical statues. Using digital technology, the artist has sculpted characters in faux marble with faces pulled directly from the film’s franchise and bodies sourced from classical statues found in the Louvre in Paris. His work shines light on what could be interpreted as a softer side of the sci-fi fantasy film’s cast. Darth Vadar is fashioned with a soft lock of hair and a tender hand gesture that suggests grace. Boba Fett is portrayed gently bending down, showing signs of what might be humility. Yoda is depicted as a peaceful cherub. A Storm Trooper is shown in robes holding a piece of ancient knowledge. General Grievous dramatically reaches for a bow and arrow. Durden is interested in binaries and creating new meaning from merging seemingly opposing forces. Even his name, Travis Durden, is a pseudonym created from combining names taken from two of his favorite films. He uses the format of the classical sculpture to re-fashion these Star Wars characters to be depicted almost as gods — as equally a significant part of cultural history. Durden’s sculptures seem to suggest that cultural icons have indeed become objects of worship. Will the characters of Star Wars have that same type of precedence as we see the Greek statues to those in the future?
Within his series Cowboys, Italian born artist Stefano Galli captures the essence of the rodeo. When encountering Galli’s blurred displays of fast paced moments, at first glance, the images almost take on a painterly aesthetic. The blended earth tones enriched by small marks of what could be cadmium red mimic the sort of guttural intensity found in Abstract Expressionism. Yet, with further inspection, it becomes clear that these moments are, in fact, not abstract at all. Galli’s series displays a hyper specific sensibility of the rodeo — they go beyond what is physically there and take on the challenge to document both the visual and psychological affect the rodeo has on these cowboys. With a crowds of faceless faces, bucking broncos whose warped bodies begin to take the formation of something out of a Francis Bacon painting, and long, lingering lights that possess a cinematic feel, Galli is able to represent the true element of movement. His photographs are a clever answer to create a discourse on a challenging topic for a motionless medium: speed. But, more importantly, his images provoke not only a discourse on gesture, but also on control. What does it feel like to have control when all sense of homeostasis is disrupted? How does one remain in control? And further, through the distortion of the image, is Galli provoking the viewer to lose his or her control? Are we asked to let go of our need to make sense of what we’re seeing? Perhaps, for a moment, we should act on instinct. Delicate yet powerful, Stefano Galli truly exposes a contemporary visual thought process on an age-old tradition.
Artist Brandon Muir creates dark, creepy, digital collages. With creatures such as a vintage pilot whose nose seems to have been burned off, a smiling blue child with red melting eyes, and a boy with a mutated head including a third eye complete with tentacle arms, Brandon Muir’s potential patrons of hell are truly what nightmares are made of. They are reminiscent of The Twilight Zone meets The Munsters meets Basket Case (1982). They are undoubtedly demonic, however, the work also has this sense of playfulness (perhaps solely because they are displayed using the lighthearted platform of the GIF). Muir’s work has an of aura of jest, perhaps taking notes from the type of kitsch found in 1950s horror films. In his own words “[My] one intention with these animations is to ride the line between a disgusted cringe and a smooth chunky chuckle” (source). His process begins as any collage artist’s would — he collects images taken from magazines such as National Geographic and LIFE magazine. After he creates his more traditional collages, he then uses programs such as Photoshop and AfterEffects to formulate the digital rendering. By placing the work into a digital format, Muir allows himself to explore more complex textures, colors, and juxtapositions, creating striking images you can’t seem to get off your mind. (Via The Creators Project)
Chilean artist Don Lucho creates installations from found cardboard that simulate extraordinary scenes from everyday life. During a street fair in Santiago, Chile, Don Lucho crafted a fruit and vegetable stand, titled “El Puesto de Don Lucho,” stocked fully with items made of paper. He stayed there the entirety of the fair, acting just like another ordinary fruit stand.
“I sold a lot of cardboard fruits. The…reactions were different, some were angry because the fruit was fake, others thought it was a hidden camera show, other people laughed. A lot of people asked many questions like what is this fruit for or if there was real fruit inside the cardboard fruit? The real fruit sellers got very angry and started shouting: Stop buying cardboard fruit! It’s not real fruit!” (source)
Another one of his installations, “Casa de Carton,” depicts an entire apartment, kitchen, toilet and all, completely made of cardboard. With a skateboard leaning against the wall, clothes thrown about, and an unmade bed, the apartment, despite its paper construct, perfectly mimics a truly lived in environment. He has also created various installations that reproduce accidents. On the streets of Santiago, Chile, Lucho, along with collaborator Quillo, created a cardboard car crash, as well as a small air craft that looks as if it has fallen from the sky.
Don Lucho’s work aims to question materiality both is an artistic sense as well as a monetary one. Through imitating the real, using materials found on the street, Don Lucho provokes the viewer to assess what value truly is — what does it mean for an object to be worth something? His work falls in line with the postmodern notion of simulating the real, which in turn, become “signs” of the real. If his work can provoke emotions and thoughts just as the genuine objects could, then, what is the true difference? Does Lucho’s work prove that the simulated can be just as powerful as the authentic? Or, does it prove that the authentic no longer has such a individualized meaning, as the simulated actually deflates meaning of the real? (think Andy Warhol’s Death and Disaster Series). Lucho states, “the confusion people feel when they first encounter the scene makes them doubt what is real and what impact it should have one them.” (source)
A group of students from the Hasso-Plattner Institude in Germany have designed a mechanism called the Protopiper that allows you to make three dimensional sketches in space. Created from a modified tape gun, the Protopiper works by dispensing and rolling packing tape into strong, hollow tubes. Then, after the desired size has been formulated, the machine seals the tube and cuts it off while simultaneously creating a wing formation which allows each piece to be easily connected. Every tube can be programmed for a specific length and therefore can create models of specifically sized objects. The Protopiper allows you literally create and organize a room with furniture you haven’t bought yet, or brainstorm the layout design and attributes of an installation, or physically sketch the building blocks to the formation of a piece of a sculpture. Through a simplistic handling and inexpensive material, The Protopiper truly allows you to draw three dimensional throw away sketches. This little invention is great for anyone interested in design— it takes the process from being one of painstaking two dimensional drawings that are then to be projected into a physical space through imagination into one where the physical reality of a project can be played with and manipulated (it also just looks super fun). (Via Junkculture)
Berlin based digital art and design studio, Onformative, has recently installed their newest project, ANIMA iki, an “immersive experience of light and sound.” The installation is made up of a large glowing sphere that spans two meters in diameter and is suspended from the ceiling in a dark room. The orb is lit up by a visual aimed to mimic a “viscous metallic fluid” that’s hue and tonality shift and become distorted, creating a futuristic, mysterious aura. The “glow” within the sphere is created from a powerful wide angle projector that uses a fish eye lens and can create 360 degrees images. By manipulating the audible frequencies, the installation is able to “respond” to the space though picking up and reverberating the sound back. ANIMA iki is able to create visual and sounds in real time by responding to a Kinect tracking system that has the ability assess movement within its atmosphere. As the orb has a complex interaction with light and sound, the installation is able to seem alive. The orb seems to be able to have a personal interaction with the viewer, creating a strange, interesting experience.
Founded in 2010 by Julia Laub and Cedric Kiefer, Onformative offers a space they describe as “guided by an emotional approach, we constantly search for new forms of creative expression. Through an experimental practice we create meaningful works to challenge the boundaries between art, design and technology.”
The work was originally commissioned for the Amsterdam Dance Event and has since been exhibited at various galleries in the Netherlands and Germany.