Microbes as paint and a petri dish as a canvas. These are the conditions in which biologists and artists collaborated together to create organic and innovative pieces of art. Organized by the American Society for Microbiology (ASM), the ‘Agar Art contest’ called all ASM members to demonstrate by a visual expression of their science the beauty of bacterias. The rendering of the contest led to entertaining designs and for some cases, deeper and profound interpretations.
If we look at the end results on the ASM Facebook page, without knowing the origin of the work, we could have guessed it was achieved by drawing and writing with colored sharpies on a gel texture. It’s astonishing and amazingly well done. The winners, microbiologist Mehmet Berkmen and artist Maria Penil won twice.
First with their ‘Cell to Cell’ design, a symmetrical design in orange and fuchsia colors. The captions explain the colors were obtained by isolating ‘yellow Nesterenkonia, orange Deinococcus and Sphingomonas’. Who knew bacteria existed in such superb tones? The duo also won with ‘Hunger Games’, a 3D skeleton face literally symbolizing life and death. As explained in the description, the main bacteria which forms the textured effect of the eyes, nose and mouth grows in defense to a famine condition within its environment. Death had to be created first to generate life. The examination of the biological world via bacterias not only produced surprising designs, it also created a space for a spiritual introspection. (via Junk Culture).
Illinois-based artist Chad Wys does a lot of different things. He’s worked with collage, sculpture, textiles, aerosol, digital media, and more. A lot of his w0rk manipulates and completely shuffles the tone of established, familiar forms. Strategically removing aspects of canonical portraiture, painting a kitschy duck sculpture in pastels, and stenciling text elements onto benign porcelain and china are a few methods he’s employed to mess with our brains. But this type of art isn’t produced in a malicious way. It’s just the artist’s way of getting us to see things the way he sees them for once. (via)
Ricardo Actus is an illustrator and graphic designer from Brazil. His work uses heavy textures and beautiful typography. Actus’ complex mixed media digital collages explore perspective with a fresh set of eyes.
Though it might look like any other Polish chapel from the outside, the Kaplica Czaszek chapel sets itself apart: behind a humble pair of wooden doors, it contains the bones of thousands. After visiting shallow grave sites commemorating the fallen soldiers and civilians killed in the Silesian Wars, the Thirty Years’ War, plagues, and cholera, a local priest named Vaclav Tomasek collected and cleaned skeletal remains, embedding them in the chapel walls.
Constructed between 1776 and 1804, the building’s architecture stunningly deconstructs the human skeleton; skulls and leg bones are meticulously arranged over the ceilings and walls, while other bones are hidden behind a trapdoor and kept in a crypt. The repetitive patterns that emerge from a single human bone laid out a thousand times over serves to remind us of our connectedness; while each individual femur or cranium stands in for a deceased individual, it takes on a deeper, more universal meaning as part of this expertly-constructed whole.
Within this celebration of oneness, Tomasek set apart strange and unusual bones, placing them on the church altar. Alongside the skull of a mayor and the chapel founder, sits a skull morphed by syphilis, one of a rumored giant, and a few penetrated by bullets. In this way, the structure daringly elevates the macabre—and those who suffered from uncommon maladies—to the spiritual level of relics left behind by local religious and political leaders.
Within the context of the church and its representations of the Virgin Mary and Jesus Christ, the remains offer a potent juxtaposition between the spiritual and the corporeal. Visitors cannot escape this powerful reminder of mortality, but if they so wish, they are poignantly invited to consider the possibility of salvation and eternal life. (via Lost at E Minor and Smithsonian Magazine)
Apart from UCLA being my own alma mater, I thought I’d give a quick shout-out to the upcoming Senior Design show as it features a whopping round-up of not one, but four former fearless B/D interns, including: Matt Manos, Kate Slovin, Corinna Loo and Greg Ruben! Go team and congrats on graduating! Check it out June 3rd, 5pm at UCLA.
Artist Matthew Craven primarily works in collage. His work, however, diverges from a lot of typical collage styles. Craven doesn’t juxtapose found imagery to create an effect from the contrast. Rather, he sources imagery of what seems to be ancient archaeological artifacts. The black and white images resemble the photographs of old issues of National Geographic. Further, the way Craven assembles the images doesn’t seem an attempt to draw disparities. Instead, he almost appears to categorizing objects, setting up classifications without labeling. Still, his work is fine art and not an exercise in archaeology. Craven doesn’t offer easy conclusions – there is no simple reading of history to be gotten in his work. Rather, Craven looks back at history with his collaged images as art does. It underscores the difficulty in reducing human history to one accurate narrative. The gallery statement of his current solo exhibit at DCKT Contemporary further explains:
“Archaeological remains and ruins act as backdrops for forming crypto-historical collages and drawings. Images from lost cultures, relics and landscapes both well-known and extremely ambiguous create the patterns within the works. The results are compositions that highlight a new connection to our past in an aesthetic that is intended to be both cinematic in scope and visionary in perspective. Understanding that our view of history is deeply flawed and inherently biased, we are left with a puzzle of strange pieces. Oblivious Path combines these puzzle pieces into a new framework. Some of these pieces appear to fit together despite thousands of years and tens of thousands miles separating these ancient civilizations. Using source materials from historical texts, Oblivious Path scrambles our current notions of space and time. The powerful images we are left with cannot be reinterpreted, translated or disregarded. What is left was carved in stone. It is permanent. They are our sacred truths.” ( via the jealous curator)