In the project Art Trap, the Korean architecture group Mass Studies group plays with the idea of the Guggenheim Museum as a victim, in a sense, of its own success due to an over-saturation of human movement in a singular space (900,000 visitors annually) around Frank Lloyd Wright’s radical vision of a museum — a quarter-mile-long ramp spiraling around an iconic void. In the proposal for addressing this issue, the museum visitors themselves essentially become the artwork.
Helen Frankenthaler once said, “I don’t start with a color order but find the color as I go. I’d rather risk an ugly surprise then rely on things I know I can do.”
Likewise, we get the sense that LA based artist Caitlin Lonegan’s process is similar. Her color palette (collected here) meditates on the bravery of a spontaneous stark of brightness erupting from the murk. Yet, there is also an overall resonating calm sense of vibrancy that is truly understated, not forced.
As viewers, we can’t help but embrace the comfort and excitement of well laid paint in seemingly simplistic guttural compositions.
As you may recall from reading the blog over the past week, Saturday was the Funk Rumble block party in Downtown LA (Chinatown, to be precise) at which Beautiful/Decay was a vendor. Now this information is pretty much incidental, except to say that I live a fair distance from Chinatown, so the drive back from Funk Rumble was a lengthy one, especially due to the amount of traffic at the time we were traveling. Happily though, I wasn’t driving as I usually am (thank you, fellow intern Corinna), so I got to engage in my favorite freeway traffic activity – looking at all the other people sitting in traffic next to me.
The allure of this mode of observation isn’t lost on St. Louis-born photographer Andrew Bush. In his series 66 Drives, Bush captured candid portraits of drivers, mostly around LA. One thing I find particularly interesting about these photographs is that you can begin to see resemblances between cars and their drivers, not unlike the fabled idea of dogs resembling their owners. You can see how much the car is an extension of a driver’s personality.
In a powerful series of black-and-white portraits entitled The Unknown Soldier, New York-based photographer David Jay captures the devastation of war and the marks it leaves on individual lives. The project began while David was shooting The SCAR Project, a documentation of breast cancer survivors. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were in full tilt, and David decided that the public needed to see the intimate, bodily consequences of a system that perpetuates the mass injury and destruction of human lives.
Photographed at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center and the Brooke Army Medical Center, The Unknown Soldier features men and women who have been shot, struck by roadside bombs, and severely burned — stories of trauma which are bravely told by their scars and amputations. The essence of the photos, however, lies in the enduring strengths conveyed in each face as the individual confronts the viewer with their experience. In a statement provided to Beautiful/Decay, David explains the greater aim of his project:
“[U]ltimately, The Unknown Soldier is not about war. It is about many things: Humanity, acceptance, responsibility. An understanding that [what] we do matters. What we say, what we think, matters . . . and [it] has repercussions that quite literally change the course of history.”
In a world where media coverage often turns injuries and deaths into abstract numbers, David has brought human subjects deeply into focus. Seeing these surviving soldiers evokes a sense of social responsibility that extends from the people we know in our immediate lives to those engaged in war. The Unknown Soldier reminds everyone that soldiers are not faceless causalities, and even though people may feel distant from such violent events, there exists a vital responsibility to examine and criticize a system and media that imperils and objectifies human lives. As David continues:
“I hope the images transcend the narrow and simplistic confines of ‘war’ and encourage us to examine the way we engage each other — both friend and stranger — at its most basic, day to day level, as it is these subtle, seemingly innocuous interactions that will ultimately lead us either to peace . . . or the continuum and carnage of war.”
Paul Robertson is an Australian animator and digital artist who is known for his pixel art used in short films and video games. He is mostly known for Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World: The Game and the recent release, Mercenary Kings. Apart from his seasoned career as a game designer and movie creator, Robertson has been recently spotted on Tumblr with these GIFS.
Dutch artist Willem Harbers creates scultpures that juxtapose metal and marble into works that bring together nature and machinery in cold, polished, and futuristic forms.
Photographer Devin Yalkin points an unflinching eye to the underground world of illegal fight nights, capturing their raw intensity. These “Friday Night Throwdowns” happen in secret locations and venues all over New York City. In Yalkin’s series The Old One Two, this hidden world is revealed through intimate, black and white photographs with a Film Noir flavor to them. This powerful series gets you up close and personal to the fighters and the erupting crowd cheering them on. The compositions in this series can be as hazy and chaotic as the fight itself, capturing the true atmosphere of these fight nights. You can see the unrefined aggressiveness and brutality between the fighters, but also feel the excitement and energy from the audience.
Devin Yalkin allows us to take place of the spectator, seeing every bead of sweat and drop of blood on the skin of the fighters. The high tension and motion happening during these Friday Night Throwdown’s can be felt in each photograph. It is as if we are standing next to each eccentric character; the screaming fan, the eager fighter, or the elusive woman in lingerie whose role is somewhat unknown. All of the individuals shown in Yalkin’s series seem to come from all walks of life, having only the love of the fight connecting them.
Nicholas Hance McElroy takes photographs, but photographs unlike any I could ever take. A) Because I’ll probably never go to such dramatic landscapes as these, and B) They’re so beautiful and hazy… as if part of a far-off dream.