Before They Pass Away – Jimmy Nelson

Before reading any of my thoughts, my opinions or seeing any of these images, go on this journey for yourself. Look through the website, get lost in it and develop your own relationship to these works. http://www.beforethey.com/ This is an … Continue reading

Anton Kusters – Inside the Yakuza

This information is taken from the artist’s website itself, as there is no way I could say it better.

In the hotel bar in Niigata, I’m only slowly starting to understand the extremely subtle social interaction that is continuously happening, the micro-expressions on the faces, the gestures, the voices and intonations, the body language.

As the bar is evacuated to make room for the godfather having a coffee, everything seems to be strictly organized but at the same time seems to come naturally: strangely, I don’t need anyone to tell me what to do, where to sit, when to talk or when to shut up.

It’s like I literally feel the boundaries, the implicit expectations, and I am slowly learning when I can move forward, and when to best hold back. Sitting at the table with a bodyguard looking straight through me, I drink from my iced coffee. I’m feeling the acute sensation of walking on eggshells.

 

——–

 

YAKUZA is a personal visual account of the life inside an inaccessible subculture: a traditional Japanese crime family that controls the streets of Kabukicho, in the heart of Tokyo, Japan.

Through 10 months of negotiations with the Shinseikai, my brother Malik and I became one of the only westerners ever to be granted this kind of access to the closed world of Japanese organized crime.

With a mix of photography, film, writing and graphic design, I try to share not only their complex relationship to Japanese society, but also to show the personal struggle of being forced to live in two different worlds at the same time; worlds that often have conflicting morals and values. It turns out not to be a simple ‘black’ versus ‘white’ relationship, but most definitely one with many, many, many shades of grey.

 

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http://antonkusters.com/

Fabio Selvatici

Sorry for the delay. I blame the holidays (that somehow extended 11 days past the festivities).

Though I am getting a bit tired of the ‘naked, exposed bossom’ art that has been popular for, oh, I don’t know, FOREVER, these pieces are quite stunning to behold. Working with standard models (with exceptional beauty, of course) and digital deconstruction, he forces the pure to become spoiled. But enough of this mumbo jumbo. You can see for yourself why these images are beautiful – the draw of the soft skin and rough scratches create a tantalizing texture combination as well as a very simple palette which set an intense mood so that your eye can focus on what is important on each specific image.  Though I do wonder if any of these ladies had legs (I wish he used paraplegic models. There would be a message my hippie-self could get behind), the compositions are still strong  and each image is unique enough to hold its own – for now.  Some of the pieces remind me of Hush, a street artist from the UK. Wonder what he would think of that.

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Thank God for that nipple, otherwise I wouldn't have known this was art.

Thank God for that nipple, otherwise I wouldn’t have known this was art.

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http://www.fabioselvatici.com/index.php

Michael Galinsky – Malls Across America

Art mimics life (or, is it life mimics art? I am a bit behind on my mimesis vs anti-mimesis debate lately) and this is a perfect example – I present to you snapshots from Malls Across America where the photographer Michael Galinsky perfectly summarizes all that was wonderful, excess and interesting about America’s obsession with malls throughout the 80s and 90s. Particularly for me, as many of these were take from a low vantage point similar to one I would have had when I was 8 years old and looking at these strangers and wondering what the  H -E – Double Hockey Sticks was going on (a phrase I particularly liked at the time). These are average people doing average activities in what was an average place – and this is what makes this series so amazing.

You can pre-order the book here!

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Pre-order the book here!

Manuel Cosentino

The artist says:

“I am interested in exploring alternative ways to present, interact with, and consume photography as a way to activate and facilitate the dialogue between the artwork and the viewer. “Behind a Little House” is an intimate participatory art project which can only be accessed through the pages of an artist book and chooses to sacrifice dissemination (large-scale web 2.0 approach) to reclaim a physical connection with the audience. I wanted the viewer to start as an outside observer, a spectator, and then suddenly realize that they can participate – the wall mounted photographs lead up to the artist book where everyone is invited to contribute by drawing on the last photograph sheared on each page, giving impromptu co-authors the freedom to shape the direction and the content of the artwork. Text, photographs and drawings provide a framework to the interpretation of the artwork until external contribution starts to add to the dialogue. The project – with its open ended narrative – intends to start a conversation with the public; its nature is purposefully left mutable, open to chance and to change.”

 

These images are beautiful in their simplicity and ability to show us then, in their entirety, the beauty that a moment can hold. Through the use of dynamic stillness, the subject matter becomes inconsequential and instead focuses entirely on the atmosphere of the piece individually. The use of contrast is beautiful. Manuel has taken the same exact photo 8 times and the only difference is the circumstances of which the photo is taken – primarily weather and time of day differences. But the visual, and indeed psychological/spiritual impact of these changes are immense.

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http://www.manuelcosentino.com/

 

https://manuelc.see.me/exposure2013

Dina Goldstein – Fallen Princesses

In this series of photographs, Dina Goldstein looks beyond the “happily ever after” and keeps the cameras rolling. Inspired by local events and tragedies, as well as real-life issues often ignored in story books and fairy tales, Goldstein juxtaposes Disney princesses in  situations that she feels are more relevant to every day life instead of the tried and true method of “one day my prince will come”, such as illness, debt, war, obesity and addiction. It is incredibly well done and simplistic in its message.

Though I do agree that most fairy tales are not meant to teach children the dangers of such things (I do doubt that many children would be interested in a story about the process of filling out paperwork required to get medical care or perhaps a lecture on an up-to-date food pyramid), it is still an imperative lesson to be had in the household. We cannot simply tell our children, and our little girls specifically, that everything will be OK in the end without any sort of hard work or perseverance. In these stories, the day is saved when the male counterpart comes in to sweep the young maiden off her feet – phew! Thank God every princess is fucking HOT (as we are told that ugly people in these stories are automatically evil or mean…). I will not go into my soap-box rant any further, as this is a very sensitive topic in today’s media – how do we relate and interest children in stories without becoming demeaning or offensive or even reinforce negative stereotypes?

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Please check out her website, and more importantly, if you liked this – then buy the book!

http://dinagoldstein.com/

Michelle LeCavalier

 

One of our first posts (Lord Jesus, almost 2 years ago!) was about an organization named Artificial Owl which focused on finding abandoned places and bringing the images in one cohesive collection.

Today’s artist is not much different, but as I mentioned in the previous post, I have a soft spot in my heart for this type of photography. Michelle is anti-vandalism and focuses on leaving only footprints in her adventures in these forgotten places, which I appreciate. Though I think that this type of abandonment is the ultimate vandalism to the earth itself, documenting our incredible ability to simply forget these magnificent places is astonishing. I love the views of holy places, such as churches or castles, that have been left to rot. To imagine beautiful women and flamboyantly dressed men walking the halls of some of the theaters and mansions she captures is a lessen in humility.

Money comes and goes, but how we treat the land we live in lasts forever.

These places, to me, are more beautiful now than they ever were when they were being used. It is a reminder of mortality – our temporary existence is so important in all the small ways each human effects the world around us. These buildings were once staples of their existence, a school or factory that was so important in someone’s daily life is now as dead as the person who once found it so important. But in this cycle of use, the message of conservation and reuse is more important than many of these building’s initial use – no matter how important they were during its prime, it is no longer of any use to anyone, and is left to simply rot. This disposable society we engage in no longer simply applies to small objects such as clothes or gadgets but extends beyond to these colossal man-made structures that takes up more space than some small villages at times. It is no wonder animals and vagabonds seek refuge in these spaces – they are just as abandoned.

It saddens me to see some of these left in such a hurry – in some of her work you see towels still sitting on a broken bathtub, a perfectly made bed covered in layers upon layers of dust, or a time-stamp machine that has forgotten time is still moving forward, forever displaying a time and date that has long since past….

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For more images, check out her expansive flickr account:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/manicmelange/

http://manicmelange.com/

Sparkles and Wine

Lighting is so important to a piece of artwork – and no, we don’t mean it has to be like this:

 or like this: 

Lighting is the one of the first things that people recognize for setting a “mood” in a piece – is this meant to be scary, subdued, or introspective?  Lighting can focus on one part of the picture (and not necessarily using a spotlight) while pushing other details away. The way you move the light around a piece can direct the eye anywhere. When focusing on the figure, in a Fine Art sense, how you light the figure will emphasize certain features – many important muscles and planes are only visible in certain lighting situations.

Anywho, to not get too in depth in an “importance of lighting lecture” (go take a class, I’m not your teacher!), here is a phenomenal short film that highlights just how quickly lighting can change a subject. Though, I wish she would stop messing with her hair.

Sparkles and Wine – Teaser from Nacho Guzman on Vimeo.

Iain Crawford

Iain Crawford is an incredibly forceful photographer. He often speaks of his kinetic relationship with his work (perhaps the reason for the title of his newest series “Kinetic”), and how naturally augmenting the relationship between beauty and chaos can be.  As much fun as splashing gorgeous women with buckets of paint seems to be, I personally like the scientific aspect of his work more. The force of momentum crashing against an organic object (such as a model’s face) creates such an innate sense of reality (and, oddly enough, calm) that his photographs simply work.

But, aside from his Kinetic  series, for which he is most popular, his still works are just as interesting.  His use of composition and texture definitely go full throttle and create an alarming amount of drama.

He was recently asked to make his directorial debut for the up-and-coming band Seasfire, which can be viewed at the bottom of this post. Though it is too 90’s (“Just look into the camera and touch yourself.”) and I can’t say the model/ballerina’s acting was all very well done, I think it does create a interesting link between his photographic work and his mind.

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As embedding is disabled for his video, please click here to watch the music video for Seasfire, directed by Iaian Crawford.

 

http://iaincrawford.com/

Elena Kalis

Elena Kalis does water photography, and though some of her portraits are reminiscent of stock-photos of a families way-too-unrealistically-happy-vacation, most of her work lurks somewhere in the ethereal. Where she really lets her imagination flow uninhibited is the work I love the most – like her series of Alice in Wonderland portraits and where she plays with the surface of the water as a sort of portal.  Most people know me as a sucker for color, and Kalis’s work certainly doesn’t ever disappoint there….

Check out her site for much, much more!

http://www.elenakalisphoto.com/

Spirit Photography

So, way back when photography was first invented, people were astounded by all the new-fangled things they could do with this technology. A lot of people’s first reaction was “Hey, how can we better ourselves and society with these advancements?”. Other people quickly went “How can we con people into giving us money?” It is in the latter that we were given spirit photography: people who used the normal disadvantages of the slow-processing cameras to fake interactions with the spirit realm. Some of the creations are genuinely spooky, where others remind me of that one time through that carnival haunted house…..

 

Dimitri Tsykalov

Though I couldn’t find much more information on the artist, (must be one of those “old-fashioned”  non-computeroid types….) his work definitely speaks for itself. I believe he has 2 books, one for “objects” and one for “meat”.