Ilya Kalimuli is a Moscow-based designer who decided to redesign a couple of famous brands. His work is clever, funny, and practically oozing with creativity. A McDonald’s laptop, M&M bullets, Adobe beauty products, Dropbox specimen cups, Heinz blood products (still in 57 varieties), Tic Tac time bombs, a holey Crocs umbrella, and my personal favorite: Kinder Surprise condoms. Ilya was an engineer before devoting his time to design. He currently lives and works in Russia.
This intricately carved tree trunk is in the Guinness Book of World Records as the longest continuous wooden sculpture in the world. It’s over forty-feet long and took over four years of dedicated carving to complete. Zheng Chunhui, the artist responsible for this extraordinary piece of art, based his carvings on a scroll painting by Chinese artist Zhang Zeduan. The scroll, which translates to “Along the River During the Qinming Festival” shows how the rich and poor celebrated the annual Qinming Festival a thousand years ago. It’s is not merely the scale of the sculpture that’s impressive, the extremely detailed trees, rivers, boats, bridges, clouds, houses, and people will wow anyone who ever sees this carving up close. The piece is currently on display in Fuzhou, Fujian Province, China.
“Evolution” is an extraordinary series of photographs by Patrick Gries. It was created in collaboration with the National Museum of Natural History. It’s a collection of over three hundred black and white photos of fully articulated skeletons. The stark images are made more striking by their life-like poses. The animals are posed as if they were poised to pounce, run, jump, swim, walk, and gallop. Born in Luxembourg, Patrick studied at the École Normale and moved to New York where he developed an interest in contemporary American photography. According to one website: “(Patrick’s) technical ability to capture complex environments and convey a subject’s context has made his work muck sought-after by cultural institutions.”
Visarute Angkatavanichis the photographer behind these exceptional close-ups of Siamese fighting fish. Scientifically known as betta splendens, they have been selectively bred for over a hundred years for their aggressiveness, color, and finnage. Today’s specimens are a far cry from the drab brown fish found in the rice paddies of Cambodia and Thailand. Visarute kept a few bettas as pets when he was a boy. Years later his interest in the species was rekindled when he noticed the different varieties for sale in a pet store. He said: “I love to take their motion in many ways of lighting to show their elegant pose.”. He also added that fish photography is his true passion. In almost all of his shots, he makes it seem as if the fish is floating in midair. The close-up shots do justice to the fish’s bright colors and flowing fins. Visarute currently lives and works in Thailand.
Alexander Khokhlov is a Moscow based photographer who collaborated with make-up artist extraordinaire Valeriya Kutsan to create the series “2D Or Not 2D”. The series features powerful black-and-white designs painted right into the model’s face, as well as colorful designs that pop out and fool the viewer into thinking they’re looking at a two-dimensional object. Some of the designs reinforce the lines on the model’s face while others soften or break them down, others create unnaturally perfect patterns. In an interview, Khokhlov said: “Valeriya used different techniques of face painting so you can see a lot of variations – from sketch and graphic arts to water-colour and oil-paintings. This is a combination of interesting make-ups, studio photography experiments and careful retouching.”
The premise of Jeff’s Wars on Kinkade series is simple: What happens if the Empire decide to invade Kinkade’s paintings? The result is somewhat hilarious as Imperial Star Destroyers, clone storm troopers, and Hoth-crushing AT-ATs ruin the totally idyllic mood of the paintings. Jeff’s photomanipulation is so subtle, the intruders look like they were in the original paintings. You’d expect the idyllic to clash with the violent, but oddly enough, they it in well together. One of my favorites is an unsuspecting house being stalked by an AT walker.
These vertigo-inducing installations were created by Heike Weber using nothing more than her imagination and a felt-tipped marker. The process, which can only be described as a labor-intensive, transforms an ordinary room into a three-dimensional work of art flooded with flowing, patterns and lines. Viewers can’t help but interact with Heike’s work in a cafe in Prague where she recently completed a project she calls “Bodenlos”. Bodenlos is a German word which literally translates into “loosing the ground under your feet”. Heike is currently based in Cologne, Germany.
Lucas Foglia didn’t have an ordinary childhood. His parents were part of the “back-to-the land” movement who strove for self-sufficiency. They had a farm where they grew and preserved their own food. They traded their surplus for what they couldn’t grow. He went to the prestigious Yale School of Art where he was mentored by Gregory Crewdson. After graduation (from the prestigious Yale School of Art, no less), he bought a camper and set off for the Appalachians. He said: “Photography for me is a mechanism to learn about things. I wanted to see if I could find the absolute, if there were communities or individuals who lived off the grid and were wholly self-sufficient.”. After five years of looking for that absolute, he published one of the most insightful photo books of the year. Entitled “A Natural Order”, he tells the story of a hidden America, one where people lived without money, drank from clean mountain streams, and built houses from trees grown on their own land.
Chris LaBrooy is the artist behind these amazing automobile-inspired installations. The series, called Auto Aerobics is set in an unused basketball court. It features a classic cars gracefully interlocked with each other. Some of them seem to float in midair or are firmly planted with all four wheels on the ground. Chris is currently based in the UK where he specializes in 3D design.
Jaap Vliegenthar is an imaginative digital image manipulator who is known for his humorous, often satirical images featuring well-known celebrities. So far, he has managed to put the Pope, Vladimir Putin, and Queen Elizabeth II in some of the most unlikely scenarios. While his scenes are highly amusing, they’re not at all derogatory. They simply show these high-profile celebrities in ordinary, everyday situations. Jaap also has a series where he re-imagined foggy scenes with gigantic plugs for air-conditioning units. He currently lives and works in Amsterdam.