Thursday, March 27, 2014

Thanks for all the fish.

My obsession with the fish as one of my favorite beings on this planet, crawled upon me once again as I was going through the work of Sandy Skoglund.

Sandy Skoglund, Revenge of the Goldfish, 1981.

I am not a big fan of staged photography but I love Sandy's work. I love her preciseness, attention to detail and hypnotic repetition. Most of all I love the fact that whenever she talks about her art, she points out that there is no greater purpose to it. Whenever critics try to interpret her work as her attempt to highlight society's contemporary problems, she just dismisses those and explains that she is not trying to create "high art" but just art filled with emotional intensity.
She usually spends half a year imagining the scene, developing her idea, designing every single element by herself and when she finishes her installation, she sets the lighting and takes the photo. This makes her a script writer, a stage designer, a sculptor, a painter and a photographer at the same time, which is pretty impressive.

While looking at Sandy's "Revenge of the goldfish" , I remembered another artwork which gave me that same feeling of odd oscillation between real and surreal and at the same time the perfect flow of the two parallel universes. I had hard times finding it again because I didn't know the name of the author but thanks to the mighty Google, I've managed to trace it down. It's a collage named "In the Pisces Constellation" from 1963. by Adolf Hoffmeister.

Adolf Hoffmeister, In the Pisces Constellation, 1963.

Hoffmeister was "an unconventional spirit"; a poet, a novelist, an editor, a translator, an illustrator, a painter, a stage decorator, a journalist and lots of other things at the same time. I wasn't able to find much info on this Czech avant-gardist but I was impressed with most of his work that I could find online ( here and also here) .

Now fast forwarding to nowadays when someone figured out that the fascination with the fish doesn't necessarily mean that you need to trap the real fish in a fish tank and put them in your living room.

Interactive Fish Tank is an installation which explores water-based touch displays developed by two students at NYU,  Manuela Donoso and Crys Moore in 2011. With this virtual aquarium, one can interact with the pixelated goldfish, thus destroying the boundary between real and virtual (surreal).

Saturday, March 1, 2014


Karl Blossfeldt, photos via phlearn

I find solace in looking at Karl Blossfeldt's photographs of plants.

Blossfeldt was a German sculptor, teacher and a self-taught photographer. He photographed nothing but blossoms, leaves, buds and seed-capsules for 35 years. Blossfeldt primarily made and used these photos for educational purposes. He wanted to show his students that the best design solutions already exist in nature and one only needs to look closely at them. He claimed that in plants one can find not only functionality but also the highest aesthetic forms.

Blossfeldt's photos were published in a book "Urformen der Kunst" when he was already 61 years old and this was the turning point for him as this publication practically made him famous overnight.

Flow ( or flOw) is a video-game which awakes the exact same feeling in me as going through Karl Blossfeldt's photos.

flOw screenshots

Flow was created by Jenova Chen and Nicholas Clark in 2006. as a free Flash game and has later been reworked to be suited for playing on Sony PlayStations. The game takes place in aquatic environment where the player is an organism that moves and feeds on other organisms. If you prefer, you may also choose to just float around and not interact with other creatures. You can try out the game here.

Flow is about surviving and also evolving. It is visually so exceptional that it completely absorbs you into the depths of deep blue water, just as Karl Blossfeldt's photos absorb you into familiar, yet alien-like, forms of the world of plants.The perfect flow.

Friday, January 31, 2014


The most silent place on Earth at the moment seems to be a room in Minneapolis- an anechoic chamber at Orfield Labs. The anechoic chambers are rooms which are completely isolated from outside noise and are designed in a way that they absorb sound without reflecting any back into the room. There are many anechoic chambers in the world but what makes the one at Orfield Labs "the quietest" is the fact that the noise level measured in the anechoic chambers is usually around 10 dBA and in the one in Minneapolis is -9,4 dBA. The human ear detects sounds above 0 dBA.

© Orfield Labs

When one spends some time in this room, one would expect to experience the absolute silence. But although one experiences the total absence of sound outside the body, one becomes extremely aware of the sounds inside our bodies- the heart beat, the sound of lungs as you inflate and deflate, the pulse of blood through veins and arteries. These sounds become so disturbing that no person so far could stand to be in this room for more than 45 minutes. People usually experience disorientation and visual and auditory hallucinations.

It is exactly this experience - the visit to one of the anechoic chambers, that made John Cage write the famous piece 4'33". His search for "nothingness", for the absolute silence, for Zen in music, led him to the anechoic room where he was utterly surprised to hear sounds, realizing those were the sounds of his own body. This experience had such a profound effect on Cage, helping him understand that "there's no such thing as silence".

“There is no such thing as an empty space or an empty time. There is always something to see, something to hear. In fact, try as we may to make a silence, we cannot.”
~John Cage

Saturday, December 14, 2013

The Void.

The very idea of the void differs much between the Western and the Eastern culture. In the West, the metaphysical nothingness is usually understood as something negative, essentially perceived as emptiness, linked to existential loneliness, while in the East, the void is an extremely positive principle, perceived as something which exists in each of us and in order to achieve transformation, a radical change, one must first achieve this emptiness.

The Void on Behance

Russian artistic collective TUNDRA tried to visualize the idea of emptiness but not the emptiness as the absence of everything, but the emptiness closer to the Eastern doctrine, as the initial state when anything can appear.

The Void on Behance

TUNDRA's void consists of a 360 degree vortex-like projection of graphic patterns and sounds but the trick is that when one enters this room, he must be completely still and relaxed because any sort of movement or sound interrupts the sequence and stops it. So the installation actually tests today's people ability to stay calm, to free themselves from everything, to feel the emptiness and thus be ready for a change.

To whomever emptiness is possible, All things are possible.”  
Nagarjuna, III A.D.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Man machine.

Fritz Kahn (1888-1968) was a German physician and a writer of popular science. Between 1920. and 1950. Kahn wrote many books and articles for general public on medicine, health and science. In order to catch his readers' attention, he used very progressive illustrations for that period of time, which incorporated incredible visual analogies and metaphors. Most of these illustrations were done by a team of designers which Kahn would hire, but all of them were conducted under Kahn's art direction. Because of this ability to illustrate complex medical and biological systems using easy understandable graphics, Fritz Kahn is considered to be the pioneer of infographics.

Man as Industrial Palace by Fritz Kahn

Kahn's most known work is a poster from 1926. Der Mensch als Industriepalast. Here he shows the human body as an industrial factory where every tiny detail has its own role so the system can function without any flaws.

In 2006. a German artist Henning Lederer decided to make this poster "alive" and translate the original work into motion graphics. The result is this inspirational animation:

Der Mensch als Industriepalast [Man as Industrial Palace] from Henning M. Lederer on Vimeo.

Lederer shows the human physiology through cycles: respiration, blood circulation, digestive circuit, control center and metabolism. The sixth cycle includes all former five cycles and is actually the fully operational Kahn's human factory .

To me, this man machine analogy actually serves as a reminder how powerful, inspiring and complex human bodies are. Our bodies truly are machineries capable of doing all sorts of different things. For instance... acrobatics.

Shangai Acrobatics - Jonathan Frantini

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Absence of ego.

Trying to figure out what I want to write about, I realized that I feel a strong need to dedicate the whole post to my recent discovery. It's an artist called Moonassi.

Blow your mind, 2010.
Twisted relation, 2009.
Please take care of this, 2009.

His real name is Daehyun Kim. He was born in Seoul where he is now living and working. He has been making the "moonasi drawings" since 2008. They are minimalistic black and white paintings done using "pen and marker, and occasionally a brush", as Moonassi explains.

Sinking of you, 2010.
The moment that I loved you, 2009.
Across the universe, 2009.

I get so excited when I come across someone's work which represents deep human emotions that I can instantly feel by looking at the artwork. And then I feel the desire to look at them more and feel those emotions over and over. Moonassi's paintings are about relationships between him and others and various thoughts and feelings inside him.

Part of universe, 2011.

Last year, Moonassi created an album cover for Reedbeds' album Basement Grotto which was released on German cassette tape label SicSic. I love the cover and I find that music goes so well with Moonassi's art....

Saturday, September 28, 2013

GIFing around.

Over the past year I caught myself often spending hours browsing through GIF blogs. Whether I was giggling or going through them with a serious face, the common thing was my admiration for their authors' ability to tell a story in so little frames.

GIF stands for Graphic Interchange Format and is basically an image file which stores multiple images inside itself and thus gives the illusion of movement. It was introduced back in 1987. when the format was called 87A. Later, the enhanced version got the name 89A, until it was finally named GIF.
GIFs were very popular back in the first days of Internet and in the last few years they have gone through a sort of renaissance.

Here are some of my favorite GIF blog discoveries.

First stop,  The name says it all: the author decided to give his point of view on history of music through animated 8-bit graphics, accompanied with some witty short descriptions for each graphic .

And my personal favorite:


Next stop . I like the idea behind the blog and that is the author's attempt to visually present infinity through his hypnotic geometric GIFs. 


And then there's  This one I love because it's an endless source for other GIF blogs. As we know, nowadays everything is a remix of a remix and this blog is a perfect example of that. The author actually uses other artists' GIFs and puts his Connoisseur on them. And his Connoisseur is no other than Norman Rockwell's Connoisseur, who, just like in the original painting, is mysteriously exploring the artwork in front of him with his back turned away from us so we don't know if he's actually liking or disliking it.


Oh and yes, since 2012. GIF is officially not only a noun but a verb also, so saying to GIF is just as normal as saying  to Google or to Photoshop.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Aurora Borealis.

Illustration for Jules Verne's An Antarctic Mystery,
via Smithsonian Libraries

I've been trying hard to imagine the feeling of seeing Aurora Borealis swirling and dancing right above your head. I imagine the feeling being so intense that I would lose the ability to speak for hours, maybe even days...

I started thinking about this as I stumbled upon a name of Seanie Blue. He is a photographer who decided to travel north to "catch" Aurora Borealis in order to conduct a personal experiment. He wanted to check if the impression of seeing Aurora Borealis would be aesthetically so strong that it would make him forget the love affair which had been stuck in his head for quite some time and thus help him cure his broken heart. His project isn't finalized yet so we still don't know the outcome but I bet that he's now cured.

"Directly overhead, and coming at you like falling paint."
- Seanie Blue, 
©Seanie Blue

I could watch this video over and over again....

A fascinating discovery made by scientists in 2012. is that Aurora Borealis, or the Northern Lights, really do produce sound. This has been speculated over the years as many people who had seen Aurora Borealis also sometimes described hearing a special kind of noise, but this has not been officially confirmed until last year.

Scientists had always thought that Aurora Borealis is too far away for the people to hear the sounds it made but last year the researchers at Aalto University in Finland recorded the sound sources in an observation site and it turned out that the sources are just 70 meters above the ground.
Details about how these sounds are created are still a mystery. It is speculated that the same solar waves of charged particles that generate the display, also generate the sound but it is unknown why the sound doesn't occur regularly during every Aurora Borealis appearance.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Dreams that money can buy.

"If something is boring after two minutes, try it for four. If still boring, then eight. Then sixteen. Then thirty-two. Eventually one discovers that it is not boring at all." 

~John Cage

Hans Richter was a German painter and graphic designer who also experimented with the film as a medium. Just recently, I've discovered his feature film "Dreams that money can buy" from 1947. and found myself overwhelmed with joy upon the realization that such an extraordinary gem exists.

Richter's film practically had no commercial success and thus was forgotten not long after it was premiered but the film is such a thrill for anyone who is a 20th century art lover. The list of collaborators includes the most respectful avant-gardists of the time: Max Ernst, Marcel Duchamp, Man Ray, Alexander Calder, Fernand Léger and Richard Huelsenbeck. 

The film consists of 7 surreal dream stories which were shaped by participating artists and each dream sequence is special and fantastic in its own way.

The above extract is from "The Girl with the Prefabricated heart" by Fernand Léger which is one of my favorite stories cause of the way it mocks all Hollywood romance movies of the time. And the hilarious accompanying song lyrics fit perfectly.

Marcel Duchamp's "Discs" is to me visually very interesting because he uses his "Rotoreliefs" which are actually painted cardboard disks rotating on turntables that create the illusion of depth

The soundtrack is as equally impressive. It features compositions by John Cage, Darius Milhaud, Louis Applebaum, Paul Bowles, Josh White.

Hope you are intrigued...Here's the link where you can watch the whole film.