Xu Bing — Tian Shu (Book from the Sky), 1987-1991
Tian Shu is comprised of a display of books spread in a large rectangle across the ground, above which voluptuous scrolls unroll in long, pregnant arcs. The books—four hundred of them—are handmade with reverential adherence to the standards of traditional Ming dynasty fonts, bookbinding, typesetting and stringing techniques.
To make them, Xu painstakingly carved Chinese characters into square woodblocks, in just the way his ancient printing predecessors would have done, had them typeset and printed, and the printed pages mounted and bound into books and scrolls.Yet, there’s the astonishing, Borgesian catch: out of the three or four thousand Chinese characters used in these volumes and scrolls, not a single one of them is a real Chinese character. They are made up of recognizable radicals and typical atomic components of Chinese characters, but Xu laboured to ensure that while they all retain the unmistakable look of Chinese script, they are all, so to speak, nonsense. They do not exist in any dictionary, and do not mean anything. Chinese speakers and non-Chinese speakers alike approach the books with the same sense of wonder at their beauty, and the same sense of incomprehension at their content. It’s a piece of art whose meaning is to be found in its meaninglessness. (via)
Concept: Jon Emmony, Lou Stoppard
Direction: Jon Emmony
Drag Race contestants walk LA fashion week for Marco Marco [x]
So I was chatting with the lovely Justin Oaksford yesterday, and he casually asked if I used photo reference for my recent Rolemodels piece- not as a bad thing, but because the pose and the camera angle read well. Pretty sure I grinned like an idiot when he brought it up because, goddammit, I’m proud that the work shows! I’ve felt like my work has been somewhat stilted as of late- I could feel myself subconsciously trending towards easier angles, easier poses, easier expressions just because it’s slightly less frustrating for my brain to process- so getting that confirmation from a colleague was pretty damn satisfying.
I think there’s a tendency for artists to take pride in being able to draw out of your head, and, while that’s an admittedly important skill, what’s actually important is what that skill implies- it implies that you’ve internalized reference. That you’ve spent so much time looking at the world around you, studying it, drawing from it, breaking it down, that you’ve amassed an extensive mental library that you can draw from. You are Google reborn in the shallow husk of a human being.
But heck, the world’s a big place- what are the chances that you ever get to a point that you’ve internalized all of it? Internalized it AND ALSO are never going to forget it ever? Probably no chance at all. Sorry buddy. So rather than bemoaning the fact that we don’t have impenetrable search engine cyborg brains- yet- you sure as hell better still be using reference to fill in/refresh those empty shelves in your mental library. You shouldn’t have worm-ridden books about dinosaur anatomy from the 60’s in there. Stegosauruses with brains in their tails? CLEAN THAT SHIT OUT.
So my general process for using reference of any sort is:
- loose thumbnails and brainstorming. If you have an idea, get that raw thing- unadulterated in it’s potential shittiness- onto paper. Good art is a combination of both instinct and discipline, so you don’t want to entirely discount those lightning strikes of brilliance. Or idiocy. Happens to all of us.
- research and reference. Start gathering and internalizing whatever reference is pertinent to your piece- could be diagrams, art, photos, good old-fashioned READIN’, whathaveyou. Please note that this doesn’t mean find one picture of a giraffe- this means find tons of photos of giraffes, read about giraffes, understand giraffes, and learn how to incorporate that knowledge into your art with purpose and intent (Justin uses the word “intent” a lot so I’m stealing it). Don’t blindly copy what you see, but understand how to integrate it in an interesting and informed manner.
- studies and practice. Could be lumped in with the previous step, granted, but it’s worth reiterating- if you’re drawing something new, it’s worth doing some studies. You discover things that you wouldn’t otherwise by just staring at them. It’s weird how I’m still learning this- “Gee golly, six-shooters are way easier to draw now that I’ve drawn a ton of them!” Yes wow Claire BRILLIANT. Gold star.
- go for the gold. Finally, I’m sure it goes without saying, you integrate all of that research and knowledge into your initial thumbnails. If you learned something about anatomy, or fashion, or color, or butts, now you can drastically improve your original idea with this newfound knowledge. Also, per the images above, this is also your chance to improve on the reference- photos are a fantastic tool, but trust your instincts. Cameras can’t make informed decisions.
…So that’s my soapbox- it’s pretty easy, and it’s totally worth it. Research and reference lets you stand on the shoulders of giants- it lends legitimacy, specificity, and allure to your work that wouldn’t be there if you were just drawing out of your head 100% of the time. To put it simply- it makes your work ownable. It makes you stand out.
It makes you a better artist. :)
Icelandic descendants of Vikings singing a hymn in a German train station. They totally need to be on the next Thor soundtrack.
Oh man oh man oh man. 6 guys, and it FILLS THE SPACE. Luck of the architecture - and they know how to pull it off. Nothing is easy making vocal music in a space not built for it. I want to do this kind of thing - randomly perform multipart harmony in public spaces.
And it reminds me of Bjork: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TiN_YTyaNtI
My god this is beautiful.
Oh my god, the bass voice is superb.
This makes me feel so many things. Gods, it’s gorgeous and so evocative and wow. I need to find out what hymn this is.
It’s Hear, Heavenly Creator (I don’t know how that’s spelled in Icelandic, and I don’t have the characters on my keyboard for the letters anyway haha).
It’s… old as balls. Like 11th century old.
This is gorgeous.
Although I should point out that only the text is old as balls; the music is modern.
WHAT THE FUCK. WHAT THE FUCK. WHAT THE FUCK.
I NOW KNOW WHAT THE JACKASS WHO SCREAMED AND FLED FROM THE ONCOMING TRAIN IN THE THEATER FELT LIKE
OH MY GOD I AM THAT JACKASS
THAT JACKASS IS ME
this iS NOT OKAY
holy shit this is SO GOOD
OH MY GOD THIS ARTIST. HE IS AMAZING. DOGS AND CAROUSELS. HE MAKES CUSTOM CARVED DOGS. THE TOP ONE IS A BASENJI.
Edit: whoops, it left out the other images
I feel like these embody everything that is wonderful about dogs.
His website has many detail shots, and the cocker spaniel one has step-by-step photos, which are fascinating.
Konoike Tomoko, “The Planet is Covered in Silvery Sleep” (2006)
"Multi-discplinary artist Tomoko Konoike works with crystalline structures, whether drawing them with graphite or building them from broken mirrors and glass. The artist works on a large-scale, blending the geological forms with surreal human and animal characters to create a dark, cool ambiance evocative of caves, forests and even outer space. Konoike has a show coming up at Gallery Wendi Norris in San Francisco titled “Earthshine,” on view September 5 through October 26.” - Hi-Fructose
viα stayven-carnivale: Midnight – Shot for Superior Magazine editorial August 2012 . Photography: Daniel Jung
I’ve always loved space and the planets. I’ve seen a few “human planets” sets done by other artists (I saw one in particular that inspired me to start this one but I lost the link) and most of them are pretty literal in the human department. I wanted to try making something more androgynous and godlike.
The colors are all based off the planets’ true colors, and the designs are a mix of the names’ mythos and Holst’s “The Planets” suite. They get progressively less human the further they are from the Sun, which I thought was fun. :) Enjoy!! Pluto included.
LOOK AT PLUTO well actually look at all of them because holy goddamn, woman
oh WOW I really really like these. 8O Each and every design is just so interesting to look at! I think my favorite is Uranus but I just like Uranus a lot in general (stop laughing, damnit). Kuiper alien Pluto is also a super cool idea.
This has also really made me want to listen to the Planets suite again, nnnngh
Booming Urban Landscapes Symbolically Made of Steel
OH MY GOD. I LOVE YOU.
Tunel Stairs , Istanbul , 2013
Kathputli Colony is a tinsel slum. Over 600 artists from here have represented India in several fairs and festivals abroad. About 800 families have settled here since Independence. Magicians, acrobats, mime artists, puppeteers, jugglers, folk singers, snake charmers, bear handlers, monkey trainers and other street performers reside in this colony. A visit to the colony is enough to believe that Shadipur Depot is perhaps the only place in Delhi where the ancient tradition of magic is preserved and inherited.
Most of the artists are from UP, Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra. Kathputli Colony is also called by other names: Kalakaron ki Basti, Madari colony and Bazeegarcolony.
Photo: Serge Bouvet
The Amazing Underwater Forest of Lake Kaindy
What makes Lake Kaindy truly remarkable is that it contains an underwater forest. Visible on the lakes surface are the tall, dried-out tops of submerged Spruce trees that rise above the water’s surface like the masts of sunken ships. They are the only sign of the amazing frozen forest below the water’s surface.
The water is so cold (even in summer the temperature does not exceed 6 degrees) that the pine needles remain on the trees, even after a hundred years of being submerged. During the winter, the lake freezes and becomes a popular spot for ice diving.
The lake is 400 meters long and is located in Kazakhstan’s portion of the Tian Shan Mountains, about 129 km from the city of Almaty. The lake was created after an earthquake in 1911 triggered a large landslide blocking the gorge and forming a natural dam.