Category Archives: Photography

Arie van’t Riet – The radiant beauty of nature

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Arie van’t Riet‘s beautiful x-ray photographs gracefully combine the outer visible surface and the inner invisible structure of the natural world in images that give new life to the definition of ‘radiant beauty’.sandersonia_new

A medical physicist, Arie van’t Riet has turned into an artist almost by chance, when a friend asked him to take an x-ray picture of a painting. On that occasion he became interested in the creative possibilities that x-ray technology opened up by means of exploiting the different densities and degrees of light absorption of the materials it touches. Made of thin petals and leaves, a bouquet of flowers became Arie van’t Riet‘s first ‘artistic’ experiment. After taking the x-ray picture of a bunch of tulips, he digitalized the silver-bromate analog film, then inverted the gray scale and eventually selected some areas to be coloured. The resulting image perfectly restitutes the impalpable lightness but also the vivid strength that flowers have. Parrot Tulips lowWith this new and exciting possibility to explore nature at hand, Arie van’t Riet started including insects and animals, elegantly composing flora and fauna while playing around with the different x-ray intensities required in order to capture thin and thick tissues in one image. rontgen17The Dutch scientist/artist only uses dead animals (which he gathers when the sad event has already taken place) for his x-ray photographs, as he does not want to expose living creatures to the danger of x-ray exposure. Van’t Riet defines his pictures as bioramas where the natural elements variously assembled literally radiate the sheer splendor contained even in the tiniest natural element. rontgen6 duckmettekst rontgen15 ChickenThe artistic path embraced by Arie van’t Riet bears witness of the fact that to be an artist is first and foremost a matter of creative disposition, enabling one to look at the world in an open, curious and actively responsive way, no matter what expressive tools are chosen. Playing around with the technology he better knew, Arie van’t Riet discovered that he could fix in a single image both the outer surface (that we see in colour when touched with visible light) and the inner structure (only showed in grey scale by invisible x-rays) of nature. Chamaleon Strilizia rontgen1Looking at Arie van’t Riet photographs is like ideally wearing a pair of x-ray glasses that make us participate to the wholesomeness of the natural world.

Invited by TEDx in 2013 to hold a lecture, in this video Arie van’t Riet explains how he discovered the expressive potentialities of x-ray technology:

To explore more of Arie van’t Riet‘s bioramas, please visit his website here.

Images courtesy of Arie van’t Riet.

(via e MORFES)

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Christy Lee Rogers’ underwater spells

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Photographer Christy Lee Rogers creates wondrous underwater scenes of utter beauty, where seemingly choreographed entanglements of bodies and drapes weightlessly float in a muffled yet lush universe that brims with unbounded sensual energies.

Elan_fantome_du_coeur_webSmoke and gold_The_Touch_of_your Skin_is_BrokenReckless_The InnocentsFor the sensual rendering of the fleshes, the bright coalescing colours and the dramatic lighting, Rogers’ work has often been compared to Baroque painting. Similarly to the pursuit of the marvellous typical of Baroque art, her images excite the senses and  arouse a pervasive feeling of awe and wonder in the viewer. But each work also elicits feelings that can be assimilated to sublime, romantically intended as that ungraspable mixture of high pleasure and deep fear we feel in front of something majestic.

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Notwithstanding the above mentioned comparisons concerning the magnificent results, Christy Lee Rogers is endowed with an original and rare talent that made her  develop a unique way of expressing universal and timeless feelings by means of breaking with the conventions of her medium of choice and by obsessively experimenting with underwater photography. Elan_perdu dans l autre_web OdisseyIf the World Earth Could SpeakA self-taught photographer born in Hawaii, Christy Lee Rogers has always had a special relationship with water. But it wasn’t until eleven years ago – when one night, almost by chance, she started taking pictures of a friend jumped on a swimming pool – that the first inspiration hit her. As she told me when I interviewed her for Elephant magazine, that day her creative adventure had started and since then she has relentlessly experimented with the expressive possibilities that a camera, some models, a swimming pool and the moon light opened up to her. Water is an unpredictable element and during a shooting session many adverse events can occur. The night light can suddenly change. The wind can blow and ruffle the water. Although there is a lot of preparation involved in the process (from sketching down ideas to finding the right props and rehearsing with the models), Rogers‘ art is the outcome of a delicately perfect balance between  planning in detail and being ready to make the best out of the many unpredictable aspects of shooting at night what happens underwater. Outside of a swimming pool she combines the two apparently opposite aspects of the process and always manages to magically transform her rough materials into visually lush explosions of dramatic energy.  Reckless_0133_Reckless Unbound

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Thanks to a first-rate artistic awareness and an outstanding craftsmanship (enthusiastically pursued with years of practice, trials and errors), Christy Lee Rogers has invented a totally new and original photographic language, where no digital trickery is either needed or wanted to deliver the (im)perfect beauty of life.

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Water is commonly perceived as a positive symbol standing for the origin of life but at the same time it evokes the impossibility of breathing in it. Experiencing the underwater space can be beautifully soothing but also mysteriously dangerous, thus being a perfect metaphor for the contradictions of life and the opposite poles (good and bad) around which human existence revolves. Rogers‘ bodies are captured with such a degree of barely contained tension that it makes difficult to decide whether they are joyously realising their sensual energies or rather trying to free themselves from unknowable dark forces holding them down. They are imbued by the same vibrant tension exhaled by Michelangelo’s Slaves in their attempt to free themselves from the dead stone. Stone for Michelangelo and water for Rogers, the materials could hardly be more different. But the Renaissance master and this contemporary master of photography share a deep and compassionate insight into human nature. Elan_cirque sous-marin_web

Reckless_From the SkyThere is art you can enjoy, art that shocks you, art that you can rationally understand, art that you can appreciate for the technical mastery it displays and art that you simply find pleasant. But then there is a special kind of art that has something so self-sufficiently magic that you are totally bewitched by it. As an artist, Christy Lee Rogers is a benign witch casting a visual spell the secret ingredients of which are her original intuition, her refined craftsmanship, her artistic instinct and  her deep understanding of human nature, all blending together in a flawless universe of sensual and vivid beauty. Rogers_0184_The Triumphants

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To have an insight into the process behind Christy Lee Rogers’ underwater photography, see this behind-the-scenes video:

To plunge completely into her underwater universe visit her website, here

Thank you to Christy Lee Rogers for the images and for her incredibly inspiring art.

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Livres en Vie by Jean Marc Godès

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It is not uncommon for art lovers to be also book lovers. This makes artist Jean Marc Godès, who devotes his practice to books, a favourite of mine. With his evocative photographic mises en scène Godès celebrates books not as mere objects but as lively entities organically interacting with the world. His series of poetic images is called Livres en vie (Living Books).

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dryingBorn in Guadalupe but citizen of the world, Godès has focused on the universe of books as a form of homage to both his father – who was a writer – and poet Jacques Prévert. He describes himself as ‘director of still images’. In fact, each scene depicting the living books in action is carefully staged before taking the picture so that no photo-manipulation is involved in the final result. The artist’s tireless work is inspired by the passionate belief in the power of books intended as living organism carrying personal and collective histories.

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waiting meditatingLivres en vie offers us Godès’ many imaginative answers to the question ‘what a book can be and do’…

Books challenge and push us:

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Books hook us:

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Books urge us to slow down against the contemporary myth of a fast-paced life:

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Books uplift our lives while keeping us grounded:

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Books are powerful tools of freedom….escape…because they open up unforeseen new horizons…horizons1

new horizonsnew horizonsa…thus becoming the bricks forming our inner personal paths…bricks new path

bricks…the necessary equipment for our variously adventurous existences…equipment

…and the vital oxygen for imagination. hoxygen1

hoxygenAll of Godès’ mises en scène are pervaded by a sort of magic realism. His photo-poetic celebration of books calls for interpretation. At times they trigger the need to ‘decode’ the situation behind them. shoes

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Other times, they work as the starting point for imaginative associations. And when art meets books, it should not come as surprise if a specific book come to mind. So, the mouse protagonist of some of Godès‘s images reminded me of Firmin, the rat whose life writer Sam Savage has recounted in the eponymous book. Just like for Firmin books became the very things keeping him alive, Godès little mouse can rely on books as shelter, lifesaving tool and ideal nourishment.mouse2mouse3mouse1

To explore more of Jean Marc Godès‘ poetic homages to books, please visit his website here.

All images ©Jean Marc Godès courtesy of the artist

(via Memo Grandi Magazzini Culturali)

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Rafael Mantesso and Jimmy Choo – An inspiring friendship

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Dogs are incredibly inspiring creatures. Brazilian illustrator and designer Rafael Mantesso knows it well. Left in an unfurnished house after a divorce, Mantesso had only his dog Jimmy Choo (a bull terrier named by his ex after the fashion designer) to keep him company and bring up his morale. With clever and witty humour, Mantesso has started to use the white walls as the background for Jimmy Choo’s quirky performances. He draws various backdrops with a black marker on white cardboard. The scene is completed by the hilarious presence of Jimmy Choo who poses in disguise with funnily tender result. Mantesso swears that Jimmy Choo enjoyed all of it. And we enjoy it all as well…

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Jorge Miranda – A filmaker’s secret dream

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One could guess that a filmaker’s secret dream would be to make his actors perform the most bizarre, improbable and dangerous tasks in the most unlikely and unusual set. Miami-based Jorge Miranda found a viable solution to make this dream come true, at least in part. The result is an incredibly amusing display of surreal sketches.

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M.Funk – Sensory Photography

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In looking at M.Funk pictures a whole range of emotional responses is awaken. His images have a strong suggestive power that affects different sensorial fields.

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M.Funk‘s pictures all share an intimate tone that results as much from the framing as from the captured subjects. The artist seems to observe his surroundings with a discreet and humble eye and yet with a strongly aware presence. Continue reading

The Playhouses of Our Grandparents – Nicholas Henry

The Playhouses of Our Grandparents by Nicholas Henry is more than the photographic project consisting of 400 portraits gathered in the book with the same title. It is an extraordinary life experience, which the artist undertook a few years ago and which led him in 40 countries. nicolashenry0012

Reminiscent of his childhood, when his grandparents thought him the link between a playhouse and the importance of storytelling, Henry embarked in a journey that has been not only geographical but also existential. In fact, in each country he visited, he invited people to freely create a theatrical playhouse, while sharing stories with the community. ‘Inside everyone of us, lies the youthful spirit of a child, who revels in creating, with everyday items around him, a world invented entirely by his imagination’ Henry declares in the preface of the book.  nicolashenry0028

Every time, in South Africa as much as in Chile, in Japan as much as in Chile and everywhere else, the simple photo-shoot had evolved into a theatre thanks to the storytelling activities of the members of the community. nicolashenry0014Poemsnicolashenry0016nicolashenry0011

From the Aboriginal in Australia, trying to preserve the legacy of their ancient knowledge to the power of literature discovered by a Japanese woman after the Second World War, passing through the holy harmony that Jordan desert can teach you, Nicholas Henry expresses the sense of the project in these words: ‘The Playhouse gradually became a vehicle for freedom of speech, a setting where memories, revelations and the joy of sharing reigned’Growingnicolashenry0026nicolashenry0023

Art is often analyzed either through the intention of the artist or through the reactions it triggers in the viewer, the best case scenario being the two coincide. But The Playhouses of Our Grandparents defies this binary logic. In fact, if we – as viewer – are captured by the ethos of this journey, the portraits also activate our own personal imagination and invite us to listen to our own stories, the ones that this universe of colours, tools, places and faces can evoke. nicolashenry0021

To know more about Nicholas Henry‘s The Playhouses of Our Grandparents please see here and visit all the pages of the website. You can buy the book here.

Images courtesy of Nicholas Henry