Oh, Almost.

The embroidery on the shirt is done. Finally. I swear, the small things can take bloody forever and ever. Not quite finished, the dread wash test is up next, here’s hoping it survives well. The designs are from Urban Threads.  Serpents are 6″ x 5″, little black heart 2.5″ x 2″. Shirt is Liz Claiborne, bought at Goodwill, natch. Click for full size.

© C. Ford.

Yuki James.

Stevie.

Absolutely wondrous portraiture by Yuki James, who does everything except conventional. I like ‘unconvential’ portraits of people, which simply means capturing people as they actually are, and how they wish to be portrayed, rather than the stiff, dressed up, traditional type of portraits. Just a few here, and most under the fold, possibly NSFW, so have a care.

The portraits feature a mélange of individuals caught in domestic moments to capture a provocative, elegant otherness that defies commonly accepted notions of race, gender, age, and individuality.

“Portraits are my passion and this show is a collection of my favorites,” James tells Creators. “I only shoot fashion or commercial work if the commissioning publication or client feels that what I do, and my voice, works with their brand. Or if I’m asked to collaborate with another artist or designer that I truly admire.” James recently collaborated with Jeremy Scott for Rollacoaster Magazine. “I love beauty in the unconventional. I love sensuality in those not expected to express it.” The portraitist says, “Emotions and feelings appeal to me. The things that tie us together as humans even when we seem so different.”

Tawan.

“An element of intimacy is something I strive to have with every person I shoot,” explains James of his process. “I take my time and ease into a space that feels comfortable and open, and then look for what they will give me. What poignancy can we tap into? In that way, each shoot is a collaboration.” Okachan, a picture of an older Japanese woman with a silk scarf covering her hair and a ball gag in her mouth, speaks to the contradictions of domesticity. The image is from a series of portraits the artist shot of Japanese women who are all over the age of 50, showing that modesty does not preclude tendencies like rough sex at any age.

[Read more…]

Speaking of Apocalypses…

As the ongoing Apocalypse was the subject of today’s Sunday Facepalm, it reminded me that I’ve had some time to look at the artwork in The Bamberg Apocalypse, an 11th-century richly illuminated manuscript containing the Book of Revelation and a Gospel Lectionary. Look at those beautiful beasties! One day, I shall embroider them. Click for full size!

Bamberg Apocalypse Folio029v Woman And Dragon.

Bamberg Apocalypse Folio031v Dragon Pursuing Woman In Wilderness.

Bamberg Apocalypse Folio033v HornedBeast.

In Pursuit of Pigment: Addendum.

Orpiments, Kremer Pigments Inc.

Yesterday, I wrote a bit about art pigments, and naturally, I left things out because morning. I don’t function well in the morning. I did manage to mention that historical pigments are still available, and often used by artists. There’s a lot to love about the old pigments, look at that colour! There’s a lot to love in making your own paints, too. One of the best places to acquire your pigments, in varying grades of coarse to very fine, or bits of mineral, resin and so forth, is Kremer Pigments. If I was ever to find myself in NYC, I’d make a beeline for them, and it might not be possible to get me out. Ever. Fortunately for me, there’s also online shopping.

You do have to go through the requisite red tape on a number of pigments, like the Orpiment pictured above. These days, you don’t get to just buy a pocket full of arsenic without red tape. As these things go, it’s fairly painless. I’m saving up for a few different things, Cinnabar, Dragon’s Blood, Tyrian Purple, aaaaaaaaaaaand so much more. There’s a lovely set of Icelandic Earth Pigments I’d like too. Okay, I want all of it.

So have a visit, and get lost for a while in the awesome world of colour.

Alright, That’s On The Creepy Side.

The Deep Sea Diver Giant marionette began his journey through the city starting in the Old Port Friday afternoon. (Sarah Leavitt/CBC).

While I delight in gigantic, mechanical spiders and dragons, I’m not so delighted with gigantic humans. We naked apes are a dangerous species, and seeing humongous, mechanical humans leads me more towards uncanny valley. I don’t find the idea of human giants charming. That said, they were all over Montreal for the 375th Birthday celebration.

Giant marionettes are taking over parts of Montreal starting this morning, with a larger-than-life street performance as part of the city’s 375th anniversary bash.

The marionettes, one of which is five storeys high, were made by a French company called Royal de Luxe. They made their Montreal debut today, winding their way through the city streets and along the river.

You can read and see more here.

The Pursuit of Pigment.

Berliner Blau . Saalebaer, Wikimedia.

Recently, a neural network was loaded with information, and tasked with creating new colours, and the difficult task of naming them. The result is generally considered to be an amusing failure, but I’m not so sure. As an artist, I think there’s a probable market for colours with names like Bylfgoam Glosd, Horble Gray, and Rose Hork (If a rose, or variety of roses vomited, what would it look like?). Artists tend to be an odd lot, generally speaking, and have a tendency towards being easily amused and inspired. Naming various hues is not an easy task, but it’s also reached a point of absurdity, given the sheer amount of interior decorating paints and requisite accessories. Those names are more to do with selling a decorative concept than anything else. After all, what colour, exactly, is ‘tradewind’? Or ‘spice’, a designation which gets right up my nose.

The article about the AI colour naming experiment is here.

The history of art pigments through the ages is a fascinating one, and pretty much as old as we humans are. All manner of things have been used to create pigments, with artists pursuing the holy grail of this, that, and those colours. One of the most coveted colours in days of yore was Lapis Lazuli Blue, also known as Ultramarine. It was made of ground lapis lazuli, and was much more expensive than gold in Renaissance years. You can still obtain powdered lapis lazuli pigment for painting, with prices ranging from standard to low quality at $30.00 per 10 grams, to $260.00 to $1,200 for premium and superior pigments, per 100 grams to 2 lbs.

Which brings me to Berlin Blue, a coveted colour since its accidental creation in 1704:

The artist, one Heinrich Diesbach, was a born experimenter. He spent hours in the laboratory of a Berlin chemist, trying to create a new shade of red paint. He swirled together wilder and wilder mixtures, eventually mixing dried blood, potash (potassium carbonate) and green vitriol (iron sulfate), then stewing them over an open flame. He expected the flask to yield a bloody crimson, but instead a different brilliance appeared – the deep violet-blue glow of a fading twilight. Diesbach called the vivid pigment Berlin Blue; English chemists would later rename it Prussian Blue. – The Poisoner’s Handbook, Deborah Blum.

Berlin blue is still a widely used colour, and made in the same way, using cyanide salts. It’s considered to be non-toxic because the cyanide groups are tightly bound to iron, so no, you can’t kill yourself by sucking down a tube of Berlin Blue. As for the ingredient of blood, body bits are part and parcel of art pigments. Bone black is still made from bones, and is much preferred by many artists to lamp black. If, like me, you have small animals, keep the bone black locked up, they love it. There was also the case of Mummy Brown, made from ground up bits of mummies. Did I mention that artists tend to be on the eccentric side?

The early history of art pigments is a highly poisonous one, as many poisons facilitate brilliant colours. Sometime back, Hyperallergic did a series on pigments of yore, in two articles: one, two.

Pigments Through the Ages is a great resource for exploring art pigments, many of the names being familiar to most people. While some previously highly toxic pigments have been converted to non-toxic synthesis, many of them are still made the same old way, and it’s best to not be in the habit of wetting your brush the old fashioned way, or be unmasked when mixing your own.

Disney: Silencing Robot Trump.

Walt Disney World.

Oh my, oh my. Disney is going to place a robotic Trump in their Hall of Presidents, but the are considering making this particular robot a silent one.

Disney is tight-lipped as to whether Trump will do the same. It’s already certain that a Donald Trump robot will be part of the attraction (which is currently closed for “refurbishments”). Disney CEO Bob Iger confirmed this in a call with Wall Street analysts last November:

“We’ve already prepared a bust of President-elect Trump to go into our Hall of the Presidents at Disney World.”

Iger expressed hope for a “smooth transition,” though this looks to be anything but. There are already multiple anti-Trump petitions circulating (the most prominent one has collected nearly 15,000 signatures), which urge Disney to silence the Trump robot, on the grounds that Trump ran for president on a platform of “hateful speech, misogyny, racism, and xenophobia.”

Motherboard spoke via email and phone to a source close to Walt Disney Imagineering—the research and development department behind Disney’s theme park attractions. And according to the source, Donald Trump will be in the attraction, but he will probably not have a speaking role, unlike the three presidents immediately before him. The Imagineers will likely revert the attraction to its pre-1993 format, where only George Washington and Abraham Lincoln recited lines, while keeping the more realistic, grounded tone of the current show.

Motherboard has the full story.

Cool Stuff Friday.

the artist in front of “Tyrannosaurus” in Chiba prefecture (2016).

“Asura” in Akita prefecture (2015).

Toshihiko Hosaka began making sand sculptures in art school and has been using beaches and sand boxes as his canvas for almost 20 years. His work defies what we typically think of as sand art as he sculpts and carves the loose, granular substance as if it were some malleable form of clay.

There is no core, mold or adhesive ever used throughout the process: just sand. The only trick Hosaka uses (and this is commonly accepted) is a hardening spray applied to his sculpture only after it’s been completed, in order to prevent wind and sun from eroding it for a few days.

Looking at his work, you can hardly credit it, that’s it’s just sand, nothing more, because it’s truly amazing and intricate. He has done sculptures of Musashi Miyamoto, Godzilla, Alice in Wonderland, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Asura, and a massive Kraken, among others. All the ones listed you can see at Spoon & Tamago, and be sure to visit Toshihiko Hosaka’s website!

An octopus sings about overfishing:

Overfishing Song from “Papa Cloudy’s Restaurant” from Studio Creature on Vimeo.

Artist Chuck Miller is fascinated with bodies, as many artists are, however, what fascinates Miller the most is fluidity and complexity of flesh. You can read and see more at The Creators Project.

Milena Ogrizovic beside Monument of the Fallen Fighters. Designer: Dajana Vasic.

Throughout the former Yugoslavia, mysterious and beautiful monuments dot the landscape, initiated by Yugoslav revolutionary Josef Broz Tito and designed by modernist architects. Increasingly forgotten, these brutalist concrete sculptures, which were public monuments to the country’s fallen soldiers of World War II, are revived in Serbian photographer Jovana Mladenovic‘s series Monumental Fear, which not only explores the former country’s triumph over fascism, but echoes the painful split that led to several Balkan states. Mladenovic’s series is also a tone poem meant to celebrate the creativity of the Serbian people, many of them artists facing uncertainty in the wake of the Brexit vote.

After studying photography at Belgrade’s University of Arts, Mladenovic moved to London to pursue her interest in fashion photography at the London College of Fashion. But she soon realized she was more interested in conceptual art and photography. Though she was happy to be in London, exploring avant-garde impulses, Mladenovic started thinking about her home country—specifically, its brutalist Yugoslavian communist monuments unveiled in the decades following World War II.

Fascinating and beautiful work. You can read and see more at The Creators Project.

And last, but certainly not least, Mr. Rogers!

Mr. Rogers is singing about how it’s ok to hug a pillow or pine after a teddy bear, and even though it seems like I’m too old for such things, I feel my stomach drop and I’m suddenly having trouble breathing. I feel like a kid again, and thanks to the 18-day Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood marathon currently streaming on Twitch, over 2 million people have already had the chance to feel the same. The Twitch stream is playing the entire Mister Rogers archive back-to-back in chronological order, including rare episodes that only aired once on terrestrial TV.

Twitch reached out to PBS with an idea for a Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood revival in the lead up to the show’s 50th anniversary. They launched the marathon on May 15, partially thanks to the overwhelming response to marathons of Bob Ross’ The Joy of Painting, Carl Sagan’s Cosmos: A Personal Voyage, and Julia Child’s The French Chef on the streaming platform. “We were excited to build on that momentum with this experimental initiative,” Lesli Rotenberg, a Senior Vice President at PBS, tells Creators.

You can read more about this at The Creators Project. The Twitch Mr. Roger’s Stream.

Namahage!

Etsuko Ichihara’s Namahage in Tokyo.

In Japanese folklore there exists a beast-like deity called the Namahage. It can be found all over Japan, taking on different appearances and even names depending on the region. Although harmless, it exists to scare those who are lazy or wrongdoing out of their bad habits. Inspired by this tradition, media artist Etsuko Ichihara decided to create a modern-day version of the Namahage specifically for Tokyo, and unleash in onto the streets of Shibuya, Harajuku and Akihabara.

In the traditional Japanese ritual, men would dress up in demon masks and parade through town, visiting houses along the way. They typically yell phrases like “Are there any crybabies around?” or “Are naughty kids here?” But the Namahage have been known to admonish adults too. And by acting as a scary rule enforcer, Namahage played the important role of strengthening family and community ties. This became a critical part of Ichihara’s “Namahage in Tokyo,” a city where many young Japanese men and women immigrate too from rural Japan, hence diluting the bonds between family and community.

Ichihara’s Namahage is quite spectacular simply as a costume. Its mask consists of a camera and drone, perfect for scanning and locating lazy gamers and otaku. It’s the work of sculptor Hiroto Ikeuchi. The rest of the costume too, in which Ichihara collaborated with fashon label chloma, is beautiful in its modern interpretation of a traditional deity.

This is all so wondrous and imaginative! I enjoyed every moment of the videos, and what great gods to play with, too. Some very nice knife wielding, too!  I loved the imagining of Namahage in Tokyo to have incorporated a camera, given the large role surveillance plays in all our lives anymore. That would definitely make Namahage’s job easier. Via Spoon & Tamago.