August 2012 Archives
If the complex, geometric line art above reminds you of more youthful days, when the revolving plastic gears of your Spirograph served as a portal to the awakening delight of artistic creation, you're on the right track. Because the math employed by that classic time waster from the 60s is similar to that of the pantograph, the invention of which goes back to the dawn of the seventeenth century. Originally conceived simply as way to copy and scale diagrams, the principles behind it are deep enough that they continue to find use as a practical solution to a wide range of problems.
Reminiscent of Godfrey Reggio's films of the 80s, Koyaanisqatsi and Powaqqatsi, Michael Shainblum employs stop-motion photography in Existence to contrast the natural and man-made worlds. It provides an opportunity to pause, if only for a moment, and ask ourselves where we have come from and where we are going. And perhaps even return to that childhood pleasure of simply gazing at the stars, so effectively evoked by the film.
Or so it would seem, judging by a new book release from German publisher Gestalten. While ancient and widespread, until recently in the West, tattoos marked those bearing them as being somehow apart, as members of mysterious tribes with vaguely disturbing belief systems and practices. But we've now reached the point where your grandmother could show up at the family barbeque sporting a butterfly or a flower and barely an eyebrow would be raised. The act of being tattooed has become so banal that it's no more exotic than getting your ears pierced. And somehow that banality has sucked all the life out of a long and rich decorative art. Admittedly, we don't all want to look like the ominously tattooed inmates in Russian prisons (search on "russian prison tattoo"), but still.