Before-and-After Photos of Kids’ Toys Tell Stories of Love

A child is the ultimate before-and-after project, and if you’ve ever watched one grow, you might have noticed: something happens between child and favorite toy friend over time. Returning to the friend again and again for comfort feeds the child, who grows bigger and less dependent even as the toy withers. There’s an exchange taking place. Sure, there’s simple wear-and-tear involved. But as any parent who’s tried to replace a lost buddy with a new one exactly like the other one can tell you, only that specific buddy will do. Once the exchange has started, it can’t be handed off. German photographer Katja Kemnitz  noticed this dynamic with her own daughter, and it inspired her to create the Too Much Love series. Kemnitz’s child carried a plush dog everywhere with her, and flatly refused a shiny new one. The mother was struck by how much “soul” this and other broken-down stuffed animals seem to have absorbed, and set out to document the rigors of exchange over time. Like so many before-and-after photographs, with Too Much Love you can start to feel, with reflection, the dense layers of story and growth that span past and present. Images via Ufunk.  

This Artist Will Squeeze Your Heart With These Images

We’re big believers here at Mylio in the concept of photograph as time machine. And so is fine art photographer Chino Otsuka. In the video below, she describes the concepts behind her project Imagine Finding Me, in which she digitally composites her present-day, adult self into childhood photos from the family album. Such is Otsuka’s artistry that if you didn’t know what you were looking at, you’d think these were a series of non-descript snapshots, very much like those sitting sandwiched in their billions in binders and shoeboxes everywhere. But they’re so not. Otsuka clearly understands the complex set of emotions old photos – especially old family photos – can trigger; she describes how such pictures show layers of time, and are vehicles for taking us on memory journeys. “I think that’s exactly what you do when you look at the family album; that’s what you do in your mind. There’s so many different layers, so many mental time travels that go on inside your head. To a certain extent I was able to show that in an image, in a very simplistic form.” –Chino Otsuka The results are at once quiet, unpretentious, poetic verging on mystical, and it-just-slowly-seeps-in powerful.… Continue reading This Artist Will Squeeze Your Heart With These Images

This Artist Uses a UV Lamp to Sunburn Photos into Pale Skin

We’ve featured artists before who produce fascinating twists on this whole painting-with-light thing — projecting portraits on the rainforest canopy, for instance, or growing them from living walls of grass. But French artist Thomas Mailaender took the practice to an entirely new, wince-inducing level with this performance art piece, Illustrated People: using pale skin as stand-in for photo-sensitive paper, he deployed a strong UV lamp to literally burn in a camera negative image. Like Victorian-era sun prints, only pre-cancerous. Sunburn photos. No darkroom, we can assume, required. The negatives were borrowed from the enigmatic Archive of Modern Conflict, a London-based organization as opaque as its collection is eclectic. These sunburn pictures, which Mailaender published in a book alongside other non-dermal images from the Archive, are so meta you may need a whiteboard to map everything out: photo portraits of photo portraits, subjects ‘printed’ onto other subjects, then printed onto paper, here now ‘printed’ into pixels. And then…healed. And gone.  

18 Junk Food Portraits That Will Either Amuse or Terrify You

These arresting (intriguing? Disgusting? Humorous?) portraits are from the Wotsit All About project by UK artist James Ostrer, “feverishly and painstakingly created tableaus with layers of sweets and foodstuffs being applied to a human subject.” (How many foodstuffs can you identify? Frosting, sprinkles, candy, burgers, fries, sausages… Those with extra-special powers of insight might even be able to identify the artist himself among the portraits). And while these photos have an absurd exuberance to them — representing, say, a six-year-old picky-eater’s imaginary friend — Ostrer’s intent is decidedly darker. For him, the images are “icons of contemporary sugar worship, the imagined result of a corrupted globalization and increasingly dangerous methods of food production.” Yum. Ostrer’s photographs of sugar adorned subjects allude to the history of primitive art, synthetic dietary sugar intake, and an irreverent twist on the absurd in which societal practices of ingestion oscillate into a nightmarish world of abject effrontery and nutritional disillusionment. —From project/gallery statement, Gazelli Art House Enjoy!  

What Stories Are Coded in These Things Confiscated at the Border?

This post features an ongoing personal project by photographer Tom Kiefer, whose images can take hours, and sometimes weeks to assemble. In his own words: Working as a janitor from July 2003 until August 2014 I was greatly disturbed by the volume of food, clothing and personal belongings thrown away at a single U.S. Customs and Border Patrol facility. For many of those years, I was allowed to collect and take the food transported by migrants, that was discarded during the first stages of processing, to our community food bank, an estimated sixty tons by the person who managed it. The personal effects and belongings were another matter: Why would someone throw away a rosary or bible? Why would someone throw away a wallet? Why would a pair of shoes, for all intents and purpose “brand new”, be tossed in the trash? El Sueno Americano (the American Dream) is a photographic essay of the discarded personal effects and belongings of migrants and smugglers apprehended by Border Patrol agents, discarded while being processed at a U.S Customs and Border Patrol facility near the U.S./Mexico border in southern Arizona. My intent is to explore the humanity of the migrants who risk their lives… Continue reading What Stories Are Coded in These Things Confiscated at the Border?

In These Sly Photo Mashups, Gods and Angels Take the Bus

People who do a lot of thinking about the creative process have described it as the alchemical ability to take seemingly unrelated things and turn them into something new. When you can’t see the seams, the results feel fresh; when you can see the seams – like in mashups – the results feel simultaneously new, sly, and knowing. The work winks at you. The Art History in Contemporary Life series winks at you like that. Ukrainian artist Alexey Kondakov’s ongoing digital collage project takes the gods, seraphim, and mythic critters of classical master paintings out of the museums, and puts them into modern-day urban Kiev. There’s Apollo, busking on the subway platform. There’s Diana, grabbing a Red Bull at the convenience shop. Are these divine creatures brought low, or is the gritty environment elevated? Either way, this is magical realism at its best. Images via deMilked and Contemporary Art Curator Magazine  

If You Organized Everything You Touched in a Day, It Would Look Like This

There’s something really…clarifying about objects organized in a single view. It brings a sense of peace that can elude us in our fast, over-thingified lives. We can see an appetite for this peace of mind in the decluttering movement popularized by Marie Kondo, and in the success of Austin Radcliffe’s Tumblr. Paula Zuccotti, an ethnographer, trends forecaster and designer with the creative consultancy the Overworld, has tapped into this impulse through her book Everything We Touch: A 24-hour Inventory of Our Lives. The project captures, in a single frame, every object a person has touched – chronologically — within a day. Zuccotti’s intent, in part, was to play archaeologist for future generations, documenting our relationship to objects (including those she started to notice were becoming extinct, like calendars, alarm clocks, and cash money). She writes: “from a toddler in Tokyo to a cowboy in Arizona, from a cleaner in London to a cloister nun in Madrid, Every Thing We Touch is their story told through the objects they own, consume, need, choose, treasure and can’t let go.” “I was amazed at the honest X-rays from our everyday lives that emerged from the photos. As a result, the participants find the exercise very… Continue reading If You Organized Everything You Touched in a Day, It Would Look Like This

It Took Nearly 10,000 Photos to Make Just One of These Images

In 2006, Danish photojournalist Peter Funch set up his tripod on a Manhattan street corner and started photographing people going about their day. One scene he captured showed someone reading, someone on the phone, and someone smoking. Not particularly interesting. But wouldn’t it be great, Funch would later tell an interviewer, if everyone in the shot was smoking? And so was born his Babel Tales series: 40 composited panoramic images of curated, synchronous moments (including one where everyone is smoking) that took five years to produce. As with other photographers we’ve featured that play with concepts of time, Funch’s series was incredibly labor intensive. After choosing a promising location, he’d shoot for three to five days, then decide if he’d continue. If he did, he’d shoot another five to ten days, producing between 1,000 to 10,000 images for the final composite. “Composing the images is a lot like painting where you build up the images and keep looking at it again and again. For me, this is where photography is heading, less of a method of passive documentation and more of a means to produce images.” –Peter Funch Funch chose wide aspect ratios for several reasons, all of them relating… Continue reading It Took Nearly 10,000 Photos to Make Just One of These Images

These 5 ‘Time-Collapsing’ Videos are Way Different — and More Intense — Than Timelapse

Cy Kuckenbaker was a highly-regarded – if little known – filmmaker when internet stardom struck. He was an MFA graduate from Cal Arts, a director of fiction and documentary films who’d received a Fulbright Fellowship, screening his work at domestic and international festivals including MoMA NY, Centre Pompidou Paris, and The Los Angeles IFF. Then an already-internet-famous image by Ho-yeol Ryu (right), coupled with a move to a new place near the San Diego International Airport, got the artist thinking: what if he applied the same time-condensing concept to moving pictures? (We recently featured another series inspired by Ryu’s image by photographer Mike Kelley). Kuckenbaker’s proof of concept: a 2012 video clip “time-collapsing” four-and-a-half hours of plane landings at the airport on Black Friday into 26 seconds: To achieve the powerful effect, Kuckenbaker used a technique called chroma key, which he compares to creating a green screen – in this case the blue sky — removing the planes in post-production, then adding them back within a shorter timeframe. (The image of the bridge, which is from elsewhere in the city, was composited in as well). The effect – you can see something similar in Parker Paul’s An Hour of Birds… Continue reading These 5 ‘Time-Collapsing’ Videos are Way Different — and More Intense — Than Timelapse

It Took 74,545 Air Miles, 25 Flights, and 93 days of Travel to Create These ‘Airportraits’

In 2014, Los Angeles photographer Mike Kelley, “feeling like a total dork sitting inside on the computer,”  decided to go out and shoot, ultimately creating this composite image of all the planes taking off from a particular runway at LAX in an eight-hour period. He spent another eight hours doing the compositing. The picture went viral. I whipped that image together in one (16 hour) sitting, paying not-so-close attention to Photoshop perfection, and just getting it done. Well, obviously the concept had legs as that one image altered the entire course of my life. After a bit of thinking, I decided I wanted to repeat the concept at airports around the world, and by doing some back-of-the-napkin planning I threw together a list of 15 or so airports that I felt would benefit from a similar image. –Mike Kelley So was born the Airportraits Project, showing flight patterns from all over the world (check out the ‘making of’ video at the bottom of the page). I often get asked exactly just how ‘real’ these images are. And on one hand, they are as real as they get. I’d sit in one place for an entire day, and take a burst… Continue reading It Took 74,545 Air Miles, 25 Flights, and 93 days of Travel to Create These ‘Airportraits’