Though their work can be described as digital art, Ransom & Mitchell are very hands-on with their process. To create the fanciful worlds that they photograph, the San Francisco-based duo sews original costumes, makes props and builds sets. Experts in studio lighting, they imbue their works with a magical ambiance, only adding digitally-painted details to render that which can’t be done in real life. For the upcoming group show “Rough & Ready Sideshow” at Bash Contemporary in San Francisco, Ransom & Mitchell will be exhibiting a new series of photo-illustrations that hearken back to circus freak shows. While there are obvious ethical issues with sideshows themselves, the artists’s vintage-inspired new works are loaded with nostalgic humor, kitsch and illusions. Aunia Kahn, Stefanie Vega and Alexandra Manukyan will also be participating in the exhibition. The opening reception will be held on October 11 and the show will be on view through November 8.
Though they’re created digitally, Can Pekdemir’s portraits mimic the high-contrast values of daguerreotypes. Pekdemir conjures up strange, furry creatures using 3D modeling software, giving them hefty forms and believable textures. The results look as if these characters walked into the artist’s studio and posed for the camera. Presented as framed, archival prints, his pieces could pass for photographs. Pekdemir seems to be testing the boundaries between two and three dimensions, virtual and physical. We often take photography to be a truth-telling medium, but Pekdemir exploits this assumption to engage his viewers with these fictional personalities. Take a look at some of his recent work below.
Known for his uplifting, large-scale photographic portraits of ordinary people, French artist JR recently travelled to New York’s Ellis Island for a site-specific project on the famed historical site. The island once housed the largest immigrant processing center in the nation, filtering millions of newcomers to the States from the 1890s through the 1950s. Ellis Island now houses an immigration museum, though parts of it have been left untouched. JR was invited to reinvigorate the destitute, abandoned buildings on the island’s south side with his project “Unframed — Ellis Island,” opening to the public on October 1.
Kyle Thompson is a young photographer on the rise. He began shooting at age 19 in his hometown of Chicago, Illinois, and in the last couple years has amassed a substantial body of work that shows a surprisingly adept and concise voice for such a young artist. This work, just released in a book titled Somewhere Else is comprised mostly of self-portraits taken in various abandoned locations found while on a road trip traveling the country.
The use of multiple-exposure techniques to create eerie, ghostlike effects in photography and film is a trope that most of us are familiar with. The work of photographer David Samuel Stern, however, stands out in that he eschews both the usual analog and digital means of achieving such effects. Instead, in his “Woven Portrait” series, Stern physically weaves together two prints of the same subject. The resulting portraits are intriguing and ghostly multi-perspective studies of Stern’s subjects, all of whom are representatives of the creative fields – artists, musicians, choreographers and poets, to name a few.
Chinese artist Liu Bolin is a chameleon. From a first glance, his most well-known works look like photos of newsstands and famous paintings. But as one looks closer, the artist’s body emerges, painted head-to-toe to blend in with his surroundings. It’s like when Duchamp scribbled R. Mutt on his famous urinal and deemed it art, except for Bolin forces his audience to contemplate mundane objects and scenarios in a fine art context by inserting himself into these scenes. The theme of disappearance is fundamental here, as Bolin chooses subjects that highlight the hidden ills often cloaked in attractive packaging and glossy images. His latest solo show, “A Colorful World?” at Klein Sun Gallery is decidedly politically charged.