Tag Archives: photography

  1. 12.20.13
    Excerpt: Book
    Dixonary

    If we had to elect the most Sight Unseen–like book ever published, Tom Dixon’s Dixonary might land at the very top of that list. In the intro he writes, “A book about me? I wasn’t sure I needed one — at least until I am dead, at which point people can write what they like.” But personally we wish this kind of book existed for all of our favorite visual artists. In it, Dixon pairs photographs of his own designs, dating all the way back to his early-’80s punk days, with the images that inspired them, and then tells the micro-stories behind each one. There are obvious pairings (Dixon’s Lustre lights with an oil spill, for example) and those that are more obscure (his 1994 Jack Light with concrete sea defenses from Yakushima Island, Japan). The book fleshes out the more well-known contours of Dixon’s story. For instance, we knew he was a welder, but did we imagine that meant he spent time in the early ’80s making chairs out of things like frying pans and ladles? Those early experiments — so far from the more polished work Dixon creates under his own label these days — are one of the most fascinating aspects of the book, so we’ve excerpted a few of our favorites after the jump.

  2. 12.11.13
    Eye Candy
    72Editions.com

    2013 was a good year for buying affordable art online. The long-dormant 20×200 relaunched in beta, Exhibition A proved stronger than ever, sites like Artfully Walls debuted, and countless independent designers began selling prints via their own webshops. As of last week, you can add to that list 72 Editions, a new online destination for limited edition contemporary art and artifacts, curated by London’s YCN creative network, whose offerings start around $60. We’ve already spotted a few favorites among the mix — Saskia Pomeroy’s graphic illustrations, and really lovely photography by designer Cristian Zuzunaga (above) — but we were also excited to see a few artists lesser known to us (how great are Chris Jarrett’s hand-whittled slingshots, below?). Immediately bookmarkable.

  3. 12.10.13
    What We Saw
    At Art Basel and Design Miami 2013: Part II

    If you spent even an ounce of time at the pool while in Miami for Basel last week, or having cocktails with friends, or sleeping late thanks to an epic hangover, there’s an excellent chance you failed to see everything that was on view at the various fairs and satellite exhibitions around town. We ourselves had so little time at Art Basel itself that we did an embarrassingly inadequate skim through what amounted to about a third of the show, promising ourselves we’d come back later in the week (yeah right). And then there were the personal moments we missed just by virtue of not being able to be at every gathering of friends, every party, or every impromptu beach hang at any given time — the weird, wacky, and wonderful experiences our friends had amidst the hyper-stimulation that is Basel, which we witnessed fragments of during the rare times when we were able to sit down and catch up on our Instagram feed. Because we couldn’t be everywhere nor see everything, we decided to ask some of our favorite design-world folks to share with us what they saw — the one favorite photo they took in Miami last week, from droopy hot dogs to Modernist masterpieces.

  4. 12.04.13
    Eye Candy
    Alpha Cruxis by Rebecca Martin

    Tasmanian-born designer Rebecca Martin started the fashion label Alpha Cruxis earlier this summer from her studio in Neuköln, Berlin. Its launch collection consists of five geometrically shaped handbags that Martin meticulously handcrafts from rigid 3mm-thick Italian leather, using methods she likens more to carpentry than fashion design — sanding, carving, etc. Shot by Martin’s friend Monika Holtzer, the lookbook for the collection pairs the dark, angular bags with colorful everyday objects like balloons, fennel, screwdrivers, and onion bags.

  5. 11.27.13
    Studio Visit
    Renato D’Agostin, Photographer

    Renato D’Agostin was born and raised in Venice, Italy, “where for most people photography in those days meant weddings and passport pictures,” he says. Yet the city did manage to nurture his future career, if only inadvertently so: After falling in love with a photograph of an elephant that his mother won in a town prize drawing, he commandeered his father’s Nikon, signed up for a local photography class, and spent his teenage years documenting scenes from everyday Venetian life, a process he’s hewed towards ever since. Still, he considers his first foray away from home in 2002, on a road trip through the capitals of Western Europe, to be his most formative experience. “I took that trip to see if interpreting reality was what I really wanted to do,” D’Agostin recalls. “From that moment on, I never had any doubt. I felt like traveling was the place where I wanted to live, and the camera was my extension.”

  6. 11.23.13
    Saturday Selects
    Week of November 18, 2013

    A weekly Saturday recap to share with you our favorite links, discoveries, and events from the past seven or so days. This week: a cement-truck mural, a furniture collection about shark-hunting, a pretty way to empty your pockets, and more.

  7. 11.22.13
    The Making Of
    Material Material, by Doug Johnston & Debbie Carlos

    The practice of two artists collaborating by mail is nothing new; after all, that’s how Peter Shire communicated ideas to his Memphis colleagues back in Milan and how Alex Segreti and Kelly Rakowski of New Friends got their start (with the former in Philly and the latter in New York.) But what happens when you elevate that practice to something more like a parlor game? We here at Sight Unseen had been wondering that ourselves (and an exhibition on that very theme is in the works, fingers crossed!) which is why we were especially tickled when we found out that Debbie Carlos and Doug Johnston — two of our favorites — had recently happened upon the exact same idea. The Michigan-based photographer and the Brooklyn-based designer spent the summer creating a series of objects under the name “Material Material,” for which they shipped each other the raw materials from which they could fashion several objects. The results were recently shown at the San Francisco shop Little Paper Planes. We asked Johnston and Carlos to take us through the project from start to finish.

  8. 11.21.13
    Where They've Been
    Kiosk in Athens, Greece

    There were several reasons Alisa Grifo wanted to take her Kiosk co-founder Marco Romeny to Greece for their newest themed collection of everyday objects, which launches today. But the most pressing was the fact that Greece’s ongoing economic woes have shuttered scores of small businesses, and continue to do so the longer they persist. “It felt like half of Athens was closed,” says Grifo, who traveled there with Romeny in early October. “We would find something and try to contact the manufacturer and their phone would be disconnected. We felt an urgency to go now before more and more disappeared.” The irony is that Greece is also the last collection for the couple before they’re forced to pull their own disappearing act of sorts, thanks to economics of an entirely different kind.

  9. 11.20.13
    Studio Visit
    Adi Goodrich, Set Designer

    Instead of making things as a way to survive obsolescence, the physical remainders that will outlast us all, Adi Goodrich’s work lives for only a few days before being broken back down into pieces. “I’m not really into all that ego of trying make stuff that stays forever,” the Los Angeles-based designer admits. “I’m much more interested in the cycle of creativity, in making things happen, and surrounding myself with everyone who wants to come with.” Which means that Goodrich, who was just honored with an Art Directors Club “Young Guns” award, might have willed herself into a perfect job: set design.

  10. 11.15.13
    Excerpt: Book
    David Altmejd, from Studio Life by Sarah Trigg

    Sarah Trigg spent more than two years photographing the ateliers of 100 artists around the country for her new book Studio Life: Rituals, Collections, Tools, and Observations on the Artistic Process — including boldfaced names like Carol Bove, Rob Pruitt, Theaster Gates, Tauba Auerbach, and Nick Cave. And yet you won’t see any of their actual artwork in its pages (we’ve added our own to the David Altmejd excerpt below), nor will you see any overall depictions of their spaces. That’s because Trigg, an artist herself, took inspiration from the most important elements of her own Brooklyn studio and decided to exclusively zoom in on any residue, mascots, collected objects, rituals, makeshift tools, and architectural details she found during her visits. “I placed a lens on daily studio life without expecting artists to defend or explain their work,” she writes of her process. “It was crucial, therefore, not to overshadow the results with portraits, artwork, or depictions of the overall grandeur of the studios — all of which have established venues for exposure elsewhere.”

  11. 11.13.13
    Eye Candy
    Diario Textiles by Moisés Hernández

    Apart from being a member of one of our favorite new design collectives — the Mexico City–based group Panorámica, whom we discovered at ICFF this past May — Moisés Hernández also runs a housewares brand called Diario that searches out and redesigns everyday Mexican objects. He started the project last year as part of his masters project at ECAL in Switzerland, and after returning to his hometown, continued it with this new line of colorful tabletop textiles manufactured by a family-run workshop in Oaxaca, all documented after the jump.

  12. 11.09.13
    Saturday Selects
    Week of November 4, 2013

    A weekly Saturday recap to share with you our favorite links, discoveries, events, and more from the past seven or so days. This week: A more economical marbled side table, a magazine-turned-shop, a polka-dot infinity room, and more.

  13. 11.01.13
    Self Portrait
    Sebastian Herkner’s Pulpo Containers

    You might not recognize it at first glance, but Sebastian Herkner’s new ultra-shiny glass Containers for the German brand Pulpo have a serious high-low thing going on — and not just in one sense, but two. Not only are they inspired by the cheap plastic containers normally used to store things like distilled water and Cheez-Balls, they’re also made using a technique that’s gone from rags to riches in recent history. “Mercury glass was once used as a substitute for real silverware, which was too expensive for poor people to afford,” says Herkner. “Nowadays, though, it’s thought of as unique and rare; there’s one company in Czech Republic which specializes in mercury glass, and Pulpo produces the Containers there.” Like most of our favorite tastemakers, Herkner’s appreciation of both the lowly and the luxurious extends to his personal style, too, which is why we thought it fitting that he should photograph his Containers for us amidst the landscape of his own home, just outside Frankfurt. He told us more about his process and his possessions below.

  14. 10.24.13
    Studio Visit
    Heidi Norton, Artist

    “Being a photographer and being an artist working with materials like resin, plants, and glass — those two worlds should not really mix,” says Heidi Norton. “You have the camera and you have film and you’re trying to keep things clean and archival, and then you have dirt and glass shards everywhere.” Such contradictions are at the core of Norton’s work, from the immaculate glow of her photography to the dirt-under-your-fingernails feel of her sculptural pieces, which typically feature houseplants in some form or another. Norton started incorporating plants into her photographic practice several years ago in a series of still lifes. It was partly a way to bring the natural world she grew up with, in rural West Virginia, into the urban setting of Chicago, where she’s lived since getting her MFA at the School of the Art Institute in 2002. Those photos eventually inspired her to make plant-based sculptures that explore how we create, cultivate, and change ourselves. Therein lies the central paradox: “The idea of preservation, and trying to save the plant while at the same time killing it through that preservation, became really interesting to me,” she says. “All of the mediums I use deal with that idea in different ways.” Even her studio itself, shot by Debbie Carlos for part two of Sight Unseen’s series on Chicago artists, is part of the process.

  15. 10.23.13
    Studio Visit
    Stephen Eichhorn, Artist

    As a four-year-old living in Lenoir, South Carolina, Stephen Eichhorn refused to learn how to read. While everyone else in his class was singing their ABCs, he’d stubbornly deemed it unnecessary — he already knew he was destined to be an artist, communicating through images rather than words. “People asked me, how are you going to read your show cards or write press releases?” Eichhorn recalls. “My answer was, I’m going to marry someone who knows how to read! The resistance was so heavy they put me in a special ed class.” His protest didn’t last more than a few months, luckily, but his uncanny commitment to his future career did: At 14, for example, he interned for a group of Star Wars toymakers who taught him freehand drafting and craft techniques, and at 17 he attended a summer art program at SAIC before enrolling there a year later. Since graduating in 2006 he’s been living the dream instead of planning for it, working independently from a studio he shares with his wife in Chicago, which is where SU’s newest contributor Debbie Carlos visited him this past spring for our two-part series on Windy City artists.

  16. 09.27.13
    Up and Coming
    Helen Levi, ceramicist

    If, like us, you began hearing the name Helen Levi only a few months ago — well, there’s a pretty good reason for it. At this time last year, Levi was balancing four part-time jobs, working as a photo assistant, a pottery teacher, a bartender and a waitress. “I’d been doing pottery since I was a little kid, but mostly gifts or for myself,” she told me when I visited her Greenpoint studio last month. “It’s the dream to be able to make stuff you want to make and have that support you, but I never really thought that was possible.” Then, at a random cocktail event last fall at one of the Steven Alan shops in Manhattan, Levi met the man himself: “I met Steven Alan by chance and was telling him about my work, and he was like, ‘Send it to me.’ I didn’t even have one photograph!” Levi laughs. “But once I met him, it was the spark. I quit all my other jobs and I just tried to do this. Maybe it doesn’t work out and I go back to balancing four things, but it didn’t take a huge investment of money. And so far it’s working.”

  17. 09.20.13
    The View From Here
    LDF13: Modus Furniture in Somerset, UK

    Despite being closely associated with the UK, and with top Brit designers like Simon Pengelly and PearsonLloyd, there’s nothing particularly British about Modus’s actual furniture: Sleek, modern, and mostly solid in color and material, its sofas, lights, and chairs have a kind of pan-European or even slightly Scandinavian feel. So we were surprised to see the brand celebrating its new London Design Festival launches (pictured after the jump) with a companion exhibition of striking photographs by Angela Moore, which document the otherworldly landscapes of rural Somerset, England — the home of Modus HQ. “Shooting the local landscape is a little random for us,” says Modus co-founder and Somerset native Jon Powell, who credits London creative agency Studio Small with the idea. “But it actually made sense to us to say look, we’re British, and we’re committed to sustainable design.” In addition to all eight of Moore’s images, which are on view this week and next in the show “Out of Sight” at Modus’s London showroom, we asked Powell to tell us a little bit more about the brand’s home base, and what it’s like making very urban furniture from a place that’s anything but.

  18. 08.15.13
    Sighted
    Anthony Gerace’s Seaside Towns Index

    A few months ago, the London artist Anthony Gerace made the blog rounds with a series of paper collages sourced from 1960s-era magazines. But arresting as those were, when we went snooping on his website, we found something we liked even better: Gerace’s photography work, which includes The Seaside Towns Index we’re featuring today. It is, as Gerace describes it, “a collection of landscape photographs, contextual still-lifes and portraits of seaside towns in England, showing the fading grandeur, disarray and chaos that’s in them, but also the quietly compassionate and strange elements that are uniquely theirs.” We asked Gerace to tell us a little bit more about the project.

  19. 07.30.13
    Sighted
    Ben Medansky Studio Visit on Los Angeles, I’m Yours

    It’s a quiet summer week here at Sight Unseen HQ. August is approaching, we’re spending more and more weekends out of the city, and the time in between them is becoming increasingly shorter and less productive. But that doesn’t mean we don’t know from hard work — we’ve spent the last four years pouring inordinate amounts of time and effort into the stories on this site, and so we’re all the more sympathetic when we see other blogs doing the same. Case in point: the ridiculously extensive, print mag–worthy interview with ceramicist Ben Medansky we spotted recently on the blog Los Angeles, I’m Yours, a city-centric cultural resource founded in 2011 by The Fox Is Black’s Bobby Solomon with editor Kyle Fitzpatrick. We’ve excerpted part of it here, along with a selection of the accompanying studio photos.

  20. 07.18.13
    Sighted
    Leon Ransmeier on Herman Miller’s Why Blog

    Most design fans know Leon Ransmeier’s name — and the minimalist, hyper-functional work he’s known for — and yet he flies relatively under the radar in the New York scene, with very selective participation in pop-up shops, exhibitions, and even industry parties (the ones that aren’t thrown by yours truly, of course). It’s a smart strategy, in a way, because whenever he does pop his head up, we take particular notice. Earlier this week, an as-told-to essay appeared on Herman Miller’s newly relaunched Why blog, exploring his ideas about contemporary tables and table usage (Ransmeier recently debuted the AGL worktable for HM) — complete with photos of New York City tables both real and makeshift — and we couldn’t resist reposting it here for your enjoyment.

  21. 07.17.13
    Eye Candy
    Eva Roovers, Photographer

    Eva Roovers’s still lives contain orderly and fanciful arrangements of mundane objects mixed with organic shapes. Skillfully photographed colored light bounces delicately across her sets. Roovers explains: “Making use of daily objects, I connect what doesn’t belong together. With a sense of geometrical order, the old objects gain a new perspective and are shown like little rock-stars or whimsical monuments.” Roovers lives and works in Amsterdam, Netherlands.

  22. 07.09.13
    Sighted
    Pippa Drummond’s “Above (Series 1)”

    The Auckland-born, New York City–based photographer Pippa Drummond is Sight Unseen’s newest soon-to-be contributor, but when we were first introduced to her photography, it was the low-key but lovely portraits and coolly moody interiors that caught our eye. We had no idea at the time that she had this hiding in her portfolio. Above (Series 1) is a collaboration with prop stylist Rebecca Bartoshesky, and it reminds us a bit of Carl Kleiner’s Ikea cookbook photographs (which is interesting, considering Drummond’s other passion is food — she’s got a cookbook of own in the works, and she assisted on the Amagansett-based shoot for Gwynnie’s latest. Yes, we ARE jealous). But the organized clutter here isn’t pantry staples but rather cheapo salon items that Drummond and Bartoshesky have turned into something almost beautiful.

  23. 06.26.13
    Eye Candy
    Michael Wolf, Photographer

    Michael Wolf’s documentary project ‘Bastard Chairs’ catalogs the inventive, artful and lumpy seats of China. Wolf explains, ‘They are not elegant, nor are they always comfortable. But neither are they mass-produced: they are individuals.’ And this is my favorite kind of design—the git-r-done, making something out of necessity and with constraints that suits you and your lifestyle.

  24. 06.13.13
    The Making of
    Rachel Hulin’s Flying Baby Series

    The photographs in Rachel Hulin’s Flying Series, in which her baby Henry appears to float in the landscape, have a dreamy, almost magical quality to them, but they started in the most pedestrian of ways: Hulin was kind of bored. A new mom who’d recently relocated from Brooklyn to Providence, Rhode Island, she says, “I was looking for a project to sink my teeth into while I was home with Henry when he was so little. I was trying figure out motherhood and the whole thing seemed so weird to me.” A former blogger and photo editor who’d spent the better part of nine years constantly looking at pictures, she was aware of a genre of photos called “floaters” and was interested in the figure in landscape as well — “finding a beautiful scene and somehow making it more personal by putting someone you love in it,” she says. She never expected to do a floating series of her own, but once she did one photo, she was kind of hooked. “Partly it was being in a new city, trying to find special places with a baby,” she says. “It was a nice thing to do together. It became what we did in the afternoons.”

  25. 06.06.13
    From the Library Of
    Ladies & Gentlemen Studio: Scandinavian Design Gallery

    Books about mid-century Scandinavian design are a dime a dozen. Jacobsen chairs, Aalto stools, Juhl sofas — you know the drill. But if you’ve ever been to a design museum in Stockholm or Helsinki, you probably also know that some of the coolest objects made in the region date back to a more unexpected era: the ’80s, when good things weren’t just happening in Italy, believe it or not. A few months back, we spotted some examples of said amazingness on the Instagram feed of the Seattle design duo Ladies & Gentlemen Studio, which they’d noted were pulled from a vintage book they’d rediscovered while cleaning house. And so this column was born, a place for people to show off strange, beautiful, and mostly out-of-print volumes that wouldn’t otherwise see the light of day. Browse selections from Scandinavian Design Gallery in the slideshow here — complete with caption text plucked from the book and sporadic Ladies & Gentlemen accompanying commentary — then let us know if you have a gem of your own to share.

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