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A New Exhibition Asks: Can Digital Representations Eclipse the Experience of Physical Objects?

Soft Baroque's "World of Ulteriors" exhibition at Étage Projects in Copenhagen, which closes this week, features many items that are simply variations on the duo's existing work. The new conceit here is the way in which these items are presented: In each vignette, a collection of furniture sits atop a curved, zero-horizon backdrop — something akin to a seamless, but here depicting a fictional interior that's completed by Soft Baroque's domestic objects.
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Soft Baroque furniture inspired by Photoshop

Soft Baroque’s New Furniture Collection is Inspired by Photoshop

Called Hard Round, Soft Baroque's new series is about manifesting something physical from a purely digital realm — in this case, a series of sculptural furniture pieces constructed from lines derived from the Photoshop "hard round" brush tool. The "worms," as they're called, have been transformed from digital sketches into a series of charmingly lumpy wood, marble, or aluminum pieces that range from vases to shelving.
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Lottie Hughes, Artist

London-based Lottie Hughes graduated with a Bachelor's degree in fine art only two years ago but she’s already on our radar, thanks to an exceedingly well-kept Tumblr. “My designs were initially a way for me to come up with compositions for my paintings but the more I learned, and the more confident I became with Photoshop, these have now become the main body of my work,” says the 24-year-old designer. Hughes primarily takes inspiration from artists like Camille Walala, Atelier Bingo, Trudy Benson, and Klaus Merkel, as well as from everyday life in London. "My designs are abstract versions of what I see on a day-to-day basis — colors clashing, angles of buildings interlocking, movement and light."
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In a Philly Photographer’s Hands, Photos That Look Like Digital Collages

We've been familiar with Philadelphia-based photographer Roxana Azar's work for some time now (last summer, she took the snaps for our story on fellow Philadelphian Page Neal of Bario-Neal (where Azar also works). But the second she sent us the latest personal series she's been working on, we knew we had to share. Azar digitally manipulates her photos to make them almost painterly or collage-like, but in the series we're sharing today, many of the images began as photographs from gardens where Azar spent her childhood. "I am really interested in using the photograph as a starting point to layer, erase, rebuild, and obscure an image, turning the image into something ambiguous yet playful," Azar says.
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“Henry was getting older at this point. We would have to do 30-second shoots, like three images and if it didn’t work, too bad. You can see in the cape image, he looks crabby. When he was little, you’d hold him up and he was automatically in flying position. But at this point he was a little boy and it was really hard to get him to look like he was calmly flying.”

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.”
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Prince Ruth for Urban Outfitters

When we first got wind of the new Scandances by Prince Ruth textile collection for Urban Outfitters, we had two questions: Who is Prince Ruth? And what the heck is a scandance? The latter question, we found, was easy to answer: It’s that jittery, seismograph-through-the-lens-of-an-acid-trip effect you get when you manipulate an image while it’s in the process of being scanned. As for the former, we assumed that Prince Ruth was some under-the-radar designer we somehow weren’t cool enough to have noticed. And in a way, that’s exactly what it is: Prince Ruth is the name of a Brooklyn-based surface design studio run by Zoe Latta, a 24-year-old textile artist and RISD grad whose work is more famous than her pseudonym would suggest.
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Jennifer Parry Dodge of Ermie

Jennifer Parry Dodge is a Los Angeles–based designer, whose beautifully printed textiles are often the result of photographs or scans of vintage textiles that have been manipulated in Photoshop. Her online store Ermie, named after a great-aunt Ermengarde who encouraged her creativity, encompasses a collection of works ranging from braided embroidered belts to watery cool crepe de chine garments made from her own textile creations. In addition to creating textiles, she maintains a blog that documents her transforming fascinations with color, textures, food, the desert, and her trips abroad. The first time I met Jennifer over coffee in downtown Los Angeles, I was immediately struck by the intensity of the colors in her work — colors that vibrated in the California sun, and intensified as the sun grew stronger. "Each pattern or print that I design has a history, however brief, of how it came to be. I’m sure the meaning for me differs from that of the viewer/ wearer/ user, but I hope some of the story comes through," she says.
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What inspired your Digital Permutations series? “The word ‘permutation’ is derived from mathematical theory and it means ‘to rearrange objects or values.’ I call them permutations because they aren’t paintings, but they aren’t really collages either. The inspiration for each piece comes from a range of different sources: the hypnogogic sleep phase, sci-fi movies, surfing the web, Donald Duck comic strips, clouds, bacteria, fungi, water, rocks, and crystals.”

Andreas Ervik, graphics artist

When asked if the mountainous landscape of his native Norway influences his art, 24-year-old graphics artist Andreas Ervik suggests it’s actually the opposite: Growing up in Aalesund, a small city of about 40,000 inhabitants, he says, Norway’s cold, dark climate is what kept him indoors playing on his computer, surfing the net, and perfecting his craft — a mix of distorted prints and digital collages in which geological representations form an overarching motif. In fact, the internet has played such an integral role in the development of his aesthetic that Ervik admits he’s developed carpal tunnel syndrome in his wrists. Like a true millennial, he says, “I feel like I’m always connected. If not with hands to keyboard or touchscreen, I’m there online in spirit.”
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