Saturday, February 28, 2009

Phantasmagorical Art of New Orleans

Link - article by Myrtle von Damitz, III and Avi Abrams

Reflecting peculiar and oddly coherent mechanics of the city

Considering how surreal New Orlean's environment can be, is it any wonder that this "almost-reborn" city hosts some of the most absurd and interesting art scene to be found in the US, and perhaps, the world?

(image credit: Taylor Lee Shepherd)

Street murals in New Orleans are also pretty wicked:

(mural art by Monique Ligons)

Of course, there is a mainstream art community here, but there is a renaissance of art going on right now; if it was somewhat staid before Katrina, it has exploded since then, and each strain of visual arts is interconnected because New Orleans is still essentially a small city.

art by Anna H. Powell

Procurers of anomalous perturbation

A selection of work from 32 contemporary New Orleans artists from a group called AntiAbecedarian was in recently on display at Barrister's Gallery, curated by Myrtle von Damitz, III.

Enter in a very SAFE door, so that "Mr. Most Smartest" (on the right) can greet you:

installations by Delaney Martin and Andrew Zeigler

Milea and Ivan dolls will gladly haunt you (left image, see a lot more strange dolls here). Image on the right has simply fantastic title: "To This Day in Bayou LaFourche the Souls of Stillborn Kittens Prey Upon the Ancient Ghosts of the Terrible Lizards" - if you can believe it, kitten souls!..

Dolls by Pandora Andrea Gastelum and art by Bobby Panama

From the same creator of "Kitten Souls" comes this little gem: Narwhals!! Yeah!!!....(uh, wait a moment) -

art by Bobby Panama

Cyclograph and Piniograph, by Taylor Lee Shepherd:

Narcissus Disease Vault - insects and vials in an oak cabinet:

art by Nina C. Nichols

Typewriter frustration, by Soup; and "Napping on Migration" by Monica Chemay:

"Antiabecedarians" is a word from the Anna Livia passage of Finnegans Wake by James Joyce. Although Mr. Joyce's precise intent as to the definition of "antiabecedarian" is debated, we intend that Antiabecedarians imply those who are familiar with the rudiments and rules enough to turn them on their heads. "Telekinesis proxenators in franca langua" may be translated roughly as "frankly or obscurely, procurers of anomalous perturbation."

"Cracking the whip" to revitalize art

New Orleans has been an introverted bohemian draw for centuries, but recent international attention to all aspects of the city's cultural phenomenons has delivered new energy and intensity to its visual arts community. The art scene in New Orleans is at a turning point. The world's established contemporary art market is at a turning point as well, with more focus on source and originality of work, beyond the pure numbers of the market.

"Parade Watchers" by Myrtle von Damitz, III and Mardi Gras costume by Jackie Mang

Throwing off entrenched, stagnant language

Many dynamic new visual arts alliances have formed since Hurricane Katrina - not just out of the intellectual petri dish of Barrister's Gallery but as a response to a wider desire of local artists to communicate with their friends and neighbors and to broadcast their sensibilities to the rest of the world. One such group alligned with Barrister's Gallery and the Antiabecedarians is the New Orleans Airlift (

"Confektion Album", by Dana Sherwood and "Double Doll" by John Burr, Jr.

An intellectual petri dish

Myrtle von Damitz, III says: "People might say that because of the Prospect 1 Biennial we have become a "center" for the arts, but the truth is New Orleans always attracted eccentrics and dedicated artists. However, we've either had to leave New Orleans to make a living or get eaten up (that's not so bad, either, but there are plenty of tragedies to point to.)

Our little group is only one aspect of a weird sort of dynamism that developed since the flood - people who lived here ten years ago and return say that they are impressed by our 'maturity,' which makes sense... We tend to be insular, maybe due to our reputation of being provincial, but really visual art is inseparable from the highly diverse and complicated way of life here... We show off for friends and neighbors for the most part, as a way of forming a community - it's just now that we find ourselves on a bigger stage and are stepping up to it.

"Bar Code" by Kourtney Keller (don't stare at it too long)

Then again, I think that there is a similar and sympathetic movement in visual arts across the globe. There's a kind of specialized, indigenous way of relating to one another with visual art in New Orleans, but maybe the added ingredient is the new exchange with the wider art world."

A Short History of Fantasmagoria of New Orleans (in the making)

I wish I had room in such a short article to delineate some of the history of why we are what we are right now, starting with the influx in the 9th Ward neighborhood in the 90's - or even the alcoholic victims and survivors from the '40's on. If you are familiar with Quintron and Miss Pussycat, they are the most well known but not nearly the whole, but it might give you a sense of things. I wish I could give you a running tally of the fantasmagoria from New Orleans: none of this is unconnected to, say, the beloved effigy of Ernie K-Doe, just to give an example...

"David & Goliath" by Monique Ligons and "Black Astronaut," by MLE Danger

This show is not just a display of the works of transient personas, this is a part of the new network of exchange between New Orleans and the rest of the world. The artists in Antiabecedarians make their home in New Orleans or have strong ties to New Orleans - they work not only to rebuild, hack apart and accurately construct the glorious text of New Orleans from this vantage, but to reach out to the newly converted.

From "Memorandum of Agreement" by Delaney Martin, and "Creature Attendees" by Kourtney Keller

Biographies of participating artists are provided here. They make for some entertaining read, here is an example, one for Megan Lee-Hoelzle:

"Megan was raised by rats, thus explaining her penchant for eggs and her habit of hoarding small, shiny objects. She has made friends with chickens, eats cheese as often as it can be provided, and is expert at operating a device known as "the grabby claw." Very descriptive and concise.

Strange effect B-movie photos, by Jaime Kalal:

"Here's Johnny!", New Orleans-style:

(images by Jaime Kalal)

Well, if you had just little too much of visual strangeness for now - take some time off in the shade (and then continue browsing our contemporary art section, you know it's good for you).

set-up photo by Dana Sherwood


Also Read:
Wicked Wearable Sculptures
Dolls And Toys That Creep Us Out

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Category: Art,Weird

Friday, February 27, 2009

Fish with a Cockpit

Scroll down for today's pictures & links.

Fish with a Cockpit

Even if you've seen the pictures, you've got to see this video... transparent head, tubular eyes, The Pacific barreleye fish has a head reminiscent of a fighter-plane cockpit. Video courtesy Monterey Bay Aquarium (MBARI) -


"The Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute discovered the fish 20,000 feet beneath the ocean’s surface off California’s central coast. Although the fish had been known to exist since 1939, it was the first of its kind to be found with its soft transparent dome intact." - more info.

(photos by Monterey Bay Aquarium, National Geographic)

Today's pictures & links:

CGSociety announces winners of their "Steampunk Myths & Legends" contest

This is a spectacular link filled with sophisticated art and top-notch videos, so allow some time to browse it. Here is a winner in "individual image" category - "Steamnocchio", by Fabricio Moraes from Brazil, which perfectly captures the spirit of steampunk.

For the sheer spectacle, consider this intense work by Marcin Jakubowski: "Titanomachy - fall of the Hyperion" (click to enlarge to see incredible detail)

(images courtesy CGSociety)

See the whole feature, and don't miss some exceptional (slightly nsfw) art on other pages...


Atmospheric Sprites

Lightning-generated "sprites" high above thunderstorms - or gigantic lightning "jets", reaching for 90 kilometers... ("including dancing red blobs with tentacles and blue jets shaped like water fountains.") Here is the appearance of a "sprite" (about 30 miles high by 30 miles wide) above a distant thunderstorm. The "sprite" is about 175-250 miles away from the camera:

(images credit: ILAN Science Team, via)

To see the video of these intense balls of energy, click here. Sometimes the energy comes down from lofty heights, and get very personal:

One witness account:
"Last summer we had an intense thunderstorm. I had just got home from work, and was removing my boots. Just then a big forked bolt of lightning struck two trees, about 75 feet apart in my yard. One of the trees is about 15 feet outside the window from where I was sitting. At that instant, a ball of light came out of the HVAC air duct near the baseboard in my room where I was. I happened to be facing that way... in less then a second it raced around the perimeter of the room, when it reached the wires coming from my PC. There was a loud spark sound, and it was gone. It fried the computer, and a lot of other electronics in the house. It was the strangest and scariest thing I've ever witnessed. It looked something like the arc from a welder, but about the size of a grapefruit." (more info)

(images via 1, 2)


Release your inner "Calvin" snow sculptor

Expanding Calvin & Hobbes repertoire:

Calvin's nightmare:

(originals unknown)


It's Velvet Underground all over again

Pul(sew)idth sews vintage keyboards and guitars, making soft and groovy little pillows... which very possibly produce soft, groovy sounds at night.

Every item corresponds to a certain vintage model, and there are guitars in her wooly line-up, as well.

(images credit: pul(sew)idth)


Mixed fresh links for today:

If your city was nuked... - [apocalyptic]
Light Speed Tunnel - [architecture]
Recipe for Disaster: The Formula That Killed Wall Street - [wow]
Spilled Blood Pillow - [weird design]
Teenager Sound Test - [weird site]
Hilarious Job Interviews - [fun videos, language]
Wonderful Wallet Hacks - [more weird design]
Some trees have a secret... - [neat video ad]
The most extreme printer jam, source - [cool animation]
Most Beautiful Places of the World - [promotion]
Make stunning Flash websites for free! - [promotion]


World Photography Awards 2009 - an opportunity for amateur photographers

If you have an interest in photography, you can afford to miss "World Photography Awards" 2009 competition results, that will be unveiled in Cannes, France. The 2009 Campaign Award is a brand new category for amateur photographers in which you are invited to enter with a single image that captures the beauty and spirit of football in unexpected places.

Enjoy our exclusive gallery of the past winners of the contest:

(photo by Howard Schatz)

(photo by Pierre-Elie de Pibrac)

(photo by Nana Ziesche)

(photo by Neil Bradfield)

Even more special is this series of images by Robin Utrecht:

(photos by Robin Utrecht)

The image should look beyond the standard snapshot of an action moment during a game and aim to capture the vibrancy, the magic, the celebration, the camaraderie and the cultural phenomenon that is football.

The deadline for this competition has been extended and DRB readers now have until 28th February 2009 to enter. Here is the link to the World Photography Awards website where you can find details on entering:

There is a fantastic prize to be won:
1. 2 VIP tickets to attend the evening gala awards ceremony in Cannes on the 16th April 2009 (including flights and two nights’ accommodation in a luxury hotel on the famous Croisette)
2. An Alpha camera + lens
3. The opportunity to be one of the photographers used in Sony’s forthcoming digital imaging campaign work.
4. 2 tickets to a South Africa World Cup game in 2010 (travel and accommodation included)


Vintage Prams

Antique and doll prams, and some vintage postcards featuring prams... can be seen here:

(images via)


London artists achieve a new "high"

Mark Obstfeld writes to us: "just down the road from me there's a couple of London Underground trains which have been transformed into (what I believe to be) artists' studios - the trains carriages are also situated way up above street level on what was an old bridge..."

(photos by Mark Obstfeld)

Something that belongs in William Gibson novels, in his "Bridge" trilogy....



Speaking of bridges, this is the most breathtaking photo one could possibly make of the Golden Gate bridge (for those with fear of heights) - click on the image to get a wallpaper version.

(image credit: George Steinmetz/Corbis, National Geographic)


These cats are capable of anything:

He's going to kill you...

(originals unknown)



He does not look very happy with his invention, though....

(original unknown)


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