The Descendants: Photographer Drew Gardner Recreates Portraits of Historically Significant Figures
July 10, 2020

To prepare for a recent portrait, Shannon LaNier pulled a black coat over his head and wrapped a thick, layered collar around his neck, a costume to match what Thomas Jefferson wore in an iconic 18th-century painting. The Houston news anchor was participating in an ongoing series by British photographer Drew Gardner that recreates photographs, paintings, and other images of historical figures by styling their descendants in similar garb. LaNier’s photograph is particularly significant, though, because he’s the sixth-great grandson of Jefferson and Sally Hemmings, who the third U.S. More Continue reading

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Berries, Cookies, and Salami Slices Anonymize Vintage Portraits by Digital Artist Harriet Moutsopoulos
July 9, 2020

Telling someone that there’s an errant herb stuck between their teeth or a dot of sauce just below their lip is likely to spur embarrassment, so noting that they’re covered in egg or raspberry or a gloopy mound of ketchup might be too much to bear. Harriet Moutsopoulos, though, helps her subjects save face by completely masking their distinct features with singular bites of fruit, bowls of ice cream, and slices of salami, ensuring their anonymity. More Continue reading

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Dinnerware, Eggs, and Wine Shatter and Seamlessly Repair in Dramatic Digital Animation by Optical Arts
July 1, 2020


A new CGI animation by Optical Arts depicts what would be a dinner-party nightmare: ceramic plates and bowls shatter, red wine cascades from long-stemmed glasses, and sharp knives dive to the floor. Despite its explosive scenes, “Tocatta” subsequently shows the same dinnerware, drinks, and plates of boiled eggs seamlessly repair and float upward as whole objects.
A multivalent consideration of physical contact, the word “tocatta” both originates from an Italian form of “to touch” and refers to a musical composition designed to showcase the performer’s refined techniques. More Continue reading

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Sprawling Roots and Richly Hued Gowns Permeate Mary Sibande’s Postcolonial Artworks
June 15, 2020

The immensity and depth of Mary Sibande’s multi-media artworks reflect the magnitude of her subject matter, which explicitly entwines the enduring effects of British imperialism and the apartheid. Through photographs, sculptures, and sprawling installations that scale floor to ceiling, the South African artist most often features a central Black woman, who is shown enveloped in purple roots or grasping thick, black thread dangling from a nearby portrait.
Named Sophie, the figure’s role is subversive and one that sheds light on the particularly “cruel history of Black female oppression and its implications in contemporary life—in particular, perception and ownership of freedom.” Sophie is dressed in color-specific costumes resembling Victorian-era clothing and often is wrapped in an apron, a garment synonymous with domestic work. More Continue reading

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Constellations of Found Electronics Shape Faces on Vintage Rackets by Artist Leonardo Ulian
June 14, 2020

London-based artist Leonardo Ulian (previously) merges two disparate elements in his sprawling assemblages: he speckles analog equipment with an array of electronic pieces found in digital devices. Created while in quarantine, Ulian’s Contrived Object series is comprised of vintage tennis rackets displaying intricate constellations of metal parts, microchips, and other found objects that form an abstract face.

The egg shape of the “head” of these vintage rackets reminded me of something yet familiar but at the moment lost.

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A Massive Wave Crashes in a Seoul Aquarium as Part of the World’s Largest Anamorphic Illusion
May 17, 2020

An enormous aquarium with perpetually crashing waves has popped up amidst an urban landscape in South Korea, but don’t expect to hear the water sloshing around if you walk by. Designed by District, the elevated tank is actually a massive anamorphic illusion. The digital media company created the public project utilizing the world’s largest advertising screen that spans 80.1 x 20.1 meters. As shown in the video, the deceptive aquarium looms over the outdoor area and splashes repeatedly into the sides. More Continue reading

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Homegrown Botanics Collaged into Conflict-Ridden Figures by Artist Meggan Joy
May 11, 2020

For Meggan Joy to begin creating her flowery assemblages, she first has to plant the seeds. The Seattle-based artist cultivates a plot in a community garden throughout the summer months, tending to each fern and vibrant petal. Once her patch is in full bloom, she captures thousands of individual photographs of her rooted plants before combining them into allegorical digital collages of the female body. Birds, butterflies, and other visitors to her garden make an appearance, as well. More Continue reading

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Home MuralFest: 67 Artists Simultaneously Painted Murals in Their Homes and Gardens While Quarantined
May 7, 2020

Similar to other muralists, Copenhagen-based artist Jacoba Niepoort was preparing for a busy period full of travel and public projects when COVID-19 canceled all of her plans. “I had been dreaming of methods for connecting individual, like-minded creatives who share common dreams within this multi-layered/directional world of art in the public space,” she tells Colossal. “When quarantine hit, I wanted to use the spaces we were in to create parallel individual works.”
Niepoort connected with Axel Void (previously), a Miami-based artist who leads a cultural platform designed to bring art out of conventional spaces. More Continue reading

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Illusory Street Typography Pops Off the Wall in Bold Murals by Ben Johnston
April 20, 2020

Toronto-based designer Ben Johnston plays with color, shadow, and perspective to create typography that appears three-dimensional in his site-specific murals. He’s a self-taught designer, spending time in the agency world of South Africa before moving back to his home country of Canada to pursue a freelance career focusing on branding and typography.
Johnston happened upon mural painting when a friend asked him to create a piece for the entranceway of a new office building. More Continue reading

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Humans Stripped Down to Their Circulatory Systems Participate in Urban Life
April 19, 2020

Back in the early days of anatomical illustration (c. 1500 – c. 1800), artists often rendered the human figure within the lavish landscape of the anatomist’s hometown. These historical illustrations are part of what inspired photographer Jan Kriwol and CGI artist Markos Kay to create the photographic series Human After All. The main character is the human circulatory system in the context of mundane urban life—grocery shopping, eating a burger, and even taking a cigarette break. More Continue reading

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Thao & the Get Down Stay Down Films a Synchronized Music Video on a Zoom Call
April 18, 2020

Zoom has been having its moment as many companies’ platform of choice for virtual meetings and conference calls, but Thao & the Get Down Stay Down recently found a more creative and amusing use for the digital communication tool. With its tour paused and everyone stuck at home, the Oakland-based band decided to shoot a music video for its new single, “Phenom,” that begins with Thao Nguyen, who leads the indie group, starting a Zoom call. More Continue reading

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