Sunday, May 18, 2008

Jon Edwards' Haunted Visions

I was perusing my love for you is a stampede of horses when I came across the spooky, surreal work of a young Canadian photographer, Jon Edwards. Jon is just 18 years old – still in high school – which is amazing. Even more astonishing is that these haunting Polaroids are not photoshopped. All of his effects are achieved organically, by double exposure, scanning during the developing process and heat treatment, as well as slide projections of Polaroids that were boiled just after being ejected from the camera.

Here's a look into his process from an interview he gave to Of Uncool a couple of days ago. Jon is very articulate and I don't think I'd be able to add much of value to his insights, so I'll just let his words and images carry themselves to you.

"I mostly like to be on my own. I've found that self-portraiture is one of the most convenient ways I can convey an idea. I always use a Spectra system and build up a confident relationship with the camera before the picture can be ready to release. I try to complete the image before this release and disfavor the use of any subsequent alterations unless it's the stove. Double exposure is my favourite choice. I use a digital projector and a mirror to help me. I'm interested in assemblages and unification. I hate to be straightforward."

Jon says his photographic impulse was "something caused by the absence of feeling. Preserving life because I don't know how to feel. I had the idea that I might one day be able to, if I spend the time looking."

"Recently the cray parts were littered along the bike path again, but I didn't have the time to gather as many as I need. It's sometimes sad to hold onto them because I have to see the colour fade away. I found the most magnificent blues that I would want as my skin. They grow greyer with each look."

"I'm trying to find what's in my head and it might take a few tries before it appears. It's getting steadier."

"People think of double exposure as such a random process, but it makes sense if you really understand how it works."

"Sleep loss theme exists in all present images… Somehow in childhood I came to think of sleep as a weakness. Always said with pride that I'm never tired. There's that vulnerability associated with sleeping. I still fear it."

"I strive for a certain degree of ambiguity. I offer fragments of ideas and don't often complete the sentences. That's to say I think there is a lot to be gathered. I hope to at least provide a gripping force."

More of Jon Edwards' work can be enjoyed at his portfolio page and his Livejournal page.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Acorn's Outlandish Characters

At Thinkspace's "Ink Advance" show Friday night, I discovered Acorn, a street artist who's been showing with Ghostpatrol and Miso in Melbourne, Vienna and Berlin. Together, the three of them have created a limited edition book of drawings titled Ink Advance, which was released earlier this year. Acorn, a.k.a. Scott Kennedy, originally hails from Vancouver, but has been living in Edinburgh recently and now seems to be traveling so much I imagine he's not sure exactly where he lives at the moment. Reports are that he's settling back down in Vancouver for a while. Apparently Acorn has only been drawing seriously for about four years (he's just 21), but he's already developed a really singular style and a cast of intriguing characters.

Acorn is a true street artist who's getting up all over the world. He says that this first character's arms are unfinished because he was caught while painting it in Bucharest. I want to stress that this intricately detailed piece was painted with brushes, and is not a pasteup. I think that's pretty amazing!

This character was painted in Barcelona and appears to be arm-wrestling a character painted by Royal.

The next piece is one Acorn did with Elph in Edinburgh. (Acorn is responsible for the two-toed critter on the right.)

Fortunately, Acorn hasn't limited himelf to painting graffiti in places beyond the reach of most of us artizens. His insanely detailed drawings, which span the realms of pen, pencil and watercolor, are loaded with cryptic symbolism and feature a cast of characters that include (in my interpretation) Icelandic ninjas, a cat army, tree-eating Chinese dragon wood-processing stills, futuristic fashion-forward Yakuts with winged chandelier headdresses, children inside cumbersome robotic exoskeletons styled after ancient Japanese armor, and a host of strange rubbery monsters.

Acorn gave some insight into his work in a recent interview:

"Usually when I start a drawing, I don't have much of an idea what I'm going to do until I get halfway into it.

I think mixing cultural influences has really helped me progress when it comes to style. I guess I was first into Japanese stuff, but then I got really into Mexican and Aztec patterns and such. Also Russian costumes and stuff like that from the east are really inspiring. I guess that got me more into it, because it seems more like fantasy than just fashion.

I think imagination is far more fulfilling than reality. If someone can look at my work and make up their own story for it, then that makes me happy."

Some of my favorite Acorn drawings are in his forest series. I guess it makes sense that someone named Acorn would have an affinity with trees. (Though to be fair, he says he started out as Acornlique and shortened it to Acorn for convenience in tagging, and not due to any particular affinity with oaks.)

You're going to need to click into these to see how cool his detail work is. Keep in mind that the originals are small drawings... the linked images are just about actual size.

Another theme of his seems to be the state of being weighed down by things, both physical and experiential – as if every possession or memory accretes over time into an enormous suit of armor that one has to carry around everywhere.

I guess most of Acorn's drawings are simply studies of a strange race of people doing inexplicable things – with the interpretation deliciously left to the viewer. While his forest people seem rather diminutive, some of his other characters appear to be giants, or to have long noodly arms, or strangely inhuman feet and hands – and some of his masked forest denizens are probably not human at all. What they all have in common is a charming taste for outlandish costumes.

I can assure you that none of these jpegs are doing justice to the marvelous detail of Acorn's work. There are still some great drawings left over at Thinkspace, so get on over there and take a look!