Tag Archives: Photography

An Interview with James Ostrer

What do French fries, licorice and cream cheese have in common? For many of us, all three foods make it into our diets every now and again. However, it is rare to think of these items together. In fact, it takes an inventive mind, and extreme circumstances, to imagine a combination of these opposing foods. However, photographer James Ostrer creates fine art by combining these diet death traps.

In his critically acclaimed art exhibit, Wotsit All About, Ostrer uses odd but generally acceptable junk food combinations to bring grotesque monsters to life.  Showing at the Gazelli Art House in London from July 31 to November 9, Wotsit All About puts various junk foods on display in interesting ways.

The underlying message of Ostrer’s most recent art exhibit is rather clear: our relationship with junk food is horrifying. This reality is, for lack of a better word, sugarcoated by fanciful advertising and winsome marketing practices. However, Ostrer’s photographs reveal a truth that the billion-dollar junk food industry doesn’t want us to know: junk food is not safe. It is addictive and has the power to transform an individual into an unrecognizable being, either emotionally or physically.

Wotsit All About is unique in many ways, but for James Ostrer, it seems to fall in-line with the out-of-the box art he is known for. In prior years, Ostrer has taken his family to a morgue, gone to a brothel, been photographed by prostitutes, collected mattresses from the street and buried himself in “vast quantities of food,” all in the name of art.

If you only know his junk food monsters, you don’t know James Ostrer. In a brief interview, Segmation got to know the English photographer a little better. Through his transparency, insight and unique intelligence, we are beginning to see his artwork, and art in general, in new ways.

  1. You just finished a solo show at the Gazelli Art House. If you could summarize the past four months in three words, what would they be?

Totally Fudging* Awesome

*Except, Ostrer, in the midst of his war on junk food, did not use the word “Fudging.”

  1. Let’s travel back in time. If I were to ask six-year-old James, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” what would he say?

I really don’t remember considering the future in that way until at least the age of sixteen which even by then when asked I would get really anxious and just say I don’t know. So in reality at six years old I think I would have been freaked out and just wanted to see my mum and have a snuggle.

  1. Your artwork is, for lack of a better word, unique. What triggers your out-of-the-box concepts? 

All of my work is based on a desire to find or understand my own concept and experience of happiness. My art practice is like being booked into a self-help course that doesn’t have any structure, timeline or preconceived ideologies of what will help me while relying wholly on my desire for positive change. The concepts that I work around are in direct response to what I am trying to unpick about my negative self.

  1. In your interview with Tony Gallagher, you mention “The Journey” required a “huge amount of research around human behaviour.” In your opinion, how does research enrich art?

I think it totally depends as it can be as detrimental as it enriches…..Obviously historical context and referencing can be very valid and often almost everything about a piece of work…. but as interesting as I can sometimes find this kind of work I can equally find it clinical and boring. I find the visceral relationship between the emotions of an artist and the thing they have made the thing I truly love in art…..so when I see a great piece of outsider art where there has been no influence or contamination from outside influence/research it can blow my mind away like nothing else….

  1. In the same interview you mention that you use art as a way of expelling your “deepest demons.” According to Aestheticamagazine.com, “Wotsit All About” was your response to a sugar addiction that resulted from, among other things, well-calculated marketing. We know all sorts of people struggle with addictions; many of them have artistic temperaments. What advice would you give the artist who wants to use art as a tool for addiction recovery?

My emphasis would be on the fact that it is a great tool but with all the many complexities and extremes to addiction you need a whole tool box full of things that help to work your way through.

I would also suggest regularly taking rain checks with your process of making art to challenge whether u are simply just excusing yourself to have a continued engagement with something you have a problem with. A clear example of this could be where people use self-harm as a form of artistic expression. I am not saying this kind of work isn’t valid but as an artist (especially at the beginning) you are often every member of your business so unlike if you were working for a company you don’t have a boss or human resources department keeping an eye on you so you need to do this yourself….

  1. What is your favorite color?

The few seconds of black in a cinema just before a film starts.

View more of James Ostrer’s work by visiting his website: http://jamesostrer.com/home.html.

Read more Segmation blog posts about art and food:

James Ostrer’s Junk Food Art

Coloring Each Season with Healthy Food

Food Never Looked So Good

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James Ostrer’s Junk Food Art

 
Obesity is considered a major health crisis in the United States and many other countries. According to the Food Research and Action Center, “Obesity rates have more than doubled” since the 1970s. It has also been reported that two-thirds of Americans are considered overweight or obese.

While media pundits and nutritional scientists speculate the cause of obesity, one source of the problem seems apparent: junk food.

Humans love junk food. And many of us are addicted to it (which some claim is the food industry’s goal.) When considering this truth, it is safe to say that junk food has changed the face of our culture.

One artist, photographer James Ostrer decided to explore this phenomenon with his latest series, entitled, “Wotsit All About?”

If you called the series horrific, he might not mind. Using junk food, he produced some of the most disturbing images you can imagine. Monsters.

Coping With Junk

At an early age, James Ostrer’s parents divorced. It was a troubling time for him and his parents did what they could to lift their child’s spirits. His father, in particular, thought Happy Meal’s would work. Therefore, whenever Ostrer’s father picked him up for the week, he started things off with a trip to McDonald’s.

Unfortunately, instead of lifting Ostrer’s mood, this tradition brought on a bad habit. Ostrer began turning to junk food as a way to cope with stress. As he got older, Ostrer noticed his health was in decline. This got him thinking about how his relationship with junk food negatively impacted his life. He also began to reflect on how junk food impacts the world. That was when inspiration struck.

Happy Meal Monsters

The result was a series of portraits that showcased grotesque monsters made entirely of junk foods like candy, burgers, and chocolate. Ostrer used junk food as material to completely cover his models from head to toe. After eight hours in the “makeup” chair, each monster emerged looking horrifying and disturbing. This was Ostrer’s goal. The photographer successfully made the point that our relationship with junk food is indeed horrifying, grotesque, and disturbing.

Ostrer also titles his photographs to enrich his message. Each one contains the letters, “EF,” followed by a number. “EF” stands for “emotional fossil.” This structure mirrors what is called “E numbers.” The Food Standards Agency’s code for what are considered safe additives. The reviews are strict but somehow, fast food restaurants keep managing to receive passing grades.

Ostrer’s monsters have their own E numbers, indicating that they are “safe.” But Ostrer second guesses their labels by asking, “Are these monsters safe?”

Is Junk Food Safe?

Health is a global issue and junk food is too, especially in America. More often than not, what seems harmless turns out to be destructive. James Ostrer’s work reflects this fact with a bit of a twisted view. Ostrer tells us these junk food monsters are on the loose, but instead of running from them, we invite them into our bodies every day.

By viewing Ostrer’s photographs, we are invited into his perspective; a perspective that he hopes will alter the trends of junk food.

Read more Segmation blog posts about food art:

Food Never Looked So Good

Coloring Each Season with Healthy Food

Thanksgiving Scenes Influences Art

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An Art Project For Human Kind

An Art Project For Human KindArt mimics its creator.

The art project Humanae has a strong identity and global reach, just like its creator. The woman behind the art has a colorful lineage and resilient sense of self.

Angelica Dass is a photographer who set out on a mission to expose the myriad of identities, cultures and skin tones that exist throughout the world. The Humanae project involves her taking a portrait of an individual and extracting an “11 by 11 pixel sample” of the person’s face. She matches the exact shade to Pantone’s elaborate color system. Then, she edits the picture so that this shade becomes the portrait’s backdrop.

When Dass aligns the pictures, she shines a light on what people often forget: no two people are exactly alike. With over 2,000 photographs, Humanae is revealing that two people might share a cultural heritage but are different in many other ways.

Nobody knows this better than the creator, herself. Angelica Dass is number 7522 C on the Pantone color scale. She is Brazilian by blood but her biography sheds light on the texture that weaves this artist together. “[Dass is] the granddaughter of ‘black’ and ‘native’ Brazilians,” an article in the Latin Post reads, “and the daughter of a ‘black’ father raised by ‘white’ adoptive parents.”

It is easy to imagine how such a checkered past raised a few questions in the mind of a young Dass. Her questions propelled her to seek answers in art. Through the Humanae Project, she is “recording and cataloging all possible human skin tones.”

What started as a final project for her Masters degree in Art of Photography has now turned into a global adventure. She is eager to photograph as many people as possible. But this is not necessarily of her personal volition; the project has taken on a mission of its own.

An Art Project For Human Kind 2“Humanae has influenced areas, materials, attitudes, knowledge, human meaning, expression, and communication outside of my control,” she tells Latin Post. The purpose of the project has pursued a greater calling than Dass ever intended. The growing collection of 2,000 photographs represents a sense of equality.

The people who are photograph come from all walks of life. Not only are they from different parts of the world, they are of different socioeconomic circumstances and education levels. They speak different languages and have contrasting social norms, too. But these differences are not what appear on camera. The differences viewers see go far deeper, exposing the individual.

With individuality front and center, humanity seems to exist only because of differences. Or, as the creator of Humanae would say, her project is as “global as humanity.”

Read more Segmation blog posts about creative photography:

Food Never Looked So Good

When Ink Art and Underwater Photography Collide

Photography: Black and White or in Living Colors

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Inspiring Digital Art

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I am a mother, educator, and neophyte artist; dabbling in mixed media and collage. My artistic journeys find me immersed in imagery and design constantly and I have had the pleasure of discovering so many fresh and contemporary artists and image makers along the way. I am writing to introduce you and other favorite artists of mine, to an impressive new digital art program; Segmation (www.segmation.com). It is my hope and genuine desire to see a happy partnership evolve.www.segmation.com

Segmation digital color by number is a relatively new program and is a small, upstart family business. They call this “the art of peaceful imaging” and it truly is a Zen experience for all ages. I initially purchased the affordable program this last fall and use it daily. I enjoy it to unwind after a busy day with work and family pressures. My five year old just loves it! Recently, I have begun to take it into preschool with me several times a week and my three and four years olds are growing more proficient with number recognition (and taking turns) every day. The privilege of my laptop in the classroom is also advancing their technology and fine motor skills. The program is also available for your iPad or iPhone, https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/segplay-mobile/id395127581, and, thus, convenient for the kids on road trips and waiting rooms.

There are so many great features in the Segmation program! Different setting allow you to switch modes and play one number at a time or without any numbers at all in case one would like to choose where to place color. You can reset each picture to begin again, so the children tend not to fight if the one they wanted has been taken over by a classmate or sibling. My favorite feature, though, is the direct link that takes you to a shop with a fairly abundant selection of art to please any palette. The Classics are available, such as Vincent van Gogh, Michelangelo, Albrecht Durer, Rubens, and Manet. More modern works are offered, like Paul Klee or Gustav Klimt.

There are fun holiday packs and gorgeous scenic photography offered, too. I feel that all I am missing, as a customer, is the availability of fun and funky illustrations more representative of today’s art movements and attractive to a broader range of youth and young adult tastes.

Thank you for allowing me to introduce to you Beth Feldman (beth@segmation.com) and Segmation, http://www.segmation.com. I hope you will give consideration to many wonderful future collaborations with this excellent educational company!

Sincerely:

Jill, Lansing, MI

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Professionals Integrate Paint by Number Into Their Careers

Paint by number art has become something of an American legend. Thousands upon thousands have fond childhood memories of creating amazing paintings using paint by number guides. Some individuals are so moved by paint by number that they have actually integrated this form of art into their careers. Such people see the true value of paint by number kits in that they helps “everyday people” paint works of art that they can truly be proud of.

One individual who has beautifully integrated paint by number into his career is Trey Speegle. Speegle has made a name for himself by taking paint by number paintings and “recontextualizing” them, then “combining them with words and phrases that deconstructs the genre in a variety of ways.” Trey Speegle strives to bring certain themes out of vintage paint by number paintings; themes like hope, transformation, longing, and love have all been drawn out by Speegle in the past. This amazing artist works with Anthropologie Home, Stella McCartney, and Fred Perry, among other people and businesses. Trey Speegle truly brings the best out of paint by number paintings.

Artsist JoDavid loves paint by number so much that he has invented a “Paint by Number Salon” in he and Marlow Harris’ place of residence. Their salon is garnering attention from the media, and rightly so – the space is filled with 160 paint by number paintings. The salon is greatly inspirational to JoDavid and Marlow Harris, as well as to many others. Of the paint by number salon and paint by number itself, Harris commented, “It’s beautiful – it’s art.”

Karen Savell’s career as a paint by number art restorer testifies to her fondness for the art form. Savell began restoring paint by number paintings in 1999, and soon people began to notice her talent. After a few years of finishing others’ paint by number paintings and restyling classic pieces, Savell began her own business restoring these amazing works of art. Today she is thrilled to be living her dream of working with paint by number art.

How has paint by number made its mark on your life? Whether you love creating perfect paintings or have knit paint by number into your daily life or career, your experience is unique and valuable. Segmation wants to hear your personal story in the comments section below. What does paint by number mean to you?

Sources:

http://treyspeegle.com/bio/

http://unusuallife.com/paint-by-numbers-house/

http://vimeo.com/38068832

http://www.paintbynumbermuseum.com/karen_savelle_intro

Coming soon: Have you ever wondered where today’s traditional “Christmas colors” and other holiday shades originated? If so, you’ll want to read our next post.

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https://segmation.wordpress.com/2012/10/29/use-color-bring-home-life/

  • Photography Returns to Its Roots

https://segmation.wordpress.com/2012/10/23/photography-returns-to-its-roots/

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Photography Returns to Its Roots

When you thumb through your favorite magazine, how many images do you see that you assume have not been highly processed through technology? More than likely your answer is none. The truth is that retouching images using digital tools has been the name of the photography game for the past several years. In many cases, photos all over the media do not reflect anything that is real or “organic,” but rather what is fanciful and ideal. These qualities are not necessarily bad, but in some ways have lessened the value of raw, genuine photography. But all this is changing.

Photographers who have leaned heavily upon digital tools for the past few years are beginning to gravitate back toward totally or partially un-retouched images. Post-processing techniques that have been majorly employed by photographers are now becoming more and more shunned as artists seek to bring photography back to its roots. But among all of these changes, there is something to remember: there is nothing intrinsically wrong with utilizing technology in photography.

The problem was never in the technology (the post-processing techniques, digitalization, etc.) used to enhance images. David Allen Brandt, commercial photographer, commented, “The problem was that the images themselves, the backbone of the art presented, weren’t great to begin with.” So the issue is not that the technology used to transform images is “un-artistic” or negative. Rather, the core of a piece of photographic art (the photograph itself) needs to be high quality before post-processing techniques are used. Technology shouldn’t be the means a photographer uses to ensure an image is artful; it is more appropriate for it to be used to enhance an already-excellent photo.

As mentioned, photography is returning to its origins. It is mainly making this journey via photographers/artists who are choosing to allow “raw” images to be a primary source of art. These artists view image processing tools as just that: tools. Rather than counting on those tools to make an image into a quality piece of art, these photographers are taking artful images and making them better by using post-processing techniques and other technological helps. Amazing teachers are also shaping this next generation of artists by teaching photography techniques that do not emphasize digital manipulation.

Note: The image represented in this post does not belong to Segmation; it was found at http://www.photography.ca/blog/tag/lens/.

http://www.cnn.com/2012/08/10/living/fine-art-photography-manipulation/index.html?iphoneemail

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Baby Art Creates Dreamy Photographs

Image: Book cover for "When My Baby Dreams"

A familiar adage says, “A baby changes everything.” For one young mother, the birth of her baby also birthed a career in photography.

Finland native Adele Enersen was just another excited new mom taking photographs of her sleeping baby girl and posting them on her blog for family members to enjoy. Who would have thought this hobby could turn into so much more? Before long, her creative style of photography was drawing millions of fans. Her pictures were being compared to the work of baby photographer Anne Geddes. With such success, Enersen began looking for a book deal.

Image: Baby Mila as an astronaut

It all began when Enersen discovered her baby girl was a heavy sleeper — even at nap time. She slept heavy enough for Enersen to create dream-like environments around her and snap photographs.

This excited mother to baby Mila, who couldn’t tear her eyes off her sleeping child. She started to imagine what her baby girl might be dreaming about during the hours she slept so sound. Enersen’s imagination prompted her to start constructing the dream scenes around her daughter.

All credit goes to Adele Enersen whose creativity and imagination makes the dreams of children come alive. All of the dream scenes are created from items around her home. Enersen has a knack for manipulating fabric and for turning everyday items into elaborate sets. She has used stuffed animals to create forest scenes and found inspiration in clothing and pillows.

Image: Baby Mila as a bookworm

Enersen’s photographs of Mila have been collected in a book titled “When My Baby Sleeps” that recently became available for purchase. She never considered herself a serious photographer, just a mother enjoying her baby and trying to share her joy with friends and family. When at first she was overwhelmed with the popularity of her photographs she relied on that simple joy to be her foundation. She desires for her photographs of Mila to combat many of the negative things people are surrounded by every day. 

To read more about Enersen’s story, view some of her photographs of baby Mila, now a toddler, and to hear her thoughts about future projects visit:

http://today.msnbc.msn.com/id/45816601/ns/today-books/#.TzqG47EgcsI

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