Aoi Kotsuhiroi: creator of the The Official Shoes of Tumblr. The France-based designer’s dark, textured art-fashion pieces have certainly made the rounds, but did you know that Kotsuhiroi is also the photographer, poet and model behind these creations?
Kotsuhiroi’s website feels like a fleeting vision. Page after page of large-scale images reveal a mysterious world full of fetish objects, in both senses of the word. In a series of fragile, dreamlike images reminiscent of Sarah Moon, Kotsuhiroi’s adornments appear to radiate profound magical power, while making your fetish platform boot look like a pair of flip-flops by comparison.
In addition to fashion and photography, Kotsuhiroi has the sensibility of a writer. Rather than releasing her work in collections, such as”AW12,” she releases them as chapters of a book on her site, which is rife with poetry. On Twitter, she describes herself as a novelist. Follow her to see what she does next!
Heads up: all of the images in this post are interactive! Click ‘em and see!
Comic-Con International in San Diego (which, of course, has been discussed with familial snark and affection by Coilhouse countless times before) wasn’t always the star-studded, geek-chic event that it is today. (By any chance, does anybody out there remember when Nerd Prom truly was purely a comics con? Back in the day, there were a few hundred participants, and they held it in the basement of the US Grant Hotel down in the Gaslamp District. That was over forty years ago.) And yet, some thing never change. To this very day, beyond the shiny veneer of celebrity panels and million-dollar television studio booths, the true hallmarks of Comic-Con —celebration and revelry in comic book and sci-fi culture— can be found by those of us who know where to look.
From gore FX makeup, to minute veins painted onto a character model, to carefully-curated contact lenses and fangs as part of the perfect cosplay costume, the heart and soul of our beloved Nerd Prom is found in the details, thanks to the legions of creative and energetic (if somewhat unsettlingly aromatic) people who come together every year to bring our favorite elements of geek culture to brilliant life.
Many folks who are unable to attend SDCC, as well as those of us who do attend and want to revisit, often (re)experience the Con through pictures and video. Traditionally, during and directly after the four-day event, the internet is flooded with sweeping panoramic shots of crowds surging through the main exhibit halls, macros of various booth displays, perfunctory celebrity panel shots, and camera phone candids of inspiring (or perplexing! or horrifying!) costumed revelers. However, this year, something entirely different is beginning to crop up, imagery-wise.
The pictures you’re looking at are examples of Con-craziness captured by a new photographic system from a Silicon Valley start-up called Lytro. These are single-exposure photographs that can be refocused and manipulated after the fact; think of Lytro as technology’s first attempt at bringing us Harry Potter’s moving newspaper pictures! Unlike a conventional camera that captures a single plane of light, the Lytro camera captures the entire light field.
From the Lytro site: “The way we communicate visually is evolving rapidly, and people’s expectations are changing in lockstep. Light field cameras offer astonishing capabilities. They allow both the picture taker and the viewer to focus pictures after they’re snapped, shift their perspective of the scene, and even switch seamlessly between 2D and 3D views. With these amazing capabilities, pictures become immersive, interactive visual stories that were never before possible – they become living pictures.” And, as you can see, here are some slices of the Comic-Con experience, presented in a series of living pictures.
Last weekend, I caught up to Eric Cheng, Lytro’s Director of Photography, in the chaotic main convention hall. Hunkered down behind a trio of enormous trolls at the Weta Booth while thousands of people milled around us, Cheng kindly took the time to explain a bit about the tech, showed off a slew of incredible shots he and his cohorts has been taking at the Con, and we discussed why the Lytro is especially perfect for capturing visually dense, action-packed memories at events like SDCC.
As someone who spent most of his childhood disassembling and (most times) reassembling anything given to him that contained moving parts, this video from YouTube user nothinghereok is nigh orgasmic. Over eleven months, he stripped down, cleaned, and rebuilt a Triumph Spitfire engine, documenting the process in three thousand pictures which, in turn, make for one amazing stop-motion video. And if you are (or were) anything like how I described myself at the beginning of this post, the ending is something you’ll appreciate.
Bay Area residents: tonight is the opening of the Transmography exhibit at the Union Square Lomo store!
Transmogrify, Verb: To transform, esp. in a surprising or magical manner.
From poets to porn-stars, computer nerds to community gardeners, artists to activists: these portraits capture some of the real gender warriors today. They are trans, genderqueer, or just gender-fabulous, and they deserve their own magical realm.
You can also see the photos on display at the New York Lomo store in Greenwich Village, or buy them on Molly’s site. All prints are 17″ x 17″. The images are signed and numbered by both artists in an edition of 5, and cost $200 each. More images, after the cut.
Over at Lifehacker, Thorin Klosowski has written a clear and edifying overview about First Amendment rights in the US as they apply (or sometimes don’t apply) to taking pictures in a public place:
Nearly every modern phone has a camera attached to it and subsequently more and more people are taking photos in public places than ever before. The shot might be as simple as snapping a picture of a parade or as tricky as recording video of a riot. Regardless of the reasons, the rules for photographing in public places are the same.
For the most part, your right to take photographs and video in public places in the United States is protected under the First Amendment under free speech. This includes snapping pictures of your favorite monument when you’re on vacation or taking part in a little citizen journalism. It’s not as cut and dried as you may think and it’s good to know your rights and the caveats that come with them.
He links to this handy, free downloadable flyer explaining your rights when stopped or confronted for photography. Both are definitely worth checking out.
And, from across the pond, in the UK, there’s also I’m a Photographer, Not a Terrorist.
[Lifehacker link via Marisa Kakoulas, thanks!]
It’s still almost unbelievable to me that these photos by Canadian photojournalist Donald Weber aren’t staged. Lens culture’s Jim Casper describes being “stopped cold” the first time he saw them and I agree. They are terrifying, to the point of, again, seeming unreal. Worse still is Weber’s insistence that this is not a case of a small portion of the law enforcement community in Ukraine, it’s systemic. It is the way police are taught to question suspects:
I remember first being shocked at some of the methods, but my friend said to me, “Don, you must understand that these are their methods of policing, this is how they’re taught.” He then told me a horrifying story of his own arrest and subsequent interrogation while working in St. Petersburg almost 20 years earlier; this helped me understand the cultural and democratic differences in methods of policing.
The police I worked with were respected in their departments; they rose through the ranks and did the job required. I have my personal feelings of how and what they do, but then as a photographer I think I’ve said enough about that with my work.
What I strongly believe is that this is not a rogue set of cops; this is standard practice. It is what it is. It’s the utter terror of a wayward bureaucracy.
Beginning after his first trip to Ukraine during the Orange Revolution, it took Weber years to assemble this series of photographs, as most prisoners, understandably, declined to have the ordeal documented. The result is an unsettling look at unchecked, State-sanctioned power.
I’m not going to claim to understand the process by which French duo Lucie & Simon captured these images of cities like Paris, Bejing, and New York without people (save for a single figure). It involves using a “neutral density filter that allows for extra-long exposures, which removes moving objects like people and cars.” How that works or what a “neutral density filter” is, I really cannot say, however, the images produced speak for themselves (and are of much higher resolution on their site.)
I lived in New York for a short time, years ago, and the effect of seeing it this empty is really stunning. The only time it ever came close to this when I was there was early in the morning, on my walk to work at 5:30 or so, and even then, it depended on the neighborhood I was walking through at the time and there were always a few cars. It’s eerie to see it looking so quiet.
“Soon…” Photo by Matthew Borgatti.
A frozen rainbow carousel, headless dinosaurs and lonely swan-shaped boats: this can only be Spreepark, an abandoned amusement park in Southeast Berlin. Conceived as a Socialist project to celebrate 20 years of GDR, Spreepark opened its doors in 1969, and shut down in 2001. If you saw the film Hanna, images of a girl assassin running through this decaying fairyland park may spring to mind. Recently, Matthew Borgatti (previously on Coilhouse here and here) grabbed his camera and went exploring: he’s just published a beautiful set of photos showing both Spreepark’s ruins and signs of life, in tandem with a witty, comprehensive guide to urban spelunking. Spreepark’s story, writes Matthew, is one of “broken dreams, drug smuggling, and illegal things done with kiddie park rides in the dead of night.” You can’t tell the story of Spreepark without mentioning the story of Norbert Witte, as told by journalist Julia Jüttner.
An affluent funfair operator known as the “King of Carousels” to his friends, Witte walked into trouble when he decided to invest in Spreepark after the reunification of Germany. The son of a carnival performer and grandson of Otto Witte, an acrobat/swindler who once managed to be crowned as the King of Albania, Norbert Witte built his own carnival empire from humble beginnings. Together with his young bride Pia, the daughter of a bumper-car operator, he purchased one roller coaster (“The Catapult”) and began to tour with it, amassing eight rides over the course of two decades.
Photo by Matthew Borgatti.
At first, Spreepark seemed like a lucrative investment for Witte. But after the government eliminated 3,000 parking spaces near the park, people stopped coming and the park went out of business. Witte relocated his family to Lima, Peru, with the hope of bringing over Spreepark’s rides and establishing a new park called Lunapark. However, Peruvian customs officials refused to release all the parts of the rides, and the family quickly slid into poverty. Ultimately, Witte was caught smuggling 76 pounds of cocaine (worth $14 million) back to Germany in the mast of the “Flying Carpet” carousel. Norbert Witte received a lenient 6-year sentence in Germany, but his 21-year-old son, stuck back in Peru, received a jail term of 20 years. In a heartbreaking interview with Spiegel Online, Pia Witte elaborates further.
Unlike the story of Spreepark’s ruin, Matthew’s photos aren’t all that tragic. In fact, unlike most typical, ruin porn-tastic shots of abandoned theme parks around the world, his photos reveal the park’s vibrant, frenetic second life. Vinyl stickers depicting the step-by-step construction of an origami swan adorn a swan boat’s plastic neck. One of the dinosaurs still standing dons glam-rock makeup crafted from neon adhesive tape. A layer of graffiti art slowly encroaches upon the abandoned rides, often giving them a strangely modern look. Perhaps it’s because the German authorities seem pretty lenient, occasionally allowing fashion shoots, filming, and festivities such as “concerts, art installations, performances and a burning man” to take place in the park.
As hinted in Matthew’s photos, the future is bright for Spreepark: this summer, a new project called Kulturpark will set up a three-week artist residency camp producing public art inside Spreepark’s walls. Artworks will include “ecological grafitti, sustainable bicycles, a ping pong competition, learning events, radio station, [and] storytelling projects.” The public opening will be June 28 – July 1st.
Photo by Matthew Borgatti.
Jim Lo Scalzo’s beautiful short documentary on the Salton Sea:
Deep in the desert of southern California sits one of the worst environmental sites in America—a former tourist destination that has turned into a toxic soup: the Salton Sea.
The sea was born by accident 100 years ago, when the Colorado River breached an irrigation canal; for the next two years the entire volume of the river flowed into the Salton Sink, one of the lowest places on Earth. The new lake became a major tourist attraction, with resort towns springing up along its shores. Yet with no outflow, and with agricultural runoff serving as its only inflow, the sea’s waters grew increasingly toxic. Farm chemicals and ever-increasing salinity caused massive fish and bird die-offs. Use of the sea for recreational activities plummeted, and by the 1980s its tourist towns were all but abandoned.
The skeletons of these structures are still there; ghost towns encrusted in salt. California officials acknowledge that if billions of dollars are not spent to save it, the sea could shrink another 60 percent in the next 20 years, exposing soil contaminated with arsenic and other cancerous chemicals to strong winds. Should that dust become airborne, it would blow across much of southern California, creating an environmental calamity.
Much of the footage is filmed in and around The Salton Riviera, a former resort built by entrepreneur M. Penn Phillips, old footage of which Scalzo expertly contrasts with images of the now dilapidated buildings and piles of dead fish. His eye for composition is the real star here, though, and he captures some stunningly haunting images of this increasingly barren wasteland.
Via The Fox Is Black