In honor of the final season of Games of Thrones, German photographer Kilian Schönberger (previously) has translated his ethereal photography of central Europe’s icy landscapes, mystical castles, and foggy forests into a photographic tribute. Inspired by the frozen fantasy world of George R.R. Martin’s books and by the geography of his native lands, Schönberger’s alternate storyline imagines snow-covered trees as menacing White Walkers, towering mountain ranges as The Wall, and ancient stone structures as home to the highborn families of Westeros.
Schönberger tells Colossal that the photographs published in his online tribute were taken in forests along the German-Czech border, in the rocky canyon landscapes of Saxon Switzerland, Saxony, and East Germany, inside of an ice cave near Germany’s Lake Königssee, and at the foot of the Dolomites this past winter. Using his background in geography studies and his knowledge of meteorology, Schönberger says that his process as a photographer involves a lot of preparation and waiting so that he can capture the “genius loci” (the pervading spirit of a place) at just the right time.
“Since I grew up myself in a remote forest area, my childhood was shaped by the local fairytales and a lot of experiences out in nature,” he said. “And that is what’s still visible in my work today. I try to capture the scenes that inspire people to make up their own stories with my photos as a visual backdrop.” To see the images in context with Schönberger’s narrative, check out the photographer’s Behance portfolio. To see even more of his landscape photography, follow him on Instagram.
From parking lots to skate parks, Melbourne-based artist Kitt Bennett paints large illustrative murals on an unconventional surface: the ground. The almost literal “street” art is best seen from a bird’s eye view and features people, objects, and skeletons that contort around their respective spaces as if they fell from the sky.
Bennett’s murals are painted much like the walls of a house. The artist uses large buckets of paint and rollers to cover the large areas and adds shading, highlights, and outlines to create the illusion of depth. A statement on his website explains that Bennett’s work is “often conceptually driven as exploring topics of individuality, existence and the mysterious phenomena that surrounds us inspires him to create art.” To see more of his ground paintings and other works on more traditional surfaces, follow Kitt Bennett on Instagram.
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Mikael Chukwuma Owunna, a queer Nigerian-Swedish artist raised in Pittsburgh, has spent the past two and a half years photographing Black men and women for a series titled Infinite Essence. Hand-painted using fluorescent paints and photographed in complete darkness, Owunna’s subjects are illuminated by a flash outfitted with a UV filter, which turns their nude bodies into glowing celestial figures.
Owunna tells Colossal that the series was his response to the frequent images and videos of Black people being killed by those sworn to protect them: the police. The photographer’s friends, family members, dancers, and one person he connected with on Instagram serve as models for the project, which is named after an idea from his Igbo heritage. “All of our individual spirits are just one ray of the infinite essence of the sun,” Owunna explains. “By transcending the visible spectrum, I work to illuminate a world beyond our visible structures of racism, sexism, homophobia and transphobia where the black body is free.”
Having struggled with his own body image (and with his identity as a gay African man, which has inspired his previous work), Owunna says that the response to the project has been powerful, both from the public and from the models. “One of the models, Emem, broke down in tears looking at their pictures saying that they had always dreamed of seeing their body adorned with stars and that these images were beyond their wildest imagination,” he said. “They then told me – ‘every black person deserves to see themselves in this way’ and how the experience was life-altering for them.”
After seeing Owunna’s work via an NPR feature, a 60-year-old Black woman told the photographer, “I’ve hated my body all my life, but–for a glorious instant–that photo made me feel good about it.”
After viewing a display at a golf trade equipment show, Ohio-based photographer James Friedman was inspired to create an abstract series that focuses on the internal structures of standard size golf balls. The enlarged prints of chipped, broken, and sliced balls reveal complex and colorful cores that contrast the hard, white uniformity of their exteriors.
Friedman varies the cutting style from ball to ball, with some cleanly sliced into perfect halves and others roughly carved down to their rubber, resin, and metal centers. The abstract textures they form is both a result of their construction and a result of the artistic process. “For some viewers, my photographs from this series, titled Interior Design, allude to celestial bodies and the sublime,” he wrote in a statement on his website. “For me, their serendipitous structural exquisiteness and their subtle and passionate arrays of colors have inspired new exploration in my photography.”
With the help of a small army of 400 volunteers, French artist JR (previously) pasted thousands of strips of paper around the Louvre in Paris, turning the courtyard around the museum into a massive optical illusion. Installed in honor of the structure’s 30th anniversary, the collage titled “The Secret of the Great Pyramid” provides a glimpse at what may lie beneath the iconic glass pyramid.
A follow-up to his 2016 work that made the museum disappear against the backdrop of the Louvre Palace, JR’s new illusion reveals a construction site with the tip of the pyramid at its center and a much larger structure extending down into a rocky quarry. In a “Photo of the Day” post on his website, the artist explains that the installation was designed to last a single weekend. “The images, like life, are ephemeral,” JR writes. “Once pasted, the art piece lives on its own. The sun dries the light glue and with every step, people tear pieces of the fragile paper. The process is all about participation of volunteers, visitors, and souvenir catchers. This project is also about presence and absence, about reality and memories, about impermanence.”
Some visitors took pieces of the installation home, while other strips torn by foot traffic have been discarded. To see more of JR’s large-scale photo installations, follow the artist on Instagram.
California-based artist Kai Samuels-Davis layers linear paint strokes and large washes of color to form shapes that are recognizable as faces, but without all of the visual information seen in traditional portraiture. The artist relies on the process to find the image, often starting with a sketch or a simple circle to build upon for the face. Working in a space between the representational and expressive, the artist is able to focus on emotion through abstraction so that the viewer can form their own narrative through each gesture and colorful brush stroke.
“None of the final aesthetic is planned,” Samuels-Davis tells Colossal. “Each mark, brush stroke and color is a reaction to what came before it. When I’m working on a portrait the subject appears to morph between multiple individuals over the course of the painting, often times becoming slightly androgynous in the process. I tend to bounce around the surface a lot, pushing and pulling between background and subject, painting over parts, figuring out what each piece needs until there’s nothing I would change.”
Working primarily with found images, Samuels-Davis spends months or even years on his portraits, with dozens of works in progress at a given time. His work will be included in the group exhibition PAINTGUIDE at Thinkspace Gallery this November. To see more of his completed paintings of faces, flowers, and animals, follow him on Instagram.
French director and photographer Romain Laurent (previously) turns imagery from expressly planned still and video shoots into animated GIFs where only an isolated section is in motion. Focusing primarily on human subjects and the spaces around them, the looped compositions turn everyday scenes into surreal animations that you can’t help but to watch over and over. In one, a silhouetted subject has fiery sparklers for eyes, and in another, a rain-jacketed pedestrian’s face loops in the frame of his hood.
Separate from his commercial work, Laurent tells Colossal that his once weekly project has become more selective over the past two years in terms of the concepts and ideas that he translates into GIFs. “Other than that the approach is the same—find an idea and movement that amuses or speaks to me and make it right away!” Each GIF is unique, and depending on the complexity of the concept, Laurent can spend anywhere from 15 minutes to two hours capturing the photos before manipulating them in post-production for an hour or several days. To see more of Romain Laurent’s quirky partially-moving portraits, check out his Tumblr and follow him on Instagram.
Blurring the line between the interior and exterior, Vo Trong Nghia Architects designed and built a three-level residential home in Ho Chi Minh City that is overflowing from within with fiddle leaf fig plants, various palms, and winding vines. Going beyond arrangements of potted house plants, the architects integrated the flora into the physical structure. Corridors, staircases, and rooms are lined with natural dividers that add color, block sunlight, and ventilate the space.
The latest project in the firm’s “House for Trees” series, the Stepping Park House is a commentary on environmental issues in Vietnam caused by a lack of green spaces. Views of the exterior show that the driveway, balconies, and perimeter fence have also sprouted leaves. The top floor of the building has an open slatted design with spaces that are filled with even more greenery, which further connects the home with the surrounding environment, and in particular to the rare park nearby. (via Jeroen Apers)