Afterlight
February 19, 2019

Afterlight

Afterlight
Afterlight

Director Littichai Siriprasitpong collaborates with choreographer and dancer Dujdao Vadhanapakorn to create a performance piece that questions the roots of identity. Screened alongside a live performance during the Bangkok Biennale in 2018, the film explores colonial mentality and western influence in East Asia.

The film is as much about the performance as it is the space: the East Asiatic Company Building is a vacant and crumbling memento marking over one hundred years of European trade and cultural influence in Thailand. Bangkok-based filmmaker Littichai comments, “in consequence of globalization and the absence of awareness of our cultural backgrounds, Thai culture is more mixed and baffled than ever.“

"My intention as a director is to be as much of an observer of the performance as possible. Ultimately, the project is to capture her performance in its truest form possible.”

Cathedrals
February 15, 2019

Cathedrals

Cathedrals
Cathedrals

Get lost in the 2D version of a new virtual reality film by digital artist Rick Farin. Multidisciplinary artist Gaika, who provided original music for the film, is our oracle and guide, as we find ourselves on a reflective journey down a de-evolutionary path, “retracing the bell curve of technological advancements, and questioning the materiality of our devices and minds,” LA-based Farin says.

Presented with a sensory-stimulating world where computer and nature are synthesized together on a cellular level, we encounter a myriad of mutated anthropological sites: the caves of Lascaux, a Gothic Cathedral, a primeval forest. “These locations have been infected by a neural-net generated virus,” Farin explains. “Trained on religious iconography and images of microchips, they have produced digital dioramas in which one can revere the symbiotic relationship between technology, thought and nature.”

Created in association with the Royal Academy of Arts, Cathedrals is a response to Invisible Landscapes, an extensive program at the London institution’s Architecture Studio exploring experimental interventions and the impact of emerging technologies on architecture and society. As its final act, ‘Imagination’, the program will focus on the work of pioneering architectural practices—Gilles Retsin Architecture, ScanLAB Projects, Keiichi Matsuda and Soft Bodies—examining the relationship between virtual and augmented-reality technologies and physical space—how it shapes the way we look at the world around us, both now and in the near future.

Invisible Landscapes is at the Royal Academy of Arts until 1 April. Dates and tickets to Gaika's Heaters 4 The 2 Seaters tour are available here.

Private View: Doug Aitken – Don't Forget to Breathe
February 14, 2019

Private View: Doug Aitken – Don’t Forget to Breathe...

Private View: Doug Aitken – Don't Forget to Breathe
Private View: Doug Aitken – Don't Forget to Breathe

Known for his innovative installations—and the films he creates of his pieces—regular NOWNESS contributor Doug Aitken offers a view of his latest work Don’t Forget To Breathe, which is currently tucked away in a 1960s abandoned strip mall in Hollywood.

The installation, on show to coincide with Frieze LA, focuses on human connection, or the lack thereof, as digital life takes over. The illuminated figures of three individuals—one standing, one sitting, one lying down—are glimpsed in empty shell of a former store, frozen as if time has stopped. 

Light bounces from figure to figure, both connecting and alienating them from each other. “The atmosphere of the desolate storefront presents a possibility that a chapter of capitalism has completed its life cycle and we are entering the next era where the screen world mirrors the physical one,” says California-based Aitken. "The artwork explores the juxtaposition of the physical landscape and the light speed technological connectivity we now live in."

Don’t Forget To Breathe is on view until 17 February 2019, at 6775 Santa Monica Boulevard, Los Angeles

LoveSick: Maverick
February 14, 2019

LoveSick: Maverick

LoveSick: Maverick
LoveSick: Maverick

Australian-born, US-based director Cara Stricker’s latest film centers on a girl experiencing the heartbreaking dissociation of destructive love and gaslighting—the term that's come to mean a form of intimidation or abuse that causes a victim to question their own instincts and sanity. Model Abbey Lee plays Maverick, a woman on the edge of sanity who is forced to confront herself and her femininity to see beyond her ex-lover's manipulation, played by actor Rhys Coiro (The Walking Dead).

Speaking about the project, Stricker says she is driven by a desire to ensure "a generation of women see themselves represented in film," showcasing the "strong and complicated individual characters they are. Through Maverick I hope to create and share an intimate portrait of what it means to be female—to create a dialogue about gender, identity and art."

Montana
February 12, 2019

Montana

Montana
Montana

It's no exaggeration that Claude Montana shaped the look of the 1980s, but the radical designer also tore away from the exalted and impenetrable world of the fashion aristocracy. Influential and revered, his attitude and approach to design and creativity made him a pioneer of the era; a sans-culotte who overthrew the bastille of contemporary high culture.

In this new documentary, in collaboration with Farfetch and arbiters of contemporary vintage fashion Byronesque—who have joined forces on a limited edition reissue collection of signature designs from the French house—we revisit Montana’s legacy and explode the belief that it was just about shoulder pads and color-blocking. Instead, Claude Montana emerges as a truly innovative designer whose influence has continued into the modern era, finding inheritors among the likes of Marc Jacobs, Balenciaga, and the avant-garde styles of Rick Owens. And in particular, Gareth Pugh, who partners with Byronesque as creative consultant to bring Montana pieces back for the first time in over 20 years.

Prior to Claude Montana's explosive entry on the scene, fashion shows were gilded and exclusive affairs. The French auteur played to the gallery with spectacular and immersive shows that created waves among fashion followers and the press alike—fulfilling his ambition to make the industry relevant, sexy, and fun. As a result, the seductiveness of his collections gained a loyal and often manic fanbase. It’s no wonder, as one collaborator recalls, that “people used to bang down Montana’s doors to be allowed in.”  

Montana and Claude Montana trademarks and designs are the exclusive property of the MONTANA TRADEMARKS and MONTANA CREATION companies.

Satisfaction: Maisie Cousins
February 8, 2019

Satisfaction: Maisie Cousins

Satisfaction: Maisie Cousins
Satisfaction: Maisie Cousins

London-based photographer Maisie Cousins is known for her work exploring the relationship between the beautiful and the grotesque. Her sticky, sweaty, hyper-saturated photographs and videos eschew the conventional ideals of beauty and sex in a way that can't help but force a reaction out of you. 

For this social commission for NOWNESS (shown here in a special edit), Cousins draws on the #satisfaction internet phenomenon, getting up close and personal with flowers and insects to explore the visceral and playful sexual interactions that are all around us in nature—expect slow-motion, macro-close-ups of fluffy bumblebees rubbing their bodies inside flowers, and dripping nectar and butterflies rubbing their wings.

Satisfaction: Maisie Cousins
February 8, 2019

Satisfaction: Maisie Cousins

Satisfaction: Maisie Cousins
Satisfaction: Maisie Cousins

London-based photographer Maisie Cousins is known for her work exploring the relationship between the beautiful and the grotesque. Her sticky, sweaty, hyper-saturated photographs and videos eschew the conventional ideals of beauty and sex in a way that can't help but force a reaction out of you. 

For this social commission for NOWNESS (shown here in a special edit), Cousins draws on the #satisfaction internet phenomenon, getting up close and personal with flowers and insects to explore the visceral and playful sexual interactions that are all around us in nature—expect slow-motion, macro-close-ups of fluffy bumblebees rubbing their bodies inside flowers, and dripping nectar and butterflies rubbing their wings.

Photographers in Focus: Susan Meiselas
February 4, 2019

Photographers in Focus: Susan Meiselas

Photographers in Focus: Susan Meiselas
Photographers in Focus: Susan Meiselas

For over four decades, American photographer Susan Meiselas has captured people caught in the seismic upheavals of history—whether documenting Nicaraguans fighting for their lives, or photographing carnival strippers making a living on the fringes of US society. It shows an incredible tenacity, and an unflinching refusal to look away, when confronting subjects such as mass graves in Saddam Hussein's Iraq, or the victims of domestic violence in San Francisco. In this profile of the great photographer, the third in our recent collaboration with Magnum, we approach photography as a form of witness, albeit one that is always self aware—and powerfully revelatory.

In a special edition of Photographers in Focus, commissioned for the launch of Magnum Learn, a new online learning platform for photography and visual storytelling from the world-leading photo cooperative—courses are for beginners and practitioners alike—we get a closer look at Meiselas' thoughts and process, courtesy of filmmaker Joppe Rog

As Meiselas herself has said, "I don't want to relinquish the role and the necessity of witnessing and the photographic act as a response. But I also don't want to assume... that the act of the making of the image is enough." Having been gifted an old army camera by her father, Meiselas' early black-and-white work—begun while she was still in her early twenties—followed the women who travelled and performed in towns across New England, reflecting on questions of lust, empowerment, and poverty. Only later would her work, from Nicaragua to Kurdistan, become consumed by the compound tragedies of conflict and war. And it is perhaps here that she is best known.

But, even while her images capture an incredibly diverse subject matter—a stripper, absorbed in the act of removing makeup after a performance; of a rebel frozen in the moment of hurling a petrol bomb, an empty cola bottle filled with flaming petrol—the same patience and understanding makes each photo unmistakably an image of her eye alone. And yet, as Meiselas explains, it's important to go beyond the frame—to take into account the moment captured; the relationships between the subject and the people looking; to reject the shallow romanticizing of moments that may contain entire histories of personal and historical tragedy. Rather than mere decoration, Meiselas hands us maps to immense emotional cartographies.

Discover Magnum Learn's first online course, The Art of Street Photography, featuring Susan Meiselas and others at learn.magnumphotos.com

Richie's
February 1, 2019

Richie’s

Richie's
Richie's

Chronicling the gentrification of Bushwick, Brooklyn, this emotive new documentary from Gaspard Nemec takes the point-of-view of the owner of an iconic local gym that has survived the dramatic transformation of this corner of New York—from its formerly poverty-stricken origins into a now trendy neighbourhood. Alongside the business's owner, Rich Ortiz, we meet members of the Brooklyn Beasts powerlifting crew, and get to know the local characters who spend time at this increasingly under-threat Brooklyn institution.

As the director explains, "juxtaposing contrasting perspectives on gentrification through testimonies, archival footage provided by Rich Ortiz, refined aesthetics, and handheld doc-style camera work, this film offers an immersive experience to the viewer while bringing to light current issues. It is also a tribute to Richie’s Gym and its members who are an important part of the neighbourhood’s identity. 

Storaro's Eye
January 29, 2019

Storaro’s Eye

Storaro's Eye
Storaro's Eye

A companion piece to last year's study of Japanese fashion designer Kenzo's hands, this vibrant portrait of Italian cinematographer Vittorio Storaro shows us how the uncompromising creator views the world around him. With three academy awards under his belt, Storaro has worked with the likes of Francis Ford Coppola on Apocalypse Now and Dario Argento, the director of the original Suspiria, establishing himself as one of modern cinema's greatest and most revered directors of photography.

As Buenos Aires-based filmmaking collective 1985 explain of their offbeat portrait, "Storaro is a living legend. His work is inspired by the theory of colors of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, focused on the psychological effect of different colors and the way in which these influence the perception of our emotions." For the award-winning visionary, the roles of light, shadow, and—ultimately—color are essential components in the cinematic process, helping to transform our emotions as waves of light strike our eyes. 

As Storaro himself once observed, after years of studying the technology of film, it was an encounter with a painting by Caravaggio—the master of chiaroscuro—that fuelled his understanding of the artistry of composition. When we think of Storaro's eye, we think of dense, green fog drifting across the Mekong Delta; of a man passing from shadow into a shaft of bright sun; of a helicopter melting into the hot gold of a Vietnamese sunset. Just, don't forget to blink.

Surf's Up: Turtle
January 16, 2019

Surf’s Up: Turtle

Surf's Up: Turtle
Surf's Up: Turtle

Turtle Beach, Hawaii, is the jewel in the crown of worldwide competitive surfing, where its infamously low and powerful waves have become the sport's benchmark since the island hosted its first competition in 1954. Fresh from shooting the Juggalos in Ohio, NOWNESS contributor Joshua Gordon took to the Pacific island to capture the people and places that, each year, play host to the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing—an event where, for the tournament's duration, the board is king.

Rather than training his lens on the beach's iconic tubular waves alone, Gordon set out to capture the unparalleled beauty of Hawaii's surrounding landscape and of surfers while they were off their boards, soaking up the island's sun and scenes in a part of the world that, once the competition has decamped, becomes again a tranquil oasis.

What emerges is an abstract and immersive take on the Triple Crown (an event that is most often seen through HD screens and posts on social media)—a reminder that, before anything else, surfing is a contest of the human body against ancient and powerful nature.

Lou
January 11, 2019

Lou

Lou
Lou

LA-based photographer and filmmaker Clara Balzary has made a reputation for exploring the majesty hidden in everyday banality. Her work, wrapped in a softly romantic hue, finds dynamic form in this atmospheric new film—an exploration of identity within the liminal space between girlhood and what lies beyond it. Featuring Sasha Frolova, Odessa Young, and Joaquin Phoenix, it's a murky piece of chiaroscuro topped off with searing stabs of neon.

"Lou is at a loss for any clear example for how to be," explains the image-maker who has previously worked with the likes of Dazed, Adidas, and i-D. "She absorbs caricatured versions of masculine and feminine, and only until she ventures out of her house toward the darkness does she begin the mine the complexities of self definition.

"Lou’s experience aims to mirror the vastness and thrill of the teenage experience, and the particular weight of constructing an authentic idea of 'self' within the female gaze."