Summer

When I was younger, my parents used to take my sisters and I to get-togethers at their friends' houses, where the adults would congregate in the living room and discuss important matters such as current events in the Motherland, and the children would be segregated downstairs in the basement to watch TV. In the summertime, everyone would gather outside to enjoy the warm weather and revel in the darkness. I remember watching the other kids try to catch fireflies in their palms, the glow just beyond their reach, laughter and squeals heard aloud when one was successfully caught.

I never partook in the fun.

Thinking back now, there are so many things I never did anything about, mostly because I was scared. When mean girls bullied me in grade school, I sat quiet and cried at home. I once spent years dating the wrong person because the act of breaking up, no matter how toxic the relationship, was to me, akin to defeat. As a huge Harry Potter fan, I waited 2 hours in line at Universal Studios to get on the Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey ride, only to bail and wait on the sidelines because I have a general affliction towards rollercoasters. Turns out that it wasn't even a legitimate stomach-dropping saga but rather an opportunity to fly through Hogwarts Castle and experience it in the most realistic way possible. Apparently, this is the best part of the entire theme park. Way to go, Jessilyn.

All kidding aside, when you think about things like this, you seriously wonder sometimes what happened to you. Instead of living in the moment, you wish for a repeat of past events so that you could relive them and react differently. You think of the perfect response after the fact, except it's too late now to speak up so you spend countless hours in your head wondering if you did the right thing or tried your best. It never stops, even when you sleep. The lines between being awake and dreaming get blurred, and this entire ordeal gets really old fast.

When I get into one of my spirals, I reach out to any stimuli that is comforting and relaxing as a means to calm down. Yume Cyan's dreamy photographs of fireflies taken in the forests of Nagoya City, Japan remind me of those past hot nights in my first story, except I am fully present and involved because it's different this time. The long exposure renders the dancing bugs in an almost rain-like quality, and the overall effect is a beautiful snapshot of a single, still second. The picture looks busy and you feel as if there should be background noise, but I bet that when Yume took this photo, he heard nothing but the sound of his shutter. He felt peace.

The same peace is what I strive for inside. I don't want to let fear win anymore.  

Valentine

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Rob has been obsessed with the idea of having greenery in our apartment as of late, and I slowly find our place turning into a mini jungle of sorts. We have a small tree in the hallway, various botanicals along the windowsills, and two different kinds of watering cans under the sink. He claims that it has improved the air quality of our space. I'm convinced this is why we have fruit flies.

I've never been too much of a flower person, since my secondary thoughts after the initial "How sweet!" reaction tend to turn towards the realization that the survival of this bouquet's species is now my responsibility. I used to be gung-ho about it and even went so far as to buy a vase, which is a huge step forward considering I have a picture somewhere of a previous arrangement that made its home in an old wine bottle. Then one day, a cactus died under my watch, and that was the end of my career as a homemade gardener.

In spite of my previous disposition with members of the Green Kingdom, I recently came across these intricate x-rays of the everyday variety by photographer Brendan Fitzpatrick, and found my interest piqued once more. Brendan used an x-ray machine at a radiology lab to achieve these skeletal shots, and then processed each photo using color editing to give it the wispiness and radiance that is usually only seen when viewing underwater creatures in the darkest depths of the ocean. Only here can we really appreciate the delicacy of such plants, for their transparency makes them vulnerable and exposed. Brendan gives us the ability to see down to their core and study the parts that are normally tucked away, and we find that it could potentially be more beautiful than what's on the surface. So we take a closer look, immerse ourselves fully into the experience, and are changed because of it.

This willingness to explore deeper, no matter what failures may have occurred previously, is what loving someone feels like. 

Drive

After the week I just had, I have the biggest urge to go someplace far away. But because running from our problems never actually solves anything, I'll settle for these gorgeous high fidelity shots of city traffic by Shinichi Higashi. His series titled graffiti of speed / mirror of symmetry details the fast-paced thrill of the chase that so many of us desire to dive right into. Maybe being a part of such an illustrious, exciting scene will at the very least take our minds off of our current sadness, and provide a brief reprieve from the neverending thoughts that trickle through our minds. We all deserve a break once in a while, right?

Mist

The phrase, "Lost in the crowd", never seems more real to me than when I view the work of French photographer Edouard Mortec. His series Foules seeks to capture the fervid activity of the Parisian streets while ensuring that not a single person is espoused in any way. Those faces that do make it through are layered on top of each other, blurring the unique definition that sets them apart. The city almost seems too vibrant, as the sensory limits of what the viewer can take in at once are tested and pushed. Despite this, I clearly see the hustle and bustle of a busy city and the stresses of everyday life. But I also see the loneliness one feels sometimes while walking among a crowd.

It is the ultimate expression of irony, that you can be in a group of hundreds yet feel alone. You stand on a subway and look at the fellow riders around you and not one person is glancing back. It's almost as if we are subconsciously trained to hold ourselves in, contain our feelings inside, and seal any holes that might let them out. It's a defense mechanism and our way of protecting what we hold dear. When someone breaks that mold, we think they are strange.

We need each other, we just don't know how to show it. So we tredge along as these photographs show, oblivious to the rest of the world. So it goes.

Feelings

I bought my first item off of Craigslist last weekend (a desk) and went to the seller's house to pick it up. The transaction was simple, the person I interacted with was nice, and then I was on my way. Driving home, it struck me suddenly that I would probably never see or speak with her ever again. That this little blip in both of our timelines was over.

It got me thinking about the number of people I see on an everyday basis and how often I go through this same situation. Whether it's in passing on the subway, a "You're welcome" for holding the door open for someone, a deep relationship you have, or a group of individuals you work with, it is safe to say that the window of opportunity to meet someone new occurs almost daily in our lives. Serendipity has a funny way of bringing people of all creeds together. What's even more striking is what happens when these masses leave us and we reflect back to the period where we knew them when. How they touched us in ways that will forever remain in the past.

No matter how different we are, what connects us together is an intricate family of feelings that we are all born with, and this vial set beautifully photographed by Valerio Loi depicts five such affects that echo the more positive qualities of ourselves and also demonstrate the traits that we are looking for in others. The sereneness of the packaging alongside the simplest of explanations for each attribute lays it down to barest and fullest, and forces us to be honest about what we really crave.

Auditorium

As someone whose experience in music has shaped and given definition to the person they are today, it gives me so much joy to present today's post to you. Art director Bjoern Ewers and copywriter Mona Sibai created this wondrous campaign at the Berlin branch of the Scholz & Friends agency to promote another chamber ensemble season at the Stiftung Berliner Philharmoniker (The Berlin Philharmonic). Taking the audience to depths never seen before, the print ads, photographed by Munich studio Mierswa-Kluska, explore the nether regions of various instruments so that a closer understanding is reached of where the sound actually originates from, making viewers excited about the end result heard at a concert hall.

The way Bjoern has designed this really faciliates the comprehension of what constitutes the instrument makup. I can easily imagine a miniature crowd walking around these tiny "hallways" and "auditoriums", discovering what section of the organ or clarinet is in use as it is being played. In this intimate setting, the audience has a chance to associate the music to the instrument to the emotions they are feeling at that moment. It is this relationship that speaks to me the most, and the ads are so appropriate given the smaller nature of a chamber group compared to a large scale orchestra. 

It's been awhile since I last played my viola and I miss it. I miss being a part of something larger than myself. Seeing this campaign brought me back to a time when I was.

Sky

I am in love with the photography by New Yorker Eric Cahan, who incorporates natural light mixed with his knowledge of color theory to create his Sky Series, a study of illumination and its effect on a moment with the sun. Eric utilizes handmade color filters that, when held at the right angle in front of the lens, create stunning backdrops upon which these ephemeral shadows that are rarely noticed on an everyday basis can be recognized. His study of specific color combinations and how their tonal temperatures change depending on day versus night means that he is able to invoke a pure, rich, interpretation of the sky at any focal point, making it look like both a fiery blaze or a muted ocean.

Immense gratitude is felt towards him for allowing us a glimpse at the intimate nature and the very technical process in which these photographs are born. By being careful so as to select the perfect instance to take each image, Eric is essentially making a pictographic journal of his travels. After all, they do say that a picture is worth a thousand words.

Spark

The phrase "Walk a mile in your neighbor's shoes" is one that is fully realized thanks to people like designer/photographer Mike Matas, whose video of a weeklong trip in Japan is a perfect metaphor for slipping into someone else's memory for awhile. In capturing the behind the scenes look at daily activity for Japanese natives, Mike brings the powerful force of total recall to our front steps, completely immersing us in the vibrancy of this country and extending a welcome hand to join him. When you get an invitation like this, you ask no questions. You just dive in. 

Watching the 4,000 photographs that constitute this film pass by in a blur, I feel as if I am partaking in a dream that I don't want to wake up from because doing so will just bring me back to my own sedentary life. Mike's ability to willingly and absolutely submerge himself into experiences like these takes a certain kind of acceptance and confidence that no matter what happens, you will come out on the other side okay. There is no time for later, there is only now.

So, in this same spirit, when you go to sleep tonight, what will you regret not doing today?

Underground

Scenes from city subways tend to be grimy, overcrowded, and full of tired, overworked people. Not anymore. Photographer Henry Hargreaves takes us to a whimsical side of public transportation in his Subway Series, a tastier and more colorful take on traveling that is sure to relieve many a commuter, aesthetically speaking at least. Henry reconstructs the underground railroad paths of New York, London, Paris, Moscow, and Washington D.C. out of ribbon, dyed spaghetti, pipe cleaners, yarn, and M&Ms respectively in this unique project.

In doing this, not only does Henry detangle the seemingly complicated nature of our subways to a more relatable, fun system, but he also tells us that we can literally make anything we desire with the help of a few common ingredients. Design isn't always a big to-do that requires the best supplies that money can buy, otherwise it would end up becoming very one-dimensional. Anyone can purchase the latest graphic software and the best equipment, but things you cannot obtain in a store are artistry, originality, and vision. Never disregard your simplicity for mediocity. Everyone gets their moment in the spotlight.

Ice

I was in Maine this past weekend for my birthday, and the start to our journey was not a pleasant one. It was pouring rain the morning we left for the 9 hour drive and it did not stop once throughout the entire trip; my boyfriend commented that it seemed as if we were literally chasing the storm. This was my first time visiting the state and I had envisioned beforehand what Maine would be like - idyllic and quiet, charming and peaceful. I was disappointed to see that at that moment, those four characteristics it most certainly was not.

But when I woke up the next morning, I immediately noticed a sense of calm coming from outside, and heard nothing but the little rustling noises of others in the inn getting ready for their day. Parting the window shades gave me the most glorious view of the harbor below and the mountains beyond, and a drive around the town took us to this bay in the photos you see above, where the lake was completely covered in ice and the sun reflected its beams to create a beautiful glimmer of light.

I stayed rooted to that spot for awhile, appreciating the stillness of the air around me. For someone who has spent her life surrounded by the fast paced sounds of the city, it was wonderful to bask in the moment of near isolation and breathtaking beauty. This small but significant experience only served to strengthen my conviction that nature is one of our world's greatest creative canvases, and it is this constant source of inspiration for which I give mindful thanks each and every day. 

Secrets

Oleg Gordienko's stunning photographs of these train tracks in Kleven, Ukraine feature a passageway that seems to be an entry point to another plane of existence. Named the "Tunnel of Love" by locals, the road is completely surrounded by leafy trees that have molded to hug the area and envelope it in a layer of rich solitude. A walk along this expanse would impel the most basic level of any ability to appreciate nature. If I had to imagine what a modern day secret garden would look like in our time, this would most definitely be it. 

Reflection

Of all the skylines that exist, New York City has to have one of the most iconic and illustrious ones in the world. Known as "The City That Never Sleeps", "Center of the Universe", and depicted quite deliriously in Cee Lo Green's "Bright Lights Bigger City" music video, this place would be nothing without those who labored over the past hundred years to construct the metropolis that it is today. Whenever I go here, I find myself looking up at these buildings and evaluating them based on how they appear to me as I walk past, looming with dark windows, various architectural stylings, and silent facades that seem equally as unwelcoming as they are magnetic. Then in typical New York fashion, the moment usually passes by and I hurriedly journey forth towards my final destination, my previous thoughts being as one-dimensional as they come.

Graphic designer Diego Guevara is the first person who has been able to make me do a double take when it comes to appraising edifices at face value. His personal project of combining architecture, photography, and design to manipulate and create mirror images of the same singular structures is truly a measure of his ability to see both sides of the story and fix his eyes beyond the obvious and temporary into the unseen and eternal. Certain points of his photos seem like a Penrose puzzle in which we view a neverending series of lines and sharp angles, not knowing when they may end. And in this situation, maybe we don't want them to. Maybe we'd rather they keep going so that when we next feast our eyes on a building, it is not the first thing we notice that registers in our minds, but the second and third observations that stay.

Irony

The photographs you see above are beautiful enough to capture any person's immediate attention, as they are reminiscent of a certain magnificence that one does not regularly run into. You could get lost in the textures and bright shades of color that fill your screen, and when I first came across these pictures, I was captivated by the effervescence and etherealness that was shown in front of me. Little did I know that these photos are actually evidence of a more sinister event, that of which endangers the planet we live on.

American photographer and environmental activist J. Henry Fair utilizes his prowess behind the lens to bring us his series titled Industrial Scars, which explores the havoc wreaked upon us by oil spills, chemical waste, and other nightmares that pollute our lands and waters. He reconciles his interest in nature, machines, and industrial decay to snap these images that are both alluring and frightening at the same time, hoping that they clue the viewers into how catastrophic these incidents really are.

The photos describe accidents that occurred when man's mechanical power clashed with Mother Nature. The photographer's purpose was for us to be moved by this candid access into the earth's state of affairs to the point where we are spurred into action. Thus, the concept of art used as an impetus for change is introduced, and with it comes the full force of this particular artist's yearn for a more sustainable world. 

Wonder

I love this video in Intel's Visual Life series featuring Scott Schuman, the founder, blogger, and photographer behind one of my favorite fashion sites, The Sartorialist. As someone who is entirely self-taught and has found his process by learning and experiencing everyday life, Scott teaches us that passion isn't something that can be bought, but is rather an innate and visceral trait that comes from within yourself. His patience and childlike sense of wonderment has enabled him to capture the daily musings of random people from around the globe, bringing them to the screens of our computers and allowing us glimpses along the way of the relationship between fashion, art, and the world we live in.

For those of you who are interested, I also posted Michael Wolff's (of branding agency Wolff Olins) video in the Visual Life series - another brilliant piece. Check it out here.

PS - How much do you love that girl in the video who, when asked if Scott could take her picture, suspiciously replied, "Um, what's it for?" So New York.

Man's Best Friend

Since the beginning of time, humans have held a deep love for our canine companions. The first animal to be domesticated and the first, at least in my parents' house, to hold an equal place in the family as a full-fledged member, the dog has become a symbol of unconditional love, guardianship, and friendship rolled into one. No one has captured the essence of this powerful animal in a way like Tim Flach has, and his book, Dogs Gods, seeks to visually explain the journey of our relationship with this creature and provide reasoning as to why both humans and dogs alike have developed and transformed throughout the ages to help each other thrive. Tim's photography is so strikingly ocular that one feels as if the dogs in question are right there in the room with them.

We often think that by training a dog and accepting it into our home, we are the ones who are changing its life for the better. But in fact, this exchange is two-fold. By allowing an animal to affect us the way dogs do, and by taking comfort in its loyalty and faithfulness, we find ourselves taking any path necessary to provide for them. In times of trouble and strife, the simple acknowledgement that is given to us from our pet is sometimes all the consolation we need. 

Genetic Conformity

Sisters: Catherine, 23 and Veronique, 29.

Brothers: Chrisophe, 30 and Ulric, 29.

Cousins: Justine, 29 and Ulric, 29.

Father/Son: Laval, 56 and Vincent, 29.

Thanks to Jason Dean at The Best Part, I was able to come across a series of almost eerie photographs by Canadian graphic designer, Ulric Collette. His genetic portraits explore the thin line that family members share when it comes to physical looks and build across generations and age. By splicing and pasting halves of a person with their counterpart, be it a parent, sibling, or even extended relative, we are able to unmask the startling similaries that exist within our genetic tree, almost to the point where fathers become projected future selves of their sons, and siblings could very well be identical.

This brings me to the notion of family and how amazing, intimate, and usually dysfunctional it can be. When you think about it, we are oftentimes individuals plunked together and forced to coexist due to the fact that we share the same chromosomal matter. We may be outwardly congruous, but if you were not related to your sister, is this a person you could and would share your life with? Would you give this individual a care in the world if you were not bestowed the same genes?

I think the fact that art drives thoughts like these makes it a great engine of introspection. Ulric's work gives us a literal definition of how the fellowship of the human family can create its own lineage. It is then up to us to apply this to our own lives and examine it on a singular level.

The Land of the Gaels

I was perusing The Anthropologist today and came across a feature on renowned Scottish photographer, David Eustace. David was asked to bring his heritage and homeland to life via a series of images that best captured the land from whence his ancestors came. The Scottish Highlands and Hebridean Islands were what appeared in his mind for this touching tribute to the land of the Gaels.

Scotland is a paradoxial region that incorporates both a laborious and mesmeric ambiance. A person could experience both extremes of the emotional spectrum in a place like this, and yet, never want to leave. Although it is a land of much anguish and despair, the ties that its people hold render it a true rose in a Highlander's heart. It is with this spirit that the raw earth continues to thrive despite any impasse that nature may throw its way.

David's purpose in this was to demonstrate that humanity is capable of reaching behind the bad and pulling out the good within. He explored a beauty that is made apparent not on the first glance, but the second and third. This steely resolve gives the beauty of Scotland the ability to retain its corner in the magnificence of the sky.

Disappear with Dovely

Today's post features the artist behind Dovely, Meg McGrath. Meg is the mastermind who created Disappearance, a slideshow of images that together create an almost surreal look into what seems to be an ordinary day. The piece features her doing normal tasks such as getting out of bed, cleaning the table, and tidying the living room. Yet each scene also provides a strong, static, focal point, also represented by Meg, that causes the viewer to remain still with her while time continues to move forward. 

My background as a classically trained musician has enabled me to become highly sensitive to how music fits into the soundtrack of any film. In the case of Disappearance, the haunting melody behind the action brings me to a profound sense of loss. Even when we think that the places we revisit have changed, we realize that the places have remained the same, and it is us who have changed. Meg staying still while the "other Megs" move about, until the "first Meg" gradually fades into obscurity, tells that story.