This is a fascinating and touching glimpse into the ongoing art installation of Austin, Texas resident Vince Hannemann (aka the Junk King) who since 1989 has been collecting thousands of discarded objects and turning them into a giant cathedral of junk. In 2010 the city closed the structure claiming it was unsafe and demanded Hannemann obtain proper building permits for his “auxiliary structure”. He was then forced to remove nearly 60 tons of materials before finally obtaining the approval from an engineer. Over seven months hundreds of volunteers stopped by to lend a hand and the cathedral has begun expanding once again. Shot and edited by Evan Burns. Last photo by Blake Gordon. (via vimeo)
I honestly have no idea where or when I first saw this film, but it’s stuck with me for over a year, and unable to find it again after searching the past few days I turned to Jason Sondi over at Vimeo. Armed with my vague description, and despite never having seen it himself, he found it in about 10 seconds.
Everything is Incredible is a short documentary by Tyler Bastian, Trevor Hill and Tim Skousen about a man named Agustín from Siguatepeque, Honduras who was struck with polio at a young age. His body ravaged from disease, he was left unable to walk and spent most of his life working as a shoemaker in what is described as near-poverty. Possibly plagued by childhood dreams of flight, in 1958 he embarked on his life’s work: the construction of a crude, custom-designed helicopter made completely from trash with the exception of a few pieces of rebar purchased from a hardware store. Even the chains he uses to power the propeller were forged by hand. The filmmakers do a wonderful job interviewing local residents and family for their reactions that vary from hope to despair. I find this video to be both very beautiful and very sad as it discusses what is gained and what is sacrificed through the act of devotion and creation, yet I’m left feeling a profound sense of love for Agustín, which is perhaps why it’s stuck with me for so long. Definitely worth 10 minutes of your time. Thanks Jason.
Update: In response to recent attention the filmmakers have launched an Indiegogo campaign to raise enough funds help Agustín with living expenses by purchasing the helicopter and his home. He will of course retain both through the end of his life, but with the funds raised from the campaign the helicopter itself would be preserved in his memory. Go donate, I did.
Samsara is the first film by director and cinematographer Ron Fricke (Koyaanisqatsi, Baraka) in nearly 20 years. Following in the footsteps of his earlier work, it will be completely devoid of dialogue and text, relying solely on compelling visuals shot on 70mm film.
Samsara is a Sanskrit word that means “the ever turning wheel of life” and is the point of departure for the filmmakers as they search for the elusive current of interconnection that runs through our lives. Filmed over a period of almost five years and in twenty-five countries, Samsara transports us to sacred grounds, disaster zones, industrial sites, and natural wonders. By dispensing with dialogue and descriptive text, Samsara subverts our expectations of a traditional documentary, instead encouraging our own inner interpretations inspired by images and music that infuses the ancient with the modern.
I am ridiculously excited to see this film. It opens in the U.S. on August 24th in a few cities and then has a larger release on September 7th so check release dates. Do yourself a favor and watch the trailer above full-screen.
Manchester-based photographer Lee Jeffries is an accountant by profession but for the past few years he’s traveled around the world photographing people he encounters on the streets, particularly the homeless. He spends time getting to know each of his subjects before shooting them, which I think is completely evident in his work, as the stark portraits seem to suggest details of each individuals life, taking a hard unflinching look at their personal condition. Jeffries was just announced as the Digital Camera Photographer of the Year and you can read more about him at the Independent. (via impose)
For the past year LA-based photographer Mark Laita has been traveling to various locations around the U.S. and Central America photographing some of the world’s most deadliest snakes, a series entitled Serpentine. Of the project he says:
The sensual attractiveness of snakes, which coexists with their threatening, unpredictable and mysterious nature is truly unique. This dichotomy, in which their beauty seems to be heightened by their danger, and vice-versa, is what I find so fascinating. Add to these contradictions the rich symbolism of serpents and you have a wonderfully compelling subject.
Laita works with collectors, breeders, zoos, and even anti-venom labs who let him photograph their snake collections. But as you can imagine snake handling can be dangerous work. Just last week on a photo shoot in Costa Rica, he tangoed with a Black Mambo (last photo), the longest venomous snake in Africa that can grow up to 14 feet long. So what kind of risk did you take at work today?
See also his beautiful if somewhat heartbreaking catalog of ornithological specimens entitled Amaranthine, and some exquisite images of sea life. All images courtesy the artist. (via feature shoot)
For his installation entitled “The Whole World”, artist Chris Sauter of San Antonio, Texas surgically extracted drywall components from the gallery walls and used the raw materials to construct a microscope and telescope. The kicker being that the footprints left by the removed pieces formed an amoeba-like slide and a starry sky. Sauter talks about his work and process in another fantastic documentary from Walley Films (previously), who are quickly becoming my favorite art filmmakers of all time. Video stills above courtesy Walley Films.
I was unexpectedly delighted by this documentary short on jeweler, artist, and metalsmith Gary Schott who creates these small kinetic sculptures that produce tiny, intimate gestures. The attention to detail in each piece is astounding, from the early detailed sketches and balsa wood models, to the selection of materials, and even the color of fabric—all to create a tiny device, the sole purpose of which is to gently evoke a smile, to express, in the words of the artist, an action of love. The wonderfully produced video was shot and edited by husband and wife filmmakers Mark and Angela Walley of Walley Films out of San Antonio, Texas. (via junk culture)