Photographer Mandy Barker creates deceptively eye-catching images to document the pandemic of plastic debris in the world’s waterways. Barker, who is based in Leeds, UK, works closely with scientists to collect trash from our oceans and beaches on the edges of nearly every continent. One research expedition covered the debris field (stretching to Hawaii) that resulted from Japan’s 2011 tsunami and earthquake; she has also explored the Inner Hebrides in Scotland with Greenpeace.
Barker manipulates her findings in Photoshop, mimicking the manner in which ocean water holds these objects in suspension. Swirls of colors and patterns draw in the viewer’s eye, only to realize that these visually appealing compositions consist of garbage that animals have attempted to chew, plastic pellets, tangles of fishing line, and water-logged soccer balls. The artist describes her work in a statement on her website:
The aim of my work is to engage with and stimulate an emotional response in the viewer by combining a contradiction between initial aesthetic attraction along with the subsequent message of awareness. The research process is a vital part of my development as the images I make are based on scientific fact which is essential to the integrity of my work.
Barker is currently a recipient of a 2018 National Geographic Society grant. Her work is on display through April 22nd at Mexico City’s Museum of Modern Art, at Photo London Art Fair in May 2018, at the Triennial of Photography in Hamburg in June, 2018, and at BredaPhoto in The Netherlands in September 2018. The artist’s book, Beyond Drifting: Imperfectly Known Animals, was named one of the ten best books of 2017 by Smithsonian. You can see more of Barker’s photographs on her website as well as on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.
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This past February architectural photographer Andres Gallardo Albajar traveled to the Great Wall of China where he was able to take in a rare sight—one of the seven wonders of the world without a single soul to be seen. Albajar had expected to create the same tourist-filled images as others who visited the architectural feat, however when he arrived he found a thick fog encapsulating the structure. The dense cover may have been a deterrent for tourists, but this particular weather added further mystery to the deserted landscape Albajar captured in this recent series.
“I was expecting big amounts of people, even lines to access or things like that, but for my surprise there was very few people, which allowed me to capture the wall with no people, which in my opinion helps to create a more surreal and magic feeling,” Albajar tells Colossal.
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The small fishing village of Houtouwan on the Chinese island of Shengshan has been abandoned since the 1990’s. Due to increased competition with nearby Shanghai and a depleted fishing supply, residents were forced to find work in other towns, leaving their own coastal village to the whim of Mother Nature.
Today the ghost town is only visited by tourists curious to see the vine-wrapped homes and other buildings swallowed by untamed greenery. Shanghai-based photographer and videographer Joe Nafis visited the area last year with fellow photographer Dave Tacon. It took them nearly 36 hours to reach the village due to lack of ferries or connection with other towns in the area. Once in town, Nafis explored the area on foot, as well as from above with his drone.
“Using the drone to explore the village first was a good idea as the paths were not well maintained and overgrown,” Nafis tells Colossal. “Some of the buildings were in tatters, while others looked like they were going through a remodel. It was all very strange. On the Sunday there were a few tourists, about ten to fifteen, and then on Monday we were the only people in the village other than the three to four that still lived there.”
You can view drone footage from the photographer’s visit to the overgrown village in the video below. He recently released an aerial time lapse video focusing on Shanghai’s urban development over the last seven years on his website, and more video-based projects by Nafis can be found on his Instagram and Vimeo. (via This Isn’t Happiness)
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The Dizzying Patterns of Movement at Athletic Events Captured in Composite Photographs by Pelle Cass
Photographer Pelle Cass documents the flurry of activity and movement that occurs at sporting events in a unique series of masterfully edited images titled ‘Crowded Fields.’ The Boston-area artist attends local college games, and takes upward of one thousand photographs over the course of an hour or two. Cass then spends dozens of hours editing the photos to arrive at the final composition.
Although the images are highly manipulated, with over five hundred Photoshop layers involved, Cass notes that each and every figure remains in the original location and position that they were in at the time the photo was taken. His compositional effort is to understand and convey the visual story that unfolded over the course of the sporting event. The artist explains to Colossal, “I scroll up and down, over and over looking for figures I think are interesting. It’s a little like slow-motion Tetris, trying to fit various shapes into various spaces. Then, with luck, a set of coincidences or a kind of gesture or spatial idea begins to emerge.”
Cass, who has been taking photographs for nearly fifty years, developed his current technique over time. The specific idea of using sporting events as his canvas took a decade to evolve. He describes his motivation to create these dizzyingly complex images: “I think that conventional single-exposure photographs distort by their inhuman briefness. The eye never sees a single moment… When you come home from a hockey game, you might remember a few specific images of big plays, but otherwise your memory of a game is a bit more like a general impression of many-figured bustle and activity.”
You can see more of Cass’s photography on his website and Instagram, including his ongoing series ‘Selected People,’ thematically similar composite images of people in public places. Cass also has photographs on display at the New Mexico Museum of Art through October 7, 2018, as part of the exhibition ‘Shifting Light: Photographic Perspectives.’ (via Booooooom)
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Photographer Joana Choumali‘s photographic series Ça va aller translates to “It’s going to be fine,” a common phrase used by people in Côte d’Ivoire to casually reassure each other, even after a deeply traumatic event. Choumali started the project less than a month after the March 2016 Grand-Bassam terrorist attack, when three gunman opened fire at a beach resort an hour away from her home in Abidjan. The images in the series are all taken on her iPhone, and appear more like snapshots rather than portraits. She wanted the subjects to look natural, as if she was scanning the city.
“Three weeks after the attacks, the atmosphere of the little town changed,” said Choumali in a statement about the series. “The sadness is everywhere. A ‘saudade,’ some kind of melancholy. Most of the pictures show people by themselves, walking in the streets or just standing, sitting alone, lost in their thoughts. And empty places.”
Choumali explains that she began embroidering the images on printed canvas as a way to cope with her own sadness. The meditative process has now become engrained in her daily practice as a way for the photographer to relax and concentrate. The brightly colored threads serve as the sentiments she cannot express verbally, and a way to witness and acknowledge the denied trauma of the Grand-Bassam people.
“This work is a way to address the way Ivorian people deal with psychological suffering,” said Choumali. “In Côte d’Ivoire, people don’t discuss their psychological issues, or feelings. A post-traumatic [shock] is considered as weakness or a mental disease. People don’t talk about their feelings, and each conversation is quickly shortened by a resigned “Ça va aller.”
Select pieces from Ça va aller will be exhibited later this spring at the 1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair in New York City. You can see more work from the Ivory Coast-based photographer on her website and Instagram. (via It’s Nice That and African Digital Art)
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In 2011 Tomiyasu Hayahisa started photographing a ping pong table located in a public athletic field across from his dorm in Leipzig, Germany for a series titled TTP. Tomiyasu had first noted the location after observing a white tailed fox perched near the legs of the table, and after waiting several days for the animal to return, he began to photograph the other life forms that congregated or paused near the outdoor game. Rather than spotting the fox, he captured families, partiers, and lonesome daydreamers using the area as a bench or bed.
“At the time I had been living in a student doom in Leipzig and it was possible to photograph from window the table tennis table, how people from different countries use it in their way,” Tomiyasu told Colossal. “And it could be the message of this work that the place could be everywhere.”
If you enjoyed this series, you might also enjoy Yevgeniy Kotenko‘s On the Bench, a project which observed the daily life of a park bench in Ukraine for over a decade. TTP has been shortlisted for the 2018 MACK First Book Award. You can see more of Tomiyasu‘s work on his website. (via This Isn’t Happiness)
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A New Infrared View of the Dolomites by Paolo Pettigiani Shows Craggy Landscapes in Cotton Candy Colors
26-year old photographer Paolo Pettigiani (previously) has been taking pictures since age 11, and in the last few years has produced several series of eye-popping infrared images. Pettigiani’s most recent work showcases the Dolomites, a craggy mountain range in the northeastern region of his native Italy.
Infrared photography uses a special film or light sensor that processes the usually not-visible wavelengths of infrared light (specifically near-infrared, as opposed to far-infrared, which is used in thermal imaging.) The resulting images from Pettigiani depict the stands of coniferous trees as watermelon-pink, while surfaces that don’t reflect IR light stay more true to their nature hues. You can see more of the artist’s photographs on his website, as well as on Behance and Instagram. Pettigiani also offers prints of his work via Lumas.
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