surreal

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Animation Craft

Winter In The Rainforest: Porcelain Characters Navigate the Amazon in a Surreal Stop-Motion Short

November 30, 2021

Grace Ebert

In Anu-Laura Tuttelberg’s stop-motion short “Winter In The Rainforest,” time passes at an unusual pace. The Estonian writer, director, and animator (previously) sets a cast of fragile, porcelain puppets within the lush rainforests of Chiapas, Mexico, and the Peruvian Amazon, a contrast of real and manufactured that grounds the surreal story. Throughout the film, carnivorous flowers trap their prey, an articulate grasshopper climbs a tree, and a miniature girl wakes from a stupor at a clip that’s wildly different from their timelapsed surroundings, which are evident through leaves shaking in the wind and shadows rolling across the landscape at a quickened tempo.

Shot with 16-millimeter film, the grainy short is years in the making—Tuttelberg details the process on her site—and blurs the boundaries between the imagined and real in both material and narrative. Rather than create an illusion of the characters occupying the tropical ecosystem in a lifelike manner, each element progresses at its own speed. She explains:

While moving the puppets frame by frame, I let the light and the nature in the background move naturally. In this way, the puppets are moving smoothly in their own pace and the nature around them is changing rapidly. This creates a new obscure reality of time and space in the film. It keeps the viewer aware of the stop motion technique in the film. I don’t want to hide the animation technique behind the scene but rather to bring it out and observe the new strange reality it creates.

“Winter In The Rainforest” has already won numerous festival awards, and Tuttelberg tells Colossal she’s working on a sequel titled “On Weary Wings Go By,” which brings the same cast to the frigid beaches of Estonia and Norway. You can keep an eye out for that project, and watch the animator’s previous works, on Vimeo.

 

 

 



Illustration

Surreal Characters Vacation at a Fantastic Resort in a 1,500-Piece Puzzle by Marija Tiurina

November 12, 2021

Grace Ebert

All images © Marija Tiurina

Marija Tiurina is known for her chaotic, fictionalized worlds that offer a brief escape from reality, so it’s fitting that London-based artist (previously) turned one of her larger watercolor renderings into a daunting 1,500-piece puzzle. Brimming with surreal splendor, the vibrant illustration envisions a holiday resort for families and their imaginary friends. Adults, kids, and a seemingly endless array of fantastical characters pack into the vacation venue to relax poolside, play video games, fish, and ice skate around a rink.

The dreamy design is currently available from Heye Puzzle, and you can shop originals and prints of other bizarre scenarios on Tiurina’s site. Keep up with her future works on Behance and Instagram.

 

 

 



Art Illustration

Mystery and Fantasy Veil Black-and-White Illustrations by Artist David Álvarez

November 1, 2021

Grace Ebert

“Pinoccio.” All images © David Álvarez, shared with permission

Continually fascinated by the potential of the human figure, Mexico-based artist David Álvarez (previously) illustrates richly textured scenes with a dose of fantasy and surrealism: a bird’s perch transfixes a character who’s sprouted a branch nose, a man writhes on the ground as he grows from a gnarled stump, and a Cheshire cat lifts a blanket to unveil a moon hidden beneath. Underlying many of his works is “the expressive force and the gesture of the human body,” Álvarez tells Colossal, themes that are rendered through highlights and dense markings in graphite that add intrigue and mystery to the monochromatic depictions.

The illustrations shown here are a mix of personal projects and commissions, and “Cage” is slated for the cover of Álvarez’s forthcoming book about overcoming prejudices and stereotypes called Bird Woman. You can follow his black-and-white works on Instagram, and shop sketches, prints, and originals.

 

“Monkeys”

“Metamorpho”

“Agony”

Left: “Cage.” Right: “The Collector”

“Awareness”

“Cheshire”

“Mice”

 

 



Art

First Look at 'Numina': A Wonderland Brimming with Bizarre Creatures and Fantastical Scenes Opens at ‘Convergence Station’ in Denver

September 16, 2021

Grace Ebert

Between a two-story metallic spaceship, gnarled trees teeming with strangely colored mosses and lichen, and fantastical creatures, the eccentric artworks that comprise the new space at Convergence Station by Meow Wolf (previously) rival those in even the most peculiar sci-fi universe. The immersive, swamp-like installation, which is dubbed “Numina” or the spirit of a place, is one of the anchors of the Santa Fe-based company’s latest undertaking, which showcases more than 70 installations by 300 artists across four floors. Four years in the making, Convergence Station opens on September 17 in Denver.

Accessible through a series of secret portals and wormholes, “Numina” scales 35 feet into the air and is designed as a multi-sensory experience inviting visitors to interact with their unearthly surroundings. When someone speaks to one of the four glowing creatures resembling sea urchins, for example, the forms warp and spew the echoed audio across the space. The color-changing “Fairie Orbs” similarly sing and vibrate with intonations when a person passes by, and the “Frog Egg Garden” emits kaleidoscopic lights and quiet sounds when activated with touch.

 

All images © Meow Wolf, shared with permission

Spanning three levels, the extraordinary, hand-built project is evidence of the team’s penchant for detail and ability to fuse seemingly disparate reference materials into surreal sculptures with various colors, textures, and shapes. The wood-like structural elements, for example, are wrapped in innumerable folds that artists modeled after the wrinkled skin of hairless cats, while pieces like the “Toad Piggies” are hybrid creations and the “Nudibranches” exaggerate the striking bodies of real-life mollusks by stretching them to seven feet. “Some ‘flowers’ were inspired by jellyfish, and some ‘jellyfish’ look more like flowers,” says Caity Kennedy, the project’s creative director and co-founder of Meow Wolf.

Although individual artists retained control over much of what they created—the expansiveness of this collaborative approach is part of what makes “Numina” so uniquely vast and diverse—Kennedy tells Colossal that she gravitated toward the more bizarre works rather than whimsical, fairytale-style pieces. “It is an interesting challenge to play with the balance of comfort and discomfort, to build a space that is welcoming but sometimes unnerving, to make people feel both safe and adventurous at the same time,” she shares. “There are so many things I could point out… Look for the sundial! Find the zoetrope! Point the sort of mollusk orchid/telescope creatures at the stars! Find Leomie’s Field Notebook in the library!”

Tickets are on sale now to visit Convergence Station in person. Otherwise, watch the video tour above for a more in-depth look at the unreal wonderland.

 

 

 



Art

Bizarre Wide-Eyed Hybrids Reflect Imagined Landscapes in Naoto Hattori's Miniature Paintings

September 3, 2021

Grace Ebert

“Green Walk.” All images © Naoto Hattori, shared with permission

At once adorable and unnervingly surreal, the fantastical creatures rendered by Naoto Hattori (previously) seamlessly meld the myriad textures and colors found in nature into unusual hybrids. They’re often fluffy, equipped with horns in surprising spots, and bear eyes so inordinately large and glassy that they reflect full-scale landscapes. Whether a furry sea horse-like character or a large bulbous head floating mid-air, the figures are musings on Hattori’s experiences. “When I (am) lucid dreaming, I imagine myself as a floating hybrid creature or something in harmony with nature,” he tells Colossal.

Primarily working in acrylic, the Japanese artist keeps his paintings small in scale, opting for miniature boards that generally don’t stretch more than six inches. He welcomes the technical challenge of such tiny spaces, although the size constraint originally developed when he was diagnosed with severe cervical spondylosis about 10 years ago. “When I tried to draw with my elbows and shoulders, my fingertips became numb and I couldn’t control the brush,” he says. “If it’s about the size of a notebook, I can draw without moving my neck or shoulders… So currently, I’m painting a smaller size that allows me to draw freely with the movements of my wrists and fingertips.”

Hattori, who lives in his hometown of Yokohama, Japan, will be part of The Blab Show opening at Santa Monica’s CoproGallery on September 11. You can glimpse his process on Instagram, and shop originals and prints on his site.

 

“Regeneration 3”

Left: “Floating.” Right: “Regeneration 2”

“Mind Pollinator”

“Lucid Dreamer”

Left: “Rooster.” Right: “Sing for Joy”

“Baby Fungus”

“Inner Sound”

 

 



Photography

Surreal Photos Convey Psychological States Through Minimal Color-Centric Scenes

August 26, 2021

Grace Ebert

“Loose.” All images © Dasha Pears, shared with permission

Through conceptual shots that focus on color and long lines, photographer and artist Dasha Pears emphasizes the chasm between inner and outer worlds. Her images celebrate myriad psychological states and phenomena sometimes deemed unsightly, capturing their beauty and inherent transcience with a surreal twist. Her focus on the minimal, she says, “is my way of expressing that controlling your mind and creating space is crucial for discovering who you are and who you are not.”

While many of the works deal broadly with inner tension, self-discovery, and perspective, others are grounded in Pears’s own experiences, like her ongoing series titled Synesthetic Letters. Through vibrant compositions, the photographer translates her understanding of synesthesia, a condition that can cause alphabetic characters and numbers to be conveyed as colors. Simple materials like lengths of fabric, tires, and bananas complete the perceptual scenarios, which Pears applies slight digital alterations to post-shoot.

The Helsinki-based photographer sells prints in her shop, and you can find an extensive archive of her emotionally charged works on Instagram.

 

“Up and Go!”

“A”

“B”

“C”

“One”

“Invasion”

“Scarlet Caravan”