J.W. Fike's Photographic Survey of the Wild Edible Botanicals of the North American Continent

Since 2007, I’ve been creating a photographic archive depicting North America’s rich trove of wild edible flora. By employing a system that makes it easy to identify both the plant and its edible parts, the images function as reliable guides for foraging. 

Beyond functionality, I try to construct images that operate on multiple levels theoretically and perceptually. Upon longer viewing the botanicals begin to transcend the initial appearance of scientific illustration – they writhe and pulsate trying to communicate with you about their edible parts while hovering over an infinite black expanse. To achieve a layered aesthetic the photographs are meticulously crafted and constructed. I photograph multiple specimens of the same plant and combine the best elements from each to create an archetypal rendering. By judiciously rearranging, scaling, and warping I can vivify the plant and turn the ground into infinite space. 

This work offers a dose of something palliative for the ills of alienation – a sense of connection to a certain place and a certain ecosystem. With this goal in mind, I plan on continuing the survey until I’ve amassed an expansive enough cross-section of the botanical life on the continent to mount biome-specific exhibitions anywhere within the continental United States. I hope the photographic survey can serve as a historical archive during an era of extreme change, and provide viewers all over the country an opportunity to feel a type of numinous bond with their landscapes that will encourage health, engender wonder, help identify free food, and most importantly, inspire greater concern for environmental issues..

Tatum Shaw - Plusgood!

According to the future laid out in George Orwell’s 1984, the English language will be decimated and reduced to only a small list of government approved words known as Newspeak. There is no beautiful, no marvelous, no wonderful. If something is deemed better than “good,” it’s simply referred to as “plusgood.” 

These images were conjured as a way to take refuge from dread, with a desire to seek more goodness in the everyday. For me, this feeling of “better than good” can be traced back to specific memory blips from boyhood, centered around my Nana’s pool in the warm hug of the Georgia sun. This series is an ode to my own happiness, a celebration of the moments when it was first discovered, and the moments today where it still shines.

Follow Tatum’s new work on Instagram and check out his website for an in-depth look at his work.

Chiara Bolognesi - Friday Feature

I’m Chiara, 29 and I came from a little country place near Bologna in Italy. I spent the last 8 years living “la vida loca” in Spain, one year ago I met Matteo and together we started to travel around the world. 

Loneliness is a recurring theme in my photos; desert, signs and abandoned houses. I love to confront the authentic with the surreal, emphasizing color and composition. My goal is to convey a mental state of serenity with my photographs.

Follow Chiara on Instagram: @clairydoingthings, you can also purchase prints on her site!

Play the System - GOSHI - Ella Wylynko

We connected with Ella Wylynko from GOSHI, a youth artist collective in Perth, Australia to discuss the current state of youth activism and their guide to Playing the System. A video series exploring how youth are playing the systems they’ve been left with while searching for positive change in the state of the world.

Youth around the world are becoming more and more mobilized politically. Climate change and its implications tend to drive the dialogue. Is that a big part of the conversation in youth culture in Perth?

Isolated, alone, lacking culture and incredibly conservative all seem to be the general descriptives used when referring to Perth. While this may apply to the older generations, I can say for certain this is not the climate that surrounds the youth of Perth and the conversations being held in classrooms, bars, skateboard parks, beaches and cafes. This is not the conversation being held on stages, in lectures, in youth committee groups and on youth boards. This is not the conversation in the slightest. 

While some youth remain disengaged from politics and social activism - and lets be fair not everyone needs to be - most young people in Perth, and most young artists specifically are taking a stance against the current federal government and are articulating their discontent and satisfaction with certain positions being taken. Climate change, following the Same-sex marriage vote, has really started to enter the picture. 

Perth is environmentally unique. We live on stolen land, resting on a culture never granted sovereignty, reliant on our perfect seasons and unfortunately mining companies that support our economy. However, due to the growing movement towards animal rights, environmentalism, sustainability and conservation and due to the incredible capabilities of social media, young people are growing increasingly aware and agitated at the snowball of issues that aren’t being resolved surrounding our environment. 

Climate change is over-taking the conversation. 

Playing the System brings up an idea about a new kind of activism, where you change the system from within instead of directly confronting it. As youth slowly infiltrates this system, where do you think this will take us?

Playing the system is about infiltrating the systems already in place; making them work for us and changing them to be more ethical and sustainable. This can occur from the minute to larger scale liberalism, capitalism and nationalism. So what is the end goal? To encourage (as ad-busters puts it) a ’new world order’ in which we use our democratic system of government to stand for the people properly and recognise and respond to the voices in a positive influential way, rather than to just get votes. But we want to stay smart about it, rather than create a greater divide between generations but unite it instead. As so many social justice movements fail to harmonise both sides and further create a gap between them. The final goal is to live in a world that doesn’t favour those who happen to be born in to certain circumstances. One that lets everyone thrive. Be heard. Be recognised.

The desire and need for drastic societal change is definitely in the air around the world. How do you think today’s youth can change things to guide us to a more sustainable future?

Sustainability comes in many forms; environmental, economical and political are the three largest. Todays youth are recognising the need for a uniting of these three realms and are vowing to educate themselves and others about how this can occur. Of course there are still those pursuing STEM subjects, but they are equally as important for informing the decisions being made, along with an understanding of the arts. As we move towards a more interdisciplinary world we are crying for a mindset that is about collective decisions rather than independent ones. I see us changing the future through our respective fields, but personally I believe art will be the biggest driver. Not in a philosophical, pretentious sense; in a ‘design influences your mindset’ ‘advertisements persuade you do buy/do shit’ ‘articles, films, artwork all make you feel, make you think, make the inaccessible ideas accessible’. Art will showcase exactly what is wrong, all the views, all the ideas, all the possible solutions and guide us towards being more sustainable, more ethical and more appreciative of the beautiful world in which we are lucky enough to inhabit. That is what GOSHI stands for. 

What do you say to those who think it’s too late to change and that we are doomed to fail?

You’re probably right. 

No, I’m clearly joking. However, this does seem to be the overshadowing cloud that is starting to encompass us all. But, as many people within the older generations say and history tells, humanity has never and will never be perfect so we are all just progressing as fast as we can. Progression itself is a mindset that didn’t exist in ancient indigenous cultures as such. Progression is another world view. But it’s the most positive and powerful one we have. Personally I believe the scariest thing we have to face is technology progressing so fast that is transcends the progression of our consciousness. So until that happens, it’s not too late - we start changing our old ways, implementing new ways, learning to live lifestyles that we haven’t before and making more conscious, self-aware decisions. And of course we start playing the system on a personal and global scale. 

Watch the complete series created by GOSHI - Follow Ella on Instagram and start to #PLAYTHESYSTEM

Domonkos Varga - Res Materialis

My name is Domonkos Varga and I’m a 20-year-old fine art photographer based in Budapest, Hungary. I’m doing conceptual artworks, mostly staged and fine art photography projects about the affections of contemporary social trends and modern society on the individuals. As an artistic skill set, it is important me to use different visual narratives and viewpoints related to my series to visibly express a wide range of emotions which has a unique impact on the viewer.

In general, I like to make phenomenons and social tendencies and other invisible notions visible, throughout the medium of photography. For me, it is important to use the tools of staged, editorial, studio and architectural photography all combined in my series to make a visually varied atmosphere filled with hidden references, motives and double-meanings. I’m currently studying at Moholy-Nagy University Of Arts and Design (MOME) in Budapest as a second-year Bachelor participant at the Photography Department.

This particular ongoing conceptual work represents a metaphoric narrative related to the appearance of materialist perceptions in modern societies. In my belief, materialist ideas (in its philosophical definition) are now in a conquering tendency which process affects the universal demands connected to our contemporary social mentality. We live our life hand-in-hand with certain objects which create virtual dimensions and new systems such as our smartphones and computers. We are standing in front of the opportunity of creating new and unknown platforms, even artificial realities and also fully developed Artificial Intelligence. They do not only help us to manage our life easier but sometimes cause deformation in personal relationships and social interactions as it generally changes the individual role of a persona in this rushing new world. But the limits of human development tend to raise constantly higher just like our symbolic architecture. In addition, spirituality and idealism as a way of thinking are slowly starting to lose its importance nowadays as we excessively concentrating on technological and scientific development. Referring to contemporary philosophy, this train of thought contains the ideas of new materialism (in continental philosophy) and reductive materialism (or scientific materialism / in analytic philosophy. What is the real role of humanity in this new digital era? How will we cooperate and race with artificial problem-solving possibilities when our brain has a limited capacity? How will we describe the conception of an ideal relationship in the upcoming years? Will our attitude to emotions change in the upcoming years? Are we going to change the general perception of humanity? These are just a few of my questions which supported the idea of my main theme. My work shows my vision of this progressing and still forming social procedure. I believe the outlined phenomenon will have a great impact on us. The title of the project refers to a Latin phrase which means 'material thing'.

Maury Gortemiller - Make Believe

The series “Make Believe” pairs original photographs with reconfigured text from Donald Trump’s 1987 book The Art of the Deal. Each image title derives from one specific page via a Dadaist “cut-up” approach, in which words and phrases are decontextualized, reordered and repurposed. While Trump’s personality and reputation certainly form a considerable presence in the work, the images and the titles are not meant to refer specifically to the President or the present political climate. Rather, the imagery and text are often intended to lampoon the braggadocio and surliness of the authorial voice. In other instances, images evoke human qualities that I identify as absent or lacking in the book: a capacity for wonder, humility, and a recognition of one’s shortcomings. Ultimately, I intend the series as an antidote and corrective to unbridled egotism and nationalism.

 

Artist Talk - Nathalie Basoski

This time in Artist Talk, we converse with Nathalie Basoski, currently making moves in Brooklyn, New York. Nathalie’s work “explores the thin line between fashion and fine arts and thrives in street photography as an anthropological study of the places she visits” as stated aptly on her gorgeous website. This couldn’t be a more accurate description of her airy, effortless and soul filled photography. We wanted to see how she does it. 

Your work sits very comfortably at the intersection of fashion and street photography. It has a very intimate feel, yet it’s very observational. How did you find your approach as a photographer?

I think it's an interesting combination of everything I'm attracted to, I don't like labels like ‘street photography’ and ‘fashion photography’ because when labeling your work like that you have to remain in the frame of what ‘fashion/street photography’ is expected to be like. When I like taking my favorite elements of composition and design from fashion and implement them in my street photography. Then take the spontaneity and freedom from street photography and implement it into fashion. By not secluding my work from other genres I can compose images with all the elements I like. The best thing I’ve learned from my own experience is trying out all other art mediums and especially all genres of photography.

Nathalie Basoski

Do you have a favorite piece of photographic equipment you can’t live without for street photography?

Honestly, street photography changed for me when I got the Sony a6300. It’s a cheap, small, simple mirrorless camera that does everything I need it to do. The extremely fast focus and cute little pop-out screen are great for the unpredictable nature of the streets, but also the dynamic range of the Sony sensor keeps blowing my mind every single time. I shoot everything on the same sigma 30mm 1.4 lens.

Since I started shooting film I’ve been using the Canon Elan IIe with the nifty fifty I’ve had since 2012. It does everything I need a camera to do - being able to adjust shutter speed, aperture and autofocus. √
But my all time favorite must be my phone, I always have it with me and I can get really close to people, camera’s have become an intimidating piece of equipment on the street, people constantly tell me not to take pictures, even when i’m just holding my camera. But with a phone you can do anything, it's a really cool spy tool and everyone is already holding one themselves so it's not as suspicious

Do you have any photographic heroes, influences? 

Alex Webb and William Eggleston are my street photography heros. Tho I get most inspired by artists I know personally, I'm surrounded by some great photographers, check out turnaroundcancel he is my current fav.

6.png

How do you feel about the rise of social media and what does it mean to you as an artist?

Social media is a great platform to get your own audience and learn about yourself through the feedback. I also use it to reach out and meet artists myself to absorb their creative flow and visions. Though spending too much time on social media can warp your perception of yourself once you start losing yourself in the number of likes and followers, which is unhealthy.

What’s your favorite city to photograph and Why?

I’ve learned that change is what inspires me the most, no matter how great a place is, you gotta leave and come back to it, then you really learn about a place’s energy when you can see it with fresh eyes. This counts for every single place i’ve been to. Though I must say New York City is still my all time favorite and I’m lucky to be living there.

Artist Talk - Alba Giertz

We sat down with Alba Giertz from Sweden to talk photography, inspiration, and social media. Alba is a talented young photographer and her work is  increasingly making waves on and off the interweb. We were interested to find out what drives her, and what her secret is to getting, -needless to say- well deserved attention in today's increasingly crowded world of photographers. 

How did you first get interested in photography?

When I was little, or around eight I think, my parents built me a darkroom under the stairs where I learnt to develop film. I shot mainly friends around that time.

Wow that’s such a young age to take this so seriously!

I can’t take credit for it because it was my parents that were cool and encouraged me. I remember the feeling of just having shot a roll of film. It felt like you had a treasure sort of. Being able to capture visuals was very special back then. More special than it is now.

We went from manually to prewritten

We went from manually to prewritten

Were your parents involved in photography?

No my parents worked in television. My Mom had this crazy wardrobe because she was a host for a talkshow and I used to borrow her clothes and dress up my friends. We had wigs on and it was super dirty. If it would have been anyone else shooting those pictures it would have been very wrong. (Laughs)

Do you still work on film?

Yes I do. I’d say about 20 percent of my work is shot on film.

What’s your format of choice for film? 35mm or Medium format?

I like both. Since quite recently I have been using a Mamiya 7 which is a medium format camera. 35mm and medium format provide different ways of shooting, it’s almost like they shouldn’t be compared.

Jealous

Jealous

You have a very recognizable style. Using dramatic light, and mixing ambient and often stark artificial light. How did you develop your voice as a photographer?

It’s really hard to narrow it down because I’ve been doing photography for a long time. You experiment to find something you like and then you just evolve that. It’s all quite abstract for me. It’s all about the emotions I sense while shooting or while looking through the batch (and of course being almost too late) that pushes my work forward. Consequently it can be hard when one’s work relies on a gut feeling, because you can’t control your emotions. Sometimes it’s simply not there, and I’m forced to be passive. 

Any sign would do

Any sign would do

You don’t plan your work or your shoots? 

Yes I do, but it depends on what it’s for. If it’s for a job, or I’m working with other people, I plan more, or like a lot a lot a lot more. I’m generally quite nervous, hence I prefer to try the lighting and everything back and forth. And if I can, I will go to the location a few days before to plan. However when I go on set, I can break free from that and do whatever. 

What I meant to say was that your work feels very instinctive. 

Well, yes I guess I try to be malleable to the scenery. It’s about having your eyes open to what unfolds. You know good natural light here can last for like a second. You see it, and then it’s gone. Sometimes I see something and I literally run with my camera to capture it before it’s lost.
 

Who are your influences, and why?

I think it also goes back to when I was younger. I used to read and collect foreign fashion magazines as a kid. Which was not a very good thing for my mental health because of the beauty standards. I think it’s deep down in me now whether I like it or not, and I still take a lot from that time, mentally and in my work. Now as an adult, and this is going to sound a bit narcissistic but, I’m not that into looking at what other people do. I think it’s important to know what comes from yourself because as soon as you see something, you pick it up subconsciously and it does affect you. In that aspect, Instagram for example has not been the best platform because it’s like it’s too much photography and you can lose yourself in it. I find it funny when people are like -oh you are a photographer, and they talk about some famous photographer, I’m like: Yea.. Most of the times I have no idea who they’re talking about. (Laughing)

You woke up. But I didn’t

You woke up. But I didn’t

Your work has been widely featured on many platforms, printed and digital. How do you feel about the rise of social media, and Instagram culture in particular and its effect on your work?

I feel a little conflicted about it, as it’s given me a lot. Being able to connect with people has been invaluable. I’ve actually met a few people from there and some have become really close friends. What I don’t like is that you have to please a wider range to make your posts be seen, especially now with the order of the posts not being chronological. I am really against that when it comes to art. Art should never be about being likeable. It should be about being able to tell whatever and do whatever you want and not be about thinking: are people are going to like this? Because if they don’t the post is going to disappear from your followers feeds, so you don’t just lose likes, you lose visibility too. You’re contrived to choose: do what you assume people generally like and be visible, or just do your thing and possibly disappear. The system and algorithm that gives you the rankings kick the already weak, unless you pay the platform not to be kicked at. As a result we become less brave and slowly we’re reshaped into similar subcategory moulds.
Another issue I have is the pace. Everything goes so fast. With that speed things can of course spread rapidly, but it also enables both your images, concept and ideas to get copied with the same speed. People often repost without giving credit. Eventually it just spins and no-one knows who the originator is. Before the internet, if you got published you were the creator and you were entitled to your work. But today, the same second as you post something, someone can go out and take a similar picture and upload it the
same day. If it’s a good visual idea, people will copy it until it’s impossible to track where it came from. It has taken decades for me to develop my style and sort of come to where I’m at today. I find it really important to not do what everybody else does. It’s to a point where I have to let go of work I’ve been refining for years, because I don’t want to be someone who is following a ”trend”. I perceive it as getting my identity stolen when someone imitates a visual concept I have, for it’s forcing me to abandon my concept, no matter how much I love it. I’ve conducted several hunts in the DMs during the past two years, which has made me rather unpopular. No one ever admits it anyway. Which must stem from that people aren’t even aware of that they’ve been influenced. I know this is a bit mental, and not very nice at all. Some of it might just be in my head too. Plus I’m probably guilty of doing the same shit myself.

What is your favourite piece of photography gear?

You know I really agree with the saying, the best camera is the one you have with you. I actually shoot with my phone a lot when I should be shooting with something more solid. And afterwards I’m thinking: why didn’t I just go and get my camera? I really think it’s important to bring your equipment with you everywhere you go, at the least for the period you set out to shoot. It can be kind of hard to relax constantly being on standby but afterwards you hardly ever regret it.

Act normal. I am

Act normal. I am

Any pro tips for aspiring photographers on how to get their work seen?

Firstly, well this is going to sound weird but: Don’t submit your work! Magazines run in the same direction as everyone else. If you get a good reach in your niche you will be contacted by magazines. If you submit your work, you don’t have the psychological advantage of being contacted by them and be this unattainable “thing” that they’ve found and want. You have to kind of be admired from a distance. If you submit and indirectly ask to get published, you may make the editors feel as if they are doing you a favour and not the other way around. This may not work for everybody, but honestly me ever getting published has never been a result of me submitting anything. Secondly, you have to have your own heartbeat. Let’s say you find a concept that’s already popular and you try to copy it, you’d have to beat everyone in that category to get attention. Though if you create something on your own which no-one else really does then
you are only competing with yourself. And eventually a lot of imitators...nah just kidding. (Laughs)

Follow Alba on Instagram and visit her website to see more of her photography at www.alba.giertz.com

Homes of India - Alina Fedorenko

From my first travel experience, India inspired me in my photography. This time I returned with a deeper perspective on the real life of people in India, a portrayal of Indian culture that is most intimate. A home is the soul of its owner and the most intimate place of a person. It tells a story about the residents living in it. Every home and its occupants have their own story of life to tell, in India the colours help to tell the rest.

I portraiture families, men and women, young and old people all living in different slum areas in the north part of India, such as Rajasthan and Delhi.

Most of the people in my work live a life at the edge of existence and are socially disadvantaged. In India, financially unstable families usually share a small house with up to six to seven members. It is a common scene of the slums. Most of these households have only one room, which is being shared with the whole family. One third of the slums are devoid of an indoor toilet. The ones that do have a toilet are not connected with proper sewage systems. Many generations are sharing life and dependant on each other. I want my work also to act as a reminder of the importance of family and shared values, which is a certain kind of wealth that even those who have less can cherish and enjoy. 

 

Follow Alina on Instagram and see more award winning work on her website: alina-fedorenko.com