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The fine line between plugging and commemorating

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Wow, I had no idea there was a Samantha Stevens--"Bewitched"--statue in Salem, MA. But there is, and she was part of a campaign TV Land launched in 2000, commemorating shows they planned on continuing in re-runs; other statues included Opie & Andy in Raleigh, NC, MTM's Mary Richards in Minneapolis, and Bob Newhart's Dr. Robert Hartley in Chicago. The 8-ft bronze Samantha was erected in June of '05, to the delight of some TV Land die-hards and the chagrin of some who didn't embrace the irony. Most recently, the statue has inspired photographer Jennifer Layzer's new series, "The Salem Project," as elucidated in her statement:

I am concerned with the collective misremembering of history. My reading of first-hand accounts of the Salem witchcraft crisis informs these photographic reenactments, in which I use contemporary plastic dolls to comment on the commercialization and trivialization of horrific events. The anachronism of these scenes brings past events closer to the present, makes history more immediate.

If you're in Boston, you can catch her photos this Thursday at a Brattle Theatre silent auction. And speaking of film-and-TV reified via statues, those publicly displayed tablets of The Ten Commandments (the ones that have been the locus of separation of church & state issues)? Well, most of them were installed in 1956 to help promote Charlton Heston & co. in The Ten Commandments. Director Cecile B. DeMille was really just piggybacking on a program to implement the tablets that was spearheaded by the Fraternal Order of the Eagles. That's some really formidable publicity!

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Art
Artist Makes Colorful Prints From 1990s VHS Tapes

A collection of old VHS tapes offers endless crafting possibilities. You can use them to make bird houses, shelving units, or, if you’re London-based artist Dieter Ashton, screen prints from the physical tape itself.

As Co.Design reports, the recent London College of Communication graduate was originally intrigued by the art on the cover of old VHS and cassette tapes. He planned to digitally edit them as part of a new art project, but later realized that working with the ribbons of tape inside was much more interesting.

To make a print, Ashton unravels the film from cassettes and VHS tapes collected from his parents' home. He lets the strips fall randomly then presses them into tight, tangled arrangements with the screen. The piece is then brought to life with vibrant patterns and colors.

Ashton has started playing with ways to incorporate themes and motifs from the films he's repurposing into his artwork. If the movie behind one of his creations isn’t immediately obvious, you can always refer to its title. His pieces are named after movies like Backdraft, Under Siege, and that direct-to-video Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen classic Passport to Paris.

Screen print made from an old VHS tape.

Screen print made from an old VHS tape.

Screen print made from an old VHS tape.

Screen print made from an old VHS tape.

Screen print made from an old VHS tape.

Screen print made from an old VHS tape.

[h/t Co.Design]

All images courtesy of Dieter Ashton

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photography
This Is What Flowers Look Like When Photographed With an X-Ray Machine
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Dr. Dain L. Tasker, “Peruvian Daffodil” (1938)

Many plant photographers choose to showcase the vibrant colors and physical details of exotic flora. For his work with flowers, Dr. Dain L. Tasker took a more bare-bones approach. The radiologist’s ghostly floral images were recorded using only an X-ray machine, according to Hyperallergic.

Tasker snapped his pictures of botanical life while he was working at Los Angeles’s Wilshire Hospital in the 1930s. He had minimal experience photographing landscapes and portraits in his spare time, but it wasn’t until he saw an X-ray of an amaryllis, taken by a colleague, that he felt inspired to swap his camera for the medical tool. He took black-and-white radiographs of everything from roses and daffodils to eucalypti and holly berries. The otherworldly artwork was featured in magazines and art shows during Tasker’s lifetime.

Selections from Tasker's body of work have been seen around the world, including as part of the Floral Studies exhibition at the Joseph Bellows Gallery in San Diego in 2016. Prints of his work are also available for purchase from the Stinehour Wemyss Editions and Howard Greenberg Gallery.

Dr. Dain L. Tasker, “Philodendron” (1938)
Dr. Dain L. Tasker, “Philodendron” (1938)

X-ray image of a rose.
Dr. Dain L. Tasker, “A Rose” (1936)

All images courtesy of Joseph Bellows Gallery.

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