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Jimmy Nelson spent his early days in Nigeria—his father was a geologist for Shell—and his adolescence at a Jesuit boarding school in northern England. He was 16 when he contracted cerebral malaria while visiting his parents in Africa, but when he returned to school he was “treated” with the wrong medicine. The next morning, his hair had fallen out. Two years later, tired of living like an outcast—he’d had enough of being judged by his appearance—he fled to where bald heads were not only accepted, but seemingly the norm. By then, he had also found photography.

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Mike from Mother Jones writes, "Josh Harkinson profiles David Bronner, the 40-year-old, hallucinogen-dropping, Burning Man-attending scion of the Dr. Bronner's soap empire, who channels roughly half of the company's substantial profits into activism, including the Washington State GMO-labeling bill that voters will decide upon tomorrow. Bronner, who favors the labeling of foods with GMO ingredients, has been arrested for planting hemp seeds on the DEA's lawn and for a performance-art protest where he milled hemp seeds in a cage outside the White House. He also sued the DEA (and won), so that his company could legally obtain hemp oil as a soap ingredient. Since David took over, Dr. Bronner's sales have soared. It's on track to bring in $64 million in revenues this year. But in a strike against corporate greed, Bronner has capped the company's top salaries at five times that of the lowest-paid warehouse worker."

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Original author: 
Marco Bohr

As the old expression “a canary in a coal mine” suggests, the small songbirds have long been a symbol of a type of early-detection system — a way of indicating something that might otherwise remain unknown. And just as the old coal mine canaries alerted miners to invisible gases and fumes, the camera is capable of capturing moments that might pass unrevealed, or undiscovered. The striking pictures in Japanese artist Lieko Shiga’s series, Canary — currently on display at the Fotografiemuseum Amsterdam FOAM — references this powerful metaphor with images that are not immediately recognizable, nor easily understood, but that are nevertheless laden with meaning.

The Amsterdam show is comprised of an extensive body of work first published as a book in 2007 — a book that has since become something of a classic among photobook collectors. The majority of images in Canary are utterly fantastical, bordering on the surreal: a giant animal skull in a room lit by mysterious blue light; a fireball writhing in midair; a woman floating above the half-naked body of a man lying in bed. Elaborate and visually arresting dreamscapes, the pictures’ effectiveness is largely achieved through an intriguing interplay between light and color. However, much of the work is also manipulated: relying on analog technologies, some negatives appear scratched while other effects appear to have been produced in the darkroom. The extent of this manipulation varies. As Shiga points out: “I always try to approach the subject in its own way.” The photographer’s methods, in other words, are dictated by the subject of the image, and not the other way around.

Perhaps because most of the images in the Canary series were produced at night or in dark, interior spaces, the work at-once possesses and exudes an unsettling, ambiguous aura. The viewer’s sense of stumbling upon another’s intensely personal dreamscape is heightened even further in the photos where the identity of the subject is disguised.

In “Restaurant Surtaj,” for instance, the details of a restaurant interior recede before the eerie presence of a woman whose face is obscured by a ghostly black presence. The photograph has the palpable sense of a half-remembered dream. The dreamer struggles to give shape to a dream — perhaps even recalling the table number in a restaurant — but can not bring into focus the face of her dinner companion.

Shiga’s work is strongly reminiscent of the black and white photography of Masatoshi Naito. In his classic project, Tono-Monogatari, from 1983, Naito interrogates the complex relationship between mysticism, spirituality and Japanese folklore in a striking series of nocturnal landscapes and portraits. By manipulating the photographic negative or print, however, Shiga also points to the inherent vulnerability of the human body. If not suspended, as it were, in Shiga’s imagination, many of her subjects would fall, collapse or drown, simply as a consequence of the laws of physics.

The emphasis on the body perhaps relates to Shiga’s past experience as a dancer, which she practiced before teaching herself photography. Rather than depicting or documenting a recognizable physical world, however, Shiga instead employs photography as a means of choreographing an emotionally and psychologically complex inner landscape.

Lieko Shiga is a Japanese fine-art photographer.

Marco Bohr is a photographer and writer based in London. He maintains the Visual Culture blog.

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Original author: 
WSJ Staff

In today’s pictures, a man tends to one of his goats in Ireland, injured people receive treatment after an explosion in Syria, a holy man helps his adopted child into a yoga headstand in India, and more.

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Original author: 
Rob Alderson

List

Bored of the latest brand press release explaining why brand x has tweaked their logo ever so slightly to reflect their revitalised sense of self blah blah blah? Well this new book by Artur Beifuss and Francesco Trivini Bellini is just the tonic, analysing as it does the logos of terrorist groups from across the world. These insurgent movements are working at the sharp end of graphic design, needing their logos to recruit supporters, visualise their aims and ambitions and work across quite heterogenous socio-cultural contexts.

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Werwin15

Researchers have devised two new attacks on the Transport Layer Security and Secure Sockets Layer protocols, the widely used encryption schemes used to secure e-commerce transactions and other sensitive traffic on the Internet.

The pair of exploits—one presented at the just-convened 20th International Workshop on Fast Software Encryption and the other scheduled to be unveiled on Thursday at the Black Hat security conference in Amsterdam—don't pose an immediate threat to the millions of people who rely on the Web-encryption standards. Still, they're part of a growing constellation of attacks with names including BEAST, CRIME, and Lucky 13 that allow determined hackers to silently decrypt protected browser cookies used to log in to websites. Together, they underscore the fragility of the aging standards as they face an arsenal of increasingly sophisticated exploits.

"It illustrates how serious this is that there are so many attacks going on involving a protocol that's been around for years and that's so widely trusted and used," Matthew Green, a professor specializing in cryptography at Johns Hopkins University, told Ars. "The fact that you now have CRIME, BEAST, Lucky 13, and these new two attacks within the same week really illustrates what a problem we're facing."

Read 14 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Viviane Sassen’s gorgeous, inscrutable fine art images from Africa have earned her acclaim and a place in the Museum of Modern Art. But recently, her surreal and equally beautiful fashion photography has been garnering attention, too: in 2011, Sassen won the prestigious International Center of Photography’s Infinity Award for Applied/Fashion/Advertising Photography, and more than 300 of her fashion images are on view at Amsterdam’s Huis Marseille Museum for Photography through mid-March 2013 in a show titled, Viviane Sassen / In and Out of Fashion.

Born in Amsterdam, Sassen lived in Kenya — where her father worked in a polio clinic — between the ages of 2 and 5. Because the continent looms so large in her work, I asked her to describe her earliest memories from Africa.

“I remember,” she told me, “how Rispa, our nanny, woke me up one early morning and took me to a deserted football field to pick small white mushrooms. I remember the taste of sugarcane and ugali [a dish similar to polenta], orange Fanta and the bloody goat heads in the market in Kisumu.”

Returning to the Netherlands was difficult for her: “I didn’t feel I belonged in Europe, yet I knew I was a foreigner in Africa.”

As a young woman, Sassen enrolled in a university fashion design program and also modeled. Recalling her modeling work, she says that she “can relate to how a girl might feel in front of a camera: sometimes bored, tired or simply stressed or insecure. And then the shoes … three sizes too small but with killer heels. It’s not always fun to be a model.”

Nevertheless, she says she “got to know a lot of photographers; they made me aware that they controlled the image. That’s what I wanted, too; I wanted to be in control of the image … to create it.”

Viviane Sassen

Viviane Sassen

Sassen made the leap into photography. She recalls that “in the beginning, [photographers] like Nan Goldin and Nobuyoshi Araki [were] very important for my work because of their formal language, but also because they depicted their own lives in a way that appealed to me.”

A turning point in her own photography came in 2002 when she returned to Africa with her husband. The fine art photography she has made there in the past decade shines as some of the most original, unexpected work to emerge from the continent by a Western photographer. But one finds no victims of war or famine here; instead, the viewer confronts contemporary Africans engaged in sophisticated, if mysterious, dream performances.

“Working in Africa opens doors of my subconscious,” Sassen explains. “Sometimes, when I wake up in the morning after very vivid dreams or if I just suddenly have an idea, I sketch. My photographs are sometimes almost literal pictures of these sketches.” At other times, she says, “I might just find something on the street that excites me.”

Her images are somehow primal and hallucinatory at once: two youths embrace in the dark, a giant banana leaf sprouting between them; a figure lies nestled in the diaphanous green cloud of a fishing net; a boy lounges on the ground, his limbs painted bright turquoise. Critic Vince Aletti says that Sassen “tends to treat the body as a sculptural element—a malleable shape that combines with blocks of shadow and bright color in arrangements that sometimes read like cut-paper collages, bold and abstract but full of vibrant life.”

One key part of the body that is often missing or obscured is the human face, as models turn away from the camera or appear with their faces cloaked in shadow. As Aaron Schuman noted in Aperture, the images might thus “appear to ignore the individuals they portray and instead inherently possess—maybe even propagate—the problematic histories, legacies, and relationships between Africa and the West. But perhaps in Sassen’s case this is the point, at least in part, and where the power of her photographs lies.”

Viviane Sassen

Viviane Sassen

Within these mirror-like voids, Sassen allows the viewer to reflect on the clichés and prejudices Westerners so often fall back on when engaging the vast continent and its inhabitants.

“I want to seduce the viewer with a beautiful formal approach,” says Sassen, “and at the same time, leave something disturbing.”

Sassen’s fashion work borrows much from her fine art—obscured faces, extraordinary color. The acute graphic sensibility of Sassen’s fine art, meanwhile, works wonders in magazine spreads. In an elemental way, though, the museum show and Sassen’s images (made for magazines like Wallpaper, Purple and Dazed & Confused, and for brands like Levi’s and Stella McCartney) don’t make sense at all.

As Sassen told the British Journal of Photography in its December 2012 issue, “I find exhibitions of fashion photography within the context of a museum rather problematic. Most fashion images aren’t art, they’re fashion photographs—which is fine, but if you put them in a museum, enlarged and in a frame, they become something else…. Art photography doesn’t have to serve any purpose, fashion photography does, and that makes a difference…. [Then] there are images which are really between art and fashion, which I hope I do myself.”

Sassen hit upon a solution to this conundrum: projecting fashion images on museum walls, so the work retains a “kind of disposable feel.” Furthermore, Sassen has said she doesn’t care much about clothes. “My interest is not the interest of the fashion industry. My interest is to make fascinating pictures…. It’s always about desire and fear, about making images that are both appealing and unsettling.”

Viviane Sassen

Viviane Sassen

Nevertheless, Sassen says she loves the “swiftness of fashion” as opposed to the “contemplated process of making art.” I asked her about the difference between shooting for magazines and shooting for advertisements.

“What I like about fashion magazines is that they create a platform to experiment and to work closely with people who can be super inspiring. I call it my laboratory. [It] should be like an adventure; not knowing where your play will lead you. When you’re working on fashion campaigns for a commercial brand it’s often much less experimental, but still creative in the sense that you have to match the pieces of a puzzle.”

Sassen has used a computer to retouch some of her images, but mostly avoids it. “I think that something beautiful is even more charming when it’s not too perfect. You don’t want to feel the artificiality of the image, you want to believe in it. I feel related to reality, while slick images feel exchangeable.”

Sassen’s lifelong interest in Africa — and her ongoing explorations of her own subconscious — have contributed to some of the most riveting fashion photography being made today. For a photographer rooted in (or, as she puts it, “related to”) reality, her magazine work is a revelation.

See more of Sassen’s work at VivianeSassen.com.

Myles Little is an associate photo editor at TIME.

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Around the globe people celebrated with fireworks, kisses, toasts, cheers, and plunges into icy bodies of water to welcome the new year. Here's a look at how some of them marked the transition. -- Lloyd Young ( 39 photos total)
A woman celebrates the new year as she watches fireworks exploding above Copacabana beach in Rio de Janeiro on Jan. 1. More than two million people gathered along Rio's most famous beach to witness the 20-minute display and celebrate the beginning of a new year. (Pilar Olivares/Reuters)

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