Category: Art


Visarute Angkatavanich hails from Thailand and has a wonderful talent for photographing fish. I keep fish, but I can never get mine to stay still long enough to be photographed properly ;-). And my photos of fish never come out as envisioned. Quite possibly because my weapon of choice is a mobile phone camera and not a professional SLR with all the bells, stops and whistles attached to it. And definitely because I am not a patient person who’s willing to sit for hours watching for the perfect photo opportunity. I’m like that proverbial Panda that eats, shoots and leaves lol. Visarute uses specialised lighting and crystal clear water to shoot his subjects. (I have problems getting my fish tank water to stay clear and my subjects to stay alive long enough!)

Visarute is perhaps most famous for his portraits of Siamese Fighting Fish or Betta Splendens. A fitting tribute, for these fish originate from his own homeland and are part of a rich cultural history going back to the 19th century and Siamese royalty.

Here are some examples of Visarute’s glorious Bettas, courtesy of Google Images:

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To me, it seems almost balletic, the way the wavy fins appear to dance in mid-air. The Betta Splendens is a beautiful fish in its own right, and Visarute has managed to enhance its attributes even more, with his photographic prowess.

I also found on Google some examples of Visarute’s photography that are Not of the Betta Splendens. This leads me to believe that he is flexing his photographic skills and observing the characteristics of other types of animals, no doubt in the near future we shall see more of his astounding works.

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Portrait of Visarute Angkatanavich and his beautiful young family (from Google Images):

Family portrait

 

I contacted Visarute on Facebook, and asked if he would like to add anything to my post here. He told me that his work is available on Amazon through this link:

http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=art_artist_search?node=6685269011&field-keywords=Visarute+Angkatavanich

 

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Burning Man

(Excerpt taken from the website of the Burning Man):

What is Burning Man?
Once a year, tens of thousands of participants gather in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert to create Black Rock City, dedicated to community, art, self-expression, and self-reliance. They depart one week later, having left no trace whatsoever. Burning Man is also an ever-expanding year-round culture based on the Ten Principles.

What Isn’t Burning Man?
Burning Man isn’t your usual festival, with big acts booked to play on massive stages. In fact, it’s more of a city than a festival, wherein almost everything that happens is created entirely by its citizens, who are active participants in the event.

This year’s Burning Man is from August 25 – Sept 1, 2014

I came across this video which captures the spirit and principles of Burning Man accurately: it’s by
KQED and it won an Emmy award recently. Here it is:

<a href="http://youtu.be/DHW8zydRV4M“>http://youtu.be/DHW8zydRV4M

I want to be a Flaming Lotus Girl, and I want to go to the Burning Man so badly! But it would cost me thousands of dollars, which I don’t have. It will also be a trip halfway round the world, and I’ll have to get (child+pet+house)sitters in, more expenses I just cannot afford. SIGH. So, I’ll have to contend with living the festival vicariously through videos and photos shared by the lucky, lucky ones who get to go. If you DO go, feel free to post me some photos and I will add them here.

Watching videos of previous Burning Man festivals, out there in the desert with the strange lights, music and people in out-of-this-world costumes doing fantastically weird things, I’m reminded of the time I took my son to Disneyland Paris. One evening, at dusk, there was a musical troupe playing near the spaceship ride. They were dressed in layered burlap, and the instruments they played were modified saxophones or similar. On their heads they wore strange miner’s hardhats with attached (literally) overhead lights that moved as they played. The headgear was strangely reminiscent of angler fish. As it was dusk and the natural light was failing, I didn’t get any decent photos of them. But I remember that experience as if it was yesterday and not 6 years ago; the images are indelibly etched into my mind. It was, to put it simply, a magical experience.

It felt like a scene out of Star Wars, and I was transported to dusty Tatooine amongst its unwashed Jawas and Tusken Raiders. The musicians could have been a cross between the two races.

That is the sort of feeling I believe I would experience at the Burning Man festival.

Burning Man leans strongly on 10 Principles (excerpt taken from this link):

Burning Man Founder Larry Harvey wrote the Ten Principles in 2004 as guidelines for the newly-formed Regionals Network. They were crafted not as a dictate of how people should be and act, but as a reflection of the community’s ethos and culture as it had organically developed since the event’s inception.

Radical Inclusion
Anyone may be a part of Burning Man. We welcome and respect the stranger. No prerequisites exist for participation in our community.

Gifting
Burning Man is devoted to acts of gift giving. The value of a gift is unconditional. Gifting does not contemplate a return or an exchange for something of equal value.

Decommodification
In order to preserve the spirit of gifting, our community seeks to create social environments that are unmediated by commercial sponsorships, transactions, or advertising. We stand ready to protect our culture from such exploitation. We resist the substitution of consumption for participatory experience.

Radical Self-reliance
Burning Man encourages the individual to discover, exercise and rely on his or her inner resources.

Radical Self-expression
Radical self-expression arises from the unique gifts of the individual. No one other than the individual or a collaborating group can determine its content. It is offered as a gift to others. In this spirit, the giver should respect the rights and liberties of the recipient.

Communal Effort
Our community values creative cooperation and collaboration. We strive to produce, promote and protect social networks, public spaces, works of art, and methods of communication that support such interaction.

Civic Responsibility
We value civil society. Community members who organize events should assume responsibility for public welfare and endeavor to communicate civic responsibilities to participants. They must also assume responsibility for conducting events in accordance with local, state and federal laws.

Leaving No Trace
Our community respects the environment. We are committed to leaving no physical trace of our activities wherever we gather. We clean up after ourselves and endeavor, whenever possible, to leave such places in a better state than when we found them.

Participation
Our community is committed to a radically participatory ethic. We believe that transformative change, whether in the individual or in society, can occur only through the medium of deeply personal participation. We achieve being through doing. Everyone is invited to work. Everyone is invited to play. We make the world real through actions that open the heart.

Immediacy
Immediate experience is, in many ways, the most important touchstone of value in our culture. We seek to overcome barriers that stand between us and a recognition of our inner selves, the reality of those around us, participation in society, and contact with a natural world exceeding human powers. No idea can substitute for this experience.

Anything goes at Burning Man. I recall Episode 1, Season 7 of my favourite comedy series, Malcolm in the Middle, where the entire family go to the festival in an RV. Each member of the family has their own epiphany whilst there. Malcolm, for one, gets born again…literally passing through an obstacle course simulating the contractions of a womb, complete with pink jelly.

Some Google images of past Burning Man (Men??):

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So, today the Kid and I saddled up our bags and headed up to town (Perth, Western Australia), to abandon some Art.

This is my very 1st foray, by the way.  I chose today as this week and the next, during the school holidays, Perth has an outdoor ice skating rink and a snow dome, and there will be plenty of people around. All the better Not to notice 2 people leaving Art behind here and there.

I’d put the canvasses and cards in IKEA Ziploc bags, in case they weren’t picked up immediately and had to be protected from the elements. It has been very rainy lately, but luckily today was a cool but sunny day. Perfect weather!

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We left one on a bench in Murray Street.
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Hardly a minute later, this guy came along, picked it up, looked around him surreptitiously, read the Art Abandonment tag on the artwork, pocketed it and casually strolled off into a menswear shop.

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Another we left literally at the feet of a sculpture near the museum.

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A woman came along soon after and again, the surreptitious look around, followed by a careful read of the tag, (just making sure it was kosher!), then off she went with it.

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I passed by a really happy looking woman, we exchanged “Good Mornings”, and I explained what Art Abandonment was and gave her one of the artworks. And off she went on her happy way. Another I discretely placed in a baby stroller while no one was looking.

Here are other spots where we abandoned my Art today:

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And, talk about serendipity, we were down to the last artwork and walking up the road to Chinatown, when who should I meet but my own Uncle and Aunt! So, as the Heavens had decreed, I gifted that last piece to them with my blessings. I only see them once a year, so this meeting was not by accident but destined to be.

How did it feel to be abandoning art? My son summed it up very well, by saying it was “Like shoplifting or pickpocketing in reverse”. Yes, it was rather thrilling, wondering if anyone would notice or question our motives. But no one did, so we gleefully scampered away.

Here are some pics from the outdoor ice skating rink:

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Onwards to Art Abandonment Project #2!

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Having completed my previous mixed media Art Abandonment Project (links here and here), here is my next Project. This one is a series of square wrapped canvasses 8×8 inches, featuring images from my current “100 BUTTERFLIES” Project.

The square canvasses came from my local KMart and were $5 for 4. I used a mixture of gesso and acrylic gel medium to adhere my images. The images were printed onto vintage dressmaking pattern tissue paper (see my previous post “The Sartorial Butterfly“). This makes each piece unique, as I only have a fnite number of these vintage dressmaking pattern tissue paper.

Those of you who know my from my writing already know that I am a BIG FAN of RANDOMNESS, so I’m always thrilled to see how my art pieces turn out when printed on random pieces of printed tissue paper. I like to think of this technique as “digital + traditional mixed media photographic collage”.

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I printed off 6 different images, but somehow managed to get a duplicate …because I forgot to delete the previous print job. So I ended up with 7 prints. No matter, the 7th is most welcome to join the others.

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Here are 2 prints adhered to the canvas. I haven’t trimmed off the excess yet in this photo.

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All stuck on and trimmed. The top middle and bottom prints are the duplicates I mentioned earlier. Whilst the original images may be duplicates, the fact that they were printed on different dressmaking pattern tissue paper makes them very different and unique.

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I fingerpainted the edges of each canvas with black acrylic paint. The canvasses are sitting on top of spraycans and containers, to avoid smudging or sticking to my butcher paper groundsheet.

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Close up of the canvas prints, waiting to their black acrylic paint edges to dry.

The canvasses have been varnished and I have adhered an Art Abandonment tag to the back of each. I have also included a business card with each as well, that I created on MOO. The artwork has been sealed in clear plastic ziploc bags to protect them from the elements. These will be going out with me somewhere to be abandoned very soon. I haven’t decided just where yet…probably somewhere in Perth CBD, I hear there’s going to be a winter outdoor skating rink put up near the Library and Museum, that might be just the ideal spot.

I know it’s unlikely that I’ll ever get an a knowledgement or email or even a post to the Art Abandonment Project Facebook page, but one can hope, right? It would be so wonderful to receive notification that someone got my Art and appreciated it enough to let me know, whether directly or indirectly.

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Following on from my post yesterday, here’s what’s developed between then and now. (I try to get ahead of myself by a number of posts, so I don’t always write in sequence, and even if you read 2 posts one after the other, they may have been written a week or more apart, as is the case with this).

I had some stamps that I wanted to use on my cards, however as I’d spray varnished the surface of the artwork already, my stamping inks simply slid off. Ok…now what? I decided to try washi taping the borders of the cards instead, to give them a more handcrafted look.

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Ok, those look good enough to go. I’ve adhered a printed tag on the backs and also on the envelopes, explaining what the Art Abandonment Project is about.

Now all I need is a kick in the proverbial to get out there and start leaving them at random places for people to find!

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A little while back, I wrote about the Art Abandonment Project. And I decided to have a go at abandoning Art myself.

I bought a set of 5 brown blank cards and string envelopes from my local KMart. I think it cost me under $5. I have always loved those envelopes which you secure not by licking a gummed flap but instead twist the attached string in a figure 8 around a circular brad.

I don’t usually create my art in a square format, so I didn’t have any real pieces to fit the square cards. What I did have an abundant supply of, however, were many prints on tissue paper that I had rejected because of imperfections in the printing process itself. Meaning streaks, smudges, incomplete prints, inaccurately lined up prints, prints where the colours of the inks had run, prints where the tissue was torn in places. These are what I would use on the blank cards. Waste not, want not.

Plus, I also had to hand a number of embellishments and stamps that I could use to spice up my handmade cards.

imageFirstly, I spread acrylic gel medium over the front of the card blanks, then adhered my tissue prints to them.

imageI then cut around the card and put aside the cast-offs. I’m sure I’ll be able to find a use for them…as gift tags, perhaps?

imageHere they are, with their extra bits chopped off ;-).

imageAnd here they are with their corresponding envelopes. I’ve put one in and done the figure-8 bit to close the envelope, just to show you. There’s another card inserted halfway into its envelope.

imageThese are the 5 cards I’ll be abandoning. I shall seal them with a coat or two of spray varnish. I’ve already printed off some Art Abandonment tags onto watercolour paper and vellum, which I will use on the envelopes, so that the lucky recipient of my Abandoned Art understands what it is all about.

To be continued in Part II next.

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Once in a while, I feel the urge to conduct some sort of retrospective look at my Art. It’s a way of looking back to the past at what I’ve done, looking at the present at what I’m doing, and hopefully getting an idea of the direction I should be heading next.

By looking at the past, we learn what worked and what didn’t, and if we can learn from our mistakes, then we will know what to do and what not to do in the future. This applies to Life as much as it does to Art.

By looking at the past, I also find new inspiration. Something that I might have tried but didn’t turn out as expected the last time might be more successful this time, now that I have a little, or a lot, more experience and/or technology has advanced enough for my original idea to work. Or, something that Did work but got sideswiped in my rush to try new things might get resurrected for Round Two.

I sometimes look at a favourite piece of mine and marvel at how I managed to create that look or effect. Wow, was I that good? Ha ha ha…I haven’t a clue now how I did it. 😆 Seriously, I don’t!

Anyway, here are some of my own personal favourites, from back when I first started in iPhoneography at the end of 2010, right up to this year, 2014. You may notice that after 2013 I dropped the year from my digital signature, as I felt it dated the artwork…that pun was intentional, by the way ;).

As the words of that famous song go – “These are a few of my favourite things”:

image This is of a bird sitting amongst the branches of a Coral Tree (Erythrina Lysistemon). I love those trees and every year I will cycle around my area looking for their brilliant, scarlet flowers to fuel my next photographic project. The best time to photography Coral trees, in Western Australia anyway, is in July-September. This image reminds of of an Hermès scarf, perhaps it’s the vibrant colours against the white background.

image Gardenia. I love how this turned out looking like the flower at the top has been highlighted. The colours are romantic, the light is soft, and the fact that the flower at the bottom has flaws only makes it more real to life. This image went over to New Zealand for the MINA photography exhibition in 2011.

image I found a stand of huge sunflowers outside a neighbour’s garden in the Summer of 2012, and took over 200 photos of them. At the time, I was experimenting with Macro photography, using my iPhone 4′s native camera, and also some Olloclip-type lenses (I couldn’t afford the real thing so mine was from China on eBay), and my own homemade “Noodle Macro”, which was very simply the lens off a cheap plastic Twin Reflex camera, fixed into a slice of a swimming “noodle” float. I love this photo for its bright, saturated colours, and the fact that it looks like I’ve caught the sunflower in mid-furl.

image These “Hen and Chicks” Sempervivum were in a pot in my garden. I don’t recall which App or filter I used to process the photo on my iPhone 4, but the colours somehow changed and became varied, giving me this almost-floral image. I still have the original plant, only it’s been divided and replanted into several different pots now.

image At the time of creating this image, I was experimenting with combining DSLR photography with mobile photography, using an Olympus E-PM1, my Samsung Galaxy S3 mobile phone, and my iPad2. Between the three devices, I managed to produce this image of fallen frangipanis around a turquoise floral teacup and saucer. I liked how the teacup and saucer came out in the photo…which subsequently led me to experiment with using just teacups and saucers sans flowers, and stacking them…which in turn led to an entire series of images in a project I called “The Madhatter’s Teaparty”.

image I can’t remember the name of these purple trumpet flowers. They are quite small, about an inch long each, growing in clusters off a medium-sized tree. By the time I took this photo, the leaves were quite wilted. I like the old-fashioned, romantic, grunged-up look, and the contrast between the turquoise glass and the purple flowers.

image This was an experiment in 2013, again using my Olympus E-PM1 DSLR camera, my Samsung Galaxy S3 and iPad2. Somehow, the petals at the end of the lefthand-side stems appear to have mysteriously disappeared into the ether. I like the bokeh, colours and textures in this.

image This is one of my favourites…the blue colour of the glass vase really pops. The 3 Chrysanthemums – pink, purple and yellow – contrast well with the blue and turquoise tones of the vase and the background. I love the grunged up textures here too. The title of this one is “A Beautiful Mess”.

image I love the simplicity of this image. Just a few tweaks of colour saturation and contrast, the addition of a multi-coloured background, and a “rainy day” effect filter.

image This one I mistakenly called “Red Poppy” before I did some research and realised those were Anemones, not Poppies. (I’m terrible at identifying plants, just so you know. I once went around telling everyone I had photos of Peonies when in actual fact they were of Parrot Tulips). I wrote a tutorial about how I created this particular image – here.

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…got your attention, didn’t I? ;)

When I lived in Spain, a few years ago, I fell in love with the “Hand of Fatima” door knockers. This type of door knocker is commonly seen in Portugal too. I believe the origins are Moorish, or Islamic, and adopted by the Catholics in neighbouring countries. With the rise of online sales and auction sites like eBay and Etsy etc, and global delivery becoming the norm, you can pretty much see these hand-type knockers in every corner of the world nowadays. That’s because they are just so darn elegant and pretty.

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I was going to find further information about the “Hand of Fatima” knockers, but then I found someone else who’d already blogged about it. So instead I’ll share this fellow blogger’s post here:

http://wereallmadinhere.wordpress.com/2013/02/20/hand-shaped-door-knockers-a-short-history/

Which, in turn, gives a link to a Turkish photographer with a passion for these knockers:

http://members.virtualtourist.com/m/tt/a8cb3/

Knock yourselves out! (Sorry 😆).

Door knockers, in my opinion, are the thing that creates the first impression in your mind when you see a door. You might notice that the door is shoddy but wow! what a knocker! Or, the door itself might be wonderfully made and designed…but the knocker is commonplace or even lacking altogether. I love ornate door knockers, where you feel like you’re announcing a grand entrance. Even a shabby door can be elevated to achieve a certain romance and mystique, with a fantastic knocker.

Knockers come in all shapes and sizes, as you know (!). Even pop culture has added its mark to door knockers – see the Labyrinth-inspired knocker below. Knockers can be beautiful, whimsical, comical, romantic, inspirational, eccentric, or perhaps just plain bizarre. A bit like people, don’t you think?

Here are some of my favourite knockers that I’ve seen on my Pinterest travels:

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Well, winter’s here for sure…in Australia, anyhow. When folks in the Northern Hemisphere are celebrating the arrival of Summer and hot, sunny days, here Down Under we are getting into our spell of wet, cold and dark days. Mind you, in Western Australia it doesn’t rain all that much…but when it does, it pours. No, we never get snow here in WA, our winters are too mild for that.

It’s the rain that, well, puts a dampener on things. I’m usually out and about on my trusty bicycle, but there’s a galeforce wind whipping up, it’s not the best time to be out on a bicycle. I braved the elements the other day, and I swear I nearly blew home in the wind. If I’d been on foot with an umbrella, I reckon I would’ve flown home with my shopping a la Mary Poppins!

So, when skies are grey and winds are a ablowin’ and it looks like rain, that’s when I bring out my Projects Book, for things to do indoors.

Actually, it isn’t a book, per se, but rather a Board on my Pinterest page, where I pin up interesting arty crafty projects that I want to try for myself.

Here are 3 such projects:

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I’m going to cover a cradled wooden panel (click here for instructions on how I create my panels) with Washi tape (click here for ideas I’ve collated on the uses of Washi tape). Then, I’ll create a bird or butterfly silhouette, plus trees/branches, and stick them to the panel.

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This one’s easy peasy. Use a Sharpie marker to draw your design on plain white china for simple yet beautiful decorative art. Then bake in the oven at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes. That makes the colours stayfast…but Not dishwasher safe. And definitely Not for table use. Maxwell & Williams has a good range of white tableware that would make excellent canvasses for your Sharpie art.

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This one I’m already currently working on. Only, instead of paper cutouts of butterflies, I’ve made several butterflies from superlight and airy FIMO AIR modelling clay. I just need to decide if I want to stick some printed designs on them, paint them, or simply arrange them in a shadow box, white on black.

Bring it on!

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I wanted to share these brilliant videos by Philip Scott Johnson, celebrating women in Art and Film. The first video takes the viewer through 500 years of Western Art, encapsulated by the faces of 90 celebrated paintings of women.  The music is Bach’s Sarabande from Suite for Solo Cello no.1 in G Major, BWW 1007, played by acclaimed cellist Yo-Yo Ma.

If you’re wondering who the women are in the video above, check out this site for a comprehensive list with descriptions. In 2010, Philip Scott Johnson created a sequel of sorts to “Women in Art”.  “Women in Film” uses Bach’s Prelude from the same Cello Suite as above, again played by Yo-Yo Ma, but this time morphing the faces of famous actresses of the Western world, past and present, spanning a period of 80 years.

The actresses used in the making of Johnson’s video are: Mary Pickford, Lillian Gish, Gloria Swanson, Marlene Dietrich, Norma Shearer, Ruth Chatterton, Jean Harlow, Katharine Hepburn, Carole Lombard, Bette Davis, Greta Garbo, Barbara Stanwyck, Vivien Leigh, Greer Garson, Hedy Lamarr, Rita Hayworth, Gene Tierney, Olivia de Havilland, Ingrid Bergman, Joan Crawford, Ginger Rogers, Loretta Young, Deborah Kerr, Judy Garland, Anne Baxter, Lauren Bacall, Susan Hayward, Ava Gardner, Marilyn Monroe, Grace Kelly, Lana Turner, Elizabeth Taylor, Kim Novak, Audrey Hepburn, Dorothy Dandridge, Shirley MacLaine, Natalie Wood, Rita Moreno, Janet Leigh, Brigitte Bardot, Sophia Loren, Ann Margret, Julie Andrews, Raquel Welch, Tuesday Weld, Jane Fonda, Julie Christie, Faye Dunaway, Catherine Deneuve, Jacqueline Bisset, Candice Bergen, Isabella Rossellini, Diane Keaton, Goldie Hawn, Meryl Streep, Susan Sarandon, Jessica Lange, Michelle Pfeiffer, Sigourney Weaver, Kathleen Turner, Holly Hunter, Jodie Foster, Angela Bassett, Demi Moore, Sharon Stone, Meg Ryan, Julia Roberts, Salma Hayek, Sandra Bullock, Julianne Moore, Diane Lane, Nicole Kidman, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Angelina Jolie, Charlize Theron, Reese Witherspoon, Halle Berry

Both videos captured the public’s imagination so much so that to this day there exists several different versions of them, some set to contemporary music.  The versions in this post, however, are the original ones by Johnson himself. Philip Scott Johnson’s handle on YouTube is eggman913.  He has more “morph animations” that you can watch, as well as a whole list of other interesting artistic videos.

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