I’m a huge fan of alternative Christmas trees in urban centers, from last year’s plastic bottle tree in Lithuania to the abstract tree currently up in Brussels, any idea seems better than heading out to the local forest and hacking down a pine tree older than my grandparents. This year in Hasselt, Belgium a pair from the design firm Mooz created this concept of an enormous tree covered in 5,000 pieces of ceramic donated from local residents. Called the “Taste Tree” the piece was meant to be a sort of communal celebration as residents were invited to contribute unused dishes to the tree that now stands nearly 30 ft. tall in Hassel’s main square. (via designboom)
Using a rotring pen on white paper, Cornwall-based artist Mark Lascelles Thornton has embarked on a massive architectural drawing project called the The Happiness Machine. Each panel represents a stylized red and grayscale representation of architectural highlights from eight locations, so far including Chicago, New York, London and what appears to be a mix of Asian skyscrapers (Taipei, Kuala Lumpur, etc.). In addition to the meticulous detail of the buildings and clouds, the piece is all the more incredible considering its scale: the final piece will include eight panels spanning 8 ft. by 5 ft. (2.4 m. x 1.5 m.). The images here are great but you can see everything in much more detail over on his Tumblr. (via devid sketchbook)
The medium of choice for artist Robert Wechsler is U.S. pennies, tens of thousands of which (the largest uses 26,982 coins) he has carefully cut and assembled into a latticework forming perfect cubes. Weschler says of the penny:
With fifty billion currently in circulation, the penny is one of humanity’s most numerous objects, but despite its commonality, it is an extraordinarily rich artifact. As a symbol of American culture, it is on par with the Statue of Liberty. It is a monument to a beloved president. It is a proclamation of a national faith and creed. It is a time stamped record of our civilization. As much ornament as legal tender, the penny is equal parts form and function. It defines elegance just as its ubiquity, low monetary value, and high symbolic value defines humility.
Fine artist and designer INSA creates elaborately painted walls that are photographed in sequence to create these amazing, psychedelic animated gifs. His latest piece (top 3 images) is a collaboration with artist Stanley Donwood called Hollywood Dooom to help celebrate the release of a new album for Atoms for Peace, AMOK, for which Donwood did the album artwork. INSA painted the entire exterior of XL Recordingsfour times to create the frames for the animation. Of the work he says:
My challenge was to take two very static items, a beautiful lino-cut and a less beautiful box of a building, and bring them to life. After a week of sweating in the Los Angeles late summer sun re-painting the whole building several times I got there. Animated as a continuous GIF it may only live online but some would argue that is where most now live there lives…
Since 2006 Pittsburgh-based husband and wife Paul Roden and Valerie Lueth have run the Tugboat Printshop, a traditional printmaking studio where everything is made by hand, starting with the giant slabs of wood into which each of their images are carved. The Moon is their largest hand-carved relief print ever coming in at 36″ x 32″ (91 x 82 cm) and will printed using two colors. If you’re interested they documented the process of carving the beautiful illustration which is now available for pre-order, and I also recommend checking out their other prints. (via cloud junky)
Get out the headphones or turn up your speakers and prepare to be impressed by archaic 19th century engineering. Relying on dozens of moving parts including gears, springs, and a bellows, this small contraption built in 1890 was designed to do one thing: perfectly mimic the random chatter of a song bird. At first I expected to hear a simple repeating pattern of tweets, but the sounds produced by the mechanism are actually quite complex and vary in pitch, tone, and even volume to create a completely realistic song. I think if you closed your eyes you might not be able to tell the difference between this and actual birdsong. It’s believed the machine was built 120 years ago in Paris by Blaise Bontems, a well-known maker of bird automata and was recently refurbished by Michael Start over at The House of Automata. Can any of you ornithologists identify the bird? If so, get in touch. (via the automata blog)
This is a beautiful video showing the exquisite control of 27-year old Indonesian artist Elfan Diary as he draws a new portrait. Watch as he works with Fine Color markers, a Sakura Pigma Micron pen, and standard Faber-Castell colored pencils over a period of about three hours. Beautiful work.