Artist and painter Yusuke Asai (previously) has a new mud mural on display at Houston’s Rice Gallery. Working day and night with a team of assistants, the Japanese artist, who is known for his “earth paintings” made from locally sourced mud and dirt, spent just under 2 weeks covering the walls and floors of the gallery with soil collected in Houston. “There are so many kinds of soil in Houston and Texas,” says Asai. “Initially I had hoped for 10 different shades, and ended up with 27: the widest spectrum of colors representing a specific place that I have ever used.”
But why mud, you might wonder? Asai explains: “Dirt is by nature very different than materials sold in art stores.” Seeds grow in it and it is home to many insects and micro organisms. It is a ‘living’ medium.”
The resulting large-scale mural is titled yamatane (mountain seed, in Japanese) and features real and imaginary creatures and plants. The mural is on display through November 23, 2014. (syndicated from Spoon & Tamago)
Italian artist Nunzio Paci works with pencil and oil paints to create strange amalgamations of plants and animals in what he describes as an intent to “explore the infinite possibilities of life, in search of a balance between reality and imagination.” Paci currently has a solo show including several of the pieces you see here at the Palazzo del Podestà in Bologna through October 12. (via Artchipel)
Australian artist Meredith Woolnough creates elaborate embroideries that mimic delicate forms of nature like leaves and coral. “I have been collecting skeletonized leaves for as long as I can remember,” says the artist, whose “traceries” capture the beauty and fragility of nature. Woolnough uses a special embroidery technique that involves a domestic sewing machine and a base cloth that dissolves in water after the piece is complete leaving just the skeleton. In a way, her process also mimics the natural process of leaves dying and drying up which, in turn, become the subject of her work.
The Bigger Picture is a new animated short from filmmaker Daisy Jacobs and animator Chris Wilder about two brothers struggling to care for their older monther. The film is notable for its animation technique that blends life-size wall-painted characters who inhabit full-size sets, interacting with real objects. Included here is the trailer and a nice making-of video that goes behind the scenes. The Bigger Picture is currently screening in film festivals around the world and has won more awards than you can shake a pair of leaf-covered sticks at. I seriously can’t wait to see this.
Artist and designer Eleanor Lutz has a special knack for science illustration. On her blog, Tabletop Whale, she recently shared this great series of admittedly non-scientific charts that deconstruct the wing patterns of birds and insects. After spreading across the web like wildfire the last few days she quickly turned it into a print available through Artsider. (via Kottke)
Doodle by bored medieval school boy. A 15th-century doodle in the lower margin of a manuscript containing Juvenal’s Satires, a popular classical text used to teach young children about morals. Photo: Carpentras, Bibliothèque municipale, MS 368.
For the past few years, medieval book historian Erik Kwakkel has been poring over some of the world’s oldest books and manuscripts at Leiden University, The Netherlands, as part of his ongoing research on pen trials. Pen trials are small sketches, doodles, and practice strokes a medieval scribe would make while testing the ink flow of a pen or quill. They usually involve funny faces, letter strokes, random lines, or geometric shapes and generally appear in the back of the book where a few blank pages could be found. Kwakkel shares via email:
From a book historical perspective pen trials are interesting because a scribe tends to write them in his native hand. Sometimes, when they moved to a different writing culture (another country or religious house) they adapted their writing style accordingly when copying real text—books. The trials, however, are done in the style of the region they were trained in, meaning the individuals give some information about themselves away.
In some sense, these sketches are like fingerprints or signatures, little clues that reveal a bit about these long forgotten scribes who copied texts but who had no real opportunity to express themselves while working. Including additional sketches or even initials in these books was often forbidden.
While many of Kwakkel’s discoveries are standard pen trials, other doodles he finds relate to a human concept as universal as topics discussed in these 13th and 14th century books such as love, morals, or religion. Specifically: boredom. It seems the tedium of reading through a philosophy textbook or law manuscript dates back to the very invention of books. Some of these scribbles were even made hundreds of years after a book’s publication, suggesting no margin is sacred when monotony is concerned.
Medieval smiley face. Conches, Bibliothèque municipale, MS 7 (main text 13th century, doodle 14th or 15th century).
Doodle discovered in a 13th-century law manuscript (Amiens BM 347).
Students with pointy noses. Leiden, University Library, MS BPL 6 C (13th century).
Leiden, Universiteitsbibliotheek, BPL MS 111 I, 14th-century doodle.
Leiden UB VLQ 92
Medieval scribes tested their pens by writing short sentences and drawing doodles. The pen trials above are from Oxford, Bodleian Library, Lat. misc. c. 66 (15th century).
Lucky for us, Kwakkel has left a trail of ancient doodle discoveries all across the web on his Twitter account, his Tumblr, and on his recently established blog medievalbooks. His obsession with margin minutiae has lead to two scholarly publications and also caught the interest of NPR’s ‘How to Do Everything‘ who interviewed him last week. All images courtesy Erik Kwakkel, respective of noted libraries.
Stone Field 00 / exp00 – simple attractor exponential field. 3D-printed sculpture.
Stone Field 07 /simple 1d linear polar field. 3D-printed sculpture.
Stone Field 07 /simple 1d linear polar field. 3D-printed sculpture, detail.
Back in 2009, Italian designer Giuseppe Randazzo of Novastructura released a series of generative digital “sculptures” that depicted carefully organized pebbles and rocks on a flat plane. Titled Stone Fields, the works were inspired in part by similar land art pieces by English sculptor Richard Long. As the images spread around the web (pre-dating this publication entirely) many people were somewhat disheartened to learn the images were created with software instead of tweezers, a testament to Randazzo’s C++ programming skills used to create a custom application that rendered 3D files based on a number of parameters.
Fast forward to 2014, and technology has finally caught up with Randazzo’s original vision. The designer recently teamed up with Shapeways to create physical prototypes of the Stone Fields project. He shares about the process:
Starting from 2009 project “Stone Fields”, some 3dmodels were produced from the original meshes. The conversion was rather difficult, the initial models weren’t created with 3dprinting in mind. The handling of millions of triangles and the check for errors required a complex process. Each model is 25cm x 25cm wide and was produced by Shapeways in polyamide (white strong & flexible). Subsequently they were painted with airbrush. […] The minute details of the original meshes were by far too tiny to be printed, however despite the small scale, these prototypes give an idea of the complexity of the gradients of artificial stones.
Watch the video above to see the sculptures up close, and you can see a few more photos over on Randazzo’s project site. If you liked this, also check out Lee Griggs.