Category: Colossal

A Colossal Year: The Top 15 Articles on Colossal in 2015 

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As we begin our last posts of 2015, it’s time to take a quick look at the the artwork, photography, and unusual cultural phenomena that rose to the top during our last year coverage here on Colossal, over 650 articles in all. Topics range from century-old color photography to a futuristic performance that combines dance and immersive pixelated projections. Surprisingly, bees were a popular subject within our top 15 posts, and unsurprisingly, our peek at Banksy’s Dismaland this summer took the top slot, surveying the wonderfully dystopic amusement park that featured 58 global artists in a social critique that took UK and the internet by storm. You can also take a peek at our best of lists from 2014 and 2013.

15. Dreamlike Autochrome Portraits of an Engineer’s Daughter From 1913 Are Among the Earliest Color Photos

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This year we went back in time to visit photographer Mervyn O’Gorman's dreamlike Autochrome photographs of his daughter Christina on the beach at Lulworth Cove, Dorset. The images from the earliest days of color photography feature her clad in bright red, her strawberry blonde hair matching the warm tones captured within the photographs produced by a single-plate color process.

14. Starting With the Earth as a Marble, This Is the First Timelapse of the Solar System to Scale

Filmmakers Alex Gorosh and Wylie Overstreet challenged themselves to make a film that would accurately demonstrate the staggering distance that separates the planets that surround us. Using glass spheres lit by LEDS, the crew shot a timelapse video from the dry bed of the Black Rock Desert in Nevada, compiling it into the short film To Scale, a video set approximately to the scale of 1: 847,638,000.

13. Vertical Forest: An Urban Treehouse That Protect Residents from Air and Noise Pollution

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Designed by Luciano Pia, the 63-unit residential building 25 Verde brings vegetation up off the ground to absorb carbon dioxide from the urban landscape of Turin, Italy. The building attempts to evade the homogeneous cityscape by integrating plants into its design, muffling harsh sounds from the streets outside and providing a childlike dream to those that choose to occupy the urban treehouse.

12. A Photographer Lovingly Captures the Unlikely Bond between His Family and an Orphaned Bird

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Photographer Cameron Bloom's son Noah happened upon a baby magpie in 2013 when the family was out walking near their home in Newport, Australia. A year later, the curious bird was deeply integrated within the family. The magpie, named Penguin, pretty much gets a full run of the house, snuggling with the family in bed, helping them brush their teeth, or balancing delicately on their heads while doing various tasks. Bloom has dutifully documented the entire relationship on his wildly popular Instagram account.

11. Journalist Spends Four Years Traversing India to Document Crumbling Subterranean Stepwells Before they Disappear

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Massive subterranean temples, or stepwells, were designed as a primary way in India to access the water table, many of the structures built between the 2nd and 4th centuries A.D. By the 11th century these stepwells were commissioned by powerful philanthropists as tributes that would last for eternity. Unfortunately they have not survived for as long as predicted, many of these stepwells slowly crumbling into obscurity. Chicago journalist Victoria Lautman has located 120 of these structures, learning about their past as she documents them along the way.

10. Luna: A Lantern That Looks Like a Moon

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Luna is a dimmable halogen lighting system that mimics the color and shape of a moon. Created by Taiwanese design firm Acorn Studio, the light is housed inside of glass fiber and comes in 7 different sizes ranging from 3.2″ to 23.6″ in diameter.

9. A Rare Flipped Iceberg in Antarctica Photographed by Alex Cornell

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While on an expedition to Antarctica, photographer Alex Cornell witnessed something extremely rare, the flipping of a massive iceberg. Once flipped the iceberg revealed a glassy blue underside completely devoid of snow and debris. You can see more photos from Cornell's trip on his website.

8. Pixel: A Mesmerizing Dance Performance Incorporating Interactive Digital Projection

Pixel is an innovative dance performance conceived by French performance artists Adrien Mondot and Claire Bardainne, known collectively as the Adrien M / Claire B Company, in collaboration with hip-hop choreographer Cie Kafig. The performance incorporates digital mapping techniques with 11 dancers and runs an hour long.

7. Honey on Tap: A New Beehive that Automatically Extracts Honey without Disturbing Bees

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Invented over the last decade by father and son beekeepers Stuart and Cedar Anderson, the Flow Hive is a new beehive that promises to eliminate the more laborious aspects of collecting honey. The system is tapped with a novel spigot system that runs directly into specially designed honeycomb frames and uses centrifugal force to get the honey out of the hive.

6. A Hypnotic Infinite Model Train Loop that Travels Rapidly in Either Direction

James Risner linked seven trains in order to produce a kinetic art installation that runs in an infinite loop. The trains can either travel forward or backward and do so at surprising speeds, hypnotizing the watcher as they attempt to find the spiral’s beginning and end.

5. An Extraordinary Glimpse into the First 21 Days of a Bee’s Life in 60 Seconds

In order to grasp a better understanding of the the first three weeks of a bee’s life, Anand Varma teamed up with the bee lab at UC Davis to film the journey from egg into adulthood in unprecedented detail. The film, condensed into a 60-second clip, was also used as a research tool to learn how bees interact with an invasive parasitic mite that is quickly becoming a great threat to colonies as a whole.

4. A Variety of Unprocessed Foods Cut into Uncannily Precise 2.5cm Cubes by Lernert & Sander

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In response to Dutch newspaper De Volkskrant's photography issue about food, conceptual design studio Lernert & Sander created a photo of 98 2.5cm cubes of food aligned in a perfect grid formation. Each piece of food is unprocessed, and the image contains everything from corn to tuna. The photo is available as a limited edition print of 50 copies printed on 40 x 50cm baryta paper signed by the artists.

3. 5 Mètres 80: An Absurd Animation Depicting a Herd of Giraffes Leaping Off a High Dive by Nicolas Deveaux

A follow-up to an animation Nicolas Deveaux created 10 years ago about an elephant on a trampoline5 Mètres 80 is a new animation of his that features a heard of giraffe leaping off a high dive. Taking over 1.5 years to produce, the film is created in his realistic animation style which he has developed for film and commercials. The short film won numerous awards including Best in Show at SIGGRAPH Asia.

2. CT Scan of 1,000-Year-Old Buddha Statue Reveals Mummified Monk Hidden Inside

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A CT scan and endoscopy carried out by the Netherlands-based Drents Museum at the Meander Medical Centre in Amersfoort proved that what looks like a traditional statue of Buddha dating back to the 11th or 12th century was actually quite a bit more. The CT scan revealed mummified remains of a Buddhist master known as Liuquan of the Chinese Meditation School within the statue. To further the unexpected, among some practicing Buddhists it’s been said that similar mummies “aren’t dead” but are actually in an advanced state of meditation.

1. Welcome to Dismaland: A First Look at Banksy’s New Art Exhibition Housed Inside a Dystopian Theme Park

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Suspicion around activity inside the walls of a derelict seaside swimming resort in Weston-super-Mare, UK circulated for weeks, finally revealed this summer to be a pop-up apocalyptic amusement park/art installation from famed artist and provocateur Banksy. Open for five weeks, the event held themes of apocalypse and social demise, deliberately poking at celebrity culture, immigration issues, and law enforcement. In addition to a terrifying carousel, mini golf, ferris wheel, impossible fair games, and host of morose Dismaland employees, there was work by 58 global artists including Damien Hirst, Jenny Holzer, Jimmy Cauty, Bill Barminski, Caitlin Cherry, Polly Morgan, Josh Keyes, Mike Ross, David Shrigley, Bäst, Espo and Banksy himself.

Spooky New Stuff in the Colossal Shop 

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We’ve added a number of creepy things in the Colossal Shop this month for Halloween. Paper Dandy’s newest DIY paper kirigami (fold & cut) book, Horrorgami, featuring 20 sinister scenes inspired by haunted houses and horror films. Take a sip from seven different Creature Cups that reveal critters lurking in your morning brew by Yumi Yumi. Lastly, some edible Chocolate Graffiti bars from UNELEFANTE. See more in our Halloween collection.

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New in the Colossal Shop: The 1,000 Color Puzzle & Yoga Joes 

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Just a quick note that two of our favorite toys ever featured here on Colossal are now available in the Colossal Shop! Clemens Habicht’s amazing 1,000 Colors Puzzle just arrived from Australia, and Dan Abramson’s hilarious Yoga Joes have been successfully produced after a successful Kickstarter boost. We have tons of other quirky new things too numerous to mention, see more here.

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A Colossal Year: The Top 12 Articles on Colossal in 2014 

We’re winding down the days here in 2014, so it seemed appropriate to look back on the year as we usually do and reflect on some of the most popular and interesting things we covered over the last 12 months. It’s always exciting to see the articles that rise above on Colossal. In past years the editorial focus here has veered mostly toward design and contemporary art, while this year articles focused heavily on science, history, craft, and performance. That shift is definitely noticeable in this list. So here, loosely ordered on popularity, are the top 12 articles on Colossal in 2014. See also 2013 and 2012.

1. 271 Years Before Pantone, an Artist Mixed and Described Every Color Imaginable in an 800-Page Book

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In 1692 an artist known only as “A. Boogert” sat down to write a book in Dutch about mixing watercolors. Not only would he begin the book with a bit about the use of color in painting, but would go on to explain how to create certain hues and change the tone by adding one, two, or three parts of water. The premise sounds simple enough, but the final product is almost unfathomable in its detail and scope. Spanning nearly 800 completely handwritten (and painted) pages, Traité des couleurs servant à la peinture à l’eau, was probably the most comprehensive guide to paint and color of its time.

2. A New Acoustic Instrument That Creates Sounds like a Digital Synthesizer

The Yaybahar is a new acoustic instrument designed by Istanbul-based musician Görkem Şen that emits music right out of a retro sci-fi movie, a remarkable feat considering there isn’t a bit of electricity involved. The Yaybahar can be played in a variety of different ways using mallets or with a bow, relying on a combination of two drum-like membranes, long springs, and a tall fretted neck to create music.

3. LIX: The World’s Smallest 3D Printing Pen Lets You Draw in the Air

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The latest contender in 3D printing pens, the LIX raised over $1 million on Kickstarter.

4. 888,246 Ceramic Poppies Surround the Tower of London to Commemorate WWI

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To commemorate the centennial of Britain’s involvement in the First World War, ceramic artist Paul Cummins and stage designer Tom Piper conceived of a staggering installation of ceramic poppies planted in the famous dry moat around the Tower of London. Titled “Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red,” the final work consisted of 888,246 red ceramic flowers—each representing a British or Colonial military fatality—that flowed around the tower (and the entire internet) like blood.

5. The Cloud: An Interactive Thunderstorm in Your House

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Cloud is an interactive light and speaker system shaped like a cumulus cloud that simulates a thunderstorm both in light and sound based on external input from either a remote control or motion sensors.

6. Table Topography: Wood Furniture Embedded with Glass Rivers and Lakes by Greg Klassen

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Furniture maker Greg Klassen builds intricately designed tables and other objects embedded with glass rivers and lakes. Inspired by his surroundings in the Pacific Northwest, Klassen works with edge pieces from discarded trees (often acquired from construction sites, or from dying trees that have begun to rot) which he aligns to mimic the jagged shores of various bodies of water.

7. An Abandoned Bangkok Shopping Mall Hides a Fishy Secret

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Photo © Jesse Rockwell

Professional cook and photographer Jesse Rockwell discovered something wholly unexpected when he descended the steps into the basement of an abandoned shopping mall in Bangkok where he took these amazing photos.

8. Polyphonic Overtone Singing Demonstrated by Anna-Maria Hefele

A chilling demonstration of polyphonic overtone singing by Anna-Maria Hefele, who demonstrates the almost inhuman ability to create a harmony of two notes at a time using a single breath.

9. Psychedelic Paint and Poured Resin Artworks by Bruce Riley

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Chicago-based artist Bruce Riley fills canvases with abstract organic forms made from layer after layer of dripped paint and poured resin. While looking at images of his work online, it’s difficult to grasp the depth and scale of each piece which can be penetrated by light from multiple angles, casting shadows deep into the artwork. Riley works using a number of experimental techniques, frequently incorporating mistakes and unexpected occurrences into the thick paintings that appear almost sculptural in nature.

10. Absurdly Expressive Dog Portraits by Elke Vogelsang

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Based in Hildesheim, Germany, Elke Vogelsang is a professional photographer who mostly shoots portraits of people and pets, but in her spare time spends plenty of time with her trio of rescue dogs who frequently find themselves in front of the camera.

11. Sheets of Glass Cut into Layered Ocean Waves by Ben Young

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Self-taught artist Ben Young is a man of many exceptional talents from surfing and skateboarding to repairing furniture and working full-time as a qualified boat builder. He’s also spent the last decade exploring the art of sculpting with glass, an endeavor that’s become increasingly rewarding as galleries and collectors have started to take notice.

12. This 16th Century Book Can Be Read Six Different Ways

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Sure, the Amazon Kindle might have dynamic font adjustments, and it can hold thousands of books, but can it do this? Printed in the late 16th century this small book from the National Library of Sweden is an example of sixfold dos-à-dos binding, where six books are conjoined into a single publication but can be read individually with the help of six perfectly placed clasps.

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Sketchbook Project at Galerie F in Chicago 

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SARO / Jason Rowland

On a quick local note, our friends from the mighty Sketchbook Project are stopping by Chicago on August 22 & 23 with some 4,000 sketchbooks for you to peruse from their famous mobile library. The library will be parked at Galerie F which is opening Cut Along the Dotted Lines, a stencil art exhibition featuring work by SARO, Jason Rowland, and EPYON5. It’ll be awesome, see you there!

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