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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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 trampoline, 5 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
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
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.