Category: Photography

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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Historic Royal Palaces

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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Photographer Spends 20 Years Documenting How We All Dress Exactly Alike

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For the last 20 years, unassuming Dutch photographer Hans Eijkelboom has traversed the world, picking a spot, be it in Shanghai, New York, or Paris, and meticulously photographed what he saw. “I take between 1 and 80 photographs a day, almost every day, 12 months a year,” he says, referring to his “Photo Notes” project, which has now been turned into a book titled People of the Twenty-First Century. The “Photographic Journal,” published by PHAIDON, is the largest, most comprehensive work of his to date, and includes thousands of photos that, together, create a fascinating picture of mankind.

The “anti-sartorial” photographs of everyday people capture specific visual themes – people in red jackets, men with bare chests on roller blades – that are grouped together with the date, city and time range they were taken. And this combination and repetition is what makes the photographs so powerful. Viewed separately, they would hardly even catch our eye.

“I don’t use this diary to show what happens in my life but as a method of visualizing the development of my world view,” writes the artist. Much like the way stalagmites form in caves over hundreds of years, Eijkelboom’s landscape is the result of a methodical fixation to the banality of everyday life. Hans Eijkelboom’s “People of the Twenty-First Century” is available for around $26 (Via Citylab)

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Spectacular Ice Formations Atop a Windswept Mountain in Slovenia

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After a long period of pummeling wind, snow, and ice, weather photographer Marko Korosec sensed an opportunity to climb Mount Javornik, part of a mountain range in eastern Slovenia and the location of a popular ski center. What he discovered can only be described as otherworldly. Trees and lookout towers fully encased in hard layers of rime ice, formed by high winds and freezing fog. Korosec says some of the ice spikes growing off the tower reached well over 3-feet (100cm) long. To see more of his weather photography and additional images from this shoot, head over to his 500px page. All photos courtesy the photographer.

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Temperature Inversion Causes the Grand Canyon to Flood with Clouds

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Photo by Maci MacPherson for Grand Canyon National Park

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Photo by Maci MacPherson for Grand Canyon National Park

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Photo by Maci MacPherson for Grand Canyon National Park

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Photo by Maci MacPherson for Grand Canyon National Park

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Photo by Maci MacPherson for Grand Canyon National Park

Almost a year to the week after an extremely rare temperature inversion caused the Grand Canyon to fill with clouds, the phenomenon happened again. The Grand Canyon National Park had cameras at the ready and shot some fantastic photos from around the canyon as well as a timelapse video. (via Neatorama)

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Aerial Wallpapers: Satellite Wallpaper for Your Phone

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If you’re looking for a snappy new wallpaper/home screen/lock screen image for your phone, Aerial Wallpapers is a great place to start. The site is created by João Paulo Bernardes who scours creative commons satellite imagery from NASA and Airbus Defence and Space for the best slices of Earth which he crops and scales to fit the iPhone 6 Plus, but should scale OK for other phones too. (via Kottke)

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Swirling Photographs of Mixed Paint by Mark Lovejoy

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Working from his studio in Alpine, Texas, artist Mark Lovejoy creates richly textured images of mixed paint, but although he’s somewhat secretive about his process, one thing is clear: they aren’t just photographs of mixed paint. The act of creating the color formations alone sounds more like an act of chemistry than art as he mixes resins, oils, diluents, waxes, and drying agents to create the gloppy textures you see here. Portions are then photographed, reworked, and reshot. In the end, we’re left staring at beautifully colorful images that exist somewhere between salt water taffy, Jackson Pollock paintings, and an alluring industrial accident. Whatever they are, Lovejoy is extremely proficient, cranking out several images each day which he shares on his website. Prints are available of every image. (via It’s Nice That)

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The Motions of Kayaking and Canoeing Recorded through Light Painting on Canadian Waterways

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Kayaking

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Canoeing

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Ontario-based photographer Stephen Orlando is fascinated with human movement and uses programmable LED light sticks attached to kayak paddles, people, racquets, and other objects to translate that movement into photographic light paintings. The act of recording motion on the surface of water surrounded by reflections creates a surprisingly unique effect, almost sculptural in nature. You can see many more photos in his kayaking, canoeing, and swimming galleries.

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