Over twenty years ago, a group of scientists, entrepreneurs, philosophers, and free-thinkers put their minds and resources together to create a singular and lasting testament to an unfashionable notion: science and exploration, having become hyper-specialized and incremental, needed a return to big ideas and leaps of faith. They wanted to explore what few were discussing at the time. Things like climate change. Space colonization. And they were going to explore these ideas in a three-acre geodesic living laboratory called Biosphere 2 that mimicked the biomes of the earth. Between 1987 and 1991, they built it from scratch, a veritable ark in the American desert. Eight people sealed themselves inside for two years, harvesting all their food, producing most of their oxygen, and recycling all of their waste. It was a remarkable experiment. And yet the one variable they did not account for was perhaps the most obvious: themselves.
For the last month or so photographer Yume Cyan has been shooting some magical long exposure photographs of fireflies in a forested area around Nagoya City, Japan. By keeping the camera’s shutter open at a low aperture Cyan captures every bioluminescent flash of each insect resulting in dotted light trails that criss-cross the frame. You may remember a similar series of photographs also shot in Japan from back in 2011. You can see these a bit larger over on 500px.
It’s been over a year since we last checked in with artist Mark Powell (previously here and here) who draws portraits and birds on old vintage envelopes. His works have become increasingly more detailed the last few months and I’m especially enjoying his series of birds. See much more here.
Back to the Future is a documentary short about Argentinean photographer Irina Werning’s incredible photography project where she recreates cherished old photographs of people. I always assumed that Werning must be obsessed with details to take photos that so closely resembled images made decades earlier, but I didn’t expect the amount of labor that goes into making a single shot. From arranging the right wardrobe, to creating backdrops and perfectly mimicked bad lighting, let alone traveling to meet each of her subjects, each photograph is really a significant undertaking. Filmed by Jamie Jassett.
After months of too much work, planning, and sleepless nights I’m proud to announce the launch of the Colossal Shop, as well as the complete redesign of the Colossal Blog, and as if that weren’t enough, a shiny new identity created by design powerhouse Scott Reinhard.
First, the shop. For years I’ve been meeting artists, designers, and artisans I’ve encountered through articles on Colossal and while it’s been extraordinarily fun to gather their work here on the blog, it’s also been amazing to have their objects in my home. Through their encouragement and my own desire gather together some of my favorite designed objects, toys, and limited edition art pieces into an online store, the Colossal Shop was born. We’ll be adding many more things over the next few weeks so stay tuned.
Next, the new look. The old Colossal site was getting a little shabby as it was never designed to work on mobile devices and lacked a bit of polish. So I set about a redesign and while I was plugging away learned that Chicago designer Scott Reinhard had recently left a long stint at the MCA and was open for business. We chatted briefly and got to work. The new logo is big, refined, and very flexible, expect to see new interpretations of it all the time. Thanks Scott! The new blog itself is now equally flexible and can be viewed on almost any device. If you see any bugs or weirdness please let me know.
Now, back to work. I’m sorry posts have been almost glacial at times here on Colossal, things should pick up swiftly now. A huge thanks to Eric Hazen and developer Derek S. Moore for helping with some heavy content and development work the last few weeks.
Japanese paper artist Nahoko Kojima cuts intricate sculptures of animals, textures, and other natural phenomenon from single sheets of paper, some of which are displayed encased in acrylic sheets while others like her Cloud Leopard are installed as 3D artworks. The artist is currently working on a new piece titled Byaku that will be unveiled at the Jerwood Space in London next month, an ambitious artwork of a life-sized swimming polar bear made using a single sheet of white Washi paper.
Homebush Bay in Sydney, Australia is home to the remnants of a ship-breaking yard that operated during the mid 20th-century. Large watercraft that outlived their usefulness were towed to Homebush Bay and dismantled to salvage any components that could be reused or sold for scrap.
One such ship was the SS Ayrfield, a 1,140-tonne behemoth built in 1911 as a steam collier that was later used during WWII as a transport ship. In 1972 it was brought to Homebush Bay to be dismantled, but fate would decide differently. Operations at the ship-breaking yard subsequently ceased and parts of several large vessels including the Ayrfield were left behind, the largest objects in an area now infamous for decades of chemical dumping and pollution. But only this century-old transport ship would be transformed by time into a floating forest, a peculiar home for trees and other vegetation that have since sprouted over the last few decades.
From 2008-2010 a concerted effort was made to remove many of the lingering chemicals in Homebush left from the industrial era. Not far away is the Brickpit Ring Walk, a former industrial site where nearly three billion bricks were made from 1911 through the 1980s that is now a carefully protected natural habitat. As the forest has grown inside the SS Ayrfield, the bay is now a popular place for photographers who wish to capture the uncanny sight of this strangely beautiful relic of the bay’s industrial past, not to mention nature’s resiliency.