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A Japanese artist is placing a modern spin on a centuries-old technique, animating Japanese woodblock prints in the style typically reserved for TV show recaps and continuously looping memes. The artist, who who goes by Segawa thirty-seven, uses Adobe Photoshop and After Effects to alter the static images and inlay elements of sci-fi and modern culture—bringing in Segways and alien spaceships into the fixed landscapes-turned-gifs.
Other gifs produced by the artist are far more subtle, one in particular showing a crowded street of people lit by moonlight, their shadows traveling from the right to the left side of the screen as the moon travels through the sky. Another shows a scene of people gazing out the window as a high speed train endlessly rushes by.
You can see more of Segawa thirty-seven’s woodblock print animations on his Twitter. (via Spoon & Tamago)
Straddling a line between 2D and 3D, paper artist Calvin Nicholls forms carefully cut and layered paper sculptures of animals that seem to break free from the surrounding matboard and hover just above the surface. To achieve the haut-relief effect (a process he shares online), Nicholls first works from a drawing which he uses as a template for the various paper components. Using an X-ACTO knife, scalpels, and scissors he then carefully cuts pieces of paper and glues them in place. Each piece can take anywhere from a few weeks up to two years depending on scale and complexity.
Nicholls recently sculpted five birds of paradise as part of a private commission that are currently on view at the Society of Animal Artists annual ‘Art and the Animal’ show at the Roger Tory Peterson Institute in Jamestown, NY. The pieces won both an Award of Excellence and the “Artists’ Choice” awards. You can also keep an eye out for his work at the Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum later this month for the Birds in Art exhibition.
Seen here is a collection of artworks from the last year or so, but you can explore hundreds of additional pieces on his website and Facebook.
Across India an entire category of architecture is slowly crumbling into obscurity, and you’ve probably never even heard it. Such was the case 30 years ago when Chicago journalist Victoria Lautman made her first trip to the country and discovered the impressive structures called stepwells. Like gates to the underworld, the massive subterranean temples were designed as a primary way to access the water table in regions where the climate vacillates between swelteringly dry during most months, with a few weeks of torrential monsoons in the spring.
Thousands of stepwells were built in India starting around the 2nd and 4th centuries A.D. where they first appeared as rudimentary trenches but slowly evolved into much more elaborate feats of engineering and art. By the 11th century some stepwells were commissioned by wealthy or powerful philanthropists (almost a fourth of whom were female) as monumental tributes that would last for eternity. Lautman shares with Arch Daily about the ingenious construction of the giant wells that plunge into the ground up to 10 stories deep:
Construction of stepwells involved not just the sinking of a typical deep cylinder from which water could be hauled, but the careful placement of an adjacent, stone-lined “trench” that, once a long staircase and side ledges were embedded, allowed access to the ever-fluctuating water level which flowed through an opening in the well cylinder. In dry seasons, every step—which could number over a hundred—had to be negotiated to reach the bottom story. But during rainy seasons, a parallel function kicked in and the trench transformed into a large cistern, filling to capacity and submerging the steps sometimes to the surface. This ingenious system for water preservation continued for a millennium.
Because of an increasing drop in India’s water table due to unregulated pumping, most of the wells have long since dried up and are now almost completely neglected. While some stepwells near areas of heavy tourism are well maintained, most are used as garbage dumping grounds and are overgrown with wildlife or caved in completely. Many have fallen completely off the map.
Inspired by an urgency to document the wells before they disappear, Lautman has traveled to India numerous times in the last few years and taken upon herself to locate 120 structures across 7 states. She’s currently seeking a publisher to help bring her discoveries and photographs to a larger audience, and also offers stepwell lectures to architects and universities. If you’re interested, get in touch.
You can read a more comprehensive account of stepwells by Lautman on Arch Daily.
Much has been written lately about the plight of the monarch, the most iconic butterfly in North America that may soon be headed for the endangered species list. The use of herbicides in the U.S. has completely decimated milkweed plants, the insect’s primary food source, while illegal logging is quickly destroying the monarch’s wintering habitat in Mexico. Over 90% of the butterfly’s population has vanished over the last 25 years.
This amazing HD timelapse from Front Yard Video shows the full metamorphosis of a monarch from a caterpillar to butterfly. What you see here is infuriatingly difficult to witness in person because after weeks of waiting the transformation to and from a chrysalis takes just a few minutes. (via The Kid Should See This)
French artist and photographer Charles Pétillion has just unveiled a cumulus cloud composed of 100,000 white balloons illuminated from the inside at London’s Covent Garden. Titled ‘Heartbeat,’ the installation was created as part of the upcoming London Design Festival and stretches the length of the South Hall ceiling of the Market Building. Pétillion is known for his use of white balloons to fill unusual spaces, a photographic series he refers to as Invasions. This is by far his largest installation to date and his first public art piece. He shares about Heartbeat:
The balloon invasions I create are metaphors. Their goal is to change the way in which we see the things we live alongside each day without really noticing them. With Heartbeat I wanted to represent the Market Building as the beating heart of this area – connecting its past with the present day to allow visitors to re-examine its role at the heart of London’s life.
Each balloon has its own dimensions and yet is part of a giant but fragile composition that creates a floating cloud above the energy of the market below. This fragility is represented by contrasting materials and also the whiteness of the balloons that move and pulse appearing as alive and vibrant as the area itself.
The installation will be on view through September 27, 2015, and you can watch a timelapse video of its construction and an interview with Pétillion below. (via Designboom)