Get out the headphones or turn up your speakers and prepare to be impressed by archaic 19th century engineering. Relying on dozens of moving parts including gears, springs, and a bellows, this small contraption built in 1890 was designed to do one thing: perfectly mimic the random chatter of a song bird. At first I expected to hear a simple repeating pattern of tweets, but the sounds produced by the mechanism are actually quite complex and vary in pitch, tone, and even volume to create a completely realistic song. I think if you closed your eyes you might not be able to tell the difference between this and actual birdsong. It’s believed the machine was built 120 years ago in Paris by Blaise Bontems, a well-known maker of bird automata and was recently refurbished by Michael Start over at The House of Automata. Can any of you ornithologists identify the bird? If so, get in touch. (via the automata blog)
This is a beautiful video showing the exquisite control of 27-year old Indonesian artist Elfan Diary as he draws a new portrait. Watch as he works with Fine Color markers, a Sakura Pigma Micron pen, and standard Faber-Castell colored pencils over a period of about three hours. Beautiful work.
We’re all familiar with the most common shapes of ice: snow flakes, icicles, snowmen, cookie dough ice cream. But break out the macro lens and suddenly we’re in unfamiliar territory as ice branches out, curls in on itself, and grows in shapes that look more like the delicate leaves of ferns than solid cold water. Russian photographer Andrew Osokin has done a phenomenal job of capturing such bizarre ice formations, you can explore hundreds more photos over in his LensArt profile. (via the curious brain)
It’s been a while since we’ve had a quality Rube Goldberg device here on Colossal and it appears the folks over at Toronto-based 2D House have stepped up to the challenge. Isaac Newton vs. Rube Goldberg is an extremely slick chain reaction aided by magnets and all matter of visual trickery. Just watch, try to guess which way is up, and have your mind blown. 2d House has also produced a number of other Rube Goldberg devices which you can see here. (via colossal submissions)
Making the rounds this year on a couple of design-y gift guides is The Present, a clock designed by Booklyn-based creative firm m ss ng p eces. The clock automatically sets itself to the current calendar date when you insert two AA batteries and then takes a year to make an entire revolution as the single hand highlights colors associated with the passing season. An original run of the clock was successfully funded on Kickstarter last year, but the clock is now available to the general public through their website.
These infrared photographs taken by France-based photographer David Keochkerian look like bizarre, saturated landscapes created from a Dr. Seuss illustration. Seasons seem reversed, with white trees appearing in spring, and bushes are transformed into something that looks like fragile blades of bubble gum. You can see much more on Facebook, and Keochkerian tells me some images are avilable as limited edition prints if you contact him directly. If you liked this, also check out the work of Richard Mosse. (via gaks)
Land artist Michael Grab creates astonishing towers and orbs of balanced rocks using little more than patience and an astonishing sense of balance. Grab says the art of stone balancing has been practiced by various cultures around the world for centuries and that he personally finds the process of balancing to be therapeutic and meditative.
Over the past few years of practicing rock balance, simple curiosity has evolved into therapeutic ritual, ultimately nurturing meditative presence, mental well-being, and artistry of design. Alongside the art, setting rocks into balance has also become a way of showing appreciation, offering thanksgiving, and inducing meditation. Through manipulation of gravitational threads, the ancient stones become a poetic dance of form and energy, birth and death, perfection and imperfection.
Almost all of the works you see here were completed this fall in locations around Boulder, Colorado. You can see much more in his portfolio as well as several videos of him working over on YouTube.