Ancient Trees: Beth Moon’s 14-Year Quest to Photograph the World’s Most Majestic Trees 

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Criss-crossing the world with stops on almost every continent, San Francisco-based photographer Beth Moon spent the last 14 years seeking out some of the largest, rarest, and oldest trees on Earth to capture with her camera. Moon develops her exhibition prints with a platinum/palladium process, an extremely labor-intensive and rare practice resulting in prints with tremendous tonal range that are durable enough to rival the longitivity of her subjects, potentially lasting thousands of years. Moon’s collected work of 60 duotone prints were recently published in a new book titled Ancient Trees: Portraits of Time. From Abbeville Press:

This handsome volume presents sixty of Moon’s finest tree portraits as full-page duotone plates. The pictured trees include the tangled, hollow-trunked yews—some more than a thousand years old—that grow in English churchyards; the baobabs of Madagascar, called “upside-down trees” because of the curious disproportion of their giant trunks and modest branches; and the fantastical dragon’s-blood trees, red-sapped and umbrella-shaped, that grow only on the island of Socotra, off the Horn of Africa.

Moon is currently working on a new series of trees photographed by starlight called Diamond Nights. (via Huffington Post)

Avenue of the Baobabs

Bowthorpe Oak copy

Bufflesdrift Baobab 2-2 copy

Croft Chestnut 1 copy

Desert Rose (Wadi Fa Lang) copy

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Sentinels Neg 2014

Wakehurst Yews

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Uncanny Moments on the Streets of China Photographed by Water Meter Reader Tao Liu 

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The 32-year old Tao Liu knows the city of Hefei like his backyard. Since 2005 he’s traveled up, down and across the city in Eastern China on his motorbike reading water meters for a local utilities company. The job was tedious, exhausting and unrewarding, until he picked up a camera.

For the past 3 years Liu has used his spare time to capture intimate, witty and humorous street photos of Hefei. “I like taking photos because I can hang around on the streets and capture an image when something interested me but was neglected by others,” Liu told the Global Times. “I want to remind people of the touching moments in life.” He was interviewed after his photos went viral on China’s social network Weibo.

Liu has no formal training in photography but cites Daido Moriyama – often referred to as “the father of street photography” – as a primary influence. “I found him [to be] a very focused photographer,” says Liu in an interview with TIME. “I chose my camera based on what he uses.” Liu’s photos, intentionally or not, seem to poke fun at things like commercialization and urbanization. Liu clearly has a knack, not only for being in the right place at the right time, but for a keen eye that spots charming, serendipitous scenes amongst the hustle and bustle of everyday life. You can keep up with him and his work on Lofter. All photos courtesy the photographer. (via Time)

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End-Credits Timelapse in ‘Boxtrolls’ Brilliantly Reveals the Hidden Labor of Stop Motion Animation 

One of the most gratifying aspects of watching stop-motion films is the knowledge that every bit of motion seen on screen is created by human hands, frame by frame, millimeter by millimeter. While an animator might tell you it takes an entire day just to film a 3-second sequence, it’s still difficult to imagine how much physical labor is involved to accomplish it. Lucky for us, the animators behind Laika’s Boxtrolls snuck in a short post-credits timelapse that reveals a brief glimpse of what happens behind the scenes to make two characters come to life.

I first saw Boxtrolls in the theater last September with my son, and this single scene caused a more vocal response from the audience than any other moment in the entire movie. People were literally gasping, myself included. Over the holidays, Focus Features finally made it available online through their YouTube channel.

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Tree Bark Skateboard by ‘Mr. Plant’ 

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Since a young age, Paris-based artist and designer Christophe Guinet (aka. Mr. Plant) has been obsessed with trees, grass, and seeds, all materials he utilizes in his vegetation-specific practice. One of his most recent projects from earlier this year saw the creation of shoes using flowers and other plant material, which he has since followed up with Natural Skateboarding, a 32″ skateboard built from a panel of tree bark. While it would be fun to imagine a line of bark-based skateboards, “Plant Deck” is a one-off piece meant primarily for display. You can see more of Guinet’s work here. (via Fubiz)

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Cut Paper Illustrations by Maude White 

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New York-based artist Maude White (previously) continues to create beautifully rendered illustrations with cut paper, creating dozens of new pieces since we explored her work this summer. White relies heavily on thin lines and negative space to create each illustration, a subtractive process with no room for error; a single bad cut could be fatal to a piece. Her latest series titled What’s Left on the Farm involves portraits of women with objects in their hair.White currently has work in an exhibition at Peter & Mary Ann Vogt Gallery in Buffalo, and you can read a recent interview with her over on Artvoice. (via Hi-Fructose)

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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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