In the late 19th century, shortly after the patent of the telephone, the race was on to connect everyone to the phone grid. However, due to technical limitations of the earliest phone lines, every telephone required its own physical line strung between a house or business to a phone exchange where the call was manually connected by a live operator. The somewhat quixotic result of so many individual lines was the construction of elaborate and unsightly towers that carried hundreds to thousands of phone lines through the air.
In Stockholm, Sweden, the central telephone exchange was the Telefontornet, a giant tower designed around 1890 that connected some 5,000 lines which sprawled in every direction across the city. Just by looking at historical photos it’s easy to recognize the absurdity and danger of the whole endeavor, especially during the winter months. Everything that could possibly go wrong did. From high winds to ice storms and fires, the network was extremely vulnerable to the elements. Luckily, phone networks evolved so rapidly that by 1913 the Telefontornet was completely decommissioned in favor of much simpler technology. The remaining shell stood as a landmark until it too caught fire in 1953 and was torn down.
If you want to see more, the Tekniska Museet (the Museum of Technology) in Stochkholm has hundreds of photos from this strange period over on Flickr organized into four main galleries: Linjeras och eldsvådor (accidents), Telefonstationer Stockholm, telephone stations in other parts of Sweden, and the Telefontornet.
(via Retronaut, Twisted Sifter, thnx Johnny!)
This independent film project from filmmaker Hiroshi Kondo starts as a fairly typical time-lapse journey through highways surrounding Tokyo, but quickly morphs into something entirely different. Kondo makes use of lampposts and other nighttime light sources to create this dazzling, kaleidoscopic explosion of color and motion set to music by Ayako Taniguchi.
One of six astronauts currently on board the International Space Station, geophysicist Alexander Gerst spends much of his free time staring out the window as the world zooms by 205 miles below, camera in-hand. Since arriving at the ISS in June of this year Gerst has taken tons of photographs that document hurricanes, floods, dust storms, and oil fields.
One of his favorite things to shoot are the shadows cast by clouds, something that appears surprisingly dramatic from space. Dense cloud formations can create long shadows that stretch for thousands of miles across the Earth’s surface as they eventually disappear into a black horizon. You can see new photos from Gerst daily on Twitter. (via Stellar)
Mineral Admiration is a new series of watercolor paintings by Vienna-based artist and illustrator Karina Eibatova. The juxtaposition of using a water-based medium to create images of stone is in line with Eibatova’s desire to only create images from nature, an exploration that has lead to dozens of publications in magazines, newspapers, and journals around the world. These new paintings are available as prints in her online shop.
When meeting somebody for the first time, or maybe just viewing a portrait, the brain goes into overdrive for a few seconds to quickly form a first impression. Whether we like it or not, rapid assumptions are made based on age, gender, race, culture, physical appearance, the surrounding environment, and especially other people present—all things that help form who we are, real or perceived. Since 1999, Czech photographer Dita Pepe has explored this idea of identity and environment in two photographic series titled Self-Portraits with Men and Self-Portraits with Women, where the photographer seeks to completely assimilate into the lives of other people.
In the beginning, Pepe first posed with people she knew, but now works with people from all walks of life with vastly different backgrounds and family structures, often incorporating her own daughters into the portraits. Each photograph is shot on location where a family or person lives, or engages in their hobbies or daily life. Pepe goes to great length to appear as if she belongs in each portrait, a chameleonlike quality that some compare to the works of Cindy Sherman; however, unlike Sherman’s studio portraits, Pepe’s images appear more like hasty snapshots, bringing a strange level of believability and authenticity to each portrait.
Pepe most recently collaborated with writer Bara Baronova on a new book of photography titled Love Yourself, and you can see more portraits with both women and men on Feature Shoot and at Lens Culture.
Photographer Gray Malin was recently in Chicago where he shot a number of amazing aerial photos around the city including beaches, Navy Pier, and spots around Millennium Park. For some reason, even though it’s been on view for nearly 8 years now, I’ve never seen a photo of Anish Kapoor’s Cloud Gate taken from directly above like this. It looks almost exactly like a small lake filled with Chicago’s skyline. You can see more from Malin’s trip here. (via Art Effect)