New Vintage Textile Flora and Fauna Sculptures by Mister Finch

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Leeds-based textile artist Mister Finch (previously) is a master of artistic recycling as he breathes life into vintage fabrics by transforming them into sculptures of moths, rabbits, mushrooms, and strange hybrid lifeforms. Finch says he often draws inspiration from British folklore for his fairytale creations born from discarded velvet curtains or cloth snipped from old aprons and wedding dresses. From his artist statement:

Making things has always been incredibly important to me and is often an amazing release to get it out of my system. It’s a joy to hunt for things for my work… the lost, found and forgotten all have places in what I make. Most of my pieces use recycled materials, not only as an ethical statement, but I believe they add more authenticity and charm. A story sewn in, woven in.

What you see here is a collection of work from the past year, much more of which he shares on his blog. He also just published his first book, Mister Finch: Living in a Fairy Tale World, and has an upcoming exhibition this spring at Steven Kasher Gallery in New York.

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Bone Music: How Banned Western Music in the Soviet Union Was Printed on Repurposed X-Ray Records

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Photos via Jozsef Hajdu and Ksenia Vytuleva

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Photos via Jozsef Hajdu

If you asked me when the history of bootleg music began, I would have assumed it arrived with the invention of the cassette tape, something small, inexpensive and portable that was easily duplicated in any garage from deck A to deck B. In reality, widespread bootlegging dates back even further, to the 1950s in the Soviet Union where music lovers, desperate for banned Western tunes, devised an ingenious way to print their own records. The only problem was the scarcity of vinyl.

Desperate times called for desperate measures. With the aid of a special device, people started pressing banned jazz and rock n’ roll music on thick radiographs scavenged from the dumpsters of hospitals. X-rays were plentiful (not to mention cheap), and while the records could only be pressed on a single side, the music they produced using a standard turntable was passable. The recordings even had a catchy name: bone music. From an interview with author Anya von Bremzen via NPR:

“They would cut the X-ray into a crude circle with manicure scissors and use a cigarette to burn a hole. You’d have Elvis on the lungs, Duke Ellington on Aunt Masha’s brain scan—forbidden Western music captured on the interiors of Soviet citizens.”

By 1958 the authorities caught on and the act of making x-ray records was made illegal. It wasn’t long before the largest distribution networks of illicit bone music were discovered and shut down. You can see more scans of bone music over on this page created by Jozsef Hajdu, and FastCo has a great article about the entire phenomenon. (via Junk Culture, NPR, FastCo)

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Sponsor // Get 50% Off the Craftsy Online Class ‘Sketchbooks: Drawing the Everyday’

Masterpieces are born in the artist’s sketchbook, but are your drawing skills up to the challenge? Luckily, Craftsy is here to help. For a limited time, get 50% off the online Craftsy class Sketchbooks: Drawing the Everyday — a special offer for Colossal readers — with guidance from internationally renowned artist Paul Heaston.

In these video lessons, you’ll learn how to draw the world around you, how to think of your sketchbook as a versatile companion, and how to use pencil, ink, and watercolor in your on-the-go “studio.” First, Paul will walk you through realistically depicting your subject in dimensional space. Then, build texture using ink and infuse your work with color as you add smooth watercolor washes. Finally, you’ll learn how to combine what you’ve learned to create finished works that your audience will connect with in a meaningful way.

Visit Craftsy.com to get 50% off the online class, Sketchbooks: Drawing the Everyday, and start creating more compelling compositions today. Offer expires Jan 9th, 2015 at 11:59pm MST.

Flowing City Maps Imagine the Influence of Cities on the Environment

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Tokyo

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Rio de Janeiro

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Paris

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New York

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Venice

As part of a new exhibition in Venice that explores the relationship between cities and inhabitants, digital artist and illustrator Istvan (previously) created a series of city maps that seem to bleed into their surroundings. The works aren’t scientific by any means, but are meant as a representation of how cities might affect the local environment. The maps were created digitally and printed on large slabs of acrylic glass for display as part of Contemporary Venice through January 2015. You can see much more over on Behance.

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

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Desert Rose (Wadi Fa Lang) copy

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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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