A 17th-Century Stanchi Painting Reveals the Rapid Change in Watermelons through Selective Breeding [Updated]

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Giovanni Stanchi (Rome c. 1645-1672). Oil on canvas. 38 5/8 x 52½ in. (98 x 133.5 cm.) / Courtesy Christie’s

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Old master work paintings are frequently cited for their depiction of historical events, documentation of culture, or portraiture of significant people, but there’s one lesser known use of some paintings for those with a keen eye: biology. One such instance is this Renaissance still life of various fruits on a table by Giovanni Stanchi painted sometime in the 1600s that shows a nearly unrecognizable watermelon before it was selectively bred for meatier red flesh.

Horticulture professor James Nienhuis at the University of Wisconsin tells Vox that he’s fascinated by old still life paintings that often contain the only documentation of various fruits and vegetables before we transformed them forever into something more desirable for human use. You can read a bit more about the science behind the changes in watermelons over the last 350 years here. (via Kottke)

Update: Greg Cato writes: “The painting depicts a rare outcome of sub-par growing conditions, known as ‘starring.’ It’s perfectly normal, still happens, and is not the result of selective breeding (although it would be cool if it were).” You can see an example here.

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Photographer Stephen Orlando Captures the Movement of Musicians Through Light Painting

Bach Cello Suite No. 1 Prelude

Bach Cello Suite No. 1 Prelude

Photographer Stephen Orlando (previously) captures the nearly imperceptible movement one makes when quickly sliding a bow along strings, the senses typically drawn to the sounds rather than appearance of the instrument being played. By using carefully placed LED lights and a long exposure Orlando can track these movements through space, following arms and bows with light trails that extend out from the body and instrument. These bright ghostly marks are captured through his photographic technique and not altered with Photoshop, making their distinct patterns all the more spectacular.

The Ontario-based artist was inspired by the lighting painter Gjon Mili, who also experimented with violins in 1952. Orlando explains:

A relative motion between the performer and camera must exist for the light trails to move through the frame. I found it easier to move the camera instead of the performer. The LEDs are programmed to change color to convey a sense of time. The progression of time is from left to right in the viola and violin photos and from top to bottom in the cello photos. Each photo is a single exposure and the light trails have not been manipulated in post processing.

You can see more of Orlando’s lit rainbow pieces on his Instagram and Facebook.

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Viola III

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Violin I

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Seitz Concerto No. 2, 3rd Movement

Viola - Bach Cello Suite No. 1 - Three Bowings

Viola – Bach Cello Suite No. 1 – Three Bowings

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Unusual Hybrid Animal and Wildlife Murals Painted by Alexis Diaz

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Puerto Rican artist Alexis Diaz (previously) brings textures and patterns reminiscent of traditional engraving techniques to his murals of phantasmagorical creatures using only a paintbrush. Twisting tentacles, strange fusions of anatomy, beings wrapped in plants, all rendered atop colorful gradients create an unmistakable style Diaz has become famous for. You can see much more of his work here. (via Cross Connect)

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San Francisco-Based Company Builds Guitars From Recycled Skateboard Decks

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Nick Pourfard is 22-year-old artist, musician, and skateboarder currently combing his multiple talents into one package: guitars built from reclaimed skateboard decks. The San Francisco-based industrial design student taught himself woodworking to tackle the project which he branded as Prisma Guitars. Each instrument is 100% handmade and composed of skateboards that have been used or broken.

Recently, Pourfard had the honor of building a piece for Steve Harris of Iron Maiden. Pourfard explains, “I took every detail of his playing style and aesthetic into consideration. The bass has an off-white painted alder back with skate top featuring colors as close to West Ham as possible. I laser cut a custom mirror pickguard and bound the whole body in black and white to pay homage to his classic original bass.”

You can donate your own used or broken skateboards to Pourfard before they make their way into a landfill here. (via fubiz)

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Green 3D Printer Prints Living Designs From Organic “Ink”

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Project PrintGREEN is turning 3D printers into on-demand gardeners after designing a “green” 3D printer in 2013. The printer produces living prints, printing customized objects in a variety of sizes and forms. The project was created at the University of Maribor in Slovenia, conceived of by students Maja Petek, Tina Zidanšek, Urška Skaza, Danica Rženičnik and Simon Tržan, with help from their mentor Dušan Zidar. The project’s goal is to unite art, technology, and nature, creatively producing living designs with the help of technology.

The “ink” in the machine is a combination of soil, seeds, and water which can be designed to print in any shape or letter. After drying, the muddy mixture holds its form and begins to sprout grass from the organic material. PrintGREEN’s slogan is a twist on the old conservationist motto, “think before you print,” telling their audience to “print, because it is green.” You can follow the project’s progress on their Facebook page here. (via My Modern Met)

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all images by PrintGREEN

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This Portable Salt-Powered Lamp Stays Illuminated for 8 Hours on a Glass of Seawater

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First the sea gave birth to life. Now, thanks to a trio of Philippine-based inventors, it is giving birth to light as well. Led by engineer Lipa Aisa Mijena, the team has developed a lamp that’s capable emitting light for 8 hours on just 1 cup of saltwater. Not only are the Philippines prone to natural disasters like typhoons and earthquakes but the country is made up of over 7,000 islands, most of which do not have access to electricity, says the team. But one thing they do have is the sea, an abundant source of saltwater that can now be used to light homes and, in emergencies, power cell phones.

The saltwater-powered lamp uses the same science that forms the basis of battery-making. Where they differ from batteries is that the entire reaction is safe and harmless. Moreover, there are no flammable materials or components that go into lamp. Used 8 hours a day, every day, the team says the lamp can provide light for 6 months (or even over a year if used more efficiently) without having to replace any parts.

Over the past year or so SALt (Sustainable Alternative Lighting) has won 7 different sustainability and entrepreneurial awards. If interested, you can enter your name and email on their website to receive product updates but right now the team is focusing on building lamps for their target communities. (via Web Urbanist)

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Remake: Master Works of Art Reimagined, a New Book by Jeff Hamada

Salvador Dali, "The Ship," 1942-43, watercolor on paper, remake by Justin Nunnink

Salvador Dali, “The Ship,” 1942-43, watercolor on paper, remake by Justin Nunnink

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Dante Gabriel Rossetti, “The Day Dream,” 1880, oil on canvas, remake by Tania Brassesco and Lazlo Passi Norberto

Four years ago, Booooooom creator Jeff Hamada asked the internet to join in on an art challenge to recreate their favorite old master paintings as contemporary photographs. The Remake Project sparked many professional and amateur artists to create elaborate sets, paint their bodies, paint their friends’ bodies, and take their own shot at works by artists from Dali to Magritte. This collection of original paintings and their contemporary counterparts has now taken the form of a book released through Chronicle Books titled Remake: Master Works of Art Reimagined.

The book features side-by-side page layouts of a selection of works from the original contest, displaying the photographic re-interpretations next to their old-world inspiration. Photographs range from the strikingly similar to loose interpretations, a grand spectrum of re-creations represented from the project’s open call. Remake: Master Works of Art Reimagined is now available in the Colossal Shop.

Rene Magritte, "The Lovers," 1928, oil on canvas, remake by Linda Cieniawska

Rene Magritte, “The Lovers,” 1928, oil on canvas, remake by Linda Cieniawska

Ramon Casas i Carbo, "After the Ball," 1895, oil on canvas, remake by Tania Brassesco and Lazlo Passi Norberto

Ramon Casas i Carbo, “After the Ball,” 1895, oil on canvas, remake by Tania Brassesco and Lazlo Passi Norberto

Jacques Louis David, "The Death of Marat," 1793, oil on canvas, remake by Adrianne Adelle

Jacques Louis David, “The Death of Marat,” 1793, oil on canvas, remake by Adrianne Adelle

Edward Hopper, "Nighthawks," 1942, oil on canvas, remake by Bastian Vice and Jiji Seabird

Edward Hopper, “Nighthawks,” 1942, oil on canvas, remake by Bastian Vice and Jiji Seabird

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