Art

Open Mind: New Warped Face Sculptures by Johnson Tsang

March 14, 2018

Laura Staugaitis

Sculptor Johnson Tsang (previously) continues to push realism’s boundaries in his sculptures of faces that are stretched and opened up in surreal ways. In his latest series, Open Mind, Tsang incorporates hand gestures and metaphorical materials like growing leaves and rippling water to convey a sense of open-mindedness in his sculptures.

The artist shares with Colossal that he has always been creative, but due to an impoverished upbringing and poor grades in school, he initially focused on trade work, including as an air conditioning assistant and a potato chip fryer.

Tsang first took a clay modeling class in 1991, during his thirteen-year career as a policeman. He describes his first experience with the material to Colossal: “The clay seemed so friendly to me, it listened to every single word in my mind and did exactly I was expecting. Every touch was so soothing. I feel like I was touching human skin. I found peace and joy in it. I’ve felt in love with it ever since.”

Tsang, now 58, is a prolific creator, and reports that he completes about a sculpture a week. He shares new work on his website as well as on Instagram and Facebook, where he also chronicles works in progress.

 

 



Animation

Abstract Claymation Videos by Romane Granger Capture the Small Details of Ocean Life

March 13, 2018

Laura Staugaitis

In a pair of teaser videos for singer Stevanna Jackson, animator Romane Granger (previously) uses carefully modeled clay to suggest the complex ecosystem of life on the ocean’s floor. In Ocean Blues #1 and #2, the coils and folds of clay shift in tune with Jackson’s music as waves, flower-like designs and human characters emerge from the sea. Granger is an animation student at L’École nationale supérieure des Arts Décoratifs in Paris. You can see more of her work on Vimeo and Instagram.

 

 



Art History

Archaeologists Discover What May Be the World’s Oldest Crayon

March 13, 2018

Kate Sierzputowski

Archaeologists working on a site near an ancient lake in Scarborough, North Yorkshire, UK say they may have discovered one of the earliest examples of a crayon. The reddish-brown piece of ochre is thought to have been used 10,000 years ago to color animal skins or produce artwork during the Mesolithic period.

The oblong discovery is just 22 mm long and 7 mm wide, yet shows a heavily striated surface where it was most likely scraped to create red pigment. One side of the tool is sharpened, another hint that the piece was used to draw or color. Dr. Andy Needham from the University of York’s Department of Archaeology explained the discovery helps archaeologists understand how significant color might have been to the hunter-gatherers of the Mesolithic period.

“For me it is a very significant object and helps us build a bigger picture of what life was like in the area; it suggests it would have been a very colourful place,” said Needham in a press release.

This has been a year of many art historical firsts. Within the last few months our knowledge of Greek civilization has been completely altered by the discovery of this tiny carved stone, and archaeologists found the first known use of a smiley face on an off-white jug in Southern Turkey. You can read more about the discovery of the ochre crayon, and other pieces found near the ancient lake in North Yorkshire, in the Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports. (via Hyperallergic)

 

 

 



Science

A Short Film Captures the Reactions of LA Residents to Viewing the Moon Through a Traveling Telescope

March 13, 2018

Kate Sierzputowski

Directors Alex Gorosh and Wylie Overstreet have released another film about the moon after their previous educational short outlining why the 2017 eclipse should not be missed. A New View of The Moon features Overstreet parking his telescope at the cross-section of various LA sidewalks to give spontaneous glimpses of the moon to interested passersby.

Over the course of 18 months the pair brought the telescope to as many diverse locations across the city as possible, making sure not to focus on any specific neighborhood or landmark. Despite the range of individuals that snuck a peek at the orbiting astronomical body, each had the same reaction— complete awe.

“To be able to see it up close and feel like you could almost reach out and touch it, that’s what makes it real to us,” said Overstreet in the short film. “It makes you realize that we are all on this small little planet, and we all have the same reaction to the universe we live in. I think there is something special about that, something unifying. It’s a great reminder that we should look up more often.”

If you are interested in getting your own look at the moon, check your local library. Many across the US and UK rent out telescopes free of charge. For more videos by Gorosh (including this piece where he attempts to view every single piece of art in London in one day) check out his website. You can also view more short films by Overstreet on his website.

 

 



Craft

Shimmering Metallic Embroideries of Dragonflies and Other Insects by Humayrah Bint Altaf

March 13, 2018

Laura Staugaitis

Bedford, England-based embroidery artist Humayrah Bint Altaf (previously) continues to construct ornate insects using shimmering threads and metallic beads. Her dragonflies, bees, beetles, and butterflies take shape using carefully paired patterns and colors that form wings, bodies, and even delicate feet. While Altaf takes artistic license with the exact shapes and colors in her embroideries, her use of bright, reflective materials adds a sense of life to these insect interpretations. The artist shares with Colossal:

I strive to create pieces that speak figuratively and literally of the colors and textures of trees, plants, beetles, bees, roots, twigs and other creatures that frequent my world. Light is an integral element of my handwork hence the materials I use reflect this. Soft gold leathers, vintage silks, antique gold cords, iridescent metal wires all call out to me and are woven into my pieces.

Altaf was recently recognized by The Worshipful Company of Girdlers for her contributions to Embroidery. She shares her work on Instagram and also sells her embroideries on Etsy.

 

 



Amazing Design

A Project Aims to Create the World’s Largest Hanging Garden Since Babylon Within the Branches of a 114-Foot Tree

March 12, 2018

Laura Staugaitis

The French masterminds of mechanical delight, Les Machines de L’ile, have an ambitious new project underway. L’Arbre aux Hérons (The Heron’s Tree) is set to be the largest hanging garden built since ancient Babylon, spanning over 160 feet in diameter and reaching 114 feet into the sky. Their Nantes-based team describes the historic muses behind the project:

Inspired by the worlds of Jules Verne and Leonardo Da Vinci, it is an unprecedented artistic project. After the Grand Elephant and the Machine Gallery in 2007, the Carousel of the Sea Worlds in 2012, the Herons’ Tree is the third phase of the Island’s Machines. Coming out of the minds of François Delaroziere and Pierre Orefice, it will be located along the banks of the Loire River, a few meters away from the house Jules Verne spent his teenage years in and where Jean-Jacques Audubon grew up and drew his first herons.

Les Machines de L’ile have been working on The Heron’s Tree since their inception in 2007, and in the spirit of democratic discovery, their team of skilled craftspeople have been sharing the prototypes with visitors to the Machine Gallery. The sketches and mock-ups for the project include a giant steel tree topped with two herons that each carry twenty passengers on circular flights. Half of the tree’s twenty-two branches can be traversed on foot by visitors, and all of the branches will support hanging terraces of plants and gardens to create a lush ecosystem. The tree itself will be set in an old granite quarry on the cliffs of Brittany.

The goal is to open The Heron’s Tree in 2022, and two thirds of the 35 million euro project cost is being covered by public funding. Les Machines de L’ile is seeking to fund the rest through crowdfunding: you can contribute via Kickstarter. You can also track the project’s progress on Facebook.

A small-scale prototype

A prototype branch

Prototype herons

Sketches for The Heron’s Tree

Sketches for The Heron’s Tree

Sketches for The Heron’s Tree

Digital rendering of walkways

 

 

 



Illustration

Clever Sketches by Christoph Niemann Turn Everyday Scenes into Humorous Moments

March 9, 2018

Laura Staugaitis

Illustrator Christoph Niemann (previously) plays with scale and context to create small scenes using ink and everyday materials. In his object-focused works, a few deft brushstrokes turn a pair of socks into the head and torso of a dinosaur, and a pressed paintbrush flares into a dancer’s swinging skirt. Other sketches are based on photographs, usually of the streets of New York City where the artist lives. For the past few years, he has shared these illustrations each Sunday via Instagram. Niemann also sells prints of his series of Sunday Sketches, along with original drawings, in his online store. He has also published a book, Sunday Sketching.