Africa

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Art

Vertical Aerial: A Monumental 3-Ton Aerial Mosaic of Johannesburg

October 3, 2013

Christopher Jobson

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Artist Gerhard Marx in conjunction with Spier Architectural Arts recently created an enormous sculptural mosaic of an aerial photograph of Johannesburg, South Africa. Seven professional mosaic artists, together with nine apprentices worked for 5 months to complete the project using natural stone such as marble and travertine, fragments of red brick, ceramic elements and chips of Venetian smalti glass. In the end, the 56-panel aerial image weighs nearly three tons and was presented last month at the 2013 FNB Joburg Art Fair.

Watch the video above to see how the piece came together, and also learn about another work created through an additional partnership between Spier and artist Sam Nhlengethwa. (via Colossal Submissions)

 

 



Art Photography

A Deadly Alkaline Lake in Africa Turns Animals into Calcified Statues

October 2, 2013

Christopher Jobson

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Calcified Fish Eagle, Lake Natron, 2012

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Calcified Bat II, Lake Natron, 2012

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Calcified Swallow, Lake Natron, 2012

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Calcified Dove, Lake Natron, 2012

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Calcified Flamingo, Lake Natron, 2012

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Calcified Songbird, Lake Natron, 2012

Lake Natron in northern Tanzania is one of the harshest environments on Earth. Temperatures in the lake can rise to 140 °F (60 °C) and the alkalinity is between pH 9 and pH 10.5, almost as alkaline as ammonia. Animals who enter the water are almost certainly doomed, save certain kinds of fish that have evolved to survive in such a caustic environment.

While working Africa photographer Nick Brandt stopped by the lake to discover several dead animals on the shoreline. Birds and other small mammals that end up in the water gradually become calcified, turned to stone in the deadly water. Brandt tells NewScientist, “I could not help but photograph them. No one knows for certain exactly how they die, but it appears that the extreme reflective nature of the lake’s surface confuses them, and like birds crashing into plate glass windows, they crash into the lake.”

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These photos and many more are included in Brandt’s new book, Across the Ravaged Land, a third and final volume of photography documenting the disappearance of animals in Eastern Africa. All photos copyright Nick Brandt, courtesy of Hasted Kraeutler Gallery. (via My Modern Met)

 

 



Photography Science

Massive Bird Nests Built on Telephone Poles in Southern Africa are Home to Multiple Species of Birds

February 18, 2013

Christopher Jobson

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No these aren’t haystacks stuck in a phone pole. Visit the Kalahari Desert in the south of Africa and you’re bound to run into a peculiar animal called the Sociable Weaver Bird. The birds are called “social” not just because they live in organized colonies, but because they build massive homes out of sticks, grass and cotton that are home to several other kinds birds. That’s right, the nests are so large that birds of other species are welcome to setup shop, not the least of which is the South African pygmy falcon which lives exclusively inside the social weaver’s nests that often accommodate over 100 birds at at time. Via the San Diego Zoo:

The sociable weaver’s nest sees plenty of guests—a regular Kalahari Desert inn! The South African pygmy falcon Polihierax semitorquatus relies completely on the sociable weavers’ nest for its own home, often nesting side by side with the sociable weavers. The pied barbet, familiar chat, red-headed finch, ashy tit, and rosy-faced lovebird often find comfort in the cozy nesting chambers, too. Vultures, owls, and eagles will roost on the nests’ broad roof. Why are weavers willing to share the huge nest they worked so hard to make? More residents mean more eyes keeping a watch for danger. And the weavers often learn from the other birds where new sources of food can be found.

Photographer Dillon Marsh has a lovely series of weaver bird nest photographs titled Assimilation that are well worth a look. (via neatorama)