In her delicate crafted porcelain sculptures conceptual artist Kate McDowell expresses her interpretation of the clash between the natural world and the modern-day environmental impact of industrialized society. The resulting works can be equal parts amusing and disturbing as the anatomical forms of humans and animals become inexplicably intertwined in her delicate porcelain forms. Via her artist statment:
In my work this romantic ideal of union with the natural world conflicts with our contemporary impact on the environment. These pieces are in part responses to environmental stressors including climate change, toxic pollution, and gm crops. They also borrow from myth, art history, figures of speech and other cultural touchstones. In some pieces aspects of the human figure stand-in for ourselves and act out sometimes harrowing, sometimes humorous transformations which illustrate our current relationship with the natural world. In others, animals take on anthropomorphic qualities when they are given safety equipment to attempt to protect them from man-made environmental threats.
Get out the headphones or turn up your speakers and prepare to be impressed by archaic 19th century engineering. Relying on dozens of moving parts including gears, springs, and a bellows, this small contraption built in 1890 was designed to do one thing: perfectly mimic the random chatter of a song bird. At first I expected to hear a simple repeating pattern of tweets, but the sounds produced by the mechanism are actually quite complex and vary in pitch, tone, and even volume to create a completely realistic song. I think if you closed your eyes you might not be able to tell the difference between this and actual birdsong. It’s believed the machine was built 120 years ago in Paris by Blaise Bontems, a well-known maker of bird automata and was recently refurbished by Michael Start over at The House of Automata. Can any of you ornithologists identify the bird? If so, get in touch. (via the automata blog)
Latvian conceptual artist and creative director Voldemars Dudums created this insanely clever bird feeder using an old computer keyboard and some cubes of bacon fat. When the birds would fly down to snack their inadvertent key presses were fed to an api that parsed each little tap into a bonafide tweet on the @hungry_birds Twitter account (fyi, these particular feathered friends became political during the U.S. elections, so there’s that). The birds, mostly tomtits, would tweet roughly 100 times each day and could even be watched live over on Birds on Twitter. It even landed Dudums a people’s choice award for Guerrilla Innovation in Advertising. Unfortunately the project went offline in March of this year, as that’s when the cryptic avian tweets cease. I feel like a schmuck for being so late to the party on this, but reading through the archive of tweets is still pretty entertaining for random literary gems like “OOOMMMGGGGG” and “AIAIAIA”. (via izmia)
Using pencils, charcoal, and pastels artist John Pusateri creates near photo-realistic drawings of beautifully colored owls. Pusateri currently teaches in the Department of Architecture at Unitec New Zealand and currently has a number of works available through Seed Gallery. See more from this owl series in his portfolio. (via devid sketchbook, thnx jessica)
It’s not every day you see a photograph of a bird checking out her reflection in a mirror, especially not while in mid-flight while looking into a body of water. What a tremendous photograph from Norwegian photographer Geir Magne Sætre, you can see more of his work over on 500px.
Artist Adam S. Doyle who recently relocated to Hong Kong creates beautiful gestural paintings of birds, where the seemingly incomplete brushstrokes form the feathers and other details of the animal. In some strange way it reminds me of the story of the Renaissance painter Giotto who is rumored to have been able to draw a perfect circle without the aid of a compass, as if Doyle just picks up a dripping paint brush and in a few seconds paints a perfect bird. In reality his work demonstrates a profound control of the paintbrush and careful understanding of the mediums he works with. Via email he tells me:
Yes, what you see is what it appears to be—strokes of paint. I’ve always loved unfinished paintings because you could see the alchemic process of surface and paint transforming into a living person. With my paintings, it does take quite a bit of working and reworking to arrive at the place where every brush stroke fits into a fluidly flowing whole. It’s important to me to find a balance between an elegance of form that holds both visible marks of paint and a representation of ‘energy within’. I’ll just add that the painterly craft of my images, which I consider secondary to investigating ideas and concepts, came about after a lifetime of expressive image-making, followed by doggedly exploring the aforementioned transformation in grad school. I realized during that same formative period that I was also captivated by trying to visualize energy, which I was quite familiar with having grown up with a dad who practiced Eastern medicine.
Doyle most recently had a show at Skylight Gallery in 2011 and is now currently working on a new body of work in Hong Kong. You can see much more of his work on his website.
Graffiti & Street Art reports this giant goldfinch (“The Goldfinch of Scampia”) was painted on the side of a troubled building in Naples in 2009 by German artists Simon Jung and Paul & Hanno Schweizer. Afterward the three perched on the building’s ledge for this great shot. (via graffiti & street art)
Ornithological LEGO master Tom Poulsom has followed up his wonderful British bird series with a new set of tropical birds featuring macaws, hummingbirds, finches and more. Poulsom says he’s well on his way in gaining enough support on the LEGO CUUSOO site to turn some of these birds into commercially produced models but needs a few more votes. I think I would honestly buy the entire set, so help me help Tom help me and give him a vote and imagine me giving you a giant eHigh-five.