Polish photographer Marcin Ryczek snapped this once-in-a-lifetime photograph of a man feeding swans and ducks from a snowy river bank in Krakow. The trifecta juxtaposition between black/white, water/snow, and person/animals is simply astounding. You can download a desktop sized version of the photo here, and check out more of Ryczek’s photos in his portfolio. (via stellar)
Filmmaker Neels Castillon was on a commercial shoot a few days ago, waiting to catch a helicopter flying into a sunset, when suddenly tens of thousands of starlings unexpectedly swarmed the sky in an enormous dance known as a murmuration. With his director of photography, Mathias Touzeris, the two filmed for several minutes capturing some pretty magnificent footage. You might recall a similar murmuration video from last year shot extremely up close and personal using a camera phone that went viral. How do thousands of birds simultaneously make such dramatic changes in their flight patterns? After tons of research, scientists still aren’t sure. The music is Hand-Made by Alt-J. (via vimeo)
I’m going to take a moment to interrupt your normal/art design programming with this absurd video from a gentleman named Sean Wilson who discovered an enormous egg amongst the daily collection of eggs from his chicken coop. As a person who grew up on a farm with dozens of chickens, I’m no stranger to cracking open large eggs to discover multiple yolks or other, erm, unexpected oddities. But in years of collecting eggs I’ve never seen anything quite like this. Don’t miss this great back and forth banter between the dad and the off-screen child. I so hope this isn’t a hoax. (via reddit)
Update: Kottke found some more information about the exceedingly rare double egg courtesy of NewScientist which explains how a fully formed egg is pushed back into the ovary, where another egg forms around it.
When looking at the problem of bird populations shrinking in urban areas due to loss of habitat, Nethlerlands-based product designer Klaas Kuiken was struck with the idea of improving a common bird home: residential roofs. In consultation with the Vogelbescherming (the Dutch bird association) Kuiken designed a ceramic birdhouse that adheres to the ubiquitous roof tiles found throughout the country. The house contains a removable basket to aid in maintenance after mating season and is made with materials that can resist extreme cold in the winter. First designed in 2009 the birdhouses have finally gone into production and 100 are now available for sale. See more over on designboom.
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.
Some of McDowell’s work is currently on display at the American Museum of Ceramic Art through January 26th, 2013 and you can see much more of her recent work in her online portfolio. If you liked this, also check out the work of Motohiko Odani. (via empty kingdom)
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)
Update: And if you liked that, check out this pair of matching signing bird pistols that sold at auction last year for $5.8 million.
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)