While on approach to Chicago O’Hare International Airport last week after a business trip, amateur photographer Mark Hersch glanced out his window at the setting sun and decided to pull out his iPhone to take a photo. Right then the plane banked for a 180-degree left turn over Lake Michigan for a final westward approach when an unexpected play of light occurred: the entire skyline of Chicago was suddenly projected in shadow from underneath the cover of clouds. It’s safe to say this is textbook definition of a once-in-a-lifetime shot. Photo courtesy Mark Hersch. (via Twisted Sifter)
A quick local news segue, the wintry assault here in Chicago as a result of the Polar Vortex has been bitterly cold and dangerous as temperatures plunged to historic lows over the last 48 hours. Despite the life threatening temperatures, it’s also been strangely beautiful. The landscape, especially along the Lake Michigan shore, has been transformed into an Arctic wonderland the locals are calling CHIBERIA. Here’s a collection of some of the best photos I’ve seen from Chicago’s most intrepid photogs who braved the absurd weather to snap a few amazing photographs. Am I missing any great shots? Get in touch. A huge thanks to all of the photographers for providing images for this post.
Currently touring several cities in the U.S., The Happy Show by graphic designer Stefan Sagmeister, blurs the boundaries between art and graphic design with a great mix of installations, imaginative typographical displays, and interactive artworks. The large exhibition is punctuated with social data gathered from Harvard psychologists Daniel Gilbert and Steven Pinker, anthropologist Donald Symons, psychologist Jonathan Haidt, as well as several prominent historians. There’s also free gum! And candy! And giant inflatable monkeys! The Happy Show is currently on view at the Chicago Cultural Center through September 23rd, 2013. I’ve been twice now, and you should go too. Images above courtesy Stefan Sagmeister.
Mirror City is the latest video from photographer and filmmaker Michael Shainblum that takes time-lapse footage of Chicago, San Francisco, San Diego, Las Vegas and Los Angeles and runs it through a constantly shifting kaleidoscopic pattern of mirrors. Shainblum says of the piece took about four months to edit and adds:
These clips were all processed from their original form, into the kaleidoscopic visuals that you see in this video. Many people visit these large cities every day, and all of these places have been shot and filmed, but I wanted to emulate these urban landscapes in a way that nobody has even seen before. I wanted to put man-made geometric shapes, mixed with elements of color and movement to create less of a structured video, and more of a plethora of visual stimulation.
And a plethora of visual stimulation it is indeed. The fun part for me was trying to recognize all of the different cities as the patterns become more abstract and chaotic. Amazing editing. I definitely suggest watching it full-screen with HD turned on. (via vimeo)
Calgary-based artists Caitlind r.c. Brown and Wayne Garrett (previously) swung by Chicago this month and installed this amazing interactive lighting solution called Cloud Ceiling at Progress Bar. Constructed from hand-bent steel, reflective mylar, electronics, motion sensors, LEDs, and 15,000 re-appropriated incandescent light bulbs, the cloud is now a permanent fixture in the bar which opened earlier this week. Motion sensors embedded in the ceiling cause the cumulous surface of light bulbs to illuminate, effectively ‘mapping’ a lit path through the cloud as bar patrons move through the space.
Brown and Garret were featured in this space last year, for a similar interactive cloud installed at Nuit Blanche Calgary. You can learn more about Cloud Ceiling here.
Many painters working from photographic source material employ a wide variety of techniques to arrive at a final image. This will involve anything from loose sketching beforehand to complex grids, where a photograph is translated into paint box by box. Such is not the case with British painter Nathan Walsh who instead relies on elaborate drawings reminiscent of architectural blueprints before every committing paint to canvas. This deep reverence for the underpinning geometry and perspective gives each work a sense of life that might otherwise not be present in something created with the mechanical aid of a camera or software.
Walsh tells me his primary source materials are not photographs but pencil sketches drawn on-site, for example the Chicago pieces above began from over 100 drawings he then references in his studio. In this way he can easily alter the position and size of any particular element, a process he likens to “building a world from scratch”. Personally I think the process is more akin to building the entire world in his mind so he can better represent it later in his paintings, each of which takes up to 3-4 months to complete. Via his website:
I deal exclusively with the urban landscape and aim to present a painted world which in some ways resembles the world we live in. I am fascinated by the city, it’s visual complexity and constant state of flux. The act of painting is an attempt fix this information and give vision to our experience of living within it. [...] The work aims to create credible and convincing space which whilst making reference to our world displays it’s own distinct logic. This space is created through drawing, which I see as fundamental in establishing a world the viewer can engage with. Drawing allows me to make human pictorial decisions instead of relying on the mechanical eye of a camera or software package. This process is open ended and changes from one painting to the next. Whilst I employ a variety of perspectival strategies, these methods are not fixed or rigid in their application. Working with a box of pencils and an eraser I will start by establishing an horizon line on which I will place vanishing points to construct simple linear shapes which become subdivided into more complex arrangements.
You can see numerous final works at a much higher resolution, as well as initial drawings over on his website. Walsh will have work at the Changing Perspectives technology conference in Paris later this month, and is working on a solo show at Bernarducci Meisel Gallery in November.
This winter Chicago-based photographer Satoki Nagata produced a series of abstract, black and white street portraits of people caught in the frigid elements. Nagata says that he lights his figures from behind with a flash using a slow shutter speed and doesn’t rely on double exposures or glass reflections as it may appear. The results are some pretty striking photographs of people that look nearly transparent yet appear to be almost perfectly surrounded by a crisp halo of light. Nagata’s primary work centers around documentary photography which is also well worth a look.
Even after living here for 14 years I’m always struck by the juxtaposition of Chicago’s towering steel skyline against the brutal midwest winter as it transforms the lakefront into an arctic landscape. Dave Gorum, co-founder and creative director over at Carbonmade, went out last week and shot some footage of the densely packed ice chunks as they sloshed around in Lake Michigan off Lake Shore Drive and then converted them into these great gifs. You can see more over on his Tumblr. (via tumblr radar)