Photographers David Doubilet and Jennifer Hayes who together specialize in underwater photography, were recently on assignment for National Geographic in Cuba when they captured this amazing school of blue silversides. The thousands of finger-sized fish are swimming through mangroves (small trees that are able to grow in salt water) but the photographer’s ingenious perspective makes them appear to swim through the air. The image was one of several selected for National Geographic’s Best Photos of 2016.
Self-taught artist Tiffany Bozic (previously) paints nature in a way that is both direct and obscure, producing animals with the precision of a tightly rendered nature illustration, while simultaneously escaping the form’s limitations. Her subject matter typically revolves around forest creatures and their environment, while occasionally including creatures and plants such as amoeba-like jellyfish, creepy insects, and exotic flowers. These diverse sects of the natural world combine in ways that are not natural at all—a deer’s soft hair appearing as moss in one work while a skunk gallantly balances on top of a hovering botanical bouquet in another.
The 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami in Japan was one of the most devastating environmental events of our time, with its overall impact rippling across the globe for years to come. But just as stated in Newton’s third law—for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction—so too did the people of Japan respond to the magnitude of the destruction in an effort to rebuild their country anew as captured in this staggering new artwork by Manabu Ikeda titled Rebirth. Starting in July of 2013, Ikeda toiled away on the 13 x 10 foot piece for 10 hours a day inside a basement studio at the Chazen Museum of Art in Madison, Wisconsin. He finished work just last week.
At its core, Rebirth depicts a tree rising from the debris of the tsunami as enormous waves crash nearby, but a closer inspection reveals thousands of tiny details, the individual stories of anonymous people, plants, and animals as they fight for survival and try to return their world to a semblance of order. Ikeda says that in his work he seeks to replicate the beautiful chaos of life that rarely fits a simple linear narrative. Instead, everything crashes together and interacts in unknown and unexpected ways, an idea that applies directly to his process as he often doesn’t know what each day will bring as he works inch by inch on the near endless canvas before him.
While Ikeda sketches broad details in pencil on the canvas beforehand, he primarily works with pen and acrylic ink using various forms of cross-hatching and brushwork to fill areas so dense with details, the true nature of the artwork isn’t revealed until staring at it from only a few inches away. Mountains of vehicles, gnarled tree branches, and train tracks sit tangled at the base of a tree, and flower blooms comprised of umbrellas and emergency tents fill the sky above. Everywhere a collision of humankind and nature, for better or worse.
“My goal is to faithfully express my view of the world in my composition, but I don’t intentionally depict detailed images,” he tells the Chazen. “Because I see details when I observe things, rather than the whole, I find pen and ink to be the best tools to express how I see them.”
Ikeda’s time spent in Madison wasn’t without its own adversity. The artist dislocated a shoulder in a downhill skiing accident which rendered his dominant hand temporarily useless. Unable to stop work for very long, Ikeda began practicing with his other hand and after 3-4 practice drawings continued work on Rebirth unfazed.
Rebirth will be on view only briefly at the Chazen Museum of Art through December 11, 2016. If you’re anywhere near the midwest, this is well worth a trip and I strongly encourage you to stop by. You can explore it for over 30 minutes and still not see everything. You can also read more about it on Wisconsin Life.
Film and stills courtesy Clayton Adams.
This stunning timelapse footage from the new Planet Earth II series on BBC One captures a wide variety of unusual fungi as it blooms at night. The clip is from the latest Jungles episode (UK only) and includes a few specimens that were shot for the very first time by Steve Axford whose fungi photography we’ve shared here many times. Unfortunately, watching Planet Earth II anywhere outside the UK legally is almost impossible until early next year, so you’ll have to hang tight for the whole episode.
Barcelona-based illustrator Vorja Sánchez depicts comically surreal storybook creatures that look like a cross between mutant dinosaurs and shadowy demons—but also captures the very lifelike spirit of birds and other animals. Working with a variety of mediums from pen and link to watercolor or spray paint, each piece is inspired by events in his daily life, an observation he makes while walking through the forest, or drawing from a recent stint living in Nicaragua where he organized painting classes for children and adults. Sánchez has just begun working as a full-time artist in the last few months and is currently wrapping up work on an illustrated book. You can follow more of his artwork on Facebook and Instagram.
Photographer Jess Findlay recently captured this amazing shot of a fiery-throated hummingbird while shooting in the Talamanca Mountains in Costa Rica. The image is a result of hundreds of photos taken over several hours with a telephoto lens as he waited patiently for one of the small birds to perch at just the right angle. Findlay shares with Colossal:
Several of these hummingbirds were visiting a nectar feeder. As they fed hungrily, often quarreling with one another, occasionally one would get displaced onto a nearby branch. I waited by the branch for a couple hours, staying very still. I used a telephoto lens with a special attachment that allowed me to focus on close subjects. What made this a challenge was how fidgety these birds can be and the fact that the full spectrum of colour is only seen when they pause at a very specific angle.