Performing the role of a scientist, Benjamin Maus and Prokop Bartonicek’s kinetic machine Jller selects and sorts pebbles found on a 6 1/2 x 13 foot platform into a grid organized by geologic age. Without assistance, Jller analyzes the stones’ appearance to understand their correct placement, then transports them to the correct location.
All of the rocks for the project were extracted from a German river of the machine’s own name, pebbles that are either the result of erosion in the Alps or have been transported by glaciers. Because the history of this sample location within the river is known, it is a relatively straightforward process to assign each stone its geological age. To do this, Jller first analyzes an image of the stone it selects, extracting information like dominant color, color composition, lines, layers, patterns, grain, and surface texture. The machine then places the stones in alignment of age and type by sucking them into an industrial vacuum gripper and dropping them in the correct location within the grid.
The project is part of ongoing research in the field of industrial automation and historical geology, and was presented last December as a part of the exhibition “Ignorance” at Ex Post in Prague. The full video of the project can be seen below.
As part of his Celestial Series, Chicago-based digital artist David Brodeur rendered an alien world filled with berry-like plants, glowing crystals, and candy shaped orbs that sprout from the ground. Despite their exotic designs, Brodeur relies on common colors of familiar fruits to create this Willy Wonka-esque habitat where you can’t help but want to reach out and gobble everything up. You can see more from the series on Behance, and he also posts a new digital piece each day on Instagram.
“Roca del elefante, Heimaey, Islas Vestman, Suðurland, Islandia, 2014-08-17, DD 036” by Diego Delso. Licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons
Apropos of nothing, here’s a few photos of a natural rock formation off the coast of Iceland that looks like an imposing elephant with its trunk dipped in the Atlantic. Located on the island of Heimaey, the mountainous shape appears to be formed mostly from basalt rock that has the uncanny appearance of wrinkled elephant skin. You can see few more shots over on Flickr. (thnx, Amber!)
Splitting his time between Kanagawa, Japan and Dusseldorf, Germany, artist Ramon Todo (previously) is known for his small sculptures of rocks and books embedded with polished layers of glass. Todo’s decision to seamlessly introduce disparate materials into a single object creates an unusual intention, as if these objects have always existed this way. The random pieces of obsidian, fossils, volcanic basalt, and old books are suddenly redefined, or as Beautiful/Decay’s Genista Jurgens puts it: “By inserting something alien into these pieces, Todo is effectively rewriting their history, and the place that these objects hold in the world.”
Todo will have a number of new pieces on view with MA2 Gallery at EXPO CHICAGO starting next week. He also has a number of atworks available through Artsy and you can flip through additional glass books clicking the small arrows on MA2 Gallery’s website.
Surrounding an exhibition at Maker City LA, artist Paige Smith A.K.A. a common name (previously), began to install new crystalized rock formations around the streets of LA. The geodesic rock formations which she refers to as urban geodes are created mostly with paper and spray paint or cast resin in random cracks and crevices around the city. She’s also installed geodes in Spain, Istanbul, Jordan, South Korea, and elsewhere around the world over the last few years. For the most up-to-date news on her geological street art you can follow smith on Instagram.
Working only with rocks, gravity, and patience, artist Michael Grab (previously) builds precarious towers and bridges that seem to defy gravity. Grab first tried stone balancing during the summer of 2008 while exploring Boulder Creek in Boulder, Colorado, and quickly discovered an innate ability to build increasingly complicated, free standing stacks of rocks. While his stone sculptures rely heavily on intuition and experience, there’s actually a method he uses in most of his work involving hidden “tripods” found on the surface of any rock. He shares in detail:
Balance requires a minimum of three contact points. Luckily, every rock is covered in a variety of tiny to large indentations that can act as a natural tripo for the rock to stand upright, or in most orientations you can think of with other rocks. By paying close attention to the vibrations of the rocks, you will start to feel even the smallest “clicks” as the notches of the rocks are moving over one another. In the finest “point-balances,” these clicks can be felt on a scale smaller than millimeters, and in rare cases can even go undetected, in which case intuition and experience become quite useful.
You can watch the video above to see Grab at work over the last year, and also see more photography of his stone balancing in his online portfolio or on Facebook. Grab survives mostly off print sales, so if you’re in need of a fancy new calendar for 2015, he’s got you covered.