Driven by super-human forces and undaunted by the powers of nature, artist Simon Beck (previously) trudges across sand or through knee-high snow to create massive geometric drawings left behind in his footprints. From sandy expanses on the shore of New Zealand to frigid outlooks in the Swiss Alps, any pristine surface that stretches for hundreds of meters can work as a suitable canvas for Beck’s designs.
Each site-specific piece is planned well in advance on a computer and carefully mapped out on-site before the artist begins his grueling expedition. After walking for entire days, the painstaking details of enormous fractals, snowflakes, dragons, and undulating geometric forms are left in his wake—often with barely enough sunlight to snap a few quick photos.
Seen here are a number of pieces by Beck from the last year or so. You can learn about the fine details of his process in this FAQ and see additional photos over on Facebook. He also published a book of his work titled Simon Beck: Snow Art.
Artist Calvin Seibert (previously) recently completed a new series of his geometrically precise sand castles on the beaches of Hawaii. A professional sculptor, Seibert seems to borrow angular ideas from Bauhaus architecture or the flair of Frank Gehry. How he’s able to control the sand so perfectly is anyone’s guess, it certainly puts my traditional upside down bucket method to shame. You can see more of his work over the last few years here.
Artist Joe Mangrum (previously) was just in Zuidlaren, Netherlands, where he was commissioned by the Doe Museum to create 8 temporary sand paintings over a period of 11 days. All of Mangrum’s paintings are spontaneous and evolve as he works, a grueling physical process that involves dozens of revolutions around the artwork as he adds new details and flourishes by pouring brightly colored sand. All eight artworks were photographed as he worked and turned into time-lapse videos, three of which are included here. The sand paintings will remain on view through October 30, 2015. You can follow more of Mangrum’s work on Facebook.
In a 21st century take on the traditional Zen sand garden, artist Bruce Shapiro invented the Sisyphus Machine, an elaborate kinetic drawing machine that uses magnets to drag rolling steel marbles through a thin layer of sand to create complicated mandala-like patterns. Shapiro, who was once a practicing physician, has spent the better part of 25 years experimenting with computerized motion control and many of his Sisyphus Machines have been installed in locations around the world including a large device in Switzerland back in 2003 and at Questacon in Canberra, Australia in 2013. It appears the artist is currently working on a tabletop consumer version and if you’re interested you can sign up for his mailing list here. (via Core77, Fast Company)
While exploring the shores around St. Joseph, Michigan last week, photographer Joshua Nowicki stumbled onto a bizarre phenomenon: dozens of small sand towers rising out of the beach, some over a foot tall. The strange layered sand castles are formed when blasts of wind slowly erode layers of frozen sand, much like how a river might slowly create a canyon. Nowicki returned yesterday to shoot more photos, but found that sunny skies were enough to melt them away. You can see more of his photography here. (via EarthSky)
No these aren’t the homes of mutant sea creatures or geographic oddities forged from centuries of tidal currents, they’re sandcastles built by a Massachusetts man who goes by Sandcastlematt. Using found objects like vines, plywood, and other junk he creates a sturdy framework to which he applies the classic drip method sandcastle technique resulting in these strange temporary structures that look like contemporary land art pieces.
One of Matt’s sandcastles recently made the rounds in a viral meme suggesting his work was the result of lightning striking sand, but Scientific American debunked it. See more of his castles right here.
Artist Vik Muniz (previously here, here, and here) is known for his gigantic composite installations and sculptures created from thousands of individual objects. In this new collaboration with artist and MIT researcher Marcelo Coelho, Muniz takes the opposite approach and explores the microscopic with a new series of sandcastles etched onto individual grains of sand.
The process of getting a sandcastle onto a speck of rock was anything but straightforward and involved over four years of trial and error utilizing both antiquated and highly technical methods. Muniz first drew each castle using a camera lucida, a 19th century optical tool that relies on a prism to project a reflection of whatever is in front of you onto paper where it can be traced. The drawings were then sent to Coelho who worked with a number of microscopic drawing processes for several years before deciding to use a Focused Ion Beam (FIB) which has the capability of creating a line only 50 nanometers wide (a human hair is about 50,000 nanometers wide).
Lastly, Muniz photographed the final etchings and enlarged them to wall-sized prints. He shared with the Creator’s Project: “When someone tells you it’s a grain of sand, there’s a moment where your reality falls apart and you have to reconstruct it. You have to step back and ask what the image is and what it means,” a fascinating play on scale and perception. Watch the new video above from the Creator’s Project to see how the project came together.
The sandcastles are on view starting today as part of a comprehensive exhibition of Muniz’ work spanning the last 25 years at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art. (via The Creator’s Project)