Ever since exploring slides of arranged diatoms earlier this year from the California Academy of Sciences, I was left with one small question: how? Diatoms are tiny single-cell algae encased in jewel-like shells that are among the smallest organisms on Earth of which there are an estimated 100,000 extant species. How does one go about finding, capturing, cleaning, organizing, and arranging these artistic displays that are so small they are measured in microns?
One such person who asked these questions was Klaus Kemp who became fascinated by some of the earliest diatom arrangements dating back to the Victorian era. Kemp has since dedicated his life to the study and perfection of modern day diatom arrangements, and his works are among the most complex being made today. Filmmaker Matthew Killip recently sat down with Kemp and learned more about his process in this short film called the Diatomist.
No, these aren’t light vomiting fish, though you would be forgiven for thinking so because that’s exactly what it looks like. What you’re seeing is the defense mechanism of a tiny crustacean called an ostracod, a shrimp-like organism about 1mm in size that some fish accidentally eat while hunting for plankton. When eaten by a translucent cardinalfish, the ostracod immediately releases a bioluminescent chemical in an attempt to illuminate the fish from the inside, making it immediately identifiable to predators. WHAT. Not wanting to be eaten, the cardinalfish immediately spits out the ostracod, resulting in little underwater fish fireworks. What an incredible game of evolutionary cat and mouse. The clip above is from a new show on BBC Two called Super Senses. If you’re in the UK you can watch it online in HD for a few more days. (via For Science Sake)
The Rose of Jericho (Selaginella lepidophylla) is a species of desert moss that has the amazing ability to ‘resurrect’ itself after bouts of extreme dehydration lasting months or even years. After just a few hours of exposure to moisture the plants burst to life, uncurling from a tight ball of dry leaves to a green flower-like shape. Videographer Sean Steininger shot this timelapse of several plants as he exposed them to water. (via Cause, Science!)
Artist Rogan Brown (previously) just completed work on his latest paper artwork titled Outbreak, a piece he describes as an exploration “of the microbiological sublime.” Over four months in the making, the work depicts an array of interconnected sculptures—entirely hand cut from paper—based on the smallest structures found within the human body: cells, microbes, pathogens, and neurons. Outbreak represents nearly four months of tedious planning, cutting and assembly. He shares about his process:
I am inspired in part by the tradition of scientific drawing and model making, and particularly the work of artist-scientists such as Ernst Haeckel. But although my approach involves careful observation and detailed “scientific” preparatory drawings, these are always superseded by the work of the imagination; everything has to be refracted through the prism of the imagination, estranged and in some way transformed.
You might remember an awesome app mentioned here a few months ago from the creative team over at Tinybop called The Human Body. The educational app takes you deep inside the, erm, bowels of the human body using artwork from illustrator and designer Kelli Anderson. Less than a year later we get to see the latest addition to Tinybop’s Explorer’s Library series, Plants.
The educational title lets you explore two interactive dioramas (forest and desert) illustrated by Marie Caudry where you learn about the lifecycle of plants and how they interact with the rest of the world. Tundra and grassland biomes coming soon.
Leratiomyces sp. / Found in Booyong Reserve, Booyong, NSW
Cyptotrama aspratum or Gold tuft
Mauve splitting waxcap
Marasmius sp. / Marasmius haematocephalus
To think any one of these lifeforms exists in our galaxy, let alone on our planet, simply boggles the mind. Photographer Steve Axford lives and works in the Northern Rivers area of New South Wales in Australia where he spends his time documenting the living world around him, often traveling to remote locations to seek out rare animals, plants, and even people. But it’s his work tracking down some of the world’s strangest and brilliantly diverse mushrooms and other fungi that has resulted in an audience of online followers who stalk his work on Flickr and SmugMug to see what he’s captured next.
Axford shares via email that most of the mushrooms seen here were photographed around his home and are sub-tropical fungi, but many were also taken in Victoria and Tasmania and are classified as temperate fungi. The temperate fungi are well-known and documented, but the tropical species are much less known and some may have never been photographed before. Mushrooms like the Hairy Mycena and the blue leratiomyces have most likely never been found on the Australian mainland before, and have certainly never been photographed in an artistic way as you’re seeing here.
It was painfully difficult not to include more of Axford’s photography here, so I urge you to explorefurther. All photos courtesy the photographer. (via Awkward Situationist)