Towering above the trees in a densely forested area of Indonesia lies a giant chicken. The gigantic structure has the body, tail, and head of the bird, even holding open its beak in what appears to be mid-squawk. Although the very old bird is quickly decaying, Gereja Ayam (as the locals call it) attracts hundreds of photographers and travelers to its location in Magelang, Central Java each year who are looking to explore the bird’s bizarre interior.
The building was originally built as a prayer house by 67-year-old Daniel Alamsjah after he received a divine message from God. Although he intended the building to resemble a dove, the locals care more that it looks like a chicken, nicknaming it “Chicken Church.” In addition to a prayer house, Alamsjah also used the building as a rehabilitation center, treating disabled children, drug addicts, and others. Alamsjah was forced to shut the center’s doors fifteen years ago after steep construction costs.
Currently five of the eight pillars holding up the building are crumbling while graffiti covers the inside walls. No longer a place for therapy, the building still serves as a place for worship and travel and according to locals—a private spot for many young couples to hide away from parents or prying eyes. (via Hyperallergic and Daily Mail)
While touring Antarctica for a few weeks with his 73-year-old father, Stockholm-based filmmaker Kalle Ljung brought along a DJI Phantom 2 quadcopter to film their excursion from above. The footage he captured is extraordinary, from isolated shots of crewmates teetering on lone icebergs to pods of whales breaching the surface shot directly overhead. In a deluge of nature/travel films shot with GoPros and drones, this really stands out. (via Vimeo Staff Picks)
Michigan-based artist Pat Perry (previously) spent most of 2014 living a transient life spread across the U.S. His travels took him backpacking, train hopping, and motorcycling with stops in New England, Arkansas, and Texas, all the while dutifully recording his thoughts and observations in his sketchbook. The presence of rural America is a near constant presence in Perry’s work, as well as the frustrations and occasional warnings of humanity colliding with the natural world.
Perry has a number of prints available in his shop and you can also follow his ongoing adventures on Instagram.
When he was 13 years old, New York-based photographer Thomas Prior won a drawing contest and used the money to buy a Pentax K1000 camera. By the age of 20, while still attending SVA, he began assisting on commercial shoots while developing his own direct, almost simplistic approach to photography. Prior relies almost completely on natural lighting and a brilliant eye to capture uncanny images in unexpected places. Gathered here is a selection of photos from the past few years, you can see more on his frequently updated Tumblr, and a recently created Instagram account. (via All of this Is Rocket Science)
In moments of peak stress, boredom, or desperation for change, we’ve probably all shared the same dream: why not just drop everything and travel. Many are lucky do it for a few months, or even a couple of years, but perhaps no modern travelers have been more ambitious than Gunther and Christine Holtorf, who set out in 1990 on a tour of Africa in a Mercedes Benz G Wagon named ‘Otto,’ and never looked back. Over the next 20 years the trio would rack up almost 550,000 miles (885,139km) across some 177 countries. They never once slept in a hotel, preferring to string up hammocks or sleep inside Otto, a car that required a stockpile of 400 spare parts lashed to the roof for emergency repairs.
Their adventures lead them to encounters with numerous vanishing cultures, extraordinary wildlife, and special permission to drive through both Cuba and even North Korea. There were also tricky political situations, a few minor car wrecks, and no less than five cases of malaria. Christine passed away in 2010, but Gunther, now 76, continued traveling for several more years before recently returning to Berlin.
The video from 2012 above includes some great highlights from the Hortorf’s trek, but what you really need to do is scroll through this new interactive travelogue from the BBC that includes some newly published photos and a full written account of their decades-long adventures. Also, here’s Gunther telling a great story about his close encounter with a hyena. (via PetaPixel)
Update: Here’s a 2013 interview with Gunther from Outside.
To explore the photography of French art director and concept designer Nicolas Bouvier is to become lost in strange new world, the inhabitants of which are dwarfed by the towering silhouettes of tree and mountains, or swallowed completely by eerie fog and haze. Though these landscapes are indeed real, shot in locations mostly in the Pacific Northwestern U.S., it may not be surprising that Bouvier’s day job is pure science fiction: he creates stunning concept art and illustrations for video games like Halo and Assassin’s Creed. While his concept art has gathered wide acclaim (he’s currently publishing a third book of his own illustrations), his photographic work has also flourished, garnering a significant following over on Flickr. We’ve featured his images several times right here on Colossal as part of our Flickr Finds series.
Currently based in Seattle, Bouvier first picked up a camera in the 1990s while in school, but it wasn’t until 2007 that he began shooting again in earnest. He has since amassed a collection of nearly two dozen cameras (he mentions he picked up a Lumix ZS40 just yesterday), all of which he experiments with as he explores locations around California, Washington, Oregon, Mexico, and France with his family who often appear as subjects in his surreal photos.
It was nearly impossible to make a selection of work for this post, so I strongly urge you to click this link, grab some coffee, and then press the right arrow on your keyboard about 1,100 times. You won’t regret it.
All images courtesy the artists and the Arts Catalyst
What do you do with the abandoned railways that once held the promise of trans-continental linkage and progress? Some have converted them into tourist-friendly pathways. But Mexican artists and brothers Ivan Puig (previously) and Andrés Padilla Domene decided to traverse the nearly 9,000 km of railway in Mexico and Ecuador that, in 1995, was abandoned and left to decay. But they didn’t travel in any old fashion. In a project that ran from 2010 to 2012 the artists rode in a striking silver road-rail vehicle called SEFT-1, which they designed and built themselves so as to travel both on rail and road.
The multi-year journey, which was documented online, explored abandoned rail but also the notion of modern ruins, and “how the ideology of progress is imprinted onto historic landscapes.” (via Hyperallergic)