History Photography

A New Photo Book Spotlights What Remains of American Movie Theaters

January 28, 2022

Grace Ebert

Fox Theater, Inglewood, California. All images © Yves Marchand and Romain Meffre, courtesy of Prestel, shared with permission

Lights, camera, say goodbye to the action. A new book titled Movie Theaters is the culmination of two French photographers’ shared attempt to document the grandiose, historical, and now vastly altered landscape of American cinema. Yves Marchand and Romain Meffre have been traveling the U.S. since 2005 capturing the torn vinyl seating, chipped paint, and sometimes wildly transformed architecture of more than 200 shuttered venues. Published by Prestel, the photos are a visual memorial to a once-thriving industry and part of a broader effort to save what remains.

 

Paramount Theater, Brooklyn, New York

The first public theater in the U.S. opened in 1905 in Pittsburgh, and as a result of the boom in entertainment in the early part of the century, film studios began to commission architects to design elaborate auditoriums that were extravagant in aesthetic and often celebratory in function: ranging in style from Spanish gothic to art nouveau, most feature massive marquees flanking the entrance, ornamental trim lining high gilded ceilings, and rows of plush seating that could comfortably accommodate hundreds of people. “The movie theater was the cathedral of the beginning of the 20th century,” Meffre told Fast Company.

By the end of the 1920s, 20,500 venues were screening films, but that success began to dwindle as people bought TVs in the 60s and again decades later when streaming services became ubiquitous. Following additional closures spurred by the COVID-19 pandemic, that number dropped once more, leaving less than 5,500 theaters open in 2020.

 

Proctor’s Theater, Troy, New York

Many of the buildings Marchand and Meffre visited over their nearly two-decade project are either abandoned in states of decay or firmly in their sequel, having been revitalized into new spaces like bingo halls, warehouses, and markets. Paramount Theater in Brooklyn, for example, now houses basketball courts, while others like Fox Theater in Inglewood contain remnants of their once-opulent architecture peeking through the otherwise derelict surroundings.

Some venues, including the strange storage space that was the Spooner Theater in the Bronx, have been gutted or razed entirely since the duo snapped their interiors. “The only thing that’s left is a picture,” Meffre said. “We hope that by showing many remarkable buildings in a state of decay, people will notice.”

To see dozens more of the forgotten venues, head to the pair’s Instagram and pick up a copy of the book from Bookshop.

 

Robins Theaters, Warren, Ohio

Spooner Theater, Bronx, New York

Metropolitan Opera House, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

 

 



Animation

40 Animators Around the Globe 'Pass the Ball' in a Collaborative Rube Goldberg-Esque Sequence

January 28, 2022

Grace Ebert

Forty months in the making, “Pass the Ball” is a delightful and eccentric example of the creative possibilities of collaboration. The animated compilation, which was conceptualized and organized by Nathan Boey, centers on a small red orb that shapeshifts, bounces across the frame, crashes into other objects, and ultimately, flies through a diverse assortment of three-second clips. Each scenario was created by one of 40 animators around the world, who, as the title suggests, “pass the ball” to the next person, resulting in a varied display of styles and techniques from stop-motion to digital. Watch the full sequence above, and find the list of collaborators on Vimeo. You also might enjoy this 3D animation of 100 characters and a mashup of Olympic jumps and tucks.

 

 

 



Art

A Trompe L'oeil Mural by Shozy Imagines a 3D Architectural Addition to an Apartment Building

January 28, 2022

Grace Ebert

All images courtesy of Urban Morpho Genesis, shared with permission

A concrete apartment building in Solnechnodolsk, Russia, seems to have added balconies, windows, and a few extra rooms in a trippy new mural by artist Danila Shmelev, aka Shozy. Created for the Urban Morpho Genesis festival, the massive optical illusion appears as a three-dimensional construction that juts out from the complex, despite lying flat on the corner walls. The Moscow-born artist says:

In Russia, we are all accustomed to the architecture of panel houses. Our eyes are so blurred that aesthetics are out of the question. With my work, I want to focus the viewer’s attention on a familiar landscape and show it from an unusual side, complementing the real ends of two five-story buildings with illusory geometry, so that they draw the eye of the viewer to the ordinary landscape, encouraging them to really consider it.

You can find more from Shozy and the festival on Instagram, and shop smaller trompe l’oeil works on canvas on Hiya.

 

 

 



Photography

Rectangular Black Boxes Enclose Coiling Serpents in Guido Mocafico's Disorienting Photos

January 27, 2022

Grace Ebert

Atheris squamigera. All images © Guido Mocafico, shared with permission

A puzzling blend of heads, tails, and scales, Guido Mocafico’s Serpens juxtaposes snakes’ coiled bodies with the tight confines of a small, rectangular box. The Italian photographer positions two or more slithering creatures against the black backdrops and shoots the composed images from overhead. Each reptile is so entwined that it’s difficult to tell them apart, resulting in a chaotic and disorienting mix of color, texture, and depth.

Mocafico is known for the distinct still lifes that define his commercial work and personal projects, which include striking series focused on organisms like anemones, jellyfish, and arachnids, to name a few. Explore an expansive archive of his photography on his site.

 

Elaphe taeniura friesi

Naja samarensis

Dendroaspis angusticeps

Top left: Coluber viridiflavus. Top right: Vipera ammodytes. Bottom left: Boa constrictor. Bottom right: Agkistrodon bilineatus taylori

Bitis rhinoceros

Top left: Crotalus polystictus. Top right: Agkistradon bilineatus bilineatus. Bottom left: Naja kaouthia albinos. Bottom right: Naja naja

Leiopython albertisi

 

 



Craft History

Archeologists Unearth a Roman Glass Bowl Dating Back 2,000 Years in Pristine Condition

January 27, 2022

Grace Ebert

All images courtesy Marieke Mom, shared with permission

Sitting a few miles from the German border, Nijmegen is the oldest city in The Netherlands, and after a recent archeological dig, it’s also the site that unearthed a stunningly preserved bowl made of blue glass. The pristine finding, which is estimated to be about 2,000 years old, is from the agricultural Bataven settlement that once populated the region. Featuring diagonal ridges, the translucent vessel was made by pouring molten glass into a mold, sculpting the stripes while the material was liquid, and using metal oxide to produce the vibrant blue. Archeologists uncovered it without a single chip or crack.

Around the time the bowl was procured, Nijmegen was an early Roman military camp and later, the first to be named a municipium, or Roman city. Archeologist Pepjin van de Geer, who led the excavation, told the De Stentor that while it’s possible the vessel was created in a German glass workshop in cities like Cologne or Xanten, it’s also likely that the Batavians traded cattle hides to procure it. In addition to the piece, van de Geer’s team has also uncovered human bones, pitchers, cups, and other precious goods like jewelry, which indicates the site was once a burial ground. (via Hyperallergic)

 

The excavation site

 

 



Art Design

SpaceWalk: A Spectacular Rollercoaster-Esque Staircase Loops Through a South Korean Park

January 27, 2022

Grace Ebert

All images © Heike Mutter and Ulrich Genth

Towering 70-meters above ground at its highest point, “SpaceWalk” is the latest undulating sculpture by Hamburg-based artists Heike Mutter and Ulrich Genth. The monumental staircase winds in loops and elevations similar to that of a rollercoaster throughout Hwanho Park in Pohang, South Korea, and is almost entirely accessible for pedestrians except for the innermost circuit. It’s the largest contemporary public sculpture ever installed in the country.

A follow-up to the pair’s 2011 project “Tiger & Turtle – Magic Mountain” in Duisburg, Germany, “SpaceWalk” is built of galvanized and stainless steels atop a cement foundation and embedded rows of LED lights. “At night in particular, the brightly-illuminated walkway appears like a sigil drawn in the sky, appearing to represent different things depending on where one is standing,” Mutter and Genth say. “Thus, the sculpture also references local mythology and a tradition of sky-gazing and also makes playful use of relativity.”

Pedestrians enter the work at a central staircase, which breaks into two paths: one gently sloped walkway leads to a view of Yeongil Bay and the surrounding city, while the other is a steeper climb through a helix. Both are designed to mimic an otherworldly experience. “The title ‘SpaceWalk’ is taken from the terminology of outer space missions. It describes the act of exiting the space vehicle in the weightlessness of outer space. More literally, ‘SpaceWalk’ can be understood to mean ‘a walk through space,'” they say.

For more of the duo’s architectural projects, head to their site. (via This Isn’t Happiness)