History

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History Photography

Striking Photos Frame the Half-Renovated Houses of a Former Mining Region in Germany

May 6, 2021

Grace Ebert

All images © Wolfgang Fröhling, shared with permission

When the once burgeoning coal industry in Ruhrgebiet, Germany, began to decline, many of the workers’ apartments were sold off. Oftentimes, new owners only purchased half of the building—miners maintained a lifelong right of residence to their quarters—creating a stark split between the left and right sides of the structure. Photographer Wolfgang Fröhling captures this visually striking divide in a series of images framing the renovated and original designs juxtaposed in a single structure. See the full collection of half-painted facades and disparate landscaping on Pixel Project, and find more of the Bottrop-based photographer’s work on his site. (via This Isn’t Happiness)

 

 

 



Design History

A Rare Toshiba Typewriter from the 1950s Operates with a Trilingual Index of Thousands of Characters

April 29, 2021

Grace Ebert

In the 1940s, Toshiba began producing index typewriters with massive, horizontal cylinders containing thousands of symbols. One edition, the BW-2112—watch the demonstration by the New Orleans-based Typewriter Collector above to see how the redesign utilizes manual rotation and a metal pointer to print the characters—was a particularly advanced model with keys in three languages: Japanese, Chinese, and English.

The trilingual device ordered the characters in a manner similar to what you’d find in a Japanese dictionary, which is explained on the Typewriter Collector’s page as follows:

They’re arranged phonetically by most common “on-yomi” (or kun-yomi in some cases) according to the kana syllabary (many homophones, of course)… Red characters help parse the readings. Last character to left of equal sign can be pronounced “kin” (exert) and the first character in next row “gin” (silver), then “ku” (suffer) in red followed by “kuu” (sky, empty), “kuma” (bear), “kun” (teachings, meaning [also the kun in kun-yomi]), “gun” (group), then “kei” (system) in red followed many, homophones of “kei”.

Unfortunately, Toshiba stopped producing the model when it switched to a Western-style keyboard in the mid-1950s that instead had 48 Japanese Kana characters, making devices like this one exceedingly rare. (via Twisted Sifter)

 

 

 



Art Design History

Download and 3D-Print 18,000 Artifacts from Art History through Scan the World

April 28, 2021

Grace Ebert

Scan the World might be one of the only institutions where visitors are encouraged to handle the most-valued sculptures and artifacts from art history. The open-source museum hosts an impressive archive of 18,000 digital scans—the eclectic collection spans artworks like the “Bust of Nefertiti,” the “Fourth Gate of Vaubam Fortress,” Rodin’s “The Thinker,” and Michelangelo’s “David” in addition to other items like chimpanzee skulls—that are available for download and 3D printing in a matter of hours.

Searchable by collection, artist, and location, Scan the World recently teamed up with Google Arts and Culture, which partners with more than 2,000 institutions, to add thousands of additional pieces to the platform. Each page shares information about an artifact’s history and location, in addition to technical details like dimensions, complexity, and time to print—scroll down on to view images of finished pieces uploaded by the community, too. While much of the collection focuses on Western art, it’s currently bolstering two sections that explore works from India and China.

Scan the World is part of My Mini Factory, which is the largest platform for 3D-printed objects. If you’re new to the process, check out the site’s wide range of tutorials, including tips for beginnershow to scan with your phone, and techniques for using drones to capture hard-to-reach works. (via Open Culture)

 

Left: “Mars and Venus.” Right: “Marble Head from a Herm

 

 



Art Documentary History

A Short Documentary Explores the Life of the 'Artifact Artist' Who's Been Excavating New York City's Trash for Decades

April 19, 2021

Grace Ebert

Jordan in his home

Descending into old privies, scouring landfills, and sneaking onto construction sites in the middle of the night are habitual activities for urban archaeologist Scott Jordan. For nearly five decades, he’s been excavating the trash and forgotten artifacts buried deep underneath New York City’s residential areas and fast-growing developments. His findings are diverse and revealing of the area’s past, offering a glimpse into the consumption habits and lifestyles of previous generations that date back to the 18th Century.

A new documentary produced by Kaleidoscope Pictures chronicles Jordan’s lifelong practice that involves digging and uncovering items that he then transforms into new artworks. Dubbed “The Artifact Artist,” the short film by the same name follows the archaeologist and historian as he pulls glass bottles, Civil War-era garments, and small toys from the earth. While Jordan cleans and restores much of the pottery and well-preserved items, he utilizes the rest to create jewelry and assembled, sculptural works that nestle into shadowboxes, which he then sells at flea markets.

Watch the full documentary below, and find more information on Jordan’s site, Things Found NYC, which he runs with Belle Costes. Shop the pair’s findings on Etsy. (via Kottke)

 

Jordan digging in New York City

Jordan in his home

A collection of Jordan’s artworks made from items he found

Jordan in his home

Items in Jordan’s collection

 

 



Art History Photography

150,000 Hearts Representing Lives Lost to Coronavirus in the UK Line the COVID Memorial Wall in London

April 12, 2021

Grace Ebert

All photos © Henri Calderon for Colossal

Nearly 500 meters of small, red hearts will soon cover an expanse of concrete facing the River Thames in London. Now dubbed the National COVID Memorial Wall, the poignant display publicly commemorates the 150,000 lives lost to the coronavirus pandemic in the United Kingdom so far. Each heart represents one victim, with short messages of grief, love, and remembrance scribed by loved ones in their centers. It takes about ten minutes to walk by the entirety of the project, which serves as a staggering reminder of the virus’s devastation.

Coordinated by COVID-19 Bereaved Families For Justice, the two-meter-high wall is situated between the Westminster and Lambeth bridges, opposite the Houses of Parliament. According to The Guardian, Matt Fowler helms the ongoing project, which he began a few weeks ago by painting 15,000 hearts on the facade. His father died from the virus last April. “When you see all the hearts and think what each one represents, it’s absolutely frightening,” Fowler says.

Organizers still are raising money for supplies to complete all 150,000 hearts—although official government statistics currently reflect 149,000 deaths, which is the largest loss in Europe—that volunteers will continue to paint to account for all victims. Talks are also in the works about preserving the memorial to ensure that it’s a permanent fixture in London.

This past weekend, photographer Henri Calderon captured images for Colossal that document the memorial’s progress, which you can see below.

 

 

 



Design History

A Sleek Deck of Cards by Studio LO Honors 12 Black Figures Who've Revolutionized History

April 8, 2021

Grace Ebert

All images © Studio LO, shared with permission

Kansas City, Missouri-based designer Kearra Johnson of Studio LO describes her standard 54-card deck as anything but traditional: it’s revolutionary. On one side of each playing card is a raised fist, a symbol that’s synonymous with the fight against oppression around the globe. But on the K, Q, and J of all four suits are portraits of ground-breaking Black icons who have profoundly impacted history, from Michelle Obama and Thurgood Marshall to Malcolm X and Rosa Parks. “I wanted to go with the powerful figures we’ve all learned about growing up,” Johnson tells Colossal. “The ones who drove change, and the ones who we are familiar with, but also ones who aren’t as traditional as others. Those features range from Oprah Winfrey to the man with the dream, MLK Jr.”

The concept for the Revolution Card Deck was born out of a class project while the now 22-year-old designer was a student at the University of Missouri. She created a few physical decks after a professor asked to purchase some as gifts, a request that spurred Johnson to print more. Since the project was featured on both CNN and NPR, she’s sold hundreds of decks, which will remain a fixture of Studio LO’s inventory and are now available in the Colossal Shop. You also can follow Johnson’s activism-focused designs on Instagram.

 

 

 

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