Science

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History Illustration Science

All 435 Illustrations from John J Audubon's 'Birds of America' Are Available for Free Download

October 22, 2019

Laura Staugaitis

Pinnated Grouse, plate 186

If you’ve been looking for an opportunity to download free high resolution images of 435 bird illustrations, you’re finally in the right place. The National Audubon Society has recently made John James Audubon’s seminal Birds of America available to the public in a downloadable digital library (signing up for their email list is a prerequisite).

Birds of America was printed between 1827 and 1838, and was filled prints created from hand-engraved plates based on Audubon’s original watercolor paintings. In addition to the prints, each bird’s page also includes a recording of the animal’s call, plus extensive written texts from the period of the book’s printing.

Audubon is widely lauded as the individual who brought an awareness and appreciation of birds’ beauty and fragility; the National Audubon Society has been active since 1905. Explore more of the Society’s current conservation efforts, as well as ways to get involved, on their website. (via Open Culture)

Roseate Spoonbill, plate 321

American Magpie, plate 357

Sharp-tailed Finch, plate 149

Sooty Tern, plate 235

Summer, or Wood Duck, plate 206

Spotted Grouse, plate 176

American Flamingo, plate 431

 

 



Art Design Science

Honey Bees Complete Mixed Media Artworks by Building Comb Around Embroidery Hoops

October 11, 2019

Laura Staugaitis

Artist Ava Roth loves working on collaborative projects. But her studiomates aren’t fellow two-footed friends. Rather, Roth pairs with her backyard honeybees to create mixed media collages combining embroidery, beadwork, fabric, tree bark, and honeycomb. The Toronto-based artist builds artworks inside the comb frames, and the bees complete the pieces by encasing them in organic honeycomb patterns. “This project is a collaboration in the truest sense. It involves careful listening, respecting the bees, and cooperating with them entirely, from the choice of materials, size, timing and scope of design,” Roth tells Colossal. “My intention is to celebrate the extraordinary work of the honeybee and match it with sewings that invoke their delicate and ephemeral comb.”

The artist explains that she had been working in encaustic, a painting technique that incorporates wax, for several years, and decided to start collaborating with her bees as she learned more about Colony Collapse Disorder and sought to uplift and honor the bee’s work.

The threadwork in this collection mirrors the fragility and beauty of the honeycomb in which they are encased. By placing the embroideries in hoops, I am also giving a nod to a tradition of women’s work. Since the working bees are all female – and not making ‘fine art’, the finished pieces are very much in the tradition of marginalized women’s work, and sewing in particular. Because both the bees work and traditional women’s work have been largely functional, their beauty and significance have been easily overlooked.

Roth tells Colossal that it took a great deal of trial and error to solve for the variables like what materials the bees respond to instead of destroying, how long to keep the pieces in the hive before honey is deposited, and conveying to the insects which areas they should or shouldn’t build comb. The artist shares that she worked closely with Master Beekeeper Mylee Nordin on strategizing and implementing the project. Shown here are works from her abstract series; Roth also works in this mode with more representational images, which you can see on her website.

Ava Roth is represented by Loop Gallery in Toronto, Wallspace Gallery in Ottawa and Frederick Holmes and Company in Seattle. You can keep up with more of her interspecies collaborations on Instagram.

 

 



Amazing Science

A Dreaming Octopus's Imagination is Revealed in Her Color-Changing Slumber

September 26, 2019

Laura Staugaitis

A recent documentary from PBS includes a fascinating clip of an octopus changing colors while sleeping. The marine biologist involved in Octopus: Making Contact thinks that the sea creature was dreaming about hunting, which sparked the color shift to a camouflaged shade. Dr. David Scheel describes his theory in the documentary:

So here she’s asleep, she sees a crab and her color starts to change a little bit. Then she turns all dark. Octopuses will do that when they leave the bottom. This is a camouflage, like she’s just subdued a crab and now she’s going to sit there and eat it and she doesn’t want anyone to notice her. …This really is fascinating. But yeah, if she’s dreaming that’s the dream.

If you’re wondering how it was possible to document this occurrence, the octopus in question is being kept in captivity and closely studied by Dr. Scheel, an Alaska-based professor.  Stay tuned for the full documentary, which premieres October 2, 2019, on PBS. (via the sleeping octopus’s enthusiastic cousin, Laughing Squid)

 

 



Photography Science

Lightning Scribbles Across the Sky in Dramatic Footage of Extreme Storms Around the U.S.

September 23, 2019

Laura Staugaitis

Arizona-based storm chaser and videographer Dustin Farrell just released “Transient 2”, the sequel to his 2017 film. For roughly three and a half minutes, the skies open up to reveal flashes of lightning and billowing clouds rolling across open plains. Farrell shares that he traveled 35,000 miles over two years to shoot the raw footage, and spent about 300 hours editing. To capture the brief but powerful flashes of lightning, Farrell relied on his Phantom Flex 4K, shooting at very high speeds. The short film’s music is by Harry Lightfoot. You can tag along with Farrell’s travels from the safety of your couch via Instagram and YouTube.

 

 



Animation Science

Take a Deep Dive Into the Relative Scale of Atoms Through the Tip of a Ballpoint Pen

August 30, 2019

Laura Staugaitis

The Super Zoom is a new computer-generated animation that shows how everything in the universe is made of minuscule foundational elements. The 3 minute-long short grounds itself with a relatable starting point: a ballpoint pen and ruled paper. On the lower right side of the screen, a scale adjusts as the “camera” zooms further and further in, breaking through the pen tip’s metal surface into more and more minute layers. The Super Zoom was created by Pedro Machado, a computer graphics designer who is based in Brazil. You can watch more of Machado’s videos on Vimeo.

 

 



Animation Science

A Digital Animation Explores the Height of Trees From a 3-Inch Bonsai to a 300-Foot Sequoia

August 23, 2019

Kate Sierzputowski

In this calming video by Red Side, a variety of tree species are compared side-by-side. The animation spans different common and more unique tree types, starting with 3-inch Keshitsubo bonsai tree and moving all the way to a towering Sequoia sempervirens. In addition to the subtly billowing trees, the video also contains some human-made landmarks that help to add context, like the Leaning Tower of Pisa, a rocket, and the Statue of Liberty. You can see more of Red Side’s animations, like this animal population video or tornado comparison, on Youtube. (via The Morning News)

 

 

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Artist Cat Enamel Pins