NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope unveiled its first-ever collection of high-resolution color images capturing an exceptional amount of detail about the universe. The instrument reaches deeper into the cosmos than any before.
Launched in December, Webb is the world’s largest and most powerful observer with the ability to view cosmic bodies like the atmospheres of exoplanets, or those outside our solar system, and some of the first galaxies to emerge following the Big Bang 13.5 billion years ago. The telescope is equipped with a host of near-infrared tools that will help visualize galactic phenomena and celestial bodies that are otherwise invisible to the human eye. Webb is capable of getting four times closer to the cosmological event than the Hubble Space Telescope, which helps scientists better understand how the universe has evolved since.
Preparation for the mission began in the 1990s, and the 6.7-ton telescope is currently focused on documenting planetary evolution and spectroscopic data about their chemical makeup, which involves targeting five cosmic objects: the gassy planet WASP-96 b that’s about 1,150 light-years away, the Southern Ring Nebula, Stephan’s Quintet galaxy, the SMACS 0723 galaxy clusters, and the 7,600 light-years away Carina Nebula with enormous stars that dwarf the sun.
The very first images include a stunning composite of SMACS 0723 as it appeared 4.6 billion years ago. Rich with glimmering galaxies, the composite comprises “a patch of sky approximately the size of a grain of sand held at arm’s length by someone on the ground,” administrators said in a statement. There’s also the mesmerizing Southern Ring Nebula, which is comprised of shells of dust and gas released by two dying stars, and Stephen’s Quintet, five glowing galaxies captured in Webb’s largest composite to date, reaching a size that would span approximately one-fifth of the moon’s diameter.
Perhaps the most stunning image from the first release of visuals is that of the star-forming region in the Carina Nebula, which shows what researchers refer to as “cosmic cliffs,” or what appears to be rugged, mountain-like forms that are actually the edges of immense gaseous activity. The tallest pinnacles of that celestial body are about seven light-years high.
Webb was designed to spend the next decade in space, however, a successful launch preserved substantial fuel, and NASA now anticipates a trove of insights about the universe for the next twenty years. Follow its movements with NASA’s tracker, Where is Webb?
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In Greek mythology, the sacred phoenix, with its characteristically striking plumage in flaming yellow, orange, and red, is known for its ability to resurrect. When the bird’s long life is nearing an end, flames engulf its body, and the being is reborn as a chick in the ashes of its predecessor, giving it the distinction of resilience, regeneration, and immortality. As Yulia Brodskaya began to apply the curled and crimped tendrils of paper to her latest work, she tells Colossal that the firebird portrait “started as a visual representation of a powerful feeling rising from the deep,” adding that “it felt like this portrait has been ‘channelled’ through me.”
Brodskaya captures the subtleties of individual expression and character in her elaborate portraits (previously) and depictions of flora and fauna. Through boldly colored papers that are rolled, folded, and layered, she reveals a flurry of feathers or the contours of a face in intricate detail, like the sense of serene contemplation that permeates “Samurai Dreams.” She wants every piece to send a message, suggesting viewers “pay attention to what emotion or feeling comes up for you in the first moments you see it—until the mind begins to dissect the details and offer loud opinions about why you like or dislike it. That initial quiet voice is the whisper of intuition. That’s the place I create my best work from.”
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Established more than 1,200 years ago in 809, the historic Hitokotonushi Shrine just outside of Tokyo becomes a secondary sanctuary for local pollinators each summer. The on-site water basins, which are designed to hydrate humans, undergo a miniature makeover complete with moss, tiny architecture, and climbing surfaces so that the spaces are hospitable to the region’s bee population, offering a clean source used for drinking, feeding their offspring, diluting honey, and helping to stabilize the hive’s temperature. Just like humans and other animals, bees sometimes struggle to find clean water in hot weather, and when they do, they risk drowning if there aren’t enough spots to land. According to the shrine’s Twitter, this year’s oasis is already buzzing with visitors, which you can see in the video below. (via Spoon & Tamago)
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Dating back to the Vikings, ryijy is a distinctly Finnish textile tradition that produces thick, high-pile tapestries and rugs. The heavily patterned works, which have shifted from functional to decorative, are made by hand-knotting wool and layering the yarn into lush, textured motifs.
Drawing on her background in textile design, Finnish artist Marianne Huotari translates this technique into ceramics, creating densely delicate reliefs that evoke the depth and dimension of fiber. Huotari begins every work with a color palette and surface, whether in the form of a wall-based piece or a freestanding sculpture. She then rolls and pinches clay into oblongs and small discs imprinted by her fingertips for added texture, each pierced to create a small hole for a bit of metal thread. Once glazed and fired, the individual components are sewn into undulating topographies layered lush with color and rippling shapes. Huotari shares with Colossal:
The process is super slow but very meditative thanks to its repetitive nature. Throughout the process, I attempt to take control of the material by dismantling and reassembling the parts, which is not very common when talking about ceramic art. That provides me the freedom to make changes on the go. The technique provides countless possibilities… In the near future, I’ll be focusing on developing the sculptural expression and searching for the limits of dimensions.
The Helsinki-based artist was recently named a finalist for this year’s Loewe Foundation Craft Prize, which is hosting an exhibition at Seoul Museum of Art through July 31. She also has pieces on view through August 19 at HB381 Gallery in New York and through the end of August at Guldagergaard International Ceramic Research Center in Denmark, where she will be a resident this fall. Watch the video below and head to Instagram for a glimpse into Huotari’s process, and browse available pieces at Officine Saffi. (via Journal du Design)
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In his ongoing Jurassic Nature series, Japanese artist Raku Inoue layers sprigs of kiwi vines, white spruce, and boxelder maple into miniature sculptural dinosaurs. The ribbed, veiny textures of the leaves mimic the reptilian skin of some of the most recognizable characters from the 1993 classic. Minimal in form and lush in construction, the creatures include a dandelion-headed brontosaurus, a stegosaurus with spiky raspberry leaves defining its back, and a velociraptor laced with forget-me-nots.
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Lines and basic shapes are the basis of Jochen Gerner’s distinct, almost paradoxical style that’s sometimes referred to as “abundant minimalism.” The French artist, who lives and works between Lorraine and Burgundy, draws birds and dogs that are sparse in form and yet rich in color and texture: checkered patterns overlaid with a chaotic array of markings create a shaggy fur coat, while variegated patches of feathers distinguish the tail from wing or breast.
In a note to Colossal, Gerner shares that he’s working primarily with vintage schoolbooks, a substrate that serves as much as a vessel for his drawings as it does a limitation on the work itself. He explains:
I like to work with simple shapes and lines. The simplest images are often the most effective and direct…The paper texture and format of the notebooks are important to me. The very graphic and varied lines allow me to integrate them by transparency in my drawings. It is a constraint from the start but it helps me to structure the forms and it is an integral part of the drawing.
If you’re in France, you can see Gerner’s works at La Métairie Bruyère in Parly, Anne Barrault Gallery in Paris, and Musée Buffon in Montbard. Otherwise, head to Instagram to explore more of his stylized characters. You also might like Albert Chamillard’s crosshatched geometries.
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