Situated in a clearing within an Italian forest, John Grade’s latest installation, Reservoir, appears like a chandelier glistening among the pine trees. Reservoir is featured in the Arte Sella Sculpture Park in Borgo Valsugana and is made up of five thousand clear droplets each of which is delicately attached to translucent nets, supported by tree trunks.
On designing Reservoir, Grade (previously) studied the Park’s ecosystem, carefully planning the installation in harmony with the surrounding landscape. “I became most interested in the way rain falls through this grove of trees, the canopy delaying the droplet’s journey to the ground as well as how quiet and sheltered the forest was during a heavy rain,” Grade tells Colossal. “I wanted to make a sculpture that responded to the rain directly as well as a sculpture that responded to people.”
Reservoir is constructed from heat-formed plastic parts framed with steam-bent strips of Alaskan yellow cedar. Each droplet is attached to marine nets with fishing line which are then incorporated with stainless steel rings to maintain tensions and support the tree trunks above the structure. The shape of the translucent droplets are formed from casts of human hands cupped together. “We cast ten different people’s hands for variations in scale,” Grade explains.
When rain falls or snow lands the water accumulates within Reservoir’s clear pouches, giving them their droplet-like shape. In doing slow, the installation gets heavier and lowers, while in sunny, warm weather, it rises back into its original structure as the liquid evaporates. “The sculpture rises and falls with precipitation differently each time it rains or snows,” says Grade. Springs below the installation limit the vertical range of movement, so Reservoir always remains 10 feet above the forest floor.
The dry sculpture in its original configuration weighs 70 pounds, but when filled with rainwater, it can exceed 800 pounds. Reservoir serves as a water resource for the surrounding landscape: when the water it holds evaporates, it creates a humid environment for the surrounding vegetation to flourish.
Movement also manipulates the structure of Reservoir, and, as part of the project, Arte Sella connected Grade with Andrea Rampazzo, a dance artist based in Italy. Rampazzo choreographed a performance, where four dancers would interact with the sculpture, making the installation rise and fall depending on their movements. “Each tree has a cable connecting the net to the ground running down its length via pulleys which can either engage the spring limiting its downward trajectory to 12 feet of movement or bypass the spring to a second pulley near the base of the tree at waist height,” Grade explains. “This way the dancers can pull or release any of the nine lines to create varied movement in the sculpture.”
Occurring during one day of festivities, the dance lasted 45 minutes and was performed three times during the day. “The four dancers also had the assistance of four members of my studio team to help work the lines during the performance,” says Grade. Due to more control over Reservoir, the dancers brought the sculpture down to two feet from the ground, so their bodies were fully immersed in the thousands of droplet-like forms. “Because we were lucky to have rainfall, the dancers were able to abruptly jerk the movements and shower themselves with water,” Grade explains. “Now we can watch the sculpture collect and release and move over the seasons and build upon those nuances to create a second installation. Wind may become a significant inspiration the next time.”
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Made in collaboration between light artist Christopher Bauder and musician Kangding Ray, SKALAR is an audio/visual art installation that uses a large built structure and beats to create an immersive live concert. First presented in 2014 inside of the Kraftwerk Berlin industrial venue, the performance enthralls audiences with its pulsing, rhythmic soundtrack and entrancing light show.
Based on a psychoevolutionary theory by American psychologist Robert Plutchik, SKALAR is about human perception and emotion. The physical components of the installation are suspended from the ceiling. When moved up and down into different alignments, the kinetic mirrors interact with the beams of colored light and form floating halos that also bounce alternating hues around the dark room. The more ethereal sections of music are matched with slower moving lights, while quicker beats are paired with rapidly flashing patterns. Because the creators manipulate the variables in real time, no two performances of the piece are exactly alike.
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Moscow-based fabric artist and designer Katerina Marchenko stitches brightly colored threads into tulle to form elaborate embroidered images of animals, portraits, and anatomical studies. In their hoops, Marchenko’s pieces work as framed thread paintings. Bird and angel wings appear to have dimension and human eyes pop thanks to the artist’s attention to color harmony and shading.
Marchenko skips the sketching phase and starts each new piece with contours before allowing improvisation and the process itself to dictate what the final design will look like. The artist explains to Colossal that her aesthetic and techniques are inspired in part by fashion and haute couture. A 2016 sewing course inspired her to create an embroidered tulle blouse, and the following year she took an embroidery course at Ecole Lesage School in Paris.
“Embroidery is a meditative process which helps me to calm down and gather all my thoughts,” Marchenko tells Colossal, adding that the images she chooses are ones through which she can express her emotions. To see more of Katerina’s colorful creations follow her on Instagram, and browse her online shop if you want to take one of the works home.
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We love the spring season to remind us to express our appreciation for the lovely people who helped us plant roots and grow—whether that’s a biological or adoptive mom, a female mentor, sister, or grandma. What better way to show gratitude than a gift from our hand-picked guide for Mother’s Day? You’ll find temporary tattoos and puzzles, new Calhoun & Co. blankets, and festive socks to celebrate the most important meal of the day (mother knows best), we’ve got just the thing for your #1 mom. And yes, we offer gift wrapping!
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The next time you’re in a grocery store, pharmacy, or toy department and spot a subtly unusual item, it might an Obvious Plant. Jeff Wysaski, the man behind the meme, has been creating and depositing strange flyers, placards, and packaged products in conventional retail outlets for several years. His creations are often a send-up of a popular pop culture phenomenon like Sesame Street or The Avengers, and feature chuckle-inducing copy, alternately quippy and filled with intentional typos. From a lonely Bert to Barely Any Ketchup (made by “Hardly Foods”), Obvious Plant items have become increasingly elaborate over the years, and Wysanski makes some of his designs available for purchase in an online store.
You can follow along with Obvious Plant’s quirky interventions on Instagram. If these are up your alley, also check out Chindōgu, a concept and subsequent community of designers of useless products, first popularized in 1990’s Japan by Kenji Kawakami.
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India-based architectural studio The White Room, run by Nitin Barchha and Disney Davis, uses minimal design and natural materials to create clean spaces bursting with plant life. In their recent project Garden Room the pair created a white and slate green sculptural setting that presents a calming segue from interior to outdoor space. The one bedroom apartment located in the Mumbai suburb of Pali Hill is teeming with vines and hanging plants that create a protective barrier from the outside world. An immersive turquoise bathroom mosaic adds to the dissolution between nature and designed structure, dousing the room in blue light reminiscent of a shallow sea. You can see more projects by the architecture studio on their website and Behance.
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Mr. Trash Wheel, a floating mechanism with large round eyes affixed to its hood, was installed on a tributary leading to the Baltimore Harbor in 2014. Since then, the trash-scooping object has intercepted 638,594 plastic bags, 1,000,000 styrofoam containers, 150 miles of cigarette butts, and one ball python. Using the power of the sun, the semi-autonomous machine rakes litter out of the water and up a slow but sturdy conveyer belt. The belt is strong enough to hoist mattresses, trees, and kegs from the water and into a dumpster located on a separate barge for recycling and disposal.
The device was created by sailor and engineer John Kellett who watched debris build up around Baltimore’s waterfront for over twenty years. Mr. Trash Wheel has helped lead to Maryland’s statewide ban on Styrofoam food containers (a first in the country), partly because of a loyal Twitter following by local fans who are witness to the devastating amount of trash intercepted each day.
Although Kellett plans on installing trash wheels in other cities across the US including California, New York, and Hawaii, and internationally, he had also focused on adding more trash-eating power to his local harbor. Mr. Trash Wheel now has two cousin interceptors named Professor Trash Wheel and Captain Trash Wheel who have equally cartoonish eyes attached to the front of their wide-mouthed exteriors. You can watch Mr. Trash Wheel digest its millionth pound of trash in the video below, and view a live stream of real time waste consumption on its website. (via WBUR)
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