Design

Old Railway Tracks Converge to Form an Arced Pavilion in Sydney by Studio Chris Fox

September 10, 2020

Grace Ebert

“Interchange Pavilion” in Sydney. All images © Studio Chris Fox, shared with permission

In 2017, artist Chris Fox utilized decades-old wooden escalators to create a sculptural ribbon above Sydney’s Wynyard Station. His latest project titled “Interchange Pavilion” similarly repurposes vintage railway tracks to construct a 350-square-meter outdoor pavilion. The work is comprised of 250 meters of stainless-steel rails, 15 tons of glass-reinforced concrete, and 1,400 pieces of hardwood. Built in sections, the rails in “Interchange Pavilion” offer several paths upward, where they converge at a central point.

If you’re in Sydney, check out the newly-opened public artwork, which was unveiled August 25. Otherwise, find more from Fox on Instagram.

 

 

 



Design History

A New Book Chronicles the 125-Year History of the Button, Its Design, and Its Role in Cultural Change

September 10, 2020

Grace Ebert

The cover of Button Power. All images © Christen Carter and Ted Hake, shared with permission

If something is “fit for the back of a postage stamp,” it’s generally understood as lacking depth and nuance. A similarly sized object, however, has been upending that saying for 125 years. From political campaigns to punch lines to keepsakes, the button has packed bits of incredibly rich history into just a few inches. “It seems like a niche little object, but it really tells a very general American history,” collector and manufacturer Christen Carter tells Colossal. The wearable item is, in fact, an entry point into the complexities of the past.

Carter recently co-authored the forthcoming book Button Power—which is available for pre-order on Bookshop—with notable dealer Ted Hake, who’s been collecting the objects for around 60 years. Through composed displays and black-and-white photos, the tome delves into the item’s history, spanning its invention in 1896 to contemporary usages. “Early on people were wearing buttons, and mostly it’s a temporary thing. It’s a moment in time,” Carter says. “They connected you to something else. One-hundred-twenty-five years ago, images weren’t as prevalent as they are now.” Button Power compiles a diverse array of notable figures, from Shirley Chisholm and the Ramones to Rube Goldberg and Muhammad Ali, each represented through the wearable item.

 

From the Obama Inauguration 2012

Originally a casual collector, Carter now is responsible for the world’s only museum dedicated to the medium, which is housed in the Chicago-based manufacturer Busy Beaver Button Co. The institution currently boasts more than 40,000 buttons and is accepting donations. Currently, it’s closed because of COVID-19, although a virtual archive of about 9,000 is available to scroll through on its site.

A medium with popularity perpetually in flux, the button has risen and fallen since its creation and notably surged in the 1960s and 1980s as it was used more widely for countercultural movements and protests. Of course, mainstream efforts from political campaigns, public figures, and large-scale events generally still sought out buttons to share their visions. Many of the slogans and broader undertakings of alternative movements that may have evaded popular narratives, however, also are preserved by the object. “It’s a people’s history, too. There are so many things I learned,” Carter notes. One example involved a series centered on transportation. “What is this ‘good road’ stuff about?” she wondered. “I learned that before there was income tax, there was a movement to have infrastructure built.” Telling a story she didn’t learn in school, the buttons offered a glimpse into the advocacy of previous decades.

 

While the manufacturing process and function hasn’t evolved much, the objects’ value has. Carter notes that when they first emerged, people regarded them as collectibles that were prized as a piece of printed matter. Today, they remain a symbol of the wearer’s political affiliations and interests.

Even social media hasn’t eclipsed the ephemeral object. Although the pithy messages and quips prevalent on sites like Twitter function similarly to the sayings of the button, they lack a material presence and are subject to being deleted or lost when a platform folds. The physical item, on the other hand, has a lasting effect. “It creates a momento,” she says. “It’s not something you can as easily forget about like a Tweet or something like that because you’ll come across it in your sock drawer.” They’re also a more intentional medium, Carter notes, due to the design, manufacturing, and distribution processes and the effort those require.

 

From 1981

Overall, buttons are overwhelmingly uplifting, inspiring, or humorous in messaging, even when centered on serious topics or issues. One tells people to “hang in there” while displaying a rendering of a cat clinging to a rope nearby, while another (shown below) simply is emblazoned with the words “I Love Ringo.”  The optimism helps to start the inevitable conversations from a constructive point. “More positive buttons make them more wearable,” she says. “A button you have to stand behind. Where online stuff can be pretty anonymous, there’s something about having some skin in the game.”

Despite the mediums’ changes during the last 125 years, the ability to provoke conversation and inspire change is constant.  “The person-to-person stuff is just so important, and I think it’s something we’re missing. I would love for buttons to help bridge gaps between human beings because I think in the end, we all want a lot of the same things,” Carter adds.

 

From 1964

 

 



Art

Using Naturally Dyed Cotton, Artist Sipho Mabona Explores Transformation through Origami

September 9, 2020

Grace Ebert

“A Unicorn’s Lower Jaw & Right Front Leg” (2020), indigo, old fustic, weld and iron on cotton and paper. All images © Sipho Mabona, shared with permission

Sipho Mabona (previously) folds, crimps, and puckers sheets of cotton to form geometric artworks. The artist dyes the porous material with natural substances like indigo and Maclura tinctoria (mulberry), which creates organic gradients and alters its texture. He then utilizes Origami creases to transform the cotton’s structure and shape, sometimes working in response to current affairs. For example, the red pieces (shown below) are a response to Black Lives Matter and “also of biographical significance to me having a father that was a politcal activist and refugee from South Africa.” he shares with Colossal.

While my earlier works have smooth monochromatic surfaces in my latest body of work I felt an urge to introduce a painterly gesture and an element of chance to counterbalance the stringent geometrical appearance of the crease-patterns… Both Origami and natural dyeing are techniques that have rarely been harnessed in fine arts that unlock an intriguing field of unexplored narratives.

Head to Instagram to dive further into Mabona’s folded cotton works.

 

“The Dragonflies’ Third Leg” (2019), Maclura tinctoria, on folded cotton and paper, 40 x 50 centimeters

Left: “Untitled” (2018), natural aizome, acrylic and molding paste on folded cotton, 132 x 108 centimeters. Right: “Untitled” (2018), natural aizome, acrylic and molding paste on folded cotton, 132 x 108 centimeters

“We Bled, We Are Bleeding, We Will Bleed”

“The Doves’ Wing” (2019), indigo and old fustic, on folded cotton and paper, 40 x 50 centimeters

Left: “The Cicadas’ Abdomen & Thorax” (2019), Madder on folded cotton. Right: “The Dove’s Wing & Shoulder (I1)” (2020), indigo-dyed, cotton, paper, Tyvek, wood, and nylon

“We Bled, We Are Bleeding, We Will Bleed”

Right: “Untitled” (2018), natural aizome, acrylic and molding paste on folded cotton, 132 x 108 centimeters

“We Bled, We Are Bleeding, We Will Bleed”

“Untitled” (2018), natural aizome on folded cotton and paper

 

 



Craft

Quirky Characters Anthropomorphize Patterned, Pastel Vases by Ceramicist Sandra Apperloo

September 9, 2020

Grace Ebert

All images © Sandra Apperloo, shared with permission

Sandra Apperloo infuses her love for pastels and tiny freckles into a playful crew of characters. Shaped to hold a single flower stem, the anthropomorphized vases display a range of emotions and together, form a series humorously named Weirdo Bud Vases. Their lengthy bodies are covered in polka dots, floral motifs, and stripes, and while some stand straight up, others twist around a similarly dressed figure. “I hope my works make people laugh and daydream. I hope they distract from daily businesses, leave warm feelings, and tickle imaginations,” she writes.

Based in the city of Utrecht in the Netherlands, Apperloo works under the moniker The Pottery Parade and creates planters, mugs, bowls, and other vessels through a mix of hand-building and wheel-based techniques. She doesn’t plan each piece in advance, instead favoring a method that involves “finding what feels good at that moment. This is the case for every part of the process: shaping, sculpting, choosing the colors, and painting the patterns. It helps me to stay open-minded and try out new things, which I feel is really important in my work,” she says.

To snag one of her pieces, which includes a forthcoming series of holiday ornaments, follow Apperloo on Instagram, where she often shares announcements about shop updates.

 

 

 



Photography Science

Amusing Footage Dives Underwater to Capture Flamingos' Strange Eating Methods

September 9, 2020

Grace Ebert

In the last few months, underwater footage has transported us into the depths of the previously unexplored Ningaloo Canyons and glimpsed the stunning blanket octopus as she unfurls her iridescent web. Now, the San Diego Zoo dives below the surface to capture the unusual ways flamingos eat.

Their pink-feathered heads plunge underwater to suck up mud and other debris from the sandy bottom. Filter-like plates called lamella trap shrimp and other aquatic creatures before dispersing the rest through the sides of their bills. Make sure you turn the volume up to hear the ungainly birds’ equally strange noises.

Check out a variety of amusing videos featuring baby lemur twins, penguin drama, and other animal antics on YouTube. (via PetaPixel)

 

 

 



Animation

Selfish: An Animated Short Explores the Tragic Impacts of Plastic Pollution

September 8, 2020

Grace Ebert

In “Selfish,” what opens with a benign scene at a sushi restaurant quickly turns into a dire assessment of plastic pollution. Created by Canada-based animator PoChien Chen, the appropriately named film begins by a chef plucking a detergent bottle from a pile of fresh fish, assembling various dishes made entirely of waste material, and subsequently serving them to a horrified trio of aquatic life. It then dives into a disturbing series of facts and figures about the current state of our oceans and the effects of pollution on wildlife.

Chen said in a statement that the critical animation was inspired by a visit to a small island in Taiwan two years ago:

It was the closest I’d lived to the sea, being only a 10 minute drive away. Everyone can enjoy the beach with its white sand and turquoise ocean. At the time, I went snorkeling almost every week. Seeing such alluring tropical fish and coral reefs sill lingers in my mind. However, I also cannot forget the scenes of tons of human waste lying around the shore as if it were a part of nature.

See how Chen animated the project—which has garnered an impressive list of awards from film festivals around the world—on Behance, and check out more his films on Vimeo.