Photography Science

Amazing Underwater Photographs Capture the World’s Only Known Pink Manta Ray

March 13, 2020

Grace Ebert

All images © Kristian Laine, shared with permission

Australia-based photographer Kristian Laine recently got a glimpse at a particularly special underwater creature: the world’s only known pink manta ray. Spanning about 11 feet and nicknamed Inspector Clouseau after The Pink Panther, the aquatic animal lives near Lady Elliot Island, which is part of the Great Barrier Reef. “I had no idea there were pink mantas in the world, so I was confused and thought my strobes were broken or doing something weird,” Laine told National Geographic.

Project Manta has been studying the male fish since he was discovered in 2015. After conducting a skin biopsy, the organization concluded that the unusual hue is not due to diet or disease but rather is likely a genetic mutation called erythrism, which causes changes in melanin expressions. Most manta rays are black, white, or a combination of the two.

For more of Laine’s underwater shots, follow him on Instagram or Facebook. You also can purchase one of his photographs of Inspector Clouseau and other ocean fish from his shop. (via My Modern Met)

 

 



History Science

A Hummingbird-Sized Dinosaur Skull Found Preserved in 99-Million-Year-Old Amber

March 12, 2020

Grace Ebert

Protected in a small piece of amber dating back 99 million years, an ancient skull is changing the timeline researchers have for when reptiles transitioned into the descendants of current-day birds. Found in Myanmar, the oculudentavis khaungraae had at least 23 sharp teeth on its upper jaw, which suggests that the dinosaur ate insects, according to an article published in Nature this week. Its eye was canonical with small pupils and resembles those of a modern lizard, while the edge of the socket indicates that it was well-equipped to see in bright light. About the size of a hummingbird’s, the skull totals .6 inches, although this avian species is thought to be 70 million years older. After archaeopteryx, it’s the most ancient bird and the tiniest dinosaur ever discovered. To prevent damage to the bone, researchers used X-rays to construct a 3D model that’s shown below. (via The History Blog)

 

 



Food

Twisting Vines and Leafy Botanics Carved into Crusty Breads by Blondie + Rye

March 12, 2020

Grace Ebert

All images © Blondie + Rye

North Carolina-based baker Hannah P. has planted herself firmly at the intersection of art and food as she transforms her crusty rye loaves and spelt focaccias into edible canvases for her botanic projects. Through her Instagram account Blondie + Rye, Hannah shares hundreds of flour-covered creations replete with twisting vines and leafy stems. Some pieces even feature layered fruits and vegetables that resemble verdant gardens and floral bouquets. If the baker’s combinations weren’t so appetizing—think a spelt loaf speckled with rosemary and brown sugar and a cream cheese, Romano, and lemon zest center or a ring full of extra-crunchy peanut butter, honey, toasted pecans, pistachios, walnuts, and hazelnut cocoa filling—they’d be almost too pretty to eat. For more lovely baked exteriors, check out Lauren Ko‘s pies.

 

 



Art History

A New 5-Hour Advertisement Records a Single-Shot Walkthrough of Russia’s Hermitage Museum

March 12, 2020

Grace Ebert

As travel slows due to the global coronavirus pandemic, a new advertisement released by Apple provides an expansive view of one of St. Petersburg’s most-visited institutions that’s accessible without having to venture into crowded spaces. Clocking 5 hours, 19 minutes, and 28 seconds, the single-shot video spans the Hermitage Museum in the nation’s cultural center. It includes a look at 45 galleries, 588 works, and even has live performances from Russian composer Kirill Richter and a ballet duet from the Hermitage Theater.

The ad was shot to showcase the iPhone 11’s battery life but also offers an impressive view of artworks by Rembrandt, Raphael Loggias, and Caravaggio. “This video to me is all about connection through time,” filmmaker Axinya Gog told ArtNet. “Art that is timeless meets modern life and state-of-the-art technology.” Using a complex system of handheld stabilizers, cranes to span rooms, and even a custom app to control the camera, Gog and the group behind the ad created the single-shot take during the course of six hours in the museum.

If you can’t commit to the full five-hour video, check out the one-minute trailer. For a similar look at the Hermitage, take a look at the 2002 film Russian Ark by Alexander Sokurov.

 

 



Illustration

Vibrant New Scottish Currency Illustrated with Influential Women and Abundant Wildlife

March 11, 2020

Grace Ebert

During the last four years, the Royal Bank of Scotland launched a democratic project to capture what one collaborator termed “the more ordinary aspects of Scottish identity including otters, midges, mackerel and tweed.” The result is Fabric of Nature, a series of recently released banknotes that feature illustrated wildlife and portraits of some of Scotland’s most influential women. This week, the third installment of the project was released, presenting a new £20 note featuring a pair of bushy-tailed red squirrels.

Author and poet Nan Shepherd is featured on the £5, scientist Mary Somerville is on the £10, and tearoom businesswoman and artist patron Kate Cranston is profiled on the £20. When held up to a UV light, each polymer bill reveals a glowing image of the wildlife, in addition to an English version of Gaelic poetry from Sorley Maclean, Norman MacCaig, and Mark Alexander Boyd that’s visible in daylight. The quotes are scribed by calligrapher Susie Leiper.

A Scottish design studio, Nile, spearheaded the project, with assistance from O Street, Timorous Beasties, Graven, and Stuco. “From the typography to the featured animals, to the bespoke textile backgrounds, every element of every note has a meaning connected with the people of Scotland. The notes are a cultural capture of what is important, and heart felt for us Scots,” a statement from Nile says.

The Scottish redesign is part of a larger movement worldwide to create currency that better captures diversity. In the United States, however, the treasury stalled on releasing a $20 bill featuring Harriet Tubman in 2019, saying the updated design would be released instead in 2026.

For a more in-depth look at the collaborative design process for Fabric of Nature, check out the videos Nile’s site. (via It’s Nice That)

Scientist Mary Somerville is on the £10

Tearoom businesswoman and artist patron Kate Cranston

Author and poet Nan Shepherd on the £5

 

 



Illustration

Fragile Compositions of Perishable Goods Are ‘Hanging By a String’ in Illustrations by Vicki Ling

March 11, 2020

Grace Ebert

Hanging By a String, (2020), graphite and colored pencil. All images © Vicki Ling, shared with permission

In her series Hanging By a String, illustrator Vicki Ling explores the fragility and precarity of modern life. Through her towers of perishables, Ling very literally presents instability and catastrophes moments from happening. With a tug or slip of the red string that she wraps around everyday items, her compositions would topple. “We can observe society today has achieved a high degree of economic and technological development, yet we are contemporaneously struggling to keep up with the increasingly fast pace and materialistic nature of life,” Ling says of the project.

The Chicago-based illustrator tells Colossal that the string serves as a visual depiction of the tension that pervades contemporary life and disrupts any chance for complete harmony. Each element of beauty—the blooming florals, elegant edibles, and delicate teaware—is superficially pleasing and a distraction from the impending destruction.

Contemporary lifestyles tend to obscure various crises that spontaneously erupt, from privacy invasions to public health issues and from climate change to personal emotional disorders, etc. Often our preoccupations are so overwhelming that they lead us to conceal our anxiety in oblivion. I’m interested in surfacing that sense of tension and insecurity and raise these issues to our collect(ive) consciousness.

For more of Ling’s perilous projects, head to her Instagram or Behance.

 

 



Art Craft

Watercolor Paper Transforms into Suggestive Facial Sculptures by Artist Polly Verity

March 11, 2020

Grace Ebert

All images © Polly Verity, shared with permission

Polly Verity’s most recent paper sculptures test viewers’ sense of pareidolia. The dexterous artist employs single sheets of watercolor paper for her minimalist projects that morph into solitary faces and kissing figures through a series of bends and twists.

Verity tells Colossal that she’s been crafting repeating geometric patterns for about 15 years, but that it wasn’t until recently that she decided to move beyond crisp folds and clean lines. “When I hit the curved folds that’s when my brain popped. Seemingly impossible things could happen to a sheet of paper,” she writes. “My years of observing and investigating how curve folds behave has given me a feel for bringing the curves into the figurative realm.” The result is a suggestive series of facial profiles sometimes sucking on a straw or smoking a cigarette.

I tried to fold along the profile of a face, and I realized that I could tweak the paper on either side just very slightly and ease curves out to give volume and form. When I tried the same technique in watercolour paper, I suddenly had micro-control over the resulting curved forms and they became soft and sensual. So each face goes on to inform the next and they have become a sort of series.

Keep up with Verity’s paper creations on Instagram and check out which alluring pieces you can add to your own collection in her shop.

 

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