Documentary Photography Science

A Short Film Dives into the 15-Year Process Behind the Documentary 'Fantastic Fungi'

September 1, 2021

Grace Ebert

We shared footage of the mesmerizing mycelium networks pulsing underneath our feet back in 2019 to mark the opening of Louie Schwartzberg’s Fantastic Fungi, and now the dedicated director takes viewers behind the scenes to show his painstaking process. Filmed throughout a 15-year period in his home studio, Schwartzberg’s timelapses zero in on myriad spores as they burst open, sprawl in every direction, and morph in color and texture. They’re a compelling visual representation of time and nature’s cyclical processes, which he explores in a new short film produced by WIRED.

Most of the challenges in capturing the footage center around predicting where an organism will grow to keep it within the shot and understanding the frame rates of different lifeforms. Schwartzberg explains:

For example, a mosquito on your arm, having a little drop of blood, takes a look at that hand coming towards it in ultra slow motion and has plenty of time to take off because its metabolic rate, its lifespan, is way shorter than our lifespan. And our lifespan is way shorter than a Redwood tree’s lifespan. This reality of real-time human point of view is not the only point of view, and that’s really the beauty of cameras and time-lapse cinematography. It’s actually a time machine.

Watch the full making-of above—note that it does include a clip of a mouse decomposing near the end—and find Fantastic Fungi on Netflix. (via The Kids Should See This)

 

 

 



Photography

Origins: Striking Photos Document the Sights of Contemporary Conservation Efforts

September 1, 2021

Grace Ebert

“Ice Waterfall” by Paul Nicklen. All images courtesy of Hilton Asmus Contemporary, shared with permission

Spanning the icy downpours of the Norwegian archipelago Svalbard to the intimate portraits of the people of Papua New Guinea, the profound photographs that comprise an exhibition at Hilton Asmus Contemporary in Chicago are a perceptive consideration of the issues at the center of today’s conservation efforts. Titled Origins, the show brings together the work of artists and marine biologists Cristina Mittermeier and Paul Nicklen, who pair their creative practices with their work at the nonprofit Sea Legacy.

Co-founded by the duo in 2014, the organization is dedicated to preserving the oceans, using “their inspiring imagery to convert apathy into action and to drive powerful conservation wins across the globe,” a statement reads. A testament to the landscapes and ecologies worth preserving, the stunning photos document global crises and the tender, joyful moments of people around the world, and their subjects range from a Lisu woman in China’s Yunnan Province carrying her pet duck to the crumbling icebergs of Antarctica.

Origins is up through October 2 both virtually and in-person at the Bridgeport gallery. You can find more from Mittermeier and Nicklen on Instagram.

 

“Bubblegum” by Cristina Mittermeier

“Lady with the Goose II” by Cristina Mittermeier

“Megaptera” by Paul Nicklen

“Adrift” by Cristina Mittermeier

“Frozen Highway” by Paul Nicklen

“Alone Together” by Cristina Mittermeier

“Leap Of Faith” by Cristina Mittermeier

 

 



Art

Launched in Detroit This Summer, A Black-Led Mural Festival Wants to Revitalize Neighborhoods with Public Art

September 1, 2021

Grace Ebert

Max Sansing and ProBlak. All images courtesy of BLKOUT Walls, shared with permission

Murals have long been associated with placemaking because of their unparalleled ability to transform underutilized corridors and city stretches into spaces primed for cultural gatherings, tourism, and subsequently, economic growth. This revitalizing potential is what drives a biannual festival that launched in Detroit earlier this summer as it dramatically altered the urban landscape of the city’s central North End neighborhood.

Back in July, BLKOUT Walls saw the work of 19 muralists produced across the area, which was once regarded as an entertainment hub that produced famed Motown talents like including Smokey Robinson, Diana Ross, the Four Tops, and Aretha Franklin. Participating were visiting artists like Sentrock (previously) and Detroit natives like Tylonn J. Sawyer, Bakpak Durden, and Sydney James, who co-founded the festival with Chicago’s Max Sansing (previously) and Thomas Evans, aka Detour 303.

The resulting works span a range of themes and styles from Sansing’s sprawling technicolor creations to Tony Whgln’s whimsical botanicals to James’s contemporary twist on “Girl with the Pearl Earring,” which turns the iconic Vermeer into a subversive portrait of artist Halima Cassells. Swapping the white gem for a large “D” and cloaking her garment in patches, James’s revision is an homage to Detroit and its people.

 

Sentrock. Image courtesy of the artist

Whereas other festivals don’t always prioritize racial diversity or pay their artists, organizers wanted to bake those tenets into BLKOUT Walls’s mission. The Black-led event prioritizes artists of color with the idea of “mirroring the demographics of the city of Detroit and thereby creating a cohort of artists representing equity and inclusion,” a statement says. Beyond representation, though, organizers also recognize the necessity of monetary support as key to lasting change, which James explains:

As an artist, I understand the importance of being paid for my experience and ability, especially as artists are often treated like we are supposed to work for free. What we do as public artists brings economic value to the area as economic development tends to follow, so it is imperative that we be compensated for not only the work we do but also the impact we have on the community and economy.

In addition to rejuvenating the area, BLKOUT Walls was designed for public engagement, with the weeklong festival schedule packed with live painting sessions, talks, walking tours, and a block party to celebrate its close. On the final day alone, it attracted more than 8,000 visitors, a testament to its power to draw patrons to nearby establishments and have a reverberating impact on the local economy.

 

Rick Williams and Sydney James

Now having completed the inaugural event, co-organizer Che Anderson tells Colossal that the team envisions BLKOUT Walls traveling to cities like Chicago, Oakland, Memphis, Boston, Atlanta, and Charleston. “Our intent is to have a biannual festival in Detroit like a family reunion. In between those events, we’d like to host a festival somewhere else in the world to engage other Black communities,” he says.

If you’re in Detroit, check out the BLKOUT Walls map to tour the completed works, and follow the festival on Instagram to find out where it’s headed next. (via Hyperallergic)

 

Tony Whgln

Bakpak Durden

Zoë Boston

Just

Ijania Cortez

 

 



Art

Sprawling Paper-Pulp Mobiles by Yuko Nishikawa Suspend Whimsically Colored Pods in the Air

August 31, 2021

Grace Ebert

All images © Yuko Nishikawa, shared with permission

Hanging from the ceiling like candy-colored droplets, the paper-pulp mobiles by Yuko Nishikawa turn a stark gallery into a whimsical dreamscape. The Brooklyn-based artist fashions wide, sloping vessels and punctured rings from recycled packages, old diaries, sketches, and other waste materials, forming individual pods that attach to sprawling metal armature. Ephemeral in material and design, each piece is created with the intention that it will be unassembled and reverted back to its muddled form for resculpting.

With a background in ceramics, Nishikawa switched to paper last year because it’s lightweight, doesn’t require firing in electricity-dependent kilns, and is more durable once dry. The pastels and subtle hues she gravitates toward are inspired by the natural pigments of wool yarn, although she likens her process to mixing paints, saying:

I blended blue paper pulp and red paper pulp, and a bit of yellow paper pulp to make a muted purple paper clay. I combined them at their different blended stages, too ,to make varying textures and color effects. Mushy pulps would make homogeneous colors, while crumbly pulps would have a stippled effect. Finely blended pulps would become a smoother surface when dry, while coarser pulps would become bumpier like oatmeal cookies.

Designed as an invitation to imagine new ways of finding joy, Nishikawa’s works all derive from the idea of piku piku, “a Japanese onomatopoeia that describes involuntary movements caused by unexpected contact,” she writes. “I want my work to make you feel piku piku, tickling something deep down inside you.”

This fall, Nishikawa will open a solo show at Kishka Gallery & Library in White River Junction, Vermont, and will also have work at Main Window Dumbo. Some of her mobiles are currently available through Room68, where she’ll present a new collection later this year. Until then, see more of her pieces and works-in-progress on Instagram.

 

 

 



Art Colossal Illustration

Interview: Sara Hagale Discusses the Therapeutic Nature of Her Practice and Why She Doesn't Think About Authenticity

August 31, 2021

Grace Ebert

“Walkerings.” All images © Sara Hagale, shared with permission

Considering their undeniable relatability, it’s no surprise that Sara Hagale’s witty, whimsical, and at times anxious drawings have amassed an incredible following in recent years, a topic she speaks to in a new interview supported by Colossal Members. Her body of work is broad and idiosyncratic, spanning fanciful bouquets of leggy flowers to smudged self-portraits to quirky characters struggling through life, and it offers an array of emotional and aesthetic nuances that are unique to the artist.

I don’t have to feel goofy all the time in order to still be me. And I’m allowed to draw something that feels right to me in that moment even if it doesn’t match up perfectly with the other work I produce.

In a conversation with Colossal managing editor Grace Ebert, Hagale discusses using her practice to process her emotions in real-time, the impossibility of authenticity, and why she prefers to work with limitations.

 

“Unconscionable”

 

 



Art

Entangled Figures Grasp a Small Footbridge Above a Philadelphia Street in Miguel Horn's New Installation

August 31, 2021

Grace Ebert

All images courtesy of Streets Dept, shared with permission

Clinging to a concrete footbridge in Philadelphia are two groups of figures in tangled clusters. The striking installation is attached to a 20-foot walkway arched over 1200 Cuthbert Street in City Center and is the latest work of artist Miguel Horn, who is known for his fragmented sculptures and large-scale installations comprised of CNC-cut plates. Each of the forms in ContraFuertefeatures topographic layers constructed with thousands of stacked aluminum pieces—Horn shares much of his process from initial sketches to clay prototypes on Instagram—which fuse together to create figures that appear in the midst of struggle. Similar to the artist’s previous works that directly respond to their location, the oversized piece is designed to “grapple with the task to sustain, or raise up a bridge that spans the width of the street,” Horn says. (via Streets Dept)