A Reel-to-Reel Recorder Animates Wildlife Automata Using Carl Sagan’s Warning of Climate Disasters
A new advertisement for the United Nations Global Compact, the largest corporate sustainability program in the world, recalls the nearly 40-year-old speeches of the prescient American scientist and cosmologist Carl Sagan. Famously testifying to Congress in 1985 to alert of the dangers of a warming environment, Sagan was an unflinching advocate for transitioning the world away from fossil fuels and protecting the planet for generations to come.
In “Carl Sagan’s Message,” the Brazilian production company Boiler Filmes and ad agency AlmapBBDO bring the scientist’s words back to life alongside a menagerie of wildlife automata. As a reel-to-reel audio recorder plays his speeches, a kangaroo, elephant, moose, and more—all of which were created by artist Pablo Lavezzari—begin to wiggle. Each is part of a larger installation, a fitting metaphor for the connection of all living beings.
Throughout the nearly two-minute ad, Sagan warns, “We’re doing something immensely stupid…The abundance of greenhouse gases is increasing. One degree of temperature change is enough to produce widespread suffering and famine worldwide.” Unfortunately in 2023, the planet has already surpassed one degree, and we now face the immense task of limiting warming to 1.5 degrees Celcius. “40 years ago it was urgent,” the ad reads. “Now it’s an emergency.”
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Marine Animal Masks by Liz Sexton Spotlight Beloved Species in Lifelike Papier-Mâché
If you feel like a fish out of water, the saying goes, then you’re probably feeling a little confused or uncomfortable. St. Paul-based artist Liz Sexton gives the simile new meaning with recent marine-themed additions to her ongoing papier-mâché masks series, highlighting the distinctive faces of familiar creatures like walruses, manatees, and polar bears that find themselves out and about on dry land.
Sexton enjoys papier-mâché for its versatility and accessibility, using additional readily available materials like cloth, wire, and acrylic paint to build up each animal’s unique textures, patterns, and colors. Comprising her upcoming solo exhibition Out of Water at the Minnesota Marine Art Museum, the lifelike wearable sculptures draw attention to a variety of beings that rely on aquatic ecosystems for survival. Barnacles and belugas are photographed in atmospheric settings by the artist’s partner and collaborator Ben Toht, who captures each animal’s unique details and expressions.
Many of Sexton’s sculptures portray species that, in their native habitats, are under threat as they increasingly become entangled in nets and suffer the effects of the climate crisis. The delicate and often awkward balance between the human-made environment and natural ecosystems is highlighted in photographs of the masks in atmospheric settings by the artist’s partner and collaborator Ben Toht. The portraits playfully juxtapose the creatures with unusual locations like a grocery store freezer aisle, a campground, or a laundromat.
Out of Water opens May 6 and continues through September 3 in Winona, and you can find more work on the artist’s website and Instagram.
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Hera’s Poetic Portraits of Childlike Scavengers Foster Therapeutic Interactions Between Artist and Self
German-Pakistani artist Jasmin Siddiqui, who works as Hera and was half of the street art duo known as Herakut, brings a new series of scavengers to Corey Helford Gallery this month in tHERApy room 2. The solo show extends a body of work Hera presented in 2021, similarly depicting a large-eyed young woman donning the heads of wildlife. Defined by the artist’s graffiti style with drips, splatters, and sweeping spray-painted marks, the portraits connect adolescent wonder, innocence, and naivety to the broader human condition. “Each note I write and share with the world is actually a message addressed to that inner child, the vulnerable part that needs that extra encouragement, that talk of hope, of magic, and a little bit of escapism,” she says.
Having first picked up a can of spray paint 23 years ago, Hera considers these works a reflection of her evolution as an artist and person, saying:
If you will, you could see each piece as a therapy session, where the therapist would be Hera wielding brush and spray paint, and the patient would be Jasmin, the woman underneath the animal metaphor hats and masks. Describing my artwork that way makes it seem as if I had never stopped working in a duo.
tHERApy room 2, which also contains the artist’s new superhero sculptures, is on view through May 27 in Los Angeles. You can find more on Instagram.
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Thousands of Meticulously Layered Strips of Metal Bring Selçuk Yılmaz’s Big Cat Sculptures to Life
Thousands of thin, intricately placed metal strips form powerful wildlife portraits by Selçuk Yılmaz (previously). Adding new meaning to “big cats,” his recent series explores the legendary power, courage, and resilience of jaguars, lions, and the prehistoric saber-tooth tiger. A painstaking process of hammering, layering and welding individual pieces links realistic representation and the addition of artistic elements, such as the regal adornment on the forehead of the lion, which is titled “King.”
Minimal, abstracted contours delineate the form of Yılmaz’s saber-tooth tiger, a huge cat that roamed what is now North and South America for millennia until they became extinct about 10,000 years ago. Combining a realistic face with a simple outline, the artist draws attention to its snarling expression and the fact that we can only imagine what the early mammals actually looked like. In “Jaguar,” a lifelike portrayal of a muscular feline interacts with the light through layered textures. “Since light and metal have opposite properties, they can create an interesting balance and contrast when they come together,” the artist tells Colossal. “It gives the feeling that light has a soul.”
Find more of Yılmaz’s work on Instagram and Behance.
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Faunwood’s Adorable Menagerie of Miniature Ceramic Critters Is Primed for Adventure
Eugene-based artist Miranda Zimmerman, a.k.a. Faunwood, brings a playful ceramic menagerie to Portland this month for Slither, a nearly sold-out solo show at Antler Gallery. Informed by Faunwood’s background in evolutionary biology, the adorable creatures meld art and science and are miniature renditions of amphibians and mammals, all stylized with the artist’s use of wide eyes and mottled glazes. The hand-sculpted characters are expressive and reflective of the organisms’ real-life anatomy, and their unique dispositions emerge through the firing process. “Every ceramic critter I make comes out of the kiln with its own little personality and sass, sometimes completely different from what I’m expecting,” the artist writes on Instagram.
Slither is on view through April 23, and you can find more from Faunwood on her site. (via Supersonic Art)
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Elegant Animals Commune and Contemplate in Hand-Carved Wooden Sculptures by Nikichi
From the long, graceful turn of a rabbit’s ears to the cozy embrace of polar bears, Nikichi summons the emotional nuances of intimacy, solitude, and contemplation in his delicately carved sculptures. Carefully exposed wood grain shapes knees and cheeks, paws clasp together in repose, and winged visitors perch on delicately-hewn noses.
The Hokkaido-based artist has been sculpting animals for around a decade, interested in the ways that people relate to fluffy, recognizable creatures like bunnies and cats by anthropomorphizing their expressions and actions as a means of understanding and connecting to them. He fuses human and animal characteristics to explore what he describes as “the story of human sociality and life by overlapping the wildness and instinctiveness of animals,” populating a harmonious, mythical world.
Find more of Nikichi’s work on Instagram.
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Editor's Picks: Animation
Highlights below. For the full collection click here.