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Photography

Photographs by Paul Johnson Document a Once-Thriving Farm Community Subsumed by Rising Waters

June 24, 2019

Laura Staugaitis

In the northeast corner of North Dakota lies Devils Lake. It is the largest natural body of water in the state, and yet it holds within it a seemingly unnatural phenomenon. Once-prosperous farming communities used to stand where the lake now is, the reach and depth of the current waters subsuming the abandoned tall silos, stately houses, and squat barns. The lake began rising in 1993 and has risen 35 feet in just over two decades. Due to a lack of outlet for the water and a period of heavy rains in the early 1990’s, the high water simply never subsided, rendering the formerly productive area completely uninhabitable and taking 300 homes with it.

Minnesota-based photographer Paul Johnson (previously) set out during two different seasons, summer (via kayak) and winter, to witness and document the lost community. Large trucks sit embedded up to their wheel wells in thick ice, a silo door is seamlessly mirrored in the water that reaches over its threshold, and barns lean at spectacularly acute angles, seemingly glued in place by the surrounded fresh or frozen water.

“Abandoned places hold a wistful appeal to me and I think to many of us,” Johnson shared in an interview with Passion Passport. “They are the final chapters of unknown stories where we’re left to ponder the details. Their quiet stillness can spur thoughts about the nature of time and the processes of decay and reclamation.” If you are interested in further reading about the history of the area, Modern Farmer has a long-form story from the perspective of a Devils Lake native.

In addition to his still photography, Johnson is continuing to work on animated land art which will be compiled into an upcoming short film. Stay tuned for previews of these pieces on Instagram and Tumblr. (via This Isn’t Happiness)

 

 



Art Photography

Inception-Style Photos Tilt Russian Cityscapes at Dramatic Angles

June 13, 2019

Laura Staugaitis

All photographs courtesy of Lestnica

The grand plazas, towering monuments, and majestic architecture of Russian cities are seen from a new perspective in warped photographs by Lestnica. The Vladimir-based production studio, which was founded by Artem Prudentov, creates still and moving images for clients. For this project, which Prudentov explains is inspired by the movie Inception, Lestnica started out by planning out the final structure of the future photograph based on the principles of perspective. Each image is anchored by an architectural feature as the focal point, with sidewalks and streets fanning outward at a stomach-churning tilt.

Prudentov shares that the team used a software algorithm for their camera and set it in semi-automatic mode to capture each dramatically swooping landscape. Each image involved about a dozen hours of work, and the experimental process resulted in over a thousand test images as Lestnica honed their process. You can see more images from the series on the Lestnica website. If you enjoy these, also check out the work of Aydın Büyüktaş. (via Jeroen Apers)

 

 



Illustration

Corner Shops and Cathedrals Get Equal Attention in Zhifang Shi’s Travel Watercolors

June 12, 2019

Laura Staugaitis

Using a combination of watercolor and ink, Zhifang Shi creates vignettes of the places he encounters in his worldwide travels. The Shanghai-based artist works en plein air, painting atop a portable palette to document storefronts, architectural features, boats, and trolley cars. Washes of color add depth and movement to Shi’s loose, gestural contour lines, and his focus on points of entry and modes of transit invites the viewer into the artist’s world. You can keep up with Shi’s wide-ranging travels and resulting urban sketches on Instagram.

 

 



Animation Music

Hidden Patterns of Infrastructure Revealed in a Hypnotic New Music Video by Páraic Mc Gloughlin

June 6, 2019

Laura Staugaitis

Another dizzying video by Páraic Mc Gloughlin (previously) pairs shots of architecture and infrastructure with electronic music. Mc Gloughlin’s latest work is for the band Weval’s track “Someday,” and features the filmmaker’s signature fusion of geometric shapes found in historical domes, skyscraper facades, and farmland irrigation systems. The tightly edited video shows quickly-passing frames that shift in time with the music, visually quaking or smoothly transitioning depending on the percussive and melodic elements of the song. Macro shots of escalator stairs and grates are interspersed with far-away aerial views of landscapes and forests, for a fast-paced tour of the patterns around us, hidden in plain sight. You can see more from Mc Gloughlin on Vimeo and Instagram.

 

 



Photography

Shuttered Windows and Placid Canals Show Venice’s Sleepier Side in Night Photographs by Thibaud Poirier

May 31, 2019

Laura Staugaitis

Scenes of contemporary Venice often inevitably include throngs of tourists amongst the centuries-old architecture. But French photographer Thibaud Poirier (previously) took his camera out during the city’s quieter hours. During a weekend trip this past winter, Poirier sought to capture the timelessness of Venice, a task easier done there than in other cities like Paris, Poirier tells Colossal, because of Venice’s lack of cars. Vehicles on city streets tend to simultaneously distract from, and date, photographs of buildings.

In his series Sleeping Venice, the still waters of the canals reflect illuminated docks and the warm-toned weathered facades of the city’s brick and stucco buildings. Poirier explains that he used Google Maps to locate bridge and canal intersections, and then explored the pinpointed areas on foot. Despite the aquatic elements in his image, the photographer shares that he actually took all the shots on land, from bridges, ledges, and dead-end streets. You can see more of Poirier’s work and travels on Instagram and Behance, and find information on purchasing fine art prints on his website.

 

 

 



Design

A Playful Building Kit Incorporates Real-World Physics Concepts With Springs and Magnets

May 21, 2019

Laura Staugaitis

Mola Model is a modular tabletop building kit that includes springs, magnets, and cables to create a realistic experience for hobbyist engineers and aspiring architects. The Brazilian company’s kits help users learn about real-world structural concerns like buckling and sway frame structures by incorporating flexibility that demonstrates the impact of environmental influences. Each kit includes rigid and flexible connections, cables and bars of varying length and flexibility, as well as plates and mats to ground each structure.

The idea for the company came during Márcio Sequeira’s days as an architectural student: he was concerned about how well he was learning the real-world factors that he would need to take into account in his future career. Sequeira spent almost ten years working on developing Mola Model, and has funded all three of its editions on Kickstarter over the last five years. The latest edition has currently secured over 150% of its goal—find the Mola Structural Kit 3 on Kickstarter. (via FastCo)

 

 



Design

Mirrored Ceilings and Criss-Crossed Stairwells Give a Chinese Bookstore the Feeling of an M.C. Escher Woodcut

May 16, 2019

Kate Sierzputowski

Zhongshuge bookstores, designed by Shangai-based architecture firm X+Living, feature incredible rooms coveted by book and illusion lovers alike. Each location in this chain of Chinese bookstores has uniquely designed spaces with reflective elements that immerse guests in parallel environments. In the Chongqing branch, criss-crossing staircases and a mirrored ceiling double the room for an effect that seems straight out of an M.C. Escher woodcut or an infinite Indian stepwell.

In the Yangzhou location, each book-filled room also features mirrors, but many are found on the floors rather than ceiling. These glassy elements are meant to appear like mirages, a reference to the city’s canals, rivers, and lakes. You can take a quick peek inside the Yangzhou-based location in the video by Great Big Story below. To view more of the Zhongshuge libraries, visit X+Living’s website. (via Design You Trust)