Building Bound to the Ground: A 1,400-Page Book Surveys Centuries of Global Architecture Embedded in the Earth
Despite being physically secured to the ground, much of the architecture common throughout the Western world is defined, in part, by its distance from the earth. Skyscrapers that disrupt distant horizons compete for the title of tallest in existence, and even more sustainable designs, like the new timber structure in Skellefteå, Sweden, are lauded for towering over the landscape.
A forthcoming book from Taschen explores an inverse approach to architecture, though, one that literally unites buildings and other human-centric designs with the earth. Spanning a whopping 1,390 pages, Dig it! Building Bound to the Ground ventures around the globe and across generations to find the innovative, sustainable, and technically stunning methods that embed constructions into the existing landscape.
Written by Dutch architect Bjarne Mastenbroek with photos by Iwan Baan, the tome visits the remote Sar Agha Seyed village built into an Iranian hillside, the vegetation-laden rooftops of a Bangladeshi training center, and the ancient Ethiopian churches chiseled into rock. Each of the designs shares a holistic relationship with its surroundings and a focus on becoming part of the environment without unnecessary disturbances or degradation. “Mankind destroys the skin of the earth at an unprecedented scale. The time has come for a fundamental reset,” Mastenbroek says.
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Lumpy, spotted, and exposed in succulent slices, the apples highlighted in a new book by William Mullan aren’t those you’d typically find in a grocery store. Instead, the Brooklyn-based photographer focuses on rare specimens like Pink Pearls, the aptly named Knobbed Russets, and speckled Black Oxfords that he sources from farmer’s markets or rural roadsides. These sometimes hard-to-find varieties are the subject matter of his portraits that spotlight the stunning, strange diversity of the species.
The humble fruit has a long history of religious and cultural significance and of course, is also a commodity, a characterization Mullan hopes to complicate by celebrating their unique beauty. “Due to their heterozygous nature, every apple tree that grows successfully from seed will be a brand new apple tree, with traits coming from the seed parent and the pollinator parent” (aka pollen from a nearby blossom). Combined with the fact that the species has 42,000 to 44,000 genes, which is nearly twice as many as people, thousands of different varieties have been produced, creating “a splendid array of aesthetic and flavor characteristics: from apples with red and pink flesh, to apples shaped like stars, candles, and toads, to apples that taste like licorice and strawberry shortcake,” Mullan shares.
Published by Hatje Cantz with design by Andrea Trabucco-Campos, the updated edition of Odd Apples contains 90 images and was designed to feel like “a walk through a magical orchard,” one that captures the breadth of the species. A few of Mullan’s favorites include the dry, sour-cherry flavor of the endangered Niedzwetzkyana or the otherworldly, neon flesh of the oblong Kandil Sinap. While some of his subjects were cultivated relatively recently, others, like the lemony, vitamin C-packed Calville Blanc D’Hiver, date back to the 1600s. “Some of the best apples are really like, right off the roads and highways, along farm fence lines and inside city parks,” he adds.
The Odd Apples project originally began in 2017, with a smaller 32-page book published in 2018, and Mullan continues to shoot all of the images in his apartment or the studio at Raaka Chocolate, where he works as the brand director. Focusing largely on the color and texture, the enchanting portraits are imbued with meaning beyond the fruit’s physical qualities, and each is paired with a written profile. “Their character would spark something in my head, usually a mood or something from pop culture,” he tells Colossal. “Every portrait is an attempt to really capture the mood, expression, and character of that apple but also my interpretation of that and therefore all the experiences I’ve had in my life, too.”
A special, limited edition of Odd Apples, which includes a Hidden Rose print, is for sale on the book’s site, and it’s also available for pre-order on Bookshop. You can follow Mullan’s fruit and flower-based photos on Instagram. (via Creative Boom)
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Within the vast collections of the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh is a trove of dried specimens that once were juicy seeds and fruits primed for reproduction. Now gnarled, fractured, and blanketed in tiny, dehydrated bristles, the individual pods have been preserved as part of the carpological archive at the Scottish institution, a resource photographer Levon Biss (previously) spent hours sifting through in preparation for a stunning new series of macro images.
Spanning from the rampant clusters of the Ko Phuang to endangered rarities like the Coco de Mer, the photographs reveal the inner details otherwise enclosed within the specimens’ shells. Texture and subtle color differences are the basis for most of the shots, which frame a cracked or sliced pod in a manner that centers on their unique components.
The botanic garden’s collection is global in scope and boasts about 100 individual pieces per species, meaning Biss sorted through hundreds of thousands to choose the final 117 that have culminated in his new book The Hidden Beauty of Seeds & Fruits. Initially culled based on aesthetics, the resulting selection encompasses all processes of seed dispersal, along with information about morphology, location, and history. “I tried to make sure all methods were included in the overall edit so that the work becomes an educational tool, not just pretty pictures,” Biss tells Colossal, further explaining the research process:
Each specimen is contained within a small box, and sometimes, you would find a handwritten note on a scrap of paper where the botanist provided a visual description of the surroundings where the specimen was found. Some of these specimens are over 100 years old, and reading these very personal notes made me wonder what the botanist had to go through to find that specimen. What were their traveling conditions like? What did they have to endure to bring the specimen back to Edinburgh? Reading these notes gave me a connection with the botanist and was certainly one of my personal highlights of the project.
On view in the same space as the original specimens, Biss’s photos are up at the Royal Botanic Gardens through October 31. The Hidden Beauty of Seeds & Fruits, which is published by Abrams, is available now on Bookshop, and you can find prints from the series on the photographer’s site. Keep up with his biological snapshots, which include a striking collection of iridescent beetles, on Instagram.
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A Poetic Book Illustrated by Tiffany Bozic Explores the Vast Diversity of Trees with Childlike Curiosity
In her first body of work geared toward children, artist Tiffany Bozic (previously) showcases the naturally occurring whimsy and wonder of the outdoors through saturated color, texture, and unusual perspectives: An upward glance frames towering redwoods with rugged bark, elusive flying squirrels cling to a branch, and dried leaves, fungi, and berries form a thick, colorful layer of groundcover. “I wanted to inspire children to notice how beautiful and important nature is and recognize that we are also animals, a part of nature. We only protect what we love. Trees are a great place to start because everyone has access to them, even in urban areas,” she tells Colossal.
In the last two decades, the Marin, California-based artist has created hundreds of paintings on maple panel, often leaving the wood grain fully exposed or peeking through a thin veil of acrylic. Bozic’s detailed interpretations highlight the singularity of individual plants and animals as she adeptly applies a surreal twist to her otherwise faithful portrayals—her earlier books Drawn by Instinct and Unnatural Selections show the breadth of this style—while Trees relies on a more realistic approach. Paired with a lyrical story written by Tony Johnson, the illustrated book is a reminder to celebrate the earth’s diversity with a sense of childlike admiration and curiosity.
Trees is available for pre-order on Bookshop. You can follow Bozic’s new works, some of which will be informed by her research into the ways fire affects biodiversity in Tahoe earlier this summer, on Instagram. Find limited-edition prints and originals on her site.
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Human progress and the insurmountable force of nature converge in Camille Kachani’s overgrown sculptures. The Lebanese-Brazilian artist (previously) is known for his furniture, tools, and other practical objects that are overrun with new plant growths and gnarly roots, rendering the seemingly functional items like stools, hammers, and books humorously impractical.
Whether a text bursting with vegetation or dresser drawers housing young sprigs, Kachani’s works highlight the futile attempts humans undertake to control the environment. This relationship has been central to his practice in recent years, and his goal is to showcase the conflicts that arise from their intersections especially in relation to life in Brazil—the South American country is more frequently experiencing the effects of the climate crisis like the worst drought its seen in decades and rampant deforestation that’s only intensifying the ongoing devastation—which he explains:
When we speak human and nature, we mean culture and nature, an (un)stable and unpredictable relation. We depend on nature but also see it as a major obstacle to our complete mastery of the planet. But in fact, it is impossible to talk about nature and culture as two distinct subjects, as they are so intertwined and contaminated from each other that I come to believe that everything is nature and culture at the same time.
Kachani is based in São Paulo and is preparing for a forthcoming book chronicling 20 years of his practice, which will be published in 2022. You can follow his work on Instagram.
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An XXL-Edition Compiles All of Frida Kahlo's 152 Artworks in an Extensive Celebration of Her Life and Work
An enormous new book from Taschen explores the life and work of famed Mexican artist Frida Kahlo (1907–1954). Widely recognized as a groundbreaking figure in contemporary understandings of gender and sexuality, Kahlo’s now iconic image—particularly derived from her more than 50 self-portraits showing her bold brow, braided hair, and range of floral adornments—has secured her legacy as one of the most influential and profound artists of the 20th Century.
Spanning 624 pages and weighing nearly 12 pounds, Frida Kahlo. The Complete Paintings compiles all 152 of her works paired with diary pages, letters, drawings, an illustrated biography, and hundreds of photos taken by Edward Weston, Manuel and Lola Álvarez Bravo, Nickolas Muray, and Martin Munkácsi that glimpse moments from Kahlo’s life with her husband and muralist Diego Rivera and of the Casa Azul, her home in Mexico City. Many of the pieces included haven’t been exhibited publicly in more than 80 years.
Edited by Luis-Martín Lozano with contributions from Andrea Kettenmann and Marina Vázquez Ramos, the volume contextualizes Kahlo’s paintings by offering an intimate and wide-reaching exploration of her oeuvre that was so profoundly impacted by her experiences with a lifelong disability and an unending need to question politics and notions of identity. Lozano describes her unparalleled contributions in a conversation with It’s Nice That:
Her uniqueness in art history is not only based in a feminist agenda as it has been stressed out in recent years, but mostly in her capacity to engage in ideological and aesthetic discussions of her time and contemporaries, in subjects such as public art and surrealism, and make them part of her core as an artist.
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Editor's Picks: History
Highlights below. For the full collection click here.