Between 1596 and 1647, art dealer and diplomat Philipp Hainhofer traveled around Europe amassing an incredibly rich collection of signatures in the “Große Stammbuch,” or “Album Amicorum.” Akin to an autograph book, Hainhofer’s register is replete with the marks of Cosimo II de’ Medici, Holy Roman Emperor Rudolf II, and Christian IV of Denmark and Norway, to name a few. Covered in red velvet, “Album Amicorum” was part of a larger trend to record family, friends, and acquaintances that began in the 16th Century.
Hainhofer compiled the signatures during the course of 50 years, beginning when he was a college student. As he gained religious figures and royalty as clients, he’d ask them to sign his book and commissioned about 100 detailed illustrations to sit alongside. The elaborateness of the illustrations directly corresponds to the signatory’s status and rank in society.
This week The Herzog August Bibliothek purchased the centuries-old tome—which was thought to be lost until it emerged in a London auction in 1931—for about $3.1 million. It’s the library’s second attempt to acquire the historic book after August the Younger of Braunschweig-Lünebur, who was Hainhofer’s friend, failed to buy for the Wolfenbüttel, Germany-based institution in 1648. (via The History Blog)
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Fringed Paper Networks Peek Out From Vintage Encyclopedias, Textbooks, and Classics by Artist Barbara Wildenboer
From the covers of René Descartes’s Cogito Ergo Sum and Homer’s The Odyssey emerge vast webs of spliced pages. Artist Barbara Wildenboer (previously) overlaps countless strands of paper as part of her ongoing Library of the Infinitesimally Small and Unimaginably Large series. The new sculptures similarly feature masses of fringed pages, with the hand-cut forms lining the edges of the opened texts and peeking through the hollowed covers. Each spine is left intact.
Wildenboer tells Colossal she’s been preparing for SUPER/NATURAL, a solo exhibition in November at Everard Read, that considers the relationship between science and the supernatural and has influenced her recent choices in books. Alongside photographic collages, the text-based sculptures “function as narrative clues, intertexts, or ‘subtitles,'” she says.
A lot of the new book works deal with subject matter that relate to my understanding of the nature of invisible or quantum reality—a reality that we cannot see with our physical eyes. Where nature is the visible realm, supernature also operates on ‘natural’ laws, although we can’t always see them, i.e. for example, magnetism, gravity, and electricity, the celestial orbits, and star cycles. But it’s all levels of ‘nature.’
Since Cape Town, where Wildenboer is based, was locked down due to COVID-19, she’s been altering the vintage copies she’s had stored. The result is sculptural series fashioned from the pages of Camera Obscura, Leonardo Da Vinci’s Inventions, and the Brothers Grimm fairy tales. Compared to the massive encyclopedias and atlases she often utilizes, the smaller works appear almost miniature.
To keep up with Wildenboer’s sprawling artworks, head to Instagram.
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In a follow-up to the 2016 book Overview featuring stunning imagery of the Earth from above, Overview Timelapse: How We Change the Earth takes a critical look at the numerous ways humans have completely altered the surface of our planet in a very short time through urban development, climate change, and deforestation. Overview founder Benjamin Grant and writer Timothy Dougherty have teamed up to examine some 250 new satellite images that capture the remarkable changes currently taking place all around us from a dramatic macro perspective.
The Daily Overview is an immensely popular Instagram account started by Grant in 2013 that shares a fascinating overview photograph each day. Overview Timelapse is currently available for pre-order on Bookshop.
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In the hands of Montana-based sculptor Beth Cavener (previously), clay transforms into mesmerizing, life-size animal figures charged with raw emotion and vitality. Human, her recently released and award-winning monograph, gathers and celebrates nearly two decades of these extraordinary creations, featuring 160 color plates of work from six series. The curious menagerie includes hares, foxes, goats, and other common mammals, with graceful and luminous bodies depicted in situations that are often tinged with a sense of violent tension. They are figures of pathos: Some creatures recoil, as though in fear; others seem paralyzed by some unseen force. Many are suspended, tethered, or slumped over, having seemingly surrendered to their perpetual state of entrapment. Still, others are beasts exuding tenderness, their body language and eyes inviting viewers to draw close.
Cavener is a prolific artist, and as Human reveals, she has experimented with diverse materials including crystallized sugar, black sand, and smoke. Some of her most compelling pieces engage evocative devices like steel chains and glass vitrines, with several incorporating distinctive objects like a 24 karat gold ring and a wasps’ nest. The resulting animals could be displaced from dark fables. They are haunting, unlucky characters whose precise body language and inescapable gazes express unfiltered views of human nature.
Writing the foreword for Human, critic Garth Clark identifies Cavener’s sources of inspiration: People she personally has encountered during her lifetime—including her own self—“whose psychodramas, emotional catastrophes, and sexual peculiarities play out in her work.” Roiling with unspoken affect, these animals serve as unflinching mirrors capable of appealing at one glance and suddenly unsettling at another. As Cavener has said about her own visions: “Entangled in their own internal and external struggles, the figures express frustration for the human tendency towards cruelty and a lack of understanding. Something conscious and knowing is captured in their gestures and expressions. An invitation and a rebuke.”
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An Astronaut and Photographer Collaboratively Document the Vast International Space Station in a New Book
In what is believed to be the first collaboration between an Earth-bound artist and an astronaut in space, photographer Roland Miller and engineer Paolo Nespoli have recorded the momentous journey of NASA’s International Space Station (ISS). The two have been working together during the last few years to document the current technologies and sights of modern space travel. They’ve shot extraordinary photographs of an ocean blanketed with clouds, the wire labyrinths lining the vehicle, and astronaut’s bulging suits and helmets. “If you were to stand there and look at (the spacecraft), I’m hoping that this is how you would see it,” Miller shares with Colossal.
The project began after the photographer spoke with astronaut and chemist Cady Coleman, who encouraged him to share his vision and approach to the medium with those on the space station. While researching the possibilities for such an endeavor, he discovered that Coleman is an avid flutist and would carry several of the instruments with her during missions. She even performed a duet with Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull, while he was in Russia and she far above the earth, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Yuri Gagarin’s first human launch. “And I thought, what if I did something like that? Maybe I could somehow work with an astronaut directly,” Miller says.
While a similar process executed simultaneously proved too complicated, the photographer decided on a unique collaboration utilizing Google Street View, which shows both the views inside and outside the ISS. “Not only could I use it to see what the station really looked like, but I could do screenshots of parts of it,” he says, a process that he ultimately used. Miller would capture different portions within the station or views out its windows and share them with Nespoli, who would then recreate the image during a mission.
Because the ISS was in a weightless environment with fluctuating light, many of the images astronauts typically capture utilize a flash, which Miller, who generally photographs using a very low shutter speed, wanted to avoid. “The first problem you run into is you can’t use a tripod in space because it just floats away, and the station itself is going 17,500 miles an hour. Just because of the size and the speed, there’s a harmonic vibration to it,” he notes. To combat the constant quivering, Nespoli constructed a stabilizing bipod and shot about 135 images with a high shutter speed, before sending the shots to Miller for aesthetic editing.
Now, the photographs have culminated in a 200-page, full-color book titled Interior Space: A Visual Exploration of the International Space Station, which already has passed its fundraising goal on Kickstarter and still has 17 days to go. Included in the forthcoming tome are essays by four experts, the celestial photographs, and some Earth-based shots, which Miller took separately at the Kennedy and Johnson space centers. These images range from scaffolding obscuring a Pressurized Mating Adapter to up-close frames of a potable water cooler that position the dials and buttons side-by-side with stickers chronicling previous missions. With a publish date of November 2, 2020, Interior Space will launch the 20-year anniversary of uninterrupted human habitation on the ISS.
Preferring an abstract, documentarian approach, Miller strives to tell a broader story that integrates design, art, and science. “It makes it more visually interesting than just topographic recording of things,” he says, noting that he always layers his photographs with distinct elements. Miller explains his particular fascination with space artifacts and the ISS:
This is a very good subject for that because they’re really amazing, beautiful things and are very complex modules… If you look at Star Trek and people walk down these spacious, pristine, white-walled hallways with carpeting and nice lights, and then you look at what a real spacecraft is, and you look at that hallway with wires and cables and computers hanging out, and it’s just crazy, chaotic, a mess of stuff. I think it’s really good to show this is what it really looks like… This is the reality of space travel right now.
An ardent photographer for more than 30 years, Miller’s foray into the field began with a visit to an old launchpad at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. He previously shot the NASA, Air Force, and Army facilities across the United States for his 2016 book, Abandoned in Place: Preserving America’s Space History. The collection contains a glimpse into the stations, launchpads, and other vehicles that have been deactivated, repurposed, and even demolished in recent years.
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Compiling more than 500 cards, a new book sequences an incredibly diverse array of metaphysical decks from medieval to modern times. Tarot is arranged in order from the Major to the Minor Arcana and examines the meaning behind the varied illustrations, considering who created them and when. From a whimsical, black-and-white rendering of The Lovers by Madison Ross to French occultist Jean-Baptise Alliette’s pastel series, the compendium explores the collaborations between mystics and artists that have been happening for centuries. Many of the pieces included in the 520-page book are being shown outside their respective decks for the first time.
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Editor's Picks: Craft
Highlights below. For the full collection click here.