environment

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Science

A Field Recording by Phil Torres Documents the Waterfall-like Sound of Millions of Migrating Monarch Butterflies

May 9, 2019

Laura Staugaitis

Entomologist and TV host Phil Torres (previously) dives deep into the natural world to document sights and sounds that many of us will never have a chance to experience firsthand. In his most recent video, Torres showcases the sound created by millions of migrating monarchs. The iconic orange and black butterflies convene every year in Mexico, where they overwinter during the Northern Hemisphere’s cooler months. In Torres’ six minute video, monarchs cluster by the thousands on individual tree branches and swarm the forest air, creating a rushing, waterfall-like sound. We highly recommend listening to the video with a pair of earphones to really pick up the subtleties in the audio. You can see more of Torres’ outdoor explorations on his Youtube channel, The Jungle Diaries, and follow along on Twitter.

 

 



Design

Mr. Trash Wheel: An Anthropomorphic Debris-Eating Mechanism Located in Baltimore Harbor

April 25, 2019

Kate Sierzputowski

Mr. Trash Wheel, a floating mechanism with large round eyes affixed to its hood, was installed on a tributary leading to the Baltimore Harbor in 2014. Since then, the trash-scooping object has intercepted 638,594 plastic bags, 1,000,000 styrofoam containers, 150 miles of cigarette butts, and one ball python. Using the power of the sun, the semi-autonomous machine rakes litter out of the water and up a slow but sturdy conveyer belt. The belt is strong enough to hoist mattresses, trees, and kegs from the water and into a dumpster located on a separate barge for recycling and disposal.

The device was created by sailor and engineer John Kellett who watched debris build up around Baltimore’s waterfront for over twenty years. Mr. Trash Wheel has helped lead to Maryland’s statewide ban on Styrofoam food containers (a first in the country), partly because of a loyal Twitter following by local fans who are witness to the devastating amount of trash intercepted each day.

Although Kellett plans on installing trash wheels in other cities across the US including California, New York, and Hawaii, and internationally, he had also focused on adding more trash-eating power to his local harbor. Mr. Trash Wheel now has two cousin interceptors named Professor Trash Wheel and Captain Trash Wheel who have equally cartoonish eyes attached to the front of their wide-mouthed exteriors. You can watch Mr. Trash Wheel digest its millionth pound of trash in the video below, and view a live stream of real time waste consumption on its website. (via WBUR)

 

 



Art Science

Searing Bands of White Light Mark the Ocean’s Rising Tides in a Coastal Community

March 5, 2019

Laura Staugaitis

Documentation of Installation by Pekka Niittyvirta & Timo Aho

A chilling new installation in the Outer Hebrides shows the impact of climate change and rising tides on the low-lying islands off the west coast of Scotland. Lines (57° 59 ́N, 7° 16 ́W)  was created by Finnish artists Pekka Niittyvirta and Timo Aho for Taigh Chearsabhagh Museum & Arts Centre in Lochmaddy on the island of North Uist. The site-specific installation uses sensors and LED lights to show where the water will flow during storm surges if the Earth’s temperature continues to rise. Searing white lines mark this rising water level on the sides of buildings, hover over bridges, and extend across other susceptible areas across the museum campus and surrounding community.

The installation’s delineations starkly demonstrate the ticking clock that makes the museum’s current location unsustainable unless drastic measures are taken to stop climate change. The video below shows the artists’ installation process. You can see more from Niittyvirta and Aho on their websites. (via designboom)

 

 



Design

Everyday Consumer Goods Are De-Produced Into Rectangular Prisms of Raw Materials

February 22, 2019

Laura Staugaitis

Volkswagen Beetle. Photograph by Ronald Smits

Dutch design team Studio Drift (previously) codifies the complex mix of materials that are used to create modern consumer goods in their newest series, Materialism. The collection reduces down recognizable items ranging from light bulbs and pencils to bicycles and even a Volkswagen Beetle. Raw materials like graphite, copper, rubber, polyurethane, and aluminum are shown as perfectly sliced blocks, emphasizing the original substance rather than the abstracted functional shape (like a rubber bicycle tube or graphite pencil core).

In a statement about the collection, Studio Drift describes the lofty goals of Materialism: “To make the essential nature of the world visible. If humankind could somehow perceive this connection to materials, to our collective consumption and the earth it impoverishes, it would be a leap in our social evolution, in building an awareness that we must somehow become better stewards of our future.”

Materialism was recently displayed with Pace Gallery at the Frieze Art Fair in Los Angeles, California. You can see more from Studio Drift on Facebook and Instagram. (via dezeen)

De-produced bicycle. Photograph by Gert Jan van Rooij

De-produced pencil. Photograph by Ronald Smits

De-produced light bulb. Photograph by Ronald Smits

 

 



Art Craft

Embroidered and Beaded Coral Sculptures by Aude Bourgine Honor the ‘Lungs of the Oceans’ in Protective Glass

December 20, 2018

Andrew LaSane

French visual artist Aude Bourgine’s work is informed by her love of the environment and a sense of guilt for what humanity has done to the natural world. Using textiles, beads, and sequins, the artist creates displays that capture the beauty and fragility of coral for a series called “Poumons des océans,” which translates to “Lungs of the Oceans.”

Bourgine’s sculptures mimic the unique shapes, intricate textures, and vivid colors of living coral. Encased in glass bell jars, they are simultaneously isolated as objects of wonder, and also protected from harm caused by the hands of humans. “If we do not rapidly change our relationship with our environment, oceans will be dead by 2050,” the artist said in a statement on her website. “Their disappearance will entail a disastrous imbalance on all ecological, climate and human levels…We must take heed for this universal cause, which concerns each and every one of us.”

Bourgine has an upcoming solo exhibition at the Saint Julien Chapel in Le Petit-Quevilly in northern France from June 7 through 30, 2019. You can see more of Bourgine’s sculptural works of the sea on Instagram. (via The Fiber Studio)

 

 



Art

A Nostalgic Winter Scene Takes a Sinister Turn in a New Welsh Work by Banksy

December 19, 2018

Laura Staugaitis

Yesterday, Banksy (previously) left his mark in the South Wales town of Port Talbot, his first in the UK nation. The area drew attention earlier this year when a World Health Organization report named it the most polluted community in the UK (the designation was later revoked). The street artist seemed to be referencing this undesirable ranking in his piece, which is placed on two adjacent sides of a cement brick garage. A young boy clad in winter gear and with a small sled appears with arms outstretched, his pink tongue catching what appears to be snowflakes. But the nostalgic scene takes on a different meaning when both walls are viewed together, as the “snow” is revealed to be flakes of ash from a dumpster fire. Banksy has declared the work to be his in a video posted earlier today on Instagram, where you can join 5 million others in keeping up with his latest hijinks. (via Juxtapoz)

 

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Photography

Abstract Aerial Photographs Reveal the Beauty of Meandering Waterways

December 4, 2018

Kate Sierzputowski

The project Water.Shapes.Earth uses aerial photography and storytelling to bring an understanding to the complex and diverse ways water inhabits our planet, from a radioactive water pond in Huelva, Spain to mud volcanoes in Azerbaijan. The images provide an abstract look at Earth’s surface, presenting purple-hued veins of a divergent river or an icy body of emerald water laced with severe cracks and splinters in its surface. Stories accompany the many images, which bring attention to how each might be a sign of climate change, and to highlight our own destructive mark on our environment. You can read about a salty marsh in Spain or glacial river tributaries in Iceland on Water.Shapes.Earth’s website. (via Colossal Submissions)