farming

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Food Photography

Aerial Photos Document the Expansive Greenhouses Covering Spain's Almería Peninsula

March 25, 2022

Grace Ebert

All images © Tom Hegen, shared with permission

A follow-up to his series focused on the glow of LED-lit greenhouses, Tom Hegen’s new collection peers down on the landscape of Spain’s Almería peninsula. The German photographer is broadly interested in our impact on the earth and gears his practice toward the aerial, offering perspectives that illuminate the immense scale of human activity.

In The Greenhouse Series II, Hegen captures the abstract topographies of the world’s largest agricultural production center of its kind, which stretches across 360-square kilometers of rugged, mountainous terrain in the southern part of the country. The sun-trapping structures house plants like tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, and watermelons that provide fresh produce to much of Europe year-round.

While 30 times more productive than typical farmland in the region, the facilities also function at a cost to the local ecosystems. “Groundwater is being polluted with fertilisers and pesticides. Some 30,000 tons of plastic waste are created each year,” Hegen tells Colossal, noting that the greenhouses are made almost entirely of plastic foil, which is shredded and discarded nearby once it’s no longer useful. “From there, wind and erosion transport it to the (Mediterranean Sea).”

Hegen will speak about using aerial photography to foster connections with the larger world during a TedX event this May, and you can keep up with his latest projects on Instagram and Behance.

 

 

 



Animation Food

An Emotional Stop-Motion Ad Follows a Family Revitalizing Their Organic Farm

November 17, 2021

Grace Ebert

Ten years after Irish animator and director Johnny Kelly (previously) brought us a charming stop-motion ad for Chipotle about a farmer’s return to organic methods, he’s back with an emotional sequel that revisits the now-aging protagonist. The new short film, titled “A Future Begins,” follows the same mustached rancher as he struggles to maintain his pesticide-free fields and natural techniques amidst weather catastrophes and other struggles. When his son returns from college and a busy life in the city, the reunited family implements a range of sustainable technologies like solar panels, greenhouses, polyculture, and companion planting that make the farm thrive.

Kelly and the team behind the new ad documented their meticulous process in an immersive making-of video, which dives into pre-production digital mockups, techniques for hand-sculpting innumerable trees and the bucolic landscape, and updates to the puppets themselves, which feature magnetic waists that allow them to pivot in various stances. Similar to its award-winning predecessor, “A Future Begins” is paired with a Coldplay cover, with this iteration featuring “Fix You” by Kasey Musgraves.

Find more of Kellly’s animated projects and collaborations on Vimeo.

 

 

 



Art Food

Mammoth Straw Creatures Populate Japanese Farmland in the Annual Wara Art Festival

September 13, 2021

Grace Ebert

All images courtesy of Wara Art Festival

If you visit Japan’s Niigata Prefecture during the region’s annual rice harvest, you’re likely to find enormous tarantulas, eagles, and dinosaur-like creatures stalking the bucolic landscape. The towering sculptures are part of the Wara Art Festival, a summertime event that displays massive animals and mythical creations fashioned from the crop’s leftover straw.

Traditionally, the byproduct is used as livestock feed, for compost that revitalizes the soil, and to craft household goods like zori sandals, although farmers increasingly have found themselves with a surplus as agricultural technology and culture changes. This shift prompted a partnership between the people of the former Iwamuro Village, which is now Nishikan Ward, and Tokyo’s Musashino Art University (known colloquially as Musabi) in 2006. At the time, Department of Science of Design professor Shingo Miyajima suggested that the unused straw be used in a collaborative art project between the university and local farmers, resulting in the first Wara Art Festival in 2008.

Today, students design the oversized characters—you can see previous year’s creations in this gallery—and artisans from Nishikan Ward construct the wooden armature and thatched bodies. The monumental figures stand as high as 30 feet, looming over the green landscape in a playful celebration of local culture.

Although the festival paused in 2020 because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, it’s back for its 13th edition at Uwasekigata Park. This year’s motley cast includes insects, animals, and even legendary monsters like the Amabie, all on view through October 31. (via Hyperallergic)

 

 

 



Photography

A Mesmerizing Aerial Timelapse Captures the Undulating Patterns of Sheep Herding Near Haifa

June 28, 2021

Grace Ebert

Haifa-based photographer Lior Patel has spent the last seven months immersed in the daily rhythms of sheep. Hovering above the Peace Valley region of Yokneam, he’s documented a single flock’s grazing process in a captivating timelapse that shows the animals racing across the agricultural landscape and down roadways in robust, heaving masses. Shot with a drone, the accelerated footage attests to the drove’s shape-shifting instincts, which resembles other naturally occurring patterns like a flowing current or mesmerizing starling murmurations.

Vegetable farmer Michael Morgan, who’s referred to as the “king of cabbage,” and South Africa-born herder Keith Markov have managed the flock since 1985, and today it fluctuates between 1,000 and 1,750 individuals. Each year, the sheep migrate up to seven kilometers from the valley to the outskirts of Ramot Menashe with the help of shepherds Mustafa Tabash, Mahmoud Kaabiyah, Eyal Morgan, and Dan Goldfinger and a few border collies, which you can see circling the edges of the flock and rounding up stragglers.

To focus on the sheep’s natural movements, Patel tells Colossal that he captured most scenes from a fixed camera position. Each shot shows between 4-7 minutes of the shepherds corralling the animals en route to their next location. “The first challenge is to understand the elasticity of the herd during the movement, its dispersal during grazing, and how it converges into one tight pack towards exit/return from pasture and crossing roads and paths,” he says.

Patel frequently travels throughout Isreal documenting agricultural practices, barges, and the historic architecture of city centers with a drone, and you can find more of his aerial photos and footage on his site and Instagram.

 

 

 



Animation

A Quirky Animation Follows a Determined Cactus Farmer as She Tracks the Man Destroying the Environment

May 4, 2021

Grace Ebert

A cowgirl named Rose and her eccentric pals embark on a mission to find the man damaging their local environment in the clever and fervent short film “Spell of the West.” Created by Los Angeles-based Sam Lane during her third year at CalArts, the animation follows the group’s wayward journey through the roving hills and sentient forests as they search for the ax-wielding tyrant who’s chopping down trees and demolishing their cactus farm.

Simultaneously witty and sincere, “Spell of the West” is imbued with magical undertones and a message that there’s more to environmental destruction than the loss of ecosystems. Lane explains to Short of the Week:

Most scientific work falls short of capturing the emotional aspect of human/nature relationships. In order to protect our natural surroundings, it’s important to know the dry facts, but it’s also important to establish an emotional human connection. Narrative is a prime rhetorical tool, and I was interested in re-framing the environmental conversation with a deep respect and poetic appreciation for the natural world.

To watch more of Lane’s 2D animations, many of which she creates entirely on her own with the exception of voiceovers and sound design, check out her Vimeo and Instagram.

 

 

 



Art Design

An Innovative Installation Embeds Lights into a Five-Acre Field to Spur Crop Growth

January 22, 2021

Grace Ebert

Spread across a thick field of leeks in the Netherlands is Daan Roosegaarde’s new installation that illuminates the practice of modern farming, highlighting the plants that feed us and their plights. In “Grow,” the Dutch artist and designer, who’s known for glowing, interactive exhibits, implanted the rows with red, blue, and ultraviolet lights that shine vertically across the crop and shift in entrancing motion.

Spanning 20,000-square-meters, the multi-faceted project is both aesthetic and practical: the radiant landscape is visually stunning, while the embedded elements enhance plant growth and cut pesticide use in half. Roosegaarde worked with existing photobiological technology and distinct “light recipes” that are thought to improve crop resistance and their metabolisms without added chemicals. “It gives a new meaning to the word ‘agri-culture’ by reframing the landscape as a living cultural artwork,” the studio says in a statement.

In a conversation with Dezeen, Roosegaarde noted that a trip to a local farm spurred the project, which the designer now hopes will act as a blueprint for similar works. The Netherlands is the second-largest agricultural exporter in the world—the U.S. is first—and is known for innovating more sustainable technologies. With some shifts in the combination of lights and placement, this singular project could have wide-reaching implications for crop production around the world.

“Grow” took Roosegaarde’s studio about two years to complete and is part of Rabobank’s artist-in-residence program. It’s slated to tour 40 countries in the coming months. For more of Roosegaarde’s work that falls at the intersection of art, design, and science, head to Instagram.

 

All images © Daan Roosegaarde, shared with permission