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Art Design

Fire Erupts From a Gigantic Fantastical Dragon-Horse Designed and Operated by La Machine

April 20, 2022

Grace Ebert

Photo © Emmanuel Bourgeau. All images courtesy of La Machine, shared with permission

The street theater group known as La Machine revived one of its legendary beasts for an ongoing show in Toulouse. “Long Ma,” an enormous dragon-horse hybrid weighing 45 tons and standing 11 meters tall, was originally unleashed in Beijing in 2014 and now joins a minotaur and gigantic spider for an ongoing exhibition at La Halle in the French city. Each day through May 8, a team of artists animates the mechanical creature, which can be seen trotting, galloping, and rearing upward through the streets while she greets her similarly massive companions.

Capable of spitting smoke and water, the fire-breathing “Long Ma” is made from a combination of steel, wood, leather, blown glass, golden leaves, horsehair, and textiles. She also cradles a Chinese temple inspired by the Forbidden City on her back, which is big enough for 35 people to join her on her daily adventures.

Tickets to encounter the explosive character are available on the exhibition site, and you can see more of La Machine’s puppet-like creations in action on Instagram.

 

Photo © Emmanuel Bourgeau

Photo © Jordi Bover

 

 



Art

A Melting Polar Bear and Surreal Wildlife Sculptures Burn in the Annual Falles Spectacle

March 23, 2022

Grace Ebert

Photo © Carlos Segura. All images shared with permission

After a COVID-related hiatus, the annual Falles festival in Valencia, Spain, returned this year with an extravagant celebration full of flames and sparks. The five-day pyrotechnic event draws thousands of people into the streets each March to witness fireworks, explosions, and a variety of sculptures burn to the ground, and at the heart of this year’s production was a 23-foot polar bear by artist Antonio Segura, aka Dulk (previously).

Following works by PichiAvo, Okuda San Miguel, and Escif in previous iterations, Dulk’s fantastical and surreal “Protect What You Love” featured wildlife and plants balanced on top of the cold-weather creature. Two years in the making, the monumental piece was constructed with cardboard and wood, and a team assembled the approximately 30 individual vignettes around the central figure once on site. Each of the works speaks to the urgent need to address the climate crisis, which Dulk explains:

We have the mother polar bear in the main square for falles, her fur melting like a candle as other animals take refuge on and around her. They are lost and they are all in search of a new habitat… The koala represents the wildfires of Australia in 2019/2020 where over 60,000 of the creatures lost their lives. The orangutan represents Borneo where their rapid decline as a species is a direct result from hunting, logging Palm oil, and developments in agroforestry. The fish turns to a can, to reflect the loss of marine life from overfishing.

“Protect What You Love,” which burned this last weekend, is a poetic reminder of how quickly loss can occur. “While this is just a metaphor it could become our reality unless we begin to change our behaviour,” Dulk tells Charlotte Pyatt in an interview with Juxtapoz. “I hope the event more than anything else, encourages awareness and action for these urgent concerns.”

The Spanish artist also has smaller works on view at Valencia’s Tuesday to Friday through April 21 and Centre del Carme through May 8 to coincide with the event. See more of his pieces and behind-the-scenes look at the spectacular festival on Instagram.

 

Photos © Jesus Amable

Photo © Jesus Amable

Photo © Jesus Amable

Photo © Jesus Amable

Photo © Carlos Segura

Photo © Carlos Segura

 

 



Design

Pyrotechnic Posters Ignite a Spectacular Performance of Fire, Flares, and Sparks

December 9, 2021

Grace Ebert

With their most recent project Affiches Artifices, French designers Marion Pinaffo and Raphaël Pluvinage might have sparked a new poster trend with a little extra flare. The duo created a dozen geometric motifs that, at first glance, appear as simple glittering arches and circular patterns. Once ignited by a match, though, the forms light up in a spectacular blend of incandescent bursts and multi-color flames.

To produce the controlled burns, Pinaffo and Pluvinage coated fire-resistant paper with distinct markings that when lit on one end, create a clear path for the flame to follow, and although the posters are left charred, the original design remains. “As ‘pyrotechnic ink’ doesn’t exist as such, we spend a lot of time in our workshop looking for the right way of mixing and printing such chemicals. After hundreds of failed attempts, we finally found the right way,” the duo told Creative Boom. “The visuals and sound effects are physically programmed on paper directly, depending on the length and path of gunpowder.”

Watch the short video below to see the incendiary creations in action, and explore more from Pinaffo and Pulvinage on Instagram.

 

 

 



Art

Fiery Crayon Sculptures and Busts by Herb Williams Confront the Climate Crisis

February 18, 2021

Grace Ebert

“First Fire.” All images © Herb Williams, by Hannah Deits, shared with permission

Herb Williams addresses some of the most pressing issues of our time—uncontrollable fires, hurricanes, and an impending lack of natural resources, to name a few—through an unusually playful medium. The Nashville-based artist creates colorful sculptures and busts from innumerable crayons, assembling textured works that simultaneously display the ubiquitous childhood tool while confronting the ongoing effects of the climate crisis.

Similar to the large-scale flames he created in response to Texas wildfires nearly a decade ago, Williams’ new pieces, like the river-stone-encircled campfire above, are based in collective experience. He writes:

The epic catastrophes, disasters, and pandemic are virtually impossible to navigate as adults, so I am trying to create works that will help children understand and eventually deal, most hopefully solve what we can’t one day. I’m exploring the myths we cling to comfort, deny or manage our way through without losing our collective humanity.

“First Fire” pairs with Three Graces of Climate Change, a trio of figurative sculptures that reinterpret the “Venus de Milo” through the lenses of wildfires, glacial melt, and deforestation. In one piece, bright blazes erupt from the shoulder and hip, and in another, the figure is sliced in two to reveal age rings similar to those of a tree.

Williams currently is working on six sculptures that’ll be on display at Atlanta International Airport. He’s also the curator at Nashville’s Rymer Gallery, where you can find a larger collection of his works.

 

“Venus of Wildfires”

“Venus of Glacial Melt”

“Venus of Deforestation”

 

 



Animation

Autumn Leaves Crackle and Writhe Like a Flame in Short Film by Animator William Crook

June 8, 2020

Anna Marks

In “Stickmatch,” a new short film, a matchstick-like twig lands onto the screen, and with one long strike, it spontaneously ignites flames. These sparks don’t manifest in their usual form, though. The flames are replaced with leaves from various trees that are colored all the hues of autumn, from bright green to amber yellow. 

Created by William Crook, a London-born animator who now lives in Zürich, “Stickmatch” was an undertaking at a residency at Sasso in Italy. The sounds throughout the animation contain a mashup of crackling flames and crispy leaves rustling underneath feet. As the film plays, the miniature leaves dance to the “oxygen” around them, and the little twig becomes shorter and shorter until it’s no more. 

To watch more of Crook’s animated projects, visit Vimeo.

 

 

 



Photography

A Collage of Overlapping Videos Creates a Wild Rube Goldberg-esque Motion Sequence

March 30, 2020

Grace Ebert

Beginning with a man blowing his lips, an impressive compilation by Donato Sansone merges short clips of car crashes, fiery explosions, and punches thrown during a boxing match into a believable series of consequences. Ranging from nature to sports to destructive events, each seconds-long bit appears to lead right into the next in “Concatenation“—seemingly, a rocket launches straight into a pool ball that then causes a diver to jump into the water. A bullet impales a board, prompting two fiery masses in another section.

Head to Vimeo and Tumblr to check out more of Sansone’s sequence-based projects.

 

 

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