Extending 526.14 meters, a new glass-bottom bridge in China’s Huangchuan Three Gorges Scenic Area now ranks as the longest in the world. The lengthy structure is the project of the firm Architectural Design & Research Institute of Zhejiang University and looms 201 meters above the Lianjiang River. Bright red towers mark either end, with an 8.8-meter-wide deck running between them. Three layers of 4.5-centimeter-thick glass lined with steel compose the transparent bridge, which is suspended with cables and can hold 500 people. According to Dezeen, the previous record-holder was a wobbly 488-meter structure in China’s Hebei province.
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Fascinated by the organisms found in the sea and bodies of freshwater, artist Jiyong Lee (previously) sculpts semi-transparent artworks that evoke the various forms of algae and other microscopic creatures. The segmented pieces, which are composed of smooth, matte glass, create both organic and geometric shapes. Part of an ongoing Segmentation Series, the composite works consider the evolution of a single cell, which Lee expands on:
I work with glass that has transparency and translucency, two qualities that serve as perfect metaphors for what is known and unknown about life science. The segmented, geometrical forms of my work represent cells, embryos, biological and molecular structures—each symbolizing the building blocks of life as well as the starting point of life.
Lee is based in Carbondale, Illinois, where he teaches at Southern Illinois University, and many of the pieces shown here will be part of a group show at Duane Reed Gallery in St. Louis from September 12 to October 17, 2020. The artist also was chosen as one of 30 artists for the Loewe Foundation’s Craft Prize, which will bring him to Paris for an exhibition in the spring of 2021. Until then, explore more of Lee’s biology-informed sculptures on Artsy.
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Suspended Orbs, Webs, and Air Plants Imagine an Alternative Ecological Future by Artist Tomás Saraceno
Three reflective spheres hover above the courtyard of Florence’s Palazzo Strozzi in Tomás Saraceno’s immersive installation. The metallic orbs mirror the historic Renaissance architecture in addition to visitors who pass by, while marking the entrance to the imagined space that explores life beyond anthropocentrism. As its name suggests, Aria is concerned with air, encompassing human travel, its ability to foster growth, and how it’s entwined with every living organism.
The Argentinian artist (previously) is known for his large-scale works that fall at the intersection of science and art and consider the human toll on the natural world. Throughout Aria are various experiences dealing with contemporary environmental issues: Glass forms hang from the ceiling and house Tillandsia plants, which need only air to survive, while “A Thermodynamic Imaginary” considers the immensity of the sun and its unused potential.
Each of the works also references one of Saraceno’s 33 arachnomancy cards that explore ecological interconnectivity. References to arachnids manifest in the complex systems that hold Weaire–Phelan structures in “Connectome” or in the stark “Aerographies,” a series of clear balloons and framed networks that explore how “the movements of people, heat, animals, and spider/webs affect and are affected by the air,” a statement from Saraceno says.
Ecosystems have to be thought of as webs of interactions, within which each living being’s ecology co‐evolves, together with those of others. By focusing less on individuals and more on reciprocal relationships, we might think beyond what means are necessary to control our environments and more on the shared formation of our quotidian.
If you’re in Florence, stop by the Palazzo Strozzi to see Saraceno’s work before it closes on November 1, 2020. Otherwise, find out more about what he has planned for the rest of the year, which includes a new solar-powered balloon, on his site and Instagram. (via This Isn’t Happiness)
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Combining traditional glassblowing techniques and sculpting methods, Debora Moore forms lustrous glass sculptures that resemble mossy branches, fleshy petals, and entire trees. The St. Louis-born artist began by creating orchids with bulbous centers before expanding her practice to larger, organic forms. In her recent collection, Arboria, Moore sculpted delicate magnolias, plump plums, and the lavender tendrils of the wisteria.
The fragile artworks create a tension between the delicate material, the fleeting lives of flowers, and the strength and durability of nature. Moore likens her process to that of painting, where glass is used similarly to produce depth. “The material’s inherent ability to transmit and reflect light, as well as its variations from transparency to opacity, lends itself perfectly to achieve desired textures and surfaces,” she says in a statement.
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A new short film by Optical Arts depicts what would be a dinner-party nightmare: ceramic plates and bowls shatter, red wine cascades from long-stemmed glasses, and sharp knives dive to the floor. Despite its explosive scenes, “Tocatta” subsequently shows the same dinnerware, drinks, and plates of boiled eggs seamlessly repair and float upward as whole objects.
A multivalent consideration of physical contact, the word “tocatta” both originates from an Italian form of “to touch” and refers to a musical composition designed to showcase the performer’s refined techniques. The reparative film is set to the opening section of Johann Sebastian Bach’s Toccata and Fuge in D Minor, one of the German composer’s most recognized works. Because of its discordant runs, the musical piece historically has been used in horror films, like Rouben Mamoulian’s Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1931), Terence Fischer’s The Phantom of the Opera (1962), and Norman Jewison’s dystopic Rollerball (1975).
Written for organ, the eerie composition adds a foreboding element to the film. The dramatic piece explores “the nature of time, the relentless violence of entropy and creative energy and its relationship to music itself,” the London-based creative studio writes in a statement. Another nod to the iconic composer, the dark, opening scenes are shots from Eisenach, Germany, where Bach was born and lived for the first few years of his life.
Update: A previous version of this article incorrectly identified the film as a CGI animation.
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In artist Jennifer Halvorson’s (previously) collection of lustrous glass sculptures, there sits a group of glossy ducks. In some of her pieces, the water the birds sit within pours over the side, and each shiny piece looks wet to the touch as if it has dripped or melted into its shape.
Halvorson’s ducks are part of her pressed glass collection, which features a variety of light blue and chocolate brown sculptures that either are facing each other, swimming apart, or have their tails lifted up in the air as though they are diving to catch fish. They comprise her exploration into the history and process of factory pressed glass, and her work explores innovative ways of working with the medium.
Halvorson began her glasswork practice in 2007 when she was a Fulbright Fellow and began studying at Danmarks Designskole, a Danish Design School in Copenhagen. “For two weeks my glass course resided in Sweden, visiting various glass factories and studying at Riksglasskolan, the national school of glass in Orrefors,” she says. For Halvorson, the factory visits were influential in shaping her artistry. Developing an understanding of the medium and accessing production on a large scale enabled her to learn and appreciate a variety of glasswork techniques.
After her graduate studies, Halvorson was awarded a residency at Wheaton Arts in Millville, New Jersey, which houses the Museum of American Glass. Featured within the museum’s walls are historical machines and molds. “This was the first time I was taught and participated in a press production run,” says Halvorson. “Driving home to the Midwest after this residency, I stopped at Fenton Art Glass Company in West Virginia. At this time (2010), the factory was still operating, and I was able to view how efficiently the teams worked to create multiples.”
Three years since her visit to the company, Halvorson purchased a glass press machine—called Beatrix—from George Fenton, along with three cast-iron press molds. “Since then, I have learned how to operate the machine, acquired 15 molds, and received a grant to design and manufacture a new mold,” she explains.
Halvorson’s glass ducks are one of her most successful pressed sculpture series and originally were designed by the factory to cover a small dish. “Soon after the form is pressed, I alter the duck’s gaze to give the form a character,” says the artist. “After the glass production group cools, I form groupings to create narratives.” Then, Halvorson warms the pieces back up and works in more detail by pouring more material. “The fresh ladle of glass contrasts the factory press glass process and aesthetic and also gives the ducks an amorphic water puddle to swim,” she explains.
From her explorations into traditional pressed glass, Halvorson currently is working on two larger compositions: a stepping sock and plant leaves. Similarly to her ducks, Halvorson will combine pressed glass-making with contemporary techniques, a process which she also will bring to her new co-teaching position at the glass design course at Ball State University. See more of her process on Instagram.
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Highlights below. For the full collection click here.