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Art

Exquisite Marine Life Specimens Imagined in Glass by Steffen Dam

November 9, 2015

Christopher Jobson

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All images courtesy Joanna Bird Gallery unless otherwise noted

As a child, Danish artist Steffen Dam loved poring over his grandparents’ collection of scientific books and cabinets of insects. This fascination of how we catalogue and understand the natural world followed through to his artistic glass career, where Dam creates highly detailed “Cabinets of Curiosities” that mimic oceanic specimens suspended in glass jars and plates. The pieces are usually displayed inside light boxes to better illuminate every minute detail from the fragile tentacles of a jellyfish to a flourish of bubbles that seem to dance around many of his specimens.

A quote from David Revere McFadden’s essay Between Art and Nature, The Glass of Steffen Dam:

Steffen Dam invites the viewer to relish the sheer beauty of his “specimens,” but also to reflect on the meaning of nature as a mirror of the human mind and spirit. Dam has “captured” nature in his work, but he assiduously avoids simple imitation of life; the artist shies away from what he refers to as “cheap tricks in glass.” He seeks to strike a “balance between fiction and reality.” While his work is in no way intended to serve as pedagogic tools, as specimens in “cabinets of curiosities” often were, they are intended to engage the eye and stimulate the imagination. Knowledge about the forms, structures, surfaces, and colors of true natural specimens is not to be found in Dam’s displays of crystal cylinders, but another kind of knowledge—that of the visual poetry of endlessly varied forms—is freely offered. Dam’s little creatures, although frozen in glass, remind of how we read and feel both time and change.

Dam most recently had several pieces on view at Chicago’s SOFA Expo through Heller Gallery. You can also see several additional works at Joanna Bird.

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Photo by Christopher Jobson for Colossal / SOFA Expo Chicago

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Courtesy Heller Gallery

 

 



Photography

Matty Smith’s Photographs Display Vibrant Life Lurking Just Below Sea Level

June 11, 2015

Kate Sierzputowski

“Physalia Physalis” – Bushrangers Bay, NSW Australia

Appropriately titled Over/Under, Matty Smith‘s series showcases the dual environments that exist just above and below sea level. Smith focuses on images right at dusk in order to expose the vibrant colors that shine within the dark waters. Each shot is divided by a wavy strip of ocean just above the center of the photograph. Fish and coral live below the horizon as seagulls and sunsets populate the upper half of the photos.

Tricky photographs to shoot from a technical standpoint, Smith uses a strobe light for the bottom half of the image to ensure that both the animals above and below water are highlighted prominently.

The Australian photographer views each half and half image he captures as a landscape photograph, and prefers environments with depth and attitude over blue sunny skies. Typically Smith scouts his locations via snorkeling expeditions. “For me one of the most wondrous parts of any dive is the moment that the water engulfs my mask as my head slips below the surface,” says Smith. “I think it’s the suspense of the unknown of what lies beneath, the transitional part of moving from one element to the next that feels so magical and the thought of what alien creatures I might encounter.” Many of his photos are available as prints. (via My Modern Met)

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“Smiling Assassin” – American Crocodile, Jardines de la Reina, Cuba

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“A Silky Encounter 1” – Jardines de la Reina, Cuba

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“A Silky Encounter 2” – Jardines de la Reina, Cuba

“Bluebottle Army” – Bluebottle cnidarian, Bushrangers Bay, NSW Australia

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“Crimson Tide” – Waratah Anemones, Port Kembla, NSW Australia

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“Ocean Rose” – Bass Point, NSW Australia

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“A Shock of Blue” – Bushrangers Bay, NSW Australia

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“A Splash of Yellow” – Sargassum Seaweed, Bushranger Bay, NSW Australia

 

 



Amazing Science

Amazing Footage of a Swim through Jellyfish Lake in Palau

May 29, 2015

Christopher Jobson

While visiting the island nation of Palau earlier this month, a diver shot this impressive footage while snorkeling in Jellyfish Lake, a small body of water inhabited with an estimated 13 million golden jellyfish. Every morning the entire jellyfish population migrates from the east side of the lake to the west side, and then back again in the afternoon, causing a near constant flurry of activity as seen in the video. Unlike most jellyfish, this particular species has such a mild, almost undetectable sting that it can’t be felt on human skin, making it possible to swim through the school without being harmed. You can read a bit more about them in this fact sheet (PDF). (via Reddit)

 

 



Art

Rick Satava’s Luminous Glass Blown Jellyfish Appear Suspended in Motion

May 26, 2015

Kate Sierzputowski

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The jellyfish tank is the first environment I always run to when visiting an aquarium. I’m drawn to the luminous quality of the underwater creatures’ bodies, as well as their inclusion in a scene that appears to need no sources of artificial light. Glass artist Rick Satava was also captivated by these creatures in the late 80s, and after a trip to the Monterey Bay Aquarium he began to experiment with sculptures that mimicked the experience of a jellyfish’s elegant glide through the water.

Satava began selling these sculptures in 1990, and by 2002 he was crafting about 300 pieces of work a month. The bright jellyfishes he creates are suspended in the glass that surround them, yet each still appears as if their tentacles are rippling through the water. The glass blown approach works perfectly when translated to the round bell-like shape of the jellyfish’s body, as their natural appearance looks like brightly blown glass.

The California-based artist uses a technique in his sculptures called “glass-in-glass,” which consists of a glass sculpture being dipped into a second, molten glass layer. You can find Sativa’s sculptures within dozens of galleries nationally as well as a few locations internationally including Japan, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland. (via My Modern Met)

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Craft Design

Air Plant Jellyfish by ‘PetitBeast’

January 27, 2015

Christopher Jobson

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LA-based designer and art director Cathy Van Hoang had the novel idea of using sea urchin shells as upside down planters for air plants to create little aerial jellyfish. She sells them in her Etsy shop, PetitBeast. (via Steampunk Tendencies)

 

 



Photography

Photographer Takehito Miyatake Captures the Brilliant Natural Light Shows of Japan

August 21, 2014

Christopher Jobson

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Scores of fishing rafts floating in the Uchino-umi highlighted by the light from the full moon

Japanese photographer Takehito Miyatake is known for his accomplished long-exposure photographs of fireflies, volcanic eruptions, and beaches awash in bioluminescencnt firefly squid. His exposures, which he refers to as “the light of Japan,” can last anywhere between 15 seconds and 30 minutes and are rooted in an almost meditative approach to photography that he likens to a form of poetry in an interview with TIME. His time spent waiting for each exposure hasn’t been in vain, Miyatake recently won the Grand Prize at the 2014 Nikkei National Geographic Photo Awards. You can see more of his photography on his website and over on Spoon & Tamago.

In spring, firefly squid (hotaru ika) rise 2000 feet to the surface of the water and offer a fleeting glimpse of their magical lights

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Genji botaru fireflies around a small bridge over the Shimanto River (Kochi Prefecture)

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The moon lights up a waterfall against geometric rock formations / A close-up of the red-hot cinders erupting from the Showa crater on Sakurajima

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Volcanic lightning during the eruption of the Sakurajima volcano

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