In the unearthly Metamorphe series, smoke-like masses swirl around hoodoos and dunes dotting the terrain. A mysterious air pervades the six illuminated works, which blend the drone-light photographs of Reuben Wu (previously) with Jenni Pasanen’s digital creations produced through artificial intelligence. Each piece envisions the earth’s surface following metamorphosis when living beings are extinct and only the landscape remains.
Named after human senses, the otherworldly composites imagine topographies brimming with enormous formations of stone and sand to explore the “sublime and beyond emotion,” the artists say. “Humans are emotional beings, their decisions led by their feelings. A machine has no such constraints, enabling it to conceive what human minds could never be capable of on their own.”
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“Light,” says Chris Wood, “is the purest form of radiance.” The Cambridgeshire-based artist is known for her dazzling installations made of dichroic glass—this transparent material produces a shifting spectrum of color depending on the viewpoint—that emit phenomenal prisms when illuminated. Often arranged on a panel or wall, the works evoke organic patterns, like helices, murmurations, and in the case of Wood’s most recent piece, the spiral of a nautilus shell.
A commission from the beauty brand Clé de Peau Beauté in celebration of its 40th anniversary, this new rainbow-like installation revolves around that milestone. “There are 40 spirals, each with 40 dichroic elements to them. Embedded within each spiral is the number 40, written in binary code. The dichroic pieces will project 40 millimeters from the surface of the artwork. The outermost circle measures 1,600 millimeters in diameter—the square root of which is 40,” Wood (previously) says.
This incredibly intricate design also references the earth, moon, and sun through the three more prominent rings and expands on the intrinsic connection between the mathematical and natural. She explains:
I see this artwork as an interpretation of how radiance, much like ideas and discoveries, start from one central point and expand outwards… The whole design is built around Fibonacci’s golden ratio, which we see in natural forms from flowers to animal pattern. I was initially inspired by the nautilus shell. It is a wonderful representation of Fibonacci’s spiral. The form of the shell is structured to provide strength and protection, and the shell itself is iridescent. We find in this a representation of how radiance can be embodied within us, as projected to those around us.
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Known for experimenting with an assortment of in-camera techniques, photographer Maria Lax transforms quiet, nighttime vistas and frozen forests into fantastically colored dreamscapes. She’s always been fascinated by the interplay of light and color, she tells Colossal, and following formal training in cinematography, has developed a distinct style that vividly interprets the outside world.
Lighting and filters produce the kaleidoscopic range that overlays Lax’s images, and the London-based photographer is conservative with equipment. “I often shoot in remote locations in difficult conditions—some of these images were shot in temperatures reaching -30 C,” she says. “I work mostly by myself when I am on location, which means my kit is relatively minimal and nimble so that I can carry it on my back even on longer hikes through the snow.”
If you’re in London, Lax is showing new photos from April 19 to 24 at Open Doors Gallery, where she also has limited-edition prints available. She’s currently in progress on a second book following her monograph, Some Kind of Heavenly Fire, published by Setanta Books, and you can explore an archive of her work on Instagram.
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In Between Art and Science, Debora Lombardi harnesses the creative potential of ultraviolet light. The Italy-based designer and photographer splashes single flowers with the radiation, unveiling an entire spectrum of colors otherwise invisible to the human eye: saturated purple and blue tones delineate the veins in a leaf and yellows add a neon-like glow to stamen rich with pollen, transforming the blooms into otherworldly specimens.
“I started experimenting with this technique in the darkness of my studio during the lockdown of March 2020, making it my main outlet in that equally dark period,” Lombardi tells World Photography Organization, which named the series a finalist in this year’s awards. “My experimentation then continued throughout 2021, making improvements and customisations, and this series represents an excerpt.”
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Set to a gentle, upbeat track by Moby Gratis, “Moonlight Mojave” spins through the desert landscape of Joshua Tree National Park under the glow of a night sky. The timelapse compiles 20-second exposures into a deceptive display of light and movement, with the moon and stars illuminating the arid expanses as if it were daytime. Peeking through the eponymous, shrub-like trees, photographer Gavin Heffernan (previously) captures radiant star trails that streak across the bright blue sky, emphasizing the earth’s usually imperceptible rotation.
The entrancing video is part of the multi-faceted Skyglow project, a collaborative effort between Heffernan, director Harun Mehmedinovic (previously)—he’s behind the documentary Ice on Fire—and the International Dark-Sky Association. Exploring the effects of light pollution on the already fragile planet, Skyglow is comprised of multiple video works like “Moonlight Mojave,” a book and print collection, and a forthcoming feature-length film. You can explore more from the project’s creators on its site.
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Japan-based artist Ayumi Shibata (previously) designs intricate landscapes using layers upon layers of white paper. Some of her sculptures are miniature, whereas others are immersive installations, and all are brought to life with the play of light and shadow, which create “movement” throughout her pieces. The works feature architectural domes, cave-like forests, and swirling suns hovering over tree-filled cities. These picturesque places aren’t based on a particular location but what the artist “hopes and believes the future of the planet could look like”.
Shibata’s ethereal landscapes envision a world in which humans and natural forms coexist, and she describes her pieces as having a “Yin and Yang” element. Paper represents Yin, the material, and the ways the works emit shadows correlates to Yang, the invisible world. “The light represents spirit and life, how the sun rises and breathes life into the world,” she explains. “I believe my pieces are a place to observe the material world and the visible one.”
The physical elements have a deeper meaning for the artist, as well: In Japanese, Kami means god or spirit but also paper, a sacred material in the Shinto religion. “Invisible ‘Kami’ spirits dwell in various objects and events, places, as well as in our houses and in our bodies,” she says. “I use my technique to express my thankfulness to the Kami spirits for having been born in this life. Each piece of paper I cut is a prayer.”
Shibata began constructing these sculptures when living in New York. She would visit a church to meditate and escape the noise of the city, and it was when she observed light illuminating stained glass that she was reminded of her love of working with paper. The artist explains:
The city was full of noise. Everything, people, time goes so fast and moves rapidly, and I needed a quiet space to go back to myself. One day, I opened my eyes after meditation and saw colorful light flooding the floor through the stained glass. It was breathtakingly beautiful. It reminded me of a memory from childhood where I used to cut black paper and stick colored cellophane behind it to make a ‘paper’ stained glass piece. I got the tools on my way home and tried it that night. From that moment, I continued to cut paper.
Currently, Shibata is working on an installation called “Inochino-uta, Poetry of Life,” for an exhibition later this year. The large-scale project is made out of 108 pieces of paper connected by strings and suspended from the ceiling. To view more of the artist’s work, visit her Instagram or website.
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