Mesmerizing Shots of Distant Galaxies and Aurorae Top the Astronomy Photographer of the Year Contest
The 2020 Insight Investment Astronomy Photographer of the Year contest gathers a trove of sublime shots capturing otherwise unseen phenomena and distant fixtures of outer space. With more than 5,000 entries from six continents, the 12th annual competition includes Nicolas Lefaudeux’s photograph of the Andromeda Galaxy two million light-years away, one by Rafael Schmall that frames the lit trails of Elon Musk’s Starlink satellites, and another of the Aurora Borealis reflecting on the ice by Kristina Makeeva (previously).
Starting October 23, 2020, the top photographs will be on display at the National Maritime Museum. Until then, pick up a copy of this year’s book that collects all 140 winning and shortlisted shots, and explore some of Colossal’s favorites below.
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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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Known for his figurative wire pieces attached to light posts and other public fixtures around the world, Spenser Little’s recent artworks venture into the personal. Illumination Devices is comprised of the artist’s bent portraits and totems of merging faces, in addition to a series of irradiated kinetic sculptures. Evoking the nesting doll, these abstract figures contain spacious chest cavities that open up to reveal similar, smaller forms hidden inside.
For each lamp, Little carves a wooden structure of the main character’s head, welds a metal body, and overlays the components with thin paper “skin,” repeating the process for subsequent pieces. He also seats wooden figures in the deepest caverns. The relationship between the inner and outer sculptures explores the tension between the conscious and subconscious, which the artist explains:
I heard the analogy long ago the we, our active, controlled conscious, are merely riders on a large beast. We think our conscious minds are controlling the subconscious beast, but in reality, the beast goes where it wants revealing our unpolished motives. The outer self wants to project control and precision. The inner self is just trying to keep things working. The lamps are shells around motors.
By physically brightening the artworks, Little uncovers the link between the two sometimes disparate selves. “Art to me is the wordless conversation between us and our inner beast. To communicate with our unenlightened animal impulses is very illuminating to our true selves,” he shares with Colossal.
Little’s nestled sculptures are on view through September 20 at MOAH: CEDAR in California. Take a virtual tour of the show, and check out exactly how the articulate artworks function on the artist’s Instagram. (via Supersonic)
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Inflatable Heads, Fantastical Paintings, and Bulbous Sculptures Comprise a Surreal Dreamland by OSGEMEOS
Wedged between two buildings in Itaewon, Seoul, is a huge, inflatable head marking the entrance to OSGEMEOS’s latest exhibition. With a shaggy mohawk and thin mustache, the yellow character resembles a band of glowing figures that populate the inside Brazilian twins Gustavo and Otavio Pandolfo’s immersive installation.
Comprised of lit sculptures, large-scale paintings, and collages in the same cartoonish style as their previous projects, OSGEMEOS: You Are My Guest is a surreal dreamland. It asks visitors to swerve around a series of bulbous sculptures that jut upward from the floor. A lime green wall houses an eclectic display of framed portraits, repurposed door frames, and sculptural figures, while a patchwork of worn album covers hangs from another. The title of the exhibition is derived from a 2016 painting (shown below) that channels the geometric shapes and bright colors traditional in Brazilian culture, in addition to more modern, energetic artforms like hip-hop and breakdance, two of the artists’ primary forms of inspiration.
Simultaneously arresting and hypnotic, OSGEMEOS: You Are My Guest is the brothers’ first solo show in Seoul and will be on view at Hyundai Card through October 11, 2020. Those unable to see the exhibition in person should head to Instagram, where the duo shares the latest on their multi-media projects. (via Juxtapoz)
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Artist Yang Yongliang (previously) harmonizes human-generated light and naturally glowing stars in a celestial, 4K video installation. Set to an eerie, technological soundtrack, “Journey to the Dark II” winds through a mountainous city that spans 70 meters across. Movement in the immersive piece is confined mostly to the cars traveling across bridges and down streets, and the lights emit a constant glow among the modern architecture and landforms.
Residing in Shanghai and New York, Yang often juxtaposes modern, industrial life and organic elements to produce dystopian environments that question human progress. “Ancient Chinese people painted landscapes to praise the greatness of nature; Yang’s works, on the other hand, lead towards a critical re-thinking of contemporary reality,” said a statement about a similarly foreboding project.
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Artist Ling-Li Tseng describes her recent installation as “a whispering between human(s) and nature.” Debuted in Houli at the 2020 Taiwan Lantern Festival, “The Search of the Glow” is a lightweight, wooden sphere constructed with a series of connected ovals. Together, the pieces form a hollow orb that’s outfitted with thin strips of LED lights, creating a radiant installation that glows in the otherwise dim area.
To create the modular artwork in collaboration with Serendipity Studio, Tseng used a combination of digital fabrication and traditional, craftsman processes. The four larger ovals and smaller, connecting pieces were created through lofting, a drafting technique that generates curved lines. Made of eight layers of wood veneer, the strips use a double curvature to maintain its shape.
The artist envisioned the finished installation as a refuge and an entrance into “a mysterious spatial experience,” she says. “All senses are slowly enhanced, and rays of the light guide us to an adventure in the mist. In a grove of trees, we discover an object emitting flickering light—its woven and curved staves engage in a dialogue with the natural curves of the surrounding trees.” While the work radiates through the darkness at night, it provides a more subtle glow during the daytime mist and fog.
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Editor's Picks: History
Highlights below. For the full collection click here.