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Photography Science

A Spectacularly Colorful Shot of an Oak Leaf Tops Nikon's 2021 Photomicrography Competition

September 13, 2021

Grace Ebert

By Jason Kirk, trichome (white appendages) and stomata (purple pores) on a southern live oak leaf. All images coutesy of Nikon Small World, shared with permission

Unless they were under a microscope, it would be difficult to see the shimmery barbs of a louse claw or cracks running through a single piece of table salt. The winning entries of the 47th annual Nikon Small World Photomicrography Competition unveil these otherwise imperceptible features, showing the unique textures, colors, and shapes in stunning detail. We’ve chosen some of our favorite images below—these include the crystal-like webbing of a slime mold captured by Allison Pollack (previously), the first-prize winning glimpse of an oak leaf by Jason Kirk, and the kaleidoscopic head of a tick revealed by doctors Tong Zhang and Paul Stoodley—and you can find more from this year’s competition on the contest’s site and Instagram.

 

By Frank Reiser, rear leg, claw, and respiratory trachea of a louse (Haematopinus suis)

By Alison Pollack, slime mold (Arcyria pomiformis)

By Saulius Gugis, table salt crystal

By Martin Kaae Kristiansen, filamentous strands of Nostoc cyanobacteria captured inside a gelatinous matrix

By Sébastien Malo, vein and scales on a butterfly wing (Morpho didius)

By Jan van IJken, water flea (Daphnia) carrying embryos and peritrichs

By Dr. Tong Zhang and Dr. Paul Stoodley, head of a tick

By Oliver Dum, the proboscis of a housefly (Musca domestica)

 

 



Art

A Verdant Rainforest Lush with Plants and Giant Macaws Blankets Annabel's Facade in London

September 10, 2021

Grace Ebert

All images © Annabel’s, shared with permission

Sprawling from sidewalk to roof and lining the entrance to Annabel’s in London is a luxuriant installation teeming with ferns, florals, and a flock of vibrant, oversized birds hovering nearby. Evocative of an abundant rainforest habitat, the staggering piece is part of the club’s inaugural Annabel’s for The Amazon initiative, which launches later this month in collaboration with One Tree Planted and The Caring Family Foundation.

Together, their goal is to combat deforestation by planting one million trees by March 2023, a number that equals about 600 hectares of forests otherwise lost, and renew biodiversity in the Araguaia Biodiversity Corridor, which currently consists of patchwork plots destroyed by agriculture, logging, and other devastating projects. With continued restoration efforts, this region is slated to become “the largest nature corridor in the world, connecting the Amazon and Cerrado over a distance of 2,600 kilometers—the same distance from Moscow to London,” a statement says.

 

 

 



Art

Coral and Plant Life Consume Discarded Objects in Post-Apocalyptic Sculptures by Stéphanie Kilgast

September 2, 2021

Grace Ebert

“Coral Royal” (2019), epoxy clay, acrylics on tin can, 14 x 15 x 11 centimeters. All images © Stéphanie Kilgast, shared with permission

Artist Stéphanie Kilgast (previously) envisions a vibrant, post-apocalyptic world overgrown with coral, fungi, and lush moss. Using cheap devices and disposable containers that tend to outlast their original function as her base, Kilgast creates painted-clay assemblages that are teeming with fantastical colors and texture: mushrooms sprout from an empty paint tube, sea creatures envelop a crushed can, and plant life cloaks a pair of headphones with whimsical botanicals.

Each of the works contrasts the enduring manufactured object with natural growth, imagining a universe that’s simultaneously devoid of humanity and still marred by its rampant consumption habits. “In that sense my work is joyous. I remove the root of the problem, us, and let all the other species just grow over our mistakes,” she shares. “Nature itself is full of bright colors. It’s inherently beautiful, and my work is an ode to all the living and existing species, (except) for us. Hope dies last, so I still hope my work opens up discussion, thinking, and eventually change.”

Currently based in Vannes, France, Kilgast has exhibitions at Comoedia in Brest, France, Modern Eden in San Francisco, and three at Melbourne’s Beinart Gallery slated for 2022. She also shares much of her process on YouTube and Instagram.

 

“Quinacridone Magenta” (2021), cold porcelain, epoxy clay, acrylics, wire on empty paint tube, 10 x 7 x 13 centimeters

“Cyltonic” (2018), polymer clay, acrylics, wire, thrifted can of cleaning agent, 17 x 9 x 19 centimeters

Top left: “Blue Boletus” (2020), polymer clay, acrylics, wire on tin can, 25 x 14 x 10 centimeters. Top right: “Serene” (2020), epoxy clay, polymer clay, acrylics, wire on empty acrylic plastic bottle, 25 x 12 x 17 centimeters. Bottom left: “Yellow Exploration (Octopus)” (2020), epoxy clay, polymer clay, acrylics on empty acrylic plastic bottle, 32 x 16 x 15 centimeters and “Blue Bottle (Coral Reef)” (2020), epoxy clay, polymer clay, acrylics on empty acrylic plastic bottle, 35 x 15 x 11 centimeters. Bottom right: “Mojito” (2019), poxy clay, polymer clay, acrylics on tin can, 17 x 17 x 7 centimeters

“Losing My Song Culture” (2021), epoxy clay, air-dry clay, cold porcelain, paper, watercolor, acrylics, on broken headphones, 28 x 18 x 17 centimeters

Detail of “Blue Bottle (Coral Reef)” (2020), epoxy clay, polymer clay, acrylics on empty acrylic plastic bottle, 35 x 15 x 11 centimeters

“Mother (Elephants)” (2019), epoxy clay, polymer clay, acrylics, wire, thrifted plastic canteen, 17 x 14 x 26 centimeters

 

 



Documentary Photography Science

A Short Film Dives into the 15-Year Process Behind the Documentary 'Fantastic Fungi'

September 1, 2021

Grace Ebert

We shared footage of the mesmerizing mycelium networks pulsing underneath our feet back in 2019 to mark the opening of Louie Schwartzberg’s Fantastic Fungi, and now the dedicated director takes viewers behind the scenes to show his painstaking process. Filmed throughout a 15-year period in his home studio, Schwartzberg’s timelapses zero in on myriad spores as they burst open, sprawl in every direction, and morph in color and texture. They’re a compelling visual representation of time and nature’s cyclical processes, which he explores in a new short film produced by WIRED.

Most of the challenges in capturing the footage center around predicting where an organism will grow to keep it within the shot and understanding the frame rates of different lifeforms. Schwartzberg explains:

For example, a mosquito on your arm, having a little drop of blood, takes a look at that hand coming towards it in ultra slow motion and has plenty of time to take off because its metabolic rate, its lifespan, is way shorter than our lifespan. And our lifespan is way shorter than a Redwood tree’s lifespan. This reality of real-time human point of view is not the only point of view, and that’s really the beauty of cameras and time-lapse cinematography. It’s actually a time machine.

Watch the full making-of above—note that it does include a clip of a mouse decomposing near the end—and find Fantastic Fungi on Netflix. (via The Kids Should See This)

 

 

 



Art Design Food Illustration

Lifelike Sculptures by Diana Beltrán Herrera Recreate Flora and Fauna in Intricately Cut Paper

August 12, 2021

Grace Ebert

All images © Diana Beltrán Herrera, shared with permission

Colombian artist Diana Beltrán Herrera (previously) adds to her growing collection of intricate paper sculptures with new plant and animal life. From her studio in Bristol, the artist and designer recreates lifelike reproductions of turacos, monarchs, and various species with nearly perfect precision. Innumerable fringed strips become feathers, faint scores mimic delicate creases in petals, and layers of bright paper form brilliantly colored plumes, creating a colorful and diverse ecosystem of wildlife from around the world.

Prints, jigsaw puzzles, and cards are available in Beltrán Herrera’s shop, and you can see more of her recent commissions and personal projects on Behance and Instagram.

 

 

 



Art

Vines and Flowers Intertwine with an Imposing Skeleton in an Elegant Graphite Drawing by Guno Park

August 6, 2021

Grace Ebert

Detail of “Nature of Things,”  graphite/pencil on paper, 85 x 51.5 inches. All images © Guno Park, shared with permission

Brooklyn-based artist Guno Park evokes the tradition of memento mori with an exquisite new drawing highlighting the precarious line between life and death. Titled “Nature of Things,” the meticulously crosshatched piece rendered in graphite stands at a striking 85 inches, portraying the oversized human figure with botanicals winding around its spinal column and through its chest. “Putting the skeleton together with vine, leaves, and flowers represents for me the power of nature and its inevitability of continuum. I find comfort in nature,” the artist says.

Park shares that although skulls and bones are common subject matter, he relegated most to his sketchbook until magnifying the concept a few months into the pandemic. “This drawing has been a journey —as many drawings are—that started a little more than a year ago…I think our whole world was reminded of how close death can be, and I had a constant reminder of it on the news and media,” he says.

In addition to his studio practice, Park teaches drawing at The New York Academy of Art, ArtCenter, and New York Film Academy, and you can see more of his figurative drawings on Instagram.

 

 

 

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