A welcome disruption to doomscrolling, the patterned zen gardens composed by Yuki Kawae are an antidote to today’s seemingly endless anxieties. The Bay Area designer records meditative footage of wide-toothed prongs and dense rakes that scrape across beds of white sand, creating intersecting loops, fractals, and other organic shapes. Each clip is evidence of Kawae’s steady hand and penchant for precision as he meticulously plows the otherwise smooth grains to form clean lines.
His practice dates back to 2019 when gardening served as an escape from life pressures and the anxiety-provoking nature of social media. “I was quite overwhelmed with day-to-day tasks and what are the ‘expected’ next steps in life…One day, I realized all of those thoughts were completely gone when I was gardening, pruning, watering, and re-potting the soil. That process let me be clear-minded somehow, and it was very calming and refreshing,” he writes. Because he didn’t have space for a larger outdoor plot, he shifted to a coffee-table-sized zen garden, an initial design that’s now provided a similar reprieve when it pops into the feeds of Kawae’s massive followings on
YouTube and Instagram.
Today, the designer focuses on pattern and precise movement, creating visuals that are minimal and deliberate in their execution. Each video requires hours of work consisting of conceptual vision, rake design and production, pattern practice, revisions, filming, and editing. “You may have some idea of the end product but with trial and error, you end up with a completely different end pattern,” he says. “All the zen garden patterns are not permanent, and they get erased to start a new one. It is temporary like many things in life. It taught me about what not to overthink as what I am stressing about may also be temporary.”
Although Kawae’s works have been limited to digital platforms so far, he envisions a large-scale botanical space with greenery, zen gardens, and his abstract paintings, some of which form the backdrop for his videos. He also has a background in woodworking and shares detailed instructions for creating your own sand space, from building the enclosure to choosing rakes.
Share this story
A Colorful Macro Photo of Beach Sand Reveals Infinitesimal Fragments of Coral, Quartz, Shells, and Plastic
A stunning macro image by Ole Bielfeldt lays out the individual elements that comprise a dusting of sand from a Mallorca beach, revealing a piece of microplastic embedded within the colorful composition. “Although to the naked eye this looks like very clean natural sand, pieces of microplastic, as seen in the last image, can be found when viewed under the microscope,” says the Cologne-based photographer, who works as Macrofying. The prevalence of the tiny pollutants is especially high on Mediterranean coasts, meaning seemingly pristine beaches comprised of quartz, seashells, and coral debris are often riddled with the manufactured material.
Bielfeldt is known for zooming in on the otherwise unseen details of common goods and natural substances, which he shares in an extensive archive on Instagram and YouTube. “My work has definitely shaped my view on everyday objects. After exploring so many different samples, you get a new feeling for your environment and start to understand how some things work. There’s a complete and amazing little universe hidden right before our eyes,” he says. (via Twisted Sifter)
Share this story
Sand and Currency from Dozens of Countries Converge in an Endless Interchange of Culture and Economics
Corrie Francis Parks’s absorbing stop-motion short “Foreign Exchange” is all about perspective. Through a continuously evolving landscape of minuscule stones and banknotes, mini-universes emerge that meld the two materials into culturally significant tableaus. “Between the dazzling layers of currency and sand lie connections that can be mined in infinite ways. Each person who views this film will unearth different associations filtered through their worldly experience and national background,” Parks says.
Although the sand shown is small in quantity—Parks can hold all of it in her two hands—it’s sourced from more than 50 countries just like the paper currency, and both materials converge in a perpetual juxtaposition of culture, economics, and nature. The rocks flow across the screen like water and animals, while the colorful collages of ripped money contrast distinct national figures and heritage against a universal economic backdrop. “Canada’s interstellar pride meshes with the gothic arches of Prague’s St. Salvator’s Church. Portugal’s colonial conquests intertwine with a Singapore’s nostalgic market economy. India’s signature animals wallow beneath a Chinese waterfall,” the Baltimore-based animator says in a statement.
Watch behind-the-scenes footage of Parks’s micro-sand process, which involves moving each grain with a toothpick or tweezers before photographing, along with a few of her other animated projects, on Vimeo.
Share this story
Along the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, sandy drifts swell and surge in a massive mural by the Canadian architecture firm NÓS. Aptly named “Moving Dunes,” the anamorphic artwork is comprised of neutral-toned lines that undulate along the walkway, creating a deceptive path mimicking deserts and beaches. Chrome spheres sporadically appear along the street in order to reflect the surrounding architecture and rippling patterns on the ground.
The 2018 project coincided with the museum’s exhibition, From Africa to the Americas: Face-to-face Picasso, Past and Present, which prompted NÓS to evoke the perspective-bending approach of cubist painters. “Moving Dunes” was chosen after an annual call for proposals to install a large-scale artwork on the Avenue de Musée. Follow NÓS’s latest designs and illusory projects on Instagram. (via designboom)
Share this story
One-hundred five hourglasses dangle from the entranceway ceiling at cSPACE King Edward in Calgary. Every day at both noon and midnight, the sand-filled vessels flip in tandem and reset. They’re part of a 2018 project called “Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow,” a site-specific installation created by artists Lane Shordee, Caitlind r.c. Brown, and Wayne Garrett (previously), that visualizes the intricacies of how we experience collective moments, individual memories, and history.
Each hourglass has a unique correlation to time–half document how hours slip by like a clock, while others reflect more personal relationships to the passing seconds in a series of notes submitted by the public. “Ranging from ‘the time it takes to call mom’ to ‘the time it takes to realize it was just a dream and you are no longer lying next to me,’ you can read the brass tags attached to various hourglasses to understand the increment of time being measured in sand,” the artists tell Colossal.
Every vessel, though, represents a year of the King Edward building, from its construction in 1912 to its transformation to the cSPACE area in 2017. “‘Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow’ uses the hourglass as a symbol of non-linear time–both mortal and immortal–drawing a relationship between the sandstone school’s past, transitional present, and the uncertain future yet to come,” they said. Visualizing the otherwise abstract concept, the suspended project invites people to consider how all moments are interwoven.
For the project, the creative trio ground the sandstone bricks from the original building. They then sifted and measured the substance into the hand-blown glasses that measure zero seconds to four hours. Motors, sensors, microcomputers, and an internal clock using GPS ensures that each vessel flips on time even if there’s a power outage.
To keep up with Shordee, Brown, and cSPACE King Edward, head to Instagram. You also might like Brown and Garrett’s interactive lightbulb sculpture and Carbon Copy, their installation that flipped a car on its front bumper
Share this story
Like many kids with a love for digging in sandboxes, Calvin Seibert (previously) grew up creating grand castles and towers from piles of the sediment. But for Seibert, the practice wasn’t just a childhood pastime. “In hindsight I see that much of what I made was more like sculpture. It really was all about the object and its resonant meanings rather than interiors and spatial flow,” he says.
After studying at the School of Visual Arts, the Colorado-born artist began sculpting modernist buildings featuring sharp angles, clean edges, and various geometric shapes that resemble brutalist architecture rather than something from a children’s story. “While not all of my structures have quite the rugged fortress-like presence of a Kenzo Tange or a Paul Rudolph building, it is something I aim for,” he writes. “Certainly I see my sandcastles in opposition to those frivolous turreted fantasies that Cinderella would feel at home in.”
To create his works, Seibert begins by mixing water and sand to create layers, before packing and smoothing the rest by hand. He cleans the edges with various trowels and knives that he’s made himself. Plus, he never works without a five-gallon pail because it’s “indispensable for digging and fetching water, as well as carrying stuff to the beach.”
I always start at the top and work down, taking great care to keep the horizontals level. I pretty much make things up as I go along, allowing surprises and engineering difficulties to shape the castles. Robert Venturi’s prescription of ‘complexity and contradiction’ is always in the back of my mind, while mash-ups of gameshow sets and artillery bunkers are soon added to the mix.
Seibert tells Colossal that he’s moved to Colorado since making the works featured here, which limits his time on the beach, although he dreams of transforming a pile of sand at the Venice Biennale or as part of Casa Wabi in Mexico. Follow what he’s up to, and perhaps get a glimpse of his next visit to a sandy landscape, on Instagram.
Share this story
Editor's Picks: Art
Highlights below. For the full collection click here.