Step into Claudia Bueno’s aquarium-style installation at Meow Wolf’s new space in Las Vegas and experience the slow, oscillating movements of natural life. “Pulse” is comprised of countless white line drawings that are meticulously intertwined and superimposed on 60 glass panels. When illuminated, they mimic scores of nautilus spirals, coral, vines, and botanics that sway and throb in glowing masses.
“This is what ‘Pulse’ is, a way of creating animated volumes using layers of drawings that build up. I have been refining this technique for the last six years, understanding how these forms can also have a moving quality when the light system is applied,” the Venezuela-born artist says, noting that the idea for the project grew out of a visit to Yellowstone National Park.
During the course of eight months, a team of women painstakingly painted the glass panels at Bueno’s Idaho studio. “The repetitive/meditative quality of the work lent itself to provide a very special healing space for us as we drew fine lines for hours and openly shared and supported each other,” she says. No matter the scale of the project, Bueno begins with a single dot that she duplicates, expands into lines, and eventually into intricately developed patterns, which she explains:
It seems like it doesn’t matter what size, materials, and tools I am working with, the same kinds of patterns manage to manifest themselves over and over, building on each other, gaining both complexity and simplicity at the same time… It has been an interesting brain challenge to visualize a stack of 2D drawings that then become 3D and move. It’s my own version of a non-digital, hand-drawn time-lapse or animation.
Although much of the installation’s work is complete, Bueno shares that she’s creating smaller sculptures, jewelry, and other works to coincide with the larger project. “Pulse” is set to premiere at Meow Wolf’s satirical sendup of consumerism, Omega Mart, which the Santa Fe-based arts group (previously) will soon open within Area 15 in Las Vegas. Until then, watch the video above by Adolfo Bueno and find more of Bueno’s light-based works on her site and Instagram. Video by Adolfo Bueno.
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Juxtaposing natural elements and mechanics, “Dialogo” harnesses the frenetic, indiscernible components of language into a synesthetic experience. A mix of stop-motion and live-action, the short film features entirely hand-crafted sculptures by the Madrid-based design studio blo que. Each motorized work translates human utterings into movement, whether through an undulating tube of neon or oscillating florals, generating new associations in a conversation between the senses.
To represent the original audio in a visual manner, blo que converts the speech waveforms into animation curves, which subsequently mobilizes the sculpture’s engines. “This is the voice of nature and order or the control of what cannot be controlled,” the studio says. “The passing of time in nature (freezing, rotting, etc.) is connected to the time of sound reproduction. This bond creates relationships between human emotions, language, and nature.”
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Swiss sound artist Zimoun (previously) harnesses the power of quick, chaotic movements in his large-scale installations and kinetic sculptures. Each artwork is composed of simple materials like cardboard boxes, wooden dowels, and cotton balls, among other common objects. Zimoun assembles multiples of the same configuration—think teetering sticks and metal washers suspended on a wire—and motorizes one portion, causing them to rattle back and forth.
Because each component is made by hand, they have slight differences that prevent them from synchronizing, despite all the motors being connected to a single current. The frenzied movements contrast the calming, whirring sounds the artworks emit, which mimic raindrops or a repetitive drum. This juxtaposition is just one example of the many comparisons the artist draws: chaos vs. order, mass vs. individual, simplicity vs. complexity, and manufactured vs. organic.
Considering this theme, Zimoun names each piece by listing the materials used to connect the discrete components and the whole. For example, a recent project that forms a square on the floor (shown below) is titled “1944 prepared dc-motors, mdf panels 72 x 72cm, metal discs Ø 8cm, 2020.” “In my work, I do not try to transport specific associations but rather to create atmospheric spaces and states that invite us to observe, think, and reflect on various levels,” he says.
In the compilation video above, Zimoun showcases a variety of the sculptures and installations from his extensive body of work, many of which you can explore individually on Vimeo and follow on Instagram.
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A Drawing Machine Linked to A Synthesizer Audiates Geometric Illustrations by Musician Lamond Campbell
Beyond the scratch of the pen on paper, drawing as a practice isn’t thought to be particularly rhythmic or melodic. An inventive machine by musician Lamond Campbell, though, adds a musical component to its looped sketches. The Harmonograph Synthesiser is exactly as its name suggests: Campbell connected a modern, modular synthesizer to an 18th-Century harmonograph, an antiquated apparatus that uses pendulums to render geometric shapes. Two of the swinging mechanisms move linearly with the pen, while the third rotates with the board. Each triggers the synthesizer when movement occurs, which creates the corresponding audio track. An additional microphone picks up the noise of the pen.
Watch the video above to see the intricacies of the modified contraption. Campell is selling a complete, 18-track collection on his site, and you can find more about his multi-media creations on Instagram and YouTube. To see a reverse audio-visual process, check out “Visual Sounds of the Amazon II.” (thnx, Craig!)
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Based on an audio recording from a 2016 trip to the Amazon, Australian artist Andy Thomas interprets birds’ trills, squawks, and coos through an animated series of digital sculptures. An extension of a previous project, “Visual Sounds of the Amazon 2” is an abstract rendering composed of bursting dots, billowing fog, and flashes of amorphous forms that correspond to the avian sounds. With each chirp, the fleeting masses contort, grow, and disassemble into a new, vibrant form.
Many of Thomas’s projects explore the intersection of technology and nature, and he tells Colossal that he sees “computers as a hyper extension of evolution.” He expands on the idea by saying:
Humans are changing the biodiversity of the natural world and gradually replacing it with digitized versions, like echoes of the past. I am fascinated with the idea of generating digital art that references the beauty and complexity of nature. I hope this piece will encourage people to research the many amazing varieties of birds that call the Amazon home, and remind us of how fragile and important this place is to us all.
The artist ascribes “Visual Sounds of the Amazon 2” a more urgent context, as well. “This series is dedicated to the people of Brazil and the ecosystem of one of the world’s most amazing forests. The Amazon is known as the lungs of the world and is under constant and ongoing threats of deforestation,” he writes in a statement about the animated project.
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A Field Recording by Phil Torres Documents the Waterfall-like Sound of Millions of Migrating Monarch Butterflies
Entomologist and TV host Phil Torres (previously) dives deep into the natural world to document sights and sounds that many of us will never have a chance to experience firsthand. In his most recent video, Torres showcases the sound created by millions of migrating monarchs. The iconic orange and black butterflies convene every year in Mexico, where they overwinter during the Northern Hemisphere’s cooler months. In Torres’ six minute video, monarchs cluster by the thousands on individual tree branches and swarm the forest air, creating a rushing, waterfall-like sound. We highly recommend listening to the video with a pair of earphones to really pick up the subtleties in the audio. You can see more of Torres’ outdoor explorations on his Youtube channel, The Jungle Diaries, and follow along on Twitter.
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Editor's Picks: Design
Highlights below. For the full collection click here.