Gradients and Everyday Objects Reinterpret the Day's Events by Concealing the Cover of The New York Times
Last summer, Sho Shibuya began a visual archive of the day’s sunrise by painting vibrant gradients in their likeness over the cover of The New York Times. The smooth, colorful transitions literally masked the daily headlines, offering a reprieve from the news and establishing a morning ritual that the Brooklyn-based artist, who’s also behind the design studio Placeholder, continues today.
Alongside those subtle sunrises, though, Shibuya also has started interpreting some of the day’s events through mixed-media works that similarly block out the articles. Two bandaids adhere to a peach cover, for example, marking widespread COVID-19 vaccinations. Bands of silver and gold splice another piece, which is also overlaid with a shattered mirror that reflects on Daft Punk breaking up after 28 years. No matter how heavy the topic, each of the pieces, Shibuya says, is intended as a visual aid that inspires hope and optimism. “I want to create peace through my work sharing my sympathy and emotion,” he tells Colossal, explaining:
I believed simple color and shape have power to influence emotions, and emotions influence actions. It is important to get the facts and understand the news, but I think my work is meant to make people feel the impact of the world beyond just facts and figures. It is similar to the way The New York Times printed all 100,000 names of the people who died from COVID; art can be a more impactful way of communicating the significance of the news.
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Approach the delicate glass artworks by Rui Sasaki, and witness the unpredictable patterns of the weather through a subtle glow of blue light. The Japanese artist’s experiential body of work translates varying forecasts into speckled sculptures that radiate once encountered, an intimate process that Sasaki describes as a way to “visualize subtle sunshine, record today’s weather, and transfer it from here to there/from there to here.”
At their brightest, the phosphorescent crystals are tinged green before fading to blue. “Visitors will doubtless be surprised to find that even if they cannot see anything on first entering the gallery, stay long enough and their eyes will become accustomed to the dark, and the elements of the work will gradually become visible,” Sasaki writes. Because each encounter sparks a unique reaction in the embedded lights, no two experiences will be the same. She explains:
The phosphorescent glass used stores light of a wavelength close to that of sunlight, with this stored light then glowing in the dark. That is to say, one is now seeing light accumulated in the past. If a viewer remains in the gallery for an extended period, the next viewer will see the work glowing weakly in the darkness. With longer viewing time, the light of the phosphorescent glass fades, moment by moment, until finally the gallery is plunged into darkness. This might occur a minute later, or a day later, depending on viewer movements.
Many of the sculptures evoke organic elements in material, concept, and sometimes form, whether shaped into swollen raindrops or a sun-like orb. Others, though, are depicted through domestic scenes with dinnerware or a suspended chandelier, a juxtaposition that relates to Sasaki’s feeling she had lost her sense of home after moving to the U.S. for a few years. Now living in Kanazawa, the artist is using the weather and surrounding environment as a way “to recover from the reverse culture shock and rediscover my intimacy towards my home Japan little-by-little and day-by-day.”
Sasaki’s sculptures are part of multiple group shows, including one at Toyama Prefectural Museum of Art & Design through April 4, another at Art Museum Riga Bourse that will re-open April 6, and an upcoming spring exhibition at Tainan Art Museum in Taiwan. She also has a solo exhibition at Tokyo’s Gallery DiEGO Omotesando slated for May. Watch this interview and studio visit for a glimpse into her process, and follow where her work is headed next on Instagram.
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Eight years one month. That’s how long a beer can pinhole camera spent capturing this solargraph at the University of Hertfordshire’s Bayfordbury Observatory. Featuring 2,953 light trails of the sun’s movement, the image is thought to be the longest exposure photograph in existence, surpassing Michael Wesely’s record of four years eight months.
Then an MFA student at the university, Regina Valkenborgh set up the camera in 2012 and subsequently forgot about it. This past September, principal technical officer David Campbell discovered it still fastened to one of the observatory’s telescopes, alerting Valkenborgh about the finding. The photographer said in a statement:
It was a stroke of luck that the picture was left untouched, to be saved by David after all these years. I had tried this technique a couple of times at the Observatory before, but the photographs were often ruined by moisture and the photographic paper curled up. I hadn’t intended to capture an exposure for this length of time and to my surprise, it had survived. It could be one of, if not the, longest exposures in existence.
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Back in October, Sacramento-based photographer Andrew McCarthy staked out in his backyard to document the International Space Station on one of its trips across the sun. Using two scopes, he successfully captured the image, which frames the station in the upper left corner of the fiery mass.
Two weeks later, he repeated that process: “Yesterday morning after spending hours scouting for the right location, I set up my gear on the side of a road hoping to capture something I’ve never seen before. The ISS, illuminated by daylight, transiting a razor-thin crescent moon,” he writes on Instagram. McCarthy’s endeavor is particularly impressive because when standing on Earth, the ISS passes both celestial bodies in less than a second.
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For many people, blocking out the news has meant logging off of Twitter and resisting the urge to check every breaking update. But Sho Shibuya has taken a more literal approach to the stress-reducing action. The Brooklyn-based artist and founder of the design studio Placeholder has taken to painting over the front page of The New York Times with vibrant gradients that mimic the day’s sunrise.
Beginning in March when cities began to lock down, Shibuya realized that his sensory perceptions of the world changed. “Some days passed and I realized that from the small windows of my studio, I could not hear the sounds of honking cars or people shouting,” he says. “I could hear the birds chirping energetically and sound of wind in the trees, and I looked up and saw the bright sky, beautiful as ever despite the changed world beneath it.”
Shibuya began to photograph the sunrise each morning, recreating each rich gradient in acrylic. His color choices are inspired largely by the Japanese ukiyo-e artist Hiroshige, who was commended for his bokashi gradient technique and signature blue tones. Each of Shibuya’s works maintains the header and date of the publication. “I started to capture the moment in the newspaper, contrasting the anxiety of the news with the serenity of the sky, creating a record of my new normal,” he says. “Their front page has always been a time capsule of a day in history, so it made sense to use history as the canvas because the paintings are meant to capture a moment in time.”
The spirit of the project is that maybe, even after the pandemic subsides, people can continue some of the generosity and peace we discovered in ourselves and that the sky reminds us of every day with a sunrise through a small window. If one thing the news has made clear, we need generosity and peace for all people now more than ever.
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Most experts advise against staring at the sun for more than a few seconds, and yet, a new timelapse from NASA lets viewers peer into the fiery mass for an entire decade. During the course of ten years, the Solar Dynamics Observatory took more than 425 million images of the massive star that were captured .75 seconds apart. Aggregated into an hour-long compilation titled “A Decade of Sun,” the photographs provide visual evidence of how the giant orb functions and its influence on the rest of the solar system. Each image was captured at a wavelength of 17.1 nanometers, or one-billionth of a meter, to show the exterior atmospheric layer that’s called the corona.
NASA has shared on YouTube a list of notable moments, including an appearance by Venus and an iconic interruption in 2012. Most of the dark spots in the video are a result of the earth or moon passing in between the Solar Dynamics Observatory and blocking its view, although there was a longer lapse in 2016 due to an equipment malfunction. When the spacecraft was recalibrating its tools, the sun shifts to one side of the screen.
Head to YouTube to dive into more of NASA’s explorations into outer space.
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