technology

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Photography Science

Explore Curiosity’s New 1.8-Billion-Pixel Panorama of Mars

March 6, 2020

Grace Ebert

While many Americans were enjoying a few days off of work for the Thanksgiving holiday, Curiosity Mars Rover (previously) was busy taking more than 1,000 photographs of the Red Planet. Capturing the Glen Torridon region on the side of Mount Sharp, the rover shot enough images to create a composite that totals 1.8 billion pixels and provides its most expansive view to date of Mars’ landscape.

NASA released a video that points out the various landmarks and proves just how impressive the shot is, like the incredible detail that’s visible on a three-mile wide crater at least twenty miles away. The rover shot the panorama using a camera attached to its mast that has both telephoto and medium-angle lenses. In order to ensure lighting consistency, it only took images between 12 and 2 p.m. each day. Explore the panorama for yourself on NASA’s site. (via Uncrate)

 

 



Art Design

Undulating Kinetic Sculpture by Julia Nizamutdinova Mimics Intertwined Infinity Signs

March 3, 2020

Grace Ebert

Artist and designer Julia Nizamutdinova has created a kinetic sculpture that rotates, twists, and turns in a mesmerizing and hypnotic fashion. Made of plastic, aluminum, and steel, INFI is modeled after the infinity sign in its form and movement, constantly crisscrossing and repeating. When illuminated with an LED light, the edges stand out against the sculpture’s fish-shaped body, and the rhythmic, undulating movements become more clear.

Nizamutdinova tells Colossal that her creation is part of a larger project she calls Cyberflora. “They contain a meditative therapeutic effect from the contemplation of smooth hypnotic movements and the beauty of futuristic forms,” she writes. To see more of Nizamutdinova’s work that falls at the intersection of technology, art, and design, head to YouTube and Instagram.

 

 



Art Design

Kinetic Artwork Attempts to Get a ‘Little Piece of Privacy’ with Mechanized Curtain

February 27, 2020

Grace Ebert

Berlin-based artist Niklas Roy isn’t just concerned about his privacy and protection online. To stop passersby from peeping into his workshop, he strung up a white, lace curtain stretching only partially across his window. Titled “My Little Piece of Privacy,” the ironic project from 2010 was established to offer seclusion to the artist, while recording those who walked past his space. Each outside movement triggers a motor to position the thin fabric in front of the person attempting to look inside. The resulting footage shows various strategies people use⁠—think rapid arm waving and hopping from one spot to another⁠—to try to trick the mechanism tracking their positions. They never succeed for more than a second, though. You can find more of Roy’s projects interested in humor and technology on YouTube.

 

 



Animation Design

Product Breakdowns Expose the Wasteful Side of Industrial Design in Stop Motion Animation by Dina Amin

February 23, 2020

Andrew LaSane

Industrial designer Dina Amin takes discarded consumer products apart to see exactly what makes them tick. The hobby also exposes just how many resources and materials consumers throw away. A new stop-motion animation titled What’s Inside is a supercut of Amin’s breakdowns of familiar items, each splayed in perfect grids of plastic, metal, and rubber.

The exploding electronics featured in the animation are a blowdryer, a stereo cassette recorder, a point-and-shoot camera, and an old cellphone. Dropped by an invisible hand, each item becomes a schematic of itself as it hits the table. Screws, wires, and miscellaneous components are neatly and instantly sorted into piles on the empty surface. The pieces then reassemble to form the finished product.

“On Fridays I pick a random product, I disassemble it, examine it and make a stop motion story with its parts,” Amin shares on her website. Of the deeper theme of the work, the designer writes that “we consume too many things to the point that we forgot the amount of work that was put into bringing even the tiniest pieces of things! We rarely see what’s inside each product thus treat it as one whole part; not as a plastic cover, with buttons, vibrator motor, mic and so on. This makes it easier to throw things away, one thing goes to waste, and not many.”

To see more of Amin’s work, follow her on Instagram and check her out on Patreon, where this project was funded. (via Core77)

 

 



Design

An Anti-Smartphone With a Rotary Designed and Built by Space Engineer Justine Haupt

February 15, 2020

Andrew LaSane

All images © Justine Haupt

Justine Haupt, a developer of astronomy instrumentation at Brookhaven National Laboratory, spent the last three years developing a device that strips away all of the non-phone functions of modern smartphones. The Portable Wireless Electronic Digital Rotary Telephone (aka Rotary Cellphone) does not have a touchscreen, menus, or other superfluous features. It fits in Haupt’s pocket, and it makes calls.

The first version of Haupt’s anti-smartphone was made using a cellphone radio development board. As the project progressed, she worked out a way to make it compact, to view missed calls on a small display, and to ensure that the device could be taken apart and fixed if necessary. While the Rotary Cellphone may seem like a fun novelty, Haupt (until now a devoted flip phone user) says that is not the point. Everything from the removable antenna to dedicated speed dial keys for her husband and other contacts is utilitarian and a direct contrast to the devices many of you are reading this article on right now.

“This is a statement against a world of touchscreens, hyperconnectivity, and complacency with big brother watchdogs,” Haupt writes on her website. In a post sharing the open source design, she adds that “in a finicky, annoying, touchscreen world of hyperconnected people using phones they have no control over or understanding of, I wanted something that would be entirely mine, personal, and absolutely tactile, while also giving me an excuse for not texting.” (via Kottke)

 

 



Design Science

Returning to Roots: A New Book Highlights How Indigenous Practices Can Create More Sustainable Technology

December 3, 2019

Grace Ebert

A young fisherman walks under a living root bridge at Mawlynnong village, India. In the relentless damp of Meghalaya’s jungles the Khasi people have used the trainable roots of rubber trees to grow Jingkieng Dieng Jri living root bridges over rivers for centuries. Copyright: © Amos Chapple

Self-described designer, activist, academic, and author Julia Watson is trying to quash the boundary between native practices and technology in a new book that explores the ways indigenous wisdom can combat the high-tech approach to design and fighting climate change. In Lo—TEK Design by Radical Indigenism, Watson shares knowledge that transcends generations and cultures in an attempt to debunk the myth that indigenous approaches are primitive and far removed from current conceptions of technology. Throughout its more than 400 pages, the book explores ideas from 20 countries, including Peru, the Philippines, Tanzania, Kenya, Iran, Iraq, India, and Indonesia, about how to tackle more sustainable technology and design. It also contains a forward from anthropologist Wade Davis.

Watson founded Julia Watson Studio, an urban design studio, in addition to co-founding “A Future Studio,” described as a collective of conscious designers. She also teaches urban design at Harvard and Columbia University. Lo—TEK is scheduled to be released this month by Taschen. If you liked this, check out the recently published Primitive Technology: A Survivalist’s Guide to Building Tools, Shelters, and More in the Wild.

 

A view over the sacred Mahagiri rice terraces, a small portion of the one thousand year old agrarian system known as the subak, which is unique to the island of Bali, Indonesia. Copyright: © David Lazar

 

In the Southern Wetlands of Iraq, an entire Ma’dan house known as a mudhif, which is built entirely of qasab reed without using mortar or nails, can be taken down and re-erected in a day. Copyright: © Jassim Alasadi

 

Built by the Tofinu, the city of Ganvie meaning ‘we survived’ floats on Lake Nokoué surrounded by a radiating reef system of twelve thousand acadja fish pens. Copyright: © Iwan Baan

 

 

 

 



Illustration Photography

Phone Buddies Lurk and Ooze Out of Screens in Embellished Photos by Andrew Rae and Ruskin Kyle

November 21, 2019

Laura Staugaitis

Dripping blobs of oily black, cosmic haze, and octopus tentacles emerge from the screens of smartphone users on the streets of London. Illustrator Andrew Rae teamed up with street photographer Ruskin Kyle to add some visual flair to people immersed in their electronic devices. Some of the protagonists are simply standing on the street using their phones, while other have paired their device usage with competing activities like dog-walking and ramen-eating.

“I always go for a walk on Hampstead Heath in the mornings for inspiration and I found myself nearly bumping into people on their phones,” Rae tells Colossal. Because many people in the area also are out with their dogs, “it started me thinking about the phones as if they are little pets or creatures that they are carrying in their hands.”

Rae shares that the idea percolated over time, and in conversation with his photographer friend, the pair realized the potential in the concept. Initially, Rae tried to completely replace the phones with illustrations, but he then decided to incorporate the physical technology as the source, or a part of, of the imagined creatures. In developing each character, Rae worked from some tried-and-true shapes and concepts from his larger illustration practice, and let each one develop organically.

To keep up with new embellishments of tech-absorbed passersby, follow Andrew Rae on Instagram and see more of Ruskin Kyle’s street photography on the platform as well. Just don’t bump into a stranger while you scroll through! (via My Modern Met)