Modern architectural building methods and Indigenous materials converge in the latest endeavor by Ronald Rael and Virginia San Fratello, titled “Casa Covida.” The earthen structure is part of a MUD Frontiers/Zoquetes Fronterizos that centers on Pueblo de Los Ángeles and the ways technological advances can work in unison with historic mud-based designs. “Casa Covida” contains a bathing pool, sleeping areas, and fireplace seats for two.
To create the three-room home, the duo employs a custom, portable robot that they transport to various sites, allowing them to dig soil and other materials and immediately shape it into the necessary structures. Utilizing clay and mud, the building process is informed by the practices of Ancestral Pueblo peoples and Indo-Hispano cultures of northern New Mexico and southern Colorado. When wet, the natural materials are layered in zigzag-like coils. The undulating, textured facades generally are made with a few rows to provide insulation from the nighttime cold.
MUD Frontiers was a recent recipient of a 2020 Art + Technology grant from LACMA. It strives to consider “traditional clay craft at the scale of architecture and pottery. The end goal of this endeavor is to demonstrate that low-cost and low-labor construction that is accessible, economical, and safe is possible,” a statement says.
Based in La Florida, Colorado, and Oakland, respectively, Rael and San Fratello are known for subversive projects at the intersection of art and architecture, like the neon pink teetertotters slotted through the U.S.-Mexico border wall. Follow their latest sustainable works on Instagram. (via Hyperallergic)
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An Astronaut and Photographer Collaboratively Document the Vast International Space Station in a New Book
In what is believed to be the first collaboration between an Earth-bound artist and an astronaut in space, photographer Roland Miller and engineer Paolo Nespoli have recorded the momentous journey of NASA’s International Space Station (ISS). The two have been working together during the last few years to document the current technologies and sights of modern space travel. They’ve shot extraordinary photographs of an ocean blanketed with clouds, the wire labyrinths lining the vehicle, and astronaut’s bulging suits and helmets. “If you were to stand there and look at (the spacecraft), I’m hoping that this is how you would see it,” Miller shares with Colossal.
The project began after the photographer spoke with astronaut and chemist Cady Coleman, who encouraged him to share his vision and approach to the medium with those on the space station. While researching the possibilities for such an endeavor, he discovered that Coleman is an avid flutist and would carry several of the instruments with her during missions. She even performed a duet with Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull, while he was in Russia and she far above the earth, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Yuri Gagarin’s first human launch. “And I thought, what if I did something like that? Maybe I could somehow work with an astronaut directly,” Miller says.
While a similar process executed simultaneously proved too complicated, the photographer decided on a unique collaboration utilizing Google Street View, which shows both the views inside and outside the ISS. “Not only could I use it to see what the station really looked like, but I could do screenshots of parts of it,” he says, a process that he ultimately used. Miller would capture different portions within the station or views out its windows and share them with Nespoli, who would then recreate the image during a mission.
Because the ISS was in a weightless environment with fluctuating light, many of the images astronauts typically capture utilize a flash, which Miller, who generally photographs using a very low shutter speed, wanted to avoid. “The first problem you run into is you can’t use a tripod in space because it just floats away, and the station itself is going 17,500 miles an hour. Just because of the size and the speed, there’s a harmonic vibration to it,” he notes. To combat the constant quivering, Nespoli constructed a stabilizing bipod and shot about 135 images with a high shutter speed, before sending the shots to Miller for aesthetic editing.
Now, the photographs have culminated in a 200-page, full-color book titled Interior Space: A Visual Exploration of the International Space Station, which already has passed its fundraising goal on Kickstarter and still has 17 days to go. Included in the forthcoming tome are essays by four experts, the celestial photographs, and some Earth-based shots, which Miller took separately at the Kennedy and Johnson space centers. These images range from scaffolding obscuring a Pressurized Mating Adapter to up-close frames of a potable water cooler that position the dials and buttons side-by-side with stickers chronicling previous missions. With a publish date of November 2, 2020, Interior Space will launch the 20-year anniversary of uninterrupted human habitation on the ISS.
Preferring an abstract, documentarian approach, Miller strives to tell a broader story that integrates design, art, and science. “It makes it more visually interesting than just topographic recording of things,” he says, noting that he always layers his photographs with distinct elements. Miller explains his particular fascination with space artifacts and the ISS:
This is a very good subject for that because they’re really amazing, beautiful things and are very complex modules… If you look at Star Trek and people walk down these spacious, pristine, white-walled hallways with carpeting and nice lights, and then you look at what a real spacecraft is, and you look at that hallway with wires and cables and computers hanging out, and it’s just crazy, chaotic, a mess of stuff. I think it’s really good to show this is what it really looks like… This is the reality of space travel right now.
An ardent photographer for more than 30 years, Miller’s foray into the field began with a visit to an old launchpad at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. He previously shot the NASA, Air Force, and Army facilities across the United States for his 2016 book, Abandoned in Place: Preserving America’s Space History. The collection contains a glimpse into the stations, launchpads, and other vehicles that have been deactivated, repurposed, and even demolished in recent years.
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Although many of us will never step foot on the red planet, a new compilation captured by Mars rovers walks through the rocky, sandy terrain in stunning detail. Throughout the video of 4K imagery, the rovers explore the wide-open plains and candy-colored stretches of the Martian landscape. As the narrator notes, getting actual footage of Mars currently is impossible, as even the most technologically advanced rovers like Curiosity still are limited to extremely slow data-transmission speeds back to Earth. Watch the full compilation on YouTube, check out this 1.8 billion pixel panorama taken by Curiosity. (via Twister Sifter)
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Say goodbye to the tedious process of taking a photo, importing it, and placing it in its final position. The Paris-based designer and artist Cyril Diagne recently launched a new image editing program that circumvents the traditional method using a single app.
When users take a photograph with AR Cut & Paste, the software finds distinct objects and automatically removes their backgrounds. In a video below, Diagne shows how a plant is captured on a mobile device before being snipped from the surrounding image. Once he hovers over the computer screen, the cut-out plant is placed directly into Photoshop.
AR Cut & Paste only works with the Adobe products currently, although Diagne says it may pair with others in the future. To try out the inventive software, download it for yourself from GitHub.
Update: Diagne announced an AR Copy Paste app for Android and iOS.
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The teams at Gramazio Kohler Research and Incon.Ai recently collaborated on an architectural project that merges digital savvy with traditional craftsmanship to create a skillful new building technique. Completed in 2019, “Augmented Bricklaying” relies on digital markers to instruct bricklayers about where to spread mortar, how thick to layer it, and what the position of the next stone should be.
A custom-designed guidance system, the hybrid technique combats the limitations of both traditional and innovative digital approaches: robotic arms have restricted mobility and difficulty with pliable materials like mortar, while physical templates can be cumbersome and less accurate for masons. The new model “combines the advantages of computational design with the dexterity of humans, supporting an entirely new way of fabrication,” the Zurich-based team said in a statement.
To create the 225 square-meter structure, masons assembled 13,596 locally sourced bricks in varying rows. The differentiated mortar heights range from five to 30 millimeters and help to determine each brick’s rotation that spans -20° to +20°. “That way mortar, usually treated as secondary material in the design of fair-faced brick walls, became a defining element in the appearance of the facade,” the team said.
Because of the differed construction, the porous exterior appears as a wave or ripple. The patterned facade provides ventilation and allows sunlight to stream into the building, which produces an array of circles that shifts based on the time of day. It will house KITRVS Winery’s processing and storage facility. The Greek vineyard overlooks the Thermaic Gulf of the Aegean Sea at the base of Mount Olympus.
Gramazio Kohler Research is the ETH Zurich’s chair of architecture and digital fabrication, and Incon.Ai is a subsidiary of the organization’s robotic systems labs. Keep up with Gramazio Kohler’s inventive projects on Instagram and Vimeo. (via designboom)
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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)
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Editor's Picks: Craft
Highlights below. For the full collection click here.