Hu Shaoming is a young Chinese sculptor and graduate of Guangzhou Academy of Fine Arts. With a deft mastery of metal he creates intricate sculptures that are surreal and dreamlike, but also somewhat cautionary. As part of his city series Shaoming created a mechanical seahorse that appears submerged in water. The exposed top of its head is burdened by a beautiful, metallic civilization, creating a fascinating and treacherous balance between man and nature.
In a different series on time Shaoming appropriates artifacts of industrial civilization like old cameras and telephones. Effectively destroying the mechanism, he disassembles them and then rebuilds them but with a zipper that offers glimpses into what makes them tick. (via Steampunk Tendencies)
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In the late 19th century, shortly after the patent of the telephone, the race was on to connect everyone to the phone grid. However, due to technical limitations of the earliest phone lines, every telephone required its own physical line strung between a house or business to a phone exchange where the call was manually connected by a live operator. The somewhat quixotic result of so many individual lines was the construction of elaborate and unsightly towers that carried hundreds to thousands of phone lines through the air.
In Stockholm, Sweden, the central telephone exchange was the Telefontornet, a giant tower designed around 1890 that connected some 5,000 lines which sprawled in every direction across the city. Just by looking at historical photos it’s easy to recognize the absurdity and danger of the whole endeavor, especially during the winter months. Everything that could possibly go wrong did. From high winds to ice storms and fires, the network was extremely vulnerable to the elements. Luckily, phone networks evolved so rapidly that by 1913 the Telefontornet was completely decommissioned in favor of much simpler technology. The remaining shell stood as a landmark until it too caught fire in 1953 and was torn down.
If you want to see more, the Tekniska Museet (the Museum of Technology) in Stochkholm has hundreds of photos from this strange period over on Flickr organized into three main galleries: Linjeras och eldsvådor (accidents), Telefonstationer Stockholm, and the Telefontornet.
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