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Art

First Look at 'Numina': A Wonderland Brimming with Bizarre Creatures and Fantastical Scenes Opens at ‘Convergence Station’ in Denver

September 16, 2021

Grace Ebert

Between a two-story metallic spaceship, gnarled trees teeming with strangely colored mosses and lichen, and fantastical creatures, the eccentric artworks that comprise the new space at Convergence Station by Meow Wolf (previously) rival those in even the most peculiar sci-fi universe. The immersive, swamp-like installation, which is dubbed “Numina” or the spirit of a place, is one of the anchors of the Santa Fe-based company’s latest undertaking, which showcases more than 70 installations by 300 artists across four floors. Four years in the making, Convergence Station opens on September 17 in Denver.

Accessible through a series of secret portals and wormholes, “Numina” scales 35 feet into the air and is designed as a multi-sensory experience inviting visitors to interact with their unearthly surroundings. When someone speaks to one of the four glowing creatures resembling sea urchins, for example, the forms warp and spew the echoed audio across the space. The color-changing “Fairie Orbs” similarly sing and vibrate with intonations when a person passes by, and the “Frog Egg Garden” emits kaleidoscopic lights and quiet sounds when activated with touch.

 

All images © Meow Wolf, shared with permission

Spanning three levels, the extraordinary, hand-built project is evidence of the team’s penchant for detail and ability to fuse seemingly disparate reference materials into surreal sculptures with various colors, textures, and shapes. The wood-like structural elements, for example, are wrapped in innumerable folds that artists modeled after the wrinkled skin of hairless cats, while pieces like the “Toad Piggies” are hybrid creations and the “Nudibranches” exaggerate the striking bodies of real-life mollusks by stretching them to seven feet. “Some ‘flowers’ were inspired by jellyfish, and some ‘jellyfish’ look more like flowers,” says Caity Kennedy, the project’s creative director and co-founder of Meow Wolf.

Although individual artists retained control over much of what they created—the expansiveness of this collaborative approach is part of what makes “Numina” so uniquely vast and diverse—Kennedy tells Colossal that she gravitated toward the more bizarre works rather than whimsical, fairytale-style pieces. “It is an interesting challenge to play with the balance of comfort and discomfort, to build a space that is welcoming but sometimes unnerving, to make people feel both safe and adventurous at the same time,” she shares. “There are so many things I could point out… Look for the sundial! Find the zoetrope! Point the sort of mollusk orchid/telescope creatures at the stars! Find Leomie’s Field Notebook in the library!”

Tickets are on sale now to visit Convergence Station in person. Otherwise, watch the video tour above for a more in-depth look at the unreal wonderland.

 

 

 



Animation

A Superstitious Cast Kicks Off Montréal's 13th Annual Stop-Motion Festival in a Carnivalesque Animation

September 14, 2021

Grace Ebert

To launch its 13th year, a bizarre animation for the 2021 Festival Stop Motion Montréal evokes eerie tropes and superstitions: a drooling pug morphs into an unfriendly black cat, a gardener reveals a sharp scissor hand, and a once-vibrant fire turns into clouds of soot. Set to a lively track by Nick Lavigne that quickly bends into a sinister tone, the claymation teaser by Rome-based animator Gianluca Maruotti opens the festival, which will show 93 short films from September 10 to 19. You can find the event’s lineup—which includes appearances by Andrea Love’s Tulip and the modest product-testing rabbit named Ralph—on its site, Vimeo, and Instagram.

 

 

 

 



Art

Artist Thierry Mandon Lives in Suspended Domestic Scenes Within the Ghost Rooms of Severed Buildings

September 13, 2021

Grace Ebert

“Tableau vivant” (2007-2008). All images © Thierry Mandon, shared with permission

Multidisciplinary artist Thierry Mandon casts himself as the subject of his satirical works as he reads in a bed hazardously suspended feet above the ground or sips a glass of wine at a halved dining table. The humorous and discomforting pieces, titled “Inside–Outside” and “Tableau vivant,” respectively, unveil a series of slow, solitary activities that, once outdoors, become a performative spectacle rather than a mundane moment. They speak to Mandon’s “search for harmony and for a stable unity between humans and their environment,” he says, as he literally slices and adheres domestic objects to a building’s facade.

“Each video portrays a character that, as a kind of archetype of the individual, is confronted by his human condition, his limits, his power, and helplessness,” Mandon writes to Colossal. “These themes are rendered by works where two elements, two worlds are exposed in a precarious balance.”

Mandon lives and works in Ardèche, France, and you can find a larger collection of his works on his site and Vimeo.

 

“Inside–Outside” (2015)

“Tableau vivant” (2007-2008)

“Inside–Outside” (2015)

“Inside–Outside” (2015)

 

 



Animation Music

A Mesmerizing Animation Spins Through Banknotes From 23 Countries in a Hypnotic Look at What Cultures Value

September 9, 2021

Grace Ebert

An endless loop of lines, ornate motifs, emblems, and historical figures converge in a hypnotic animation by Los Angeles-based director Lachlan Turczan. Paired with Blake Mills’s subdued track “Money Is The One True God,” the music video is comprised of high-resolution scans spliced together in a mesmerizing rotation. The compilation reveals colorful snippets of currency from 23 countries dating from the 1800s to the present day—these include a portrait of rebellion leader Samuel Sharpe on the Jamaican 50 dollar bill, an engraving of Tenochtitlan on a 100 peso, and a kaleidoscopic sunset on China’s 5 yuan—that show how notions of value have evolved over time.

Turczan writes that he used replacement animation techniques to highlight the guilloché patterns embedded within the bills. While much of the animation focuses on the abstract, it’s also indicative of cultural trends and shifts. “The age of exploration leads to industrialization, wonders of the world are replaced by office buildings, and icons of freedom stand in stark contrast to images of slavery,” he says. “The project culminates with the collective eyes of all world leaders staring back at the audience.”

Having worked with talents like Phoebe Bridgers, Sam von Horn, and Flock of Dimes, Mills’s “Money Is The One True God” is just one of Turczan’s music videos, which you can watch on Vimeo and Instagram. You also might enjoy this stop-motion short at the intersection of culture and economics. (via Booooooom)

 

 

 



Craft Design

A Whimsical Ad Uses Conductive Thread to Light Up Miniature Scenes Made of Yarn and Fabric

September 8, 2021

Grace Ebert

Simple landscapes dotted with felt trees, miniature power lines, and spool-propelled ambulances become twinkling nightscapes and whimsically glowing scenes in “Connecting Thoughts.” The advertisement, which was created to promote the Japanese infrastructure firm Kandenko’s “Everyone Lights up the Future” message, uses Smart-X conductive thread to send electric currents through figures stitched into gloves and around yarn-based architecture, illuminating each scenario with tiny bulbs. This short piece follows the company’s 2016 ad, which used a conductive marker to create a dazzling pop-up book.

 

 

 



Documentary Photography Science

A Short Film Dives into the 15-Year Process Behind the Documentary 'Fantastic Fungi'

September 1, 2021

Grace Ebert

We shared footage of the mesmerizing mycelium networks pulsing underneath our feet back in 2019 to mark the opening of Louie Schwartzberg’s Fantastic Fungi, and now the dedicated director takes viewers behind the scenes to show his painstaking process. Filmed throughout a 15-year period in his home studio, Schwartzberg’s timelapses zero in on myriad spores as they burst open, sprawl in every direction, and morph in color and texture. They’re a compelling visual representation of time and nature’s cyclical processes, which he explores in a new short film produced by WIRED.

Most of the challenges in capturing the footage center around predicting where an organism will grow to keep it within the shot and understanding the frame rates of different lifeforms. Schwartzberg explains:

For example, a mosquito on your arm, having a little drop of blood, takes a look at that hand coming towards it in ultra slow motion and has plenty of time to take off because its metabolic rate, its lifespan, is way shorter than our lifespan. And our lifespan is way shorter than a Redwood tree’s lifespan. This reality of real-time human point of view is not the only point of view, and that’s really the beauty of cameras and time-lapse cinematography. It’s actually a time machine.

Watch the full making-of above—note that it does include a clip of a mouse decomposing near the end—and find Fantastic Fungi on Netflix. (via The Kids Should See This)