Last week, artist Olafur Eliasson (previously) unveiled a massive, wave-like artwork that mimics the rippled surfaces of the Chicago River and Lake Michigan. Comprised of 1,963 curved tiles, “Atmospheric wave wall” sits between the two bodies of water at Willis Tower and shifts in appearance based on the sunlight, time of year, and position of the viewer. It’s the Danish-Icelandic artist’s first public project, which was curated by CNL Projects and commissioned by EQ Office, in Chicago.
Speckled with orange pieces, the blue-and-green motif is constructed with powder-coated steel and based on Penrose tiling, a design with fivefold symmetry, which fills the undulating border. At night, a light shines through the street-side work, emitting a glow through the tile seams and further altering the appearance of the textured facade. Eliasson says about the work:
Inspired by the unpredictable weather that I witnessed stirring up the surface of Lake Michigan, ‘Atmospheric wave wall’ appears to change according to your position and to the time of day and year. What we see depends on our point of view: understanding this is an important step toward realizing that we can change reality.
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To introduce her new body of work, Rachael Talibart writes that “the rhythm of the tides, tethered to the waxing and waning of the moon, shapes our very sense of time.” The U.K.-based photographer captures the ebb and flow of the English coastline through photographs that frame both erupting waves and the days surrounding violent storms. An extension of her previous collection that framed what appears to be otherworldly creatures jumping from the water, Talibart’s recent work has culminated in a book titled Tides and Tempests.
While her subject matter is similar, she shares with Colossal that limiting herself to southern coastlines has been fruitful. “I think that what at first may seem like a restriction has actually made me more creative—it has forced me to dig deeper and look for images where I might perhaps not have found them if I was more of a generalist,” she says.
While Tides and Tempests at times displays the mythical qualities and creatures of the water, it also includes the quieter moments. Talibart writes that this broader focus has taught her patience and to find as much interest and delight in the slow sunsets and discarded shells as the frenzied storms. She expands on how the lengthy and varied story of the ocean has shifted her view of time:
The tidal cycle, the sound of waves, the shapes carved by wind and water on the shore, the call of sea birds, the curl of seafoam around a pebble, the shape of a shell, these all have a rhythm or pattern that I find both energizing and soothing. But they don’t always reveal themselves to you straight away—you have to be willing to invest time.
If you’re in the U.K., Talibart teaches photography workshops that focus on various aspects of her coastal subject matter. Otherwise, pick up a copy of Tides and Tempests, which features more than 120 images, from Kozu Books, and follow Talibart on Instagram.
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Japan-based artist Jumpei Mitsui is one of just 21 LEGO Certified Professionals in the world—this means his full-time job is to create artworks with the plastic building blocks—and is the youngest of the renowned group. He’s fulfilled this title most recently with a sculptural recreation of Katsushika Hokusai’s “The Great Wave off Kanagawa.” During the course of 400 hours, Mitsui snapped together 50,000 cobalt and white LEGO into an undulating wave that mimics the original woodblock print.
To recreate this iconic work in three-dimensions, Mitsui studied videos of waves crashing and pored over academic papers on the topic. He then sketched a detailed model before assembling the textured water, three boats, and Mount Fuji that span more than five feet.
If you’re in Osaka, Mitsui’s wave is on view permanently at the Hankyu Brick Museum. Otherwise, find a decade’s worth of the artist’s LEGO tutorials on YouTube, and follow his work on Twitter and Instagram. (via Spoon & Tamago)
レゴで作った「富嶽三十六景 神奈川沖浪裏」を動画で撮ってみました。絵の登場人物の目線で楽しむことができます。 pic.twitter.com/V8TTIJ8l2D
— 三井淳平 / Jumpei Mitsui (@Jumpei_Mitsui) December 12, 2020
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Heesoo Lee has spent years carefully layering blades of grass, pine trees, and cherry blossoms to construct botanic entanglements that crawl across ceramic mugs and bowls. Inspired by seasonal woodlands and aspen forests, the Montana-based artist recreates bright pockets of landscapes that capture small motions, like falling fronds or rustling branches. “There is movement in trees, but it is slow and subtle, a leaf in wind, the slow growth of new leaves in spring,” she says.
While Lee has continued this tradition with many of her recent pieces, she’s expanded her source material to the ocean. For seven years, the artist lived in Maui, where she often surveyed the water. “I could sit on a beach all day and watch the waves, observe them, and feel calmed by them but also respectful of their energy and force,” she says. The memory has inspired a textured piece that swells upward to form a cavernous bowl. “Even in a small object, the waves are powerful and convey so much. For me, the waves connote freedom, the freedom to express myself and take risks,” the artist writes.
Diverging from land posed new challenges in Lee’s process. For landscapes, the artist repeats elements in layers to create a fully formed piece, but the same technique didn’t translate to water. “The first time I tried to make waves I failed. I failed over and over and over after that. There were cracks, pieces broke off,” she says. “I realized the feeling of making a wave is so much different from making a landscape.” Instead, Lee retrained her hands to follow the movement of the water, using slip casting, carving, and a series of manual techniques to capture its energy and force. Her color palette changed from amalgamations that evoked seasons to a precise set of blues.
Despite her forays into aquatic forms, Lee maintains an affinity for grassy fields and windswept boughs, which she explains:
My seasonal work, landscapes that focus on all four seasons, are still a mainstay of my practice. The memories that fuel the images are so powerful for me, and it gives me great pleasure to share my interpretation of those memories with people… I have heard from people that drinking from a cup I made helped them channel their own memories of the outdoors and the seasons, even during a time when they are stuck inside.
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An enormous aquarium with perpetually crashing waves has popped up amidst an urban landscape in South Korea, but don’t expect to hear the water sloshing around if you walk by. Designed by District, the elevated tank is actually a massive anamorphic illusion. The digital media company created the public project utilizing an advertising screen that spans 80.1 x 20.1 meters. As shown in the video, the deceptive aquarium looms over the outdoor area and splashes repeatedly into the sides.
Update: This article has been updated to correct an error that stated that the advertising screen was the world’s largest.
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Shot at an elevation nearing 10,000 feet in Colorado’s Rocky Mountains, a series of images by Eric Gross capture a high-alpine lake covered in icy ridges and dips that mimic sleek waves. The Colorado-based photographer tells Colossal that local experts believe the phenomenon is caused by snowdrifts blowing onto the already frozen lake, melting there, and then refreezing. “Through multiple melt/freeze cycles and after periods of high winds, the mounds and divots are shaped into deep curves, sometimes with sharp ridges and lines that give the appearance of regular lake waves, frozen in time,” Gross says. “Composing images from ground level revealed that the dark ice waves exhibit psychedelic reflections of the surrounding mountainous landscape.” To see more of the photographer’s phenomenological works, head to Instagram.
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