whales

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Animation

‘The Bird & the Whale’ Tells a Short and Sweet Tale Using Paint-on-Glass Animation

December 10, 2019

Laura Staugaitis

An animated short film written and directed by Carol Freeman uses an old-fashioned technique called paint-on-glass to form each luminescent frame. At seven minutes long, The Bird & the Whale is comprised of 4,300 paintings created by a small team of female artists in Dublin, Ireland. The animated film tells the story of a young whale, struggling to find its voice, who finds a caged bird that is the sole survivor of a shipwreck. The Bird & the Whale has been lauded at festivals worldwide, including the Silver Screen Award for Best Animated Film at Cannes’ Young Director Awards. Freeman, who majored in animation at the National Film School of Ireland, also co-founded Paper Panther Productions. Watch the making-of inpthe video below and follow Paper Panther on Instagram.

 

 



Illustration

Deep Ocean Waters Amplify Emotions in Sonia Alins’ Evocative Mixed Media Illustrations

July 25, 2019

Laura Staugaitis

“The swimmers III. The gathering”

Illustrator Sonia Alins (previously) creates evocative aquatic scenes using a combination of two and three dimensional elements. Smooth, translucent vellum creates the visual effect of water, and Alins sometimes inserts tufts of colored thread or small sheets of tulle to invoke the ocean floor’s textural topography. Alins then creates carefully placed slits in the vellum to allow her figurative illustrations to peek through the water. Swimming women and the occasional whale move through the murky water, with expressions ranging from peacefulness to mild distress. In an interview with Sara Barnes, Alins explained her deep connection to the water:

I was born near the Mediterranean sea and the influence of it and water in my culture is something defining. I guess it’s part of my DNA. The truth is that the sea has always been present in my life and has transmitted a special and positive energy to me. When taking the first steps of my Dones d’aigua series, water came to me as the perfect medium to communicate and expand emotion. The protagonists of my works interact with this mass of water where they are immersed and, there, their feelings are amplified, their shouts are heard louder, their desperation is felt more profoundly… But also, when they are calm, it feels like a more rewarding emotion too.

The Spain-based artist’s minimal yet impactful style lends itself to literary and editorial illustrations, and Alins has received several advertising and book awards for her work. You can explore more of Alins’ aquatic worlds on Instagram and Behance, and shop prints and products in her Society6 store.

“What I learnt from whales” series

“Dones d’aigua III” series

“The Swimmers”

“The Swimmers” (detail)

“What I learnt from whales” series

“Dones d’aigua III” series

 

 



Amazing

Freediving Champion Guillaume Néry Swims Across Several of the World’s Oceans with One Breath

February 18, 2019

Kate Sierzputowski

In the newest film by Guillaume Néry (previously), the world champion free diver swims across the world in one breath, or at least creative editing and camera tricks present the illusion of this great feat. One Breath Around the World follows Néry to the spectacular scenes he explores without a snorkel or air tank, like a variety of underwater caves or a pod of clustered whales. The film is shot by his wife Julie Gautier (previously) who was also free diving as she filmed Néry throughout France, Finland, Mexico, Japan, the Philippines, and other oceanic destinations. The film was created through the pair’s production company Les Films Engloutis. You can see more of their spectacular underwater films on Vimeo. (via My Modern Met)

 

 



Art

When the Sun Sets in Baiona, a Seemingly Simple Whale Mural Reveals a Belly Full of Sailors

December 19, 2018

Laura Staugaitis

A new collaborative mural by Barcelona-based artists María López and Javier de Riba undergoes a dramatic shift from day to night. Titled Hizkuntza, the mural appears to be a simple outline of a whale by day, but darkness reveals an intricate glowing design. The placement of the whalers inside the whale’s belly suggests an ambiguous power dynamic: did the whale swallow the sailors, or did they overtake the beast and turn it into a ghost of its former self?

The mural is located in Patxa Plaza in Baiona, a small city on the southwest coast of France that is a popular tourist destination. The Plaza in particular is a site of public gathering and celebration of Basque culture. In a description of the mural on Behance, the artists explain that they were inspired by the complex history of whaling. Commercial extinction of the Eubalena Glacialis whale in the Cantabrian Sea forced Basque sailors to explore new horizons, which created new languages like Basque-Icelandic and Algonquin-Basque.

López and de Riba often work in glowing paints, and focus on the culture and history of the locations where they install their murals. You can see more of their work on Instagram and see behind-the-scenes in videos on their Vimeo channelHizkuntza is also available as a limited edition glow-in-the-dark print from the artists’ website, Reskate Studio.

 

 



Art

A 38-Foot-Tall Whale Made From 10,000 Pounds of Plastic Waste Surfaces in Bruges

June 27, 2018

Kate Sierzputowski

In response to the Bruges Triennial’s 2018 theme “Liquid City,” Brooklyn-based architecture and design firm STUDIOKCA designed a 38-foot-tall sculptural whale composed of over five tons of plastic pulled from the Pacific and Atlantic oceans. The studio, led by Jason Klimoski and Lesley Chang, wanted to address how cities from across the globe are contributing to the waste that has piled up in our oceans—the discarded plastic that is washing up on our shores and endangering and killing marine life.

Skyscraper contains nearly 4,000-square-feet of plastic waste, which is just a dent in the 150 million tons of plastic that currently circulates in our seas. STUDIOKCA worked with the Hawaii Wildlife Fund to coordinate several beach clean-ups, which is how the team found most of the plastic for the 10,000-pound whale.

“Right now there is 150 million tons of plastic swimming in the ocean, our oceans, the oceans we share,” says Klimoski in a video created about the project. “Pound for pound that is more plastic waste swimming in the ocean than there is whales. So an opportunity like this to show the type of plastic and the amount of plastic that ends up in our oceans is really important.”

You can learn more about the team’s process behind the large-scale whale on their website and in the video below. The Bruges Triennial continues through September 16, 2018. (via Colossal Submissions)

Triënnale 2018; STUDIOKCA – ‘Skyscraper (the Bruges Whale)’

Triënnale 2018; STUDIOKCA – ‘Skyscraper (the Bruges Whale)’

Triënnale 2018; STUDIOKCA – ‘Skyscraper (the Bruges Whale)’

 

 



Photography Science

A Photographer Captures the Unusual Way Sperm Whales Sleep

July 4, 2017

Kate Sierzputowski

© Franco Banfi / Licensed for use on Colossal

Photographer Franco Banfi and a team of scuba divers were following a pod of sperm whales when suddenly the large creatures became motionless and began to take a synchronized vertical rest. This strange sleeping position was first discovered only in 2008, when a team of biologists from the UK and Japan drifted into their own group of non-active sperm whales. After studying tagged whales the team learned this collective slumber occurs for approximately 7 percent of the animal’s life, in short increments of just 6-24 minutes.

The image, Synchronized Sleepers, was a finalist in the 2017 Big Picture Competition in the category of Human/Nature. You can see more of the Switzerland-based photographer’s underwater photography on his website and Instagram. (via kottke.org)

 

 



Photography

Giants: A Black and White Series Captures the Complexity of the Humpback Whale

May 30, 2017

Kate Sierzputowski

Over the last three years photographer Jem Cresswell has photographed humpback whales during their annual migration to Vava’u, Tonga, swimming with the great creatures in the vast waters of the southern Pacific Ocean. Cresswell’s series Giants captures the individual personality of the great whales, each of which seem to pose specifically for his underwater camera.

“I was initially drawn to the whales’ gentle nature, sheer size and the feeling of insignificance in their presence,” said Cresswell. “Over the past 3 years returning to Tonga, I have sought to capture intimate portraits of these complex and conscious animals, bringing the viewer into the world of these mystical giants.”

In addition to being intrigued by the animals’ size, the Australian-based artist is also fascinated by their brains. In 2006, spindle cells, which were only thought to be present in humans and great apes, were also found to exist within the brains of humpback whales. These cells, which are tied to social organization, empathy, and intuition, were found to be more than three times as prevalent in humpback whales than they were in humans.

This sense of humanness is one of the reasons that Cresswell chooses to shoot his underwater subjects in black and white. “The main focus of the project concerns the whale’s sense of character and consciousness,” he explained to Colossal. “To me, black and white avoids distraction and draws the viewer directly to the subject. Black and white also has a sense of timelessness to it, which I feel represents how long these creatures have been around for.”

Cresswell will continue photographing humpback whales in the future, but at the present he is taking a break to work on a new series focused on Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. You can get a behind-the-scenes perspective of Cresswell’s underwater shoots on his Instagram and in the short video below. (via My Modern Met)