Vitaliy Raskalov, Hong Kong
Maybe it's because I just came across the 10,000th social media selfie I've seen this month that's making me snap. It was another of those inane pics taken in the safe confines of a bar that looks like every other, so I burned the morning looking for more dangerously-shot selfies. In particular the famous ones I'd seen those Russian maniacs shooting high up in the Dubai sky.
Alexandr Remnev, Dubai
Alexandr Remnev, Dubai
As I clicked through the work of Alexandr Remnev, Vadim Makhorov and Vitaliy Raskalov, I couldn't help but pull my faves from their (primarly non-selfie) archives. Not just from Dubai, but from Shanghai and Hong Kong, that particular trio of cities being the most photogenic from high up. These guys may be in their twenties, and they may be crazy, but usually when you say to a kid "It's just a matter of time before you wind up dead or in jail," it's not SLRs they're toting around. So my hat's off to these spider-climbing psychopaths, whom I hope have never shot a selfie indoors and below 1,000 feet.
Vadim Makhorov, Hong Kong
First thing I had to check was that this wasn't released on April 1st. But no, in a research paper titled "The Visual Microphone: Passive Recovery of Sound from Video" submitted for the upcoming SIGGRAPH 2014, a team of researchers have allegedly discovered how to extract sound from video images.
I'm still waiting for Snopes to debunk this, but this research collaboration from MIT's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, Microsoft Research and Adobe Research makes the following claim:
When sound hits an object, it causes small vibrations of the object's surface. We show how, using only high-speed video of the object, we can extract those minute vibrations and partially recover the sound that produced them, allowing us to turn everyday objects--a glass of water, a potted plant, a box of tissues, or a bag of chips--into visual microphones.
Sounds crazy, no? Watch this and see (er, hear):
As you can see, the technology is predicated on using high-speed, high-resolution video. But just imagine if it was possible to apply this to old, audio-free archival footage.
Posted by erika rae
| 1 Aug 2014
Since the dawn of the radio, over a century ago, there has been buzz about the invisible rays that make our tech go 'round... and what they're doing to our bodies, and as our lives become more wireless, the myths and rumors presumably expand into an ever denser unseen web. Perhaps the most unsettling thing about those "invisible killers" is that they are, indeed, invisible. But add another layer to the equation and you'll discover that those unseen signals are actually beautiful pieces of art (not that that'll make you feel better about what they may or may not be doing to your health). Newcastle University's Luis Hernan is giving us a peek into the concealed world of wireless signals with his project, Digital Ethereal.
Using what's being described around the blogosphere as "a piece of equipment that translates the strength of the Wi-fi signal into colors" (blue being the strongest and red coming in as the weakest—like flames in a fire), Hernan captures time-lapsed shots of these waves at work. That description is about as vague as the ghost-hunting tools we see paranormal scientists toting around on the sci-fi channel—which actually makes sense considering Hernan compares the waves to ghosts, thanks to their invisible qualities.
If you asked me a year ago which famous persons are advocates of drones, homemaking maven Martha Stewart would not have topped that list. But after receiving a camera-outfitted drone for her birthday last year, she became enamored of it while flying it around a New England beach and observing the vantages from her iPad. Pronouncing herself "hooked," she continued using the drone to capture subsequent parties, nature hikes and outings.
Earlier this year, a member of Stewart's security team purchased a similar drone, and was given permission to learn to fly the thing over Stewart's expansive Bedford, New York farm property. Stewart became so enchanted with the subsequent photos that she posted an entry on her blog entitled "Amazing Aerial Photos of My Farm."
With captions like the following...
This beautiful aerial shot of my home, which I call the Winter house (center), includes the flower room, carport and studio in the one long structure to the left, the Summer house to the far right, one of the horse paddocks and my beautiful peony garden in full bloom below.
...it's easy to see why media outlets, perhaps unfairly, began to skewer her. Even before the blog entry was released, Vanity Fair caught wind of her new kick and allowed her to explain her drone attraction before giving her a gentle ribbing:
[As Stewart explains,] "You can control the altitude, you can control the speed, you can control where it's going. It's easy to use, actually. You can really control it, it's gentle. It's lightweight, too; it's very beautiful."
Have the neighbors called the authorities, reporting a U.F.O.? "No. I don't have any neighbors," she said, laughing.
The latter statement, of course, is in reference to the fact that yeah, a 153-acre farm doesn't subject you to a lot of Joneses peering over your fence.
Posted by erika rae
| 21 Jul 2014
Photo by Leung Ching Ho
The bustling scenes of Hong Kong at night wouldn't be complete without the constant glow of its neon-lit streets. This is a sentiment that is not only experienced by those who have made the pilgrimage to the city of 7 million, but also by foreigners who have never set foot within its limits, thanks to countless cinematic references based on and shot within the iridescent city.
M+, Hong Kong's new visual culture museum, is sharing the neon art that gives the city its unmatched vibrance. Their online exhibit, "Mobile M+: NEONSIGNS.HK," allows anyone with an Internet connection to browse photo after photo of Hong Kong's local signage.
Photo by Wing Shya
With more tech-y solutions rapidly overtaking the neon market, the once bold and iconic works of glass craftsmanship are falling victim to disrepair: The industry has declined, possibly to the point of no return, such that few shops can fix these cultural icons. The project M+ has put together records the grandiose life of a crumbling artform through photos, user-submitted prose, slideshows, commissioned artwork and videos.
Photos by Tang Ho Yin (left) and Romain Jacquet-Lagreze (right)
Check out this video from M+ for a look into how neon signs are made and what some signmakers have to say about the state of the industry:
With his short entitled "Waves of Grain," video designer Keith Skretch gives us an unusual, tomographic look at wood. Skretch took a chunk of what looks like Doug Fir, repeatedly ran it through a planer (you can see chatter and snipe marks) and snapped photos between each cycle, looping them together into this trippy stop-motion:
Skretch's wicked flick isn't the only one in this genre. Several years ago Michael Turri, as a student in the Stanford Design Program, did something similar with more precious woods than Doug Fir: Bocote, and what appears to be mahogany.
I loves me some booze, but I can't stand cocktails. Anything I drink, I drink straight. This has nothing to do with manliness and everything to do with respecting the craft of the liquor manufacturers I patronize. There are families that spent centuries getting their distillation process just right, tweaking the flavors, getting the profiles just so, then you animals go and dump your pomegranate juice into it? You don't cover a Le Corbusier chaise longue with a throw blanket, nor spray fluorescent green paint on a Rembrandt because it's trendy. Please remember that cocktails became popular during Prohibition, when you needed to mask the taste of the nasty bathtub gin that was all you could get back then.
BevShots is a company that recognizes booze as art--but in their eyes, a visual art. Started by research scientist Michael Davidson, the organization puts crystallized booze on a slide and photographs it through a polarized light microscope. The results are stunningly beautiful, as you can see here.
Posted by erika rae
| 30 May 2014
There are enough quirky "found thing" necklaces out there for this one to pass as nothing more than a piece of jewelry ironically moonlighting as a camera—which is exactly what Brooklyn-based designer Olivia Barr wants you to think. In reality, it's a real-live piece of tech that's perfect for the hipster Harriet the Spy in all of us.
Barr made the first version for her 101-year-old grandmother (pictured below), who took up photography in her 90s. She wanted to create a lighter version that was easy on the muscles and simple to use. The half-inch thick walnut camera also shoots HD video and comes complete with 3.5MB capacity and straightforward instructions laser-etched on the back.
"Parahawking in Nepal," by Scott Mason
The industrial designer of today would have much to explain to the industrial designer from 50 years ago. Back then, if you designed a successful product, you'd be expected to regularly design subsequent updates to that product that consumers would want to continue buying, thus growing the company you were working for. It's simple math: Move More Product, Make More Money.
While that phenomenon of course exists today, what's different is that now companies can grow by moving beyond physical devices and enhancing the user's experience through technological, networked means that then emotionally tie you to the device. The hardware, the physical object, is meant to draw you into the company's larger world of diversions and thus become an indispensable gateway. Consider the iPod followed by the development of the iTunes Music Store. Or look at the X-Box, and ask yourself if it would be a success without connecting you to millions of strangers you can play Call of Duty with.
So perhaps we shouldn't have been surprised to hear that GoPro, the inventors of a bad-ass little camera, are seeking to expand beyond the physical device and into the realm of media. While you've undoubtedly read news of the company's recent IPO, you may not have read the fine print on the filing:
To date, we have generated substantially all of our revenue from the sale of our cameras and accessories and we believe that the growing adoption of our capture devices and the engaging content they enable, position GoPro to become an exciting new media company.
"Trampoline Good Times," by Paolo Ferreri
"Using Burst Mode to catch water balloons being popped!" by pedro grimaldi garcia
Posted by erika rae
| 9 May 2014
Images via Sandcastle Matt
Forget your fancy sandcastle building tools. Your molded buckets may ensure a perfectly formed turret, but where's the fun in that? The artist behind these abstract sand designs, who goes by sandcastlematt on Flickr, uses the traditional drip method known and used by castle builders of all ages. By using a simple 1:1 mixture of sand and water, he's able to create sculptures that stick without any help from adhesives. Obviously—or maybe not so obviously—it's not all sand. He uses debris found on beaches (driftwood, fishing line, vines, plywood and some biodegradable twine) to create a base structure to build off of and give them that "leaning tower of sand" look.
Sand Castle Matt works with the beach's elements to play up his designs by using shadows, reflections and even beach-goers in the photographs of his work. His sig other put together a video following the creation of one of the castles. Check it out:
As Harvard's National Lampoon is to comedy writing, perhaps Apple will become to product start-ups. Following ex-iDevice team leader Tony Fadell's Nest Thermostat, now another ex-Mac man, Bill Banta, is leading a young start-up called CENTR Camera. Banta--the man once in charge of getting the cameras into iDevices and MacBooks—is now devoting his efforts into getting CENTR's 360-degree camera off the ground.
With an industrial design team including Joey Roth, CENTR is hoping to launch their dimunitive, puck-like device that isn't much bigger than a GoPro yet records video from all four directions at once. CENTR's software then stitches the footage into a seamless panorama, which can be interacted with during playback, as if you're choosing which way to spin in a tank turret (click here for a demo). The device has been some three years in the making, and CENTR is turning to Kickstarter for the funding, seeking a relatively modest $900,000:
At press time they were already past the quarter-million-dollars mark and climbing. Offering the sizeable discount of $100 off of the MSRP is a pretty good incentive; though it will retail for $399, Kickstarter pledgers are getting in for $299 a pop.
Back in the day, you just couldn't go to a European sidewalk cafe without a bloody man collapsing at your table and pressing a roll of microfilm into your hand, urging you to keep it safe while an unseen assailant cut his final sentence short with some kind of ranged weapon. Nowadays, of course, your average crossbow-bolt-riddled spy's whispered last words would probably be the password for his Instagram account. But back then it was always microfilm.
That monopoly aside, storage media devices were once a varied and peculiar assemblage of objects. I was reminded of this by coming across the "Relics of Technology" project, shot by Oregon-based photographer Jim Golden, as seen below. (The awesome game consoles shot atop this entry belong to Golden's "Collections" project.)
Aesthetically, Beta was betta
It was just a few years ago that Lytro released their Light Field Camera, meant to usher in an era of "computational photography." Users capture the ambient light field rather than a bunch of static pixels, and this radical technological approach allows one to re-focus shots after the fact.
But the LFC never really took off, whether because of its alien, boxy form factor or the educational hurdle the company faces in explaining this new generation of product. So now Lytro is releasing a new model, the Illum, featuring both improved internals and an entirely new form factor. What most caught our eye is that it echoes an SLR in shape, but is clearly an entirely new class of object—not an easy design line to tread.
Posted by Moa Dickmark
| 21 Apr 2014
For the third interview of Creative Minds, I would like to introduce Giorgio Giussani. I've been following him and his love for analog photography for quite a few years. His way of experimenting with analog cameras and traditional films is refreshing in these days of photoshop and Instagram. Born and raised in Italy, Giorgio lived and studied in London for ten years, traveled the world and is now based in the tropical island of La Reunion.
You can follow him and his adventures with the camera on Flickr, Facebook and Twitter
Core77: You have been in the creative field for a long time, what was it that first awoke your interest?
Giorgio Giussani: I believe people are born creative. Personally, I have always loved "making" things from when I was a kid. I grew interested in graphic design and photography later on, probably around when I was a teenager. I still remember having an old Kodak compact film camera that I loved using. Somewhere along the way, I abandoned the use of film cameras, until nine years ago, when I stumbled upon a bright red Holga camera in a market in Stockholm. I've been using film ever since—I believe that it was that Holga camera that more awoke my interest for analog photography.
You say you used to make things when you were young, can you give us some examples?
A little bit of everything. I remember taking kids magazines and drawing a copy of the cover on a piece of paper. This was definitely one of the things I loved the most. Sometimes I was simply tracing over the magazine to copy a character or a picture; other times I was just trying to make my own characters... Not always successfully, but remember that it definitely was fun!
I've always loved bright colours and today you can see how this translates into my photography... I experimented with paint and colored pencils but never took this any further. You can definitely say that making things with my hands has been a constant pattern ever since I was young.
Does this streak of creativity run in your family?
I am the only creative one in my immediate family, at least when it comes to a 9-to-5 job. I believe that each individual is creative, but some show it and nurture it, others do not. Some members of my family can be creative on some tasks—my mom when she is cooking, for example—but they don't make creativity their way of life. Perhaps some people have a need to always be creative, to experiment with their creativity, while others can be creative on occasional tasks but without having this constant urge to create.
Posted by erika rae
| 17 Apr 2014
While some may call a clear, blue sky art enough, French artist Thomas Lamadieu might say otherwise. In fact, he might call it a blank canvas. His ongoing series, Skyart, takes the blank spaces between buildings and turns them into illustrated wonderlands filled with bearded inhabitants and imaginary animals.
His illustrations started out as line drawings lacking any intense detail (see below) and have grown more cartoonish with his recent pieces. It would (almost) be easy to mistake some of his earlier work for messes of telephone lines or flocks of birds in abnormal formations.
Photography accessory company Photojojo might consist of "a small and passionate team" of designers (who are hiring, by the way), but despite their dimunitive size, the SF-based outfit distributes a staggering array of product. And what they've got in the pipeline is bound to draw some attention: "We're working on some stuff to make drone photography easier for anyone to get into," the company writes. Specifically, they may be helping to usher in a new category of photography: The drone selfie.
What's a drone selfie? Well jeez, whaddaya think it is?
That one was shot by Amit Gupta, the SF-based entrepreneur who runs Photojojo. No word yet on what the physical products they'll be releasing are.
Posted by Kat Bauman
| 31 Mar 2014
My project-crush for the day goes to the FlyRig. This thing was designed and built by Real Art for the University of Dayton's basketball team hype videos, and despite having interest in neither professional photography or ball sports, I really want one. It's a 360-degree rig with the camera mounted below a rotating 16-foot arm, mounted to the ceiling of their workshop. Modeled after a massive ceiling fan and powered by an electric wheelchair motor, it allows for fast, smooth centripetal pans of the subject. In this case the subject—the University of Dayton Flyers themselves—came out looking great.
Better yet, Real Art documented the making-of the rig in a short case study:
How can something that beautiful (above) be captured with something this ugly (below)? Those unbelievably detailed macro photographs of snowflakes captured by Alexey Kljatov were shot with this monstrosity:
A conventional lens set-up to achieve shots like Kljatov's could run you in the thousands, but the clever Moscow-based shooter hacked this together on the cheap, all from obsolete equipment. He took a common, unremarkable Helios 44M-5 lens (a Soviet-era Carl Zeiss derivative that can be had for less than US $30 on eBay!) and somehow figured out that if you flip it around backwards, then place it against the lens of a common Canon Powershot A650 in Macro mode, you get some pretty awesome zoom. (The A650, a camera whose heyday was the year 2007, goes for less than US $200 on eBay.)
Kljatov then mounted his Canon to a wooden slat by drilling a single hole and driving a screw into the tripod mount. The Helios was then attached to the board with strapping tape, with the makeshift connection then "protected" from light leaks and weather using a cut-up garbage bag.
Still not impressed? Of his two shooting surfaces, one is an upside-down stool and a piece of glass, and the other is what looks like an old wool sweater. (And his lighting source, not pictured, is a freaking flashlight.)
Yet from these most ghetto-tastic of set-ups, Kljatov can start with these...
We saw some pretty crazy snowflake photos back in January, from physicist Kenneth Libbrecht. Libbrecht uses a scientist's tool, a digital microscope, to capture his images.
Moscow-based photographer Alexey Kljatov, however, is an artist. And by using conventional camera equipment (more on this in the next post) and a special postprocessing technique called "focus stacking," whereby he overlays and averages multiple RAW shots, he has captured macro photographs of snowflakes, some partially melted, that blow Libbrecht's out of the water.
This is so awesome we're surprised no one else has done this yet!
L.A.-based Corridor Digital is a tiny production company that makes full-time YouTube videos. Their latest combines a Dronefly and a GoPro, which we've seen before on the 'Tube—but they've also added the Man of Steel, which we haven't. Enough talk, behold:
The subtle attention to detail is what got me—did you notice how they got the lighting just right, in virtually all of the shots, including the barrel roll? The suspension of disbelief barrier is broken as handily as that guy's AK-47.
So given that Corridor Digital's videos are free, where does the funding come from? In two words, youse guys. CD is made up of directors Sam Gorski and Niko Pueringer and producer Jake Watson, and the trio has a kind of no-deadline Kickstarter business model: They scrape up the scratch to make awesome vids that they release for free, then accept donations to both recoup their costs and set future videos up.
To accomplish this they've partnered up with Patreon, an organization set up to back creative content producers through crowdsourced funding. Sadly I don't see much application for the service to industrial design, but for those of you curious, here's how the Patreon system works:
While Chuck Close's tool of choice was the pencil, artist Seung Mo Park makes his marks with a very different medium: Stainless steel mesh.
The 1993 Jean-Claude Van Damme vehicle Hard Target was director John Woo's first U.S. film. Woo, the acclaimed action director hailing from Hong Kong, was for the first time exposed to American production largesse: Six cameras where once he might have had two, and a variety of expensive, elaborate camera rigs well beyond the budget of your average HK flick.
In this little-seen spot produced by the L.A. Times, the Muscles from Brussels himself—in fine 1993 form and style—gives you a brief look at the unusual rigs used to "make the magic" on the set of Hard Target. (Who knew they had drone cameras back in '93?)
Posted by erika rae
| 25 Feb 2014
"St Martins in the Fields (1888) William Logsdail"
I stumbled across a historic mash-up of sorts while perusing Reddit the other day. Anytime there's a visually enticing chance to learn a bit about history without opening a musty book or sleeping through a monotoned narration, I'm sold. This series of photographs featuring modern-day London superimposed with old paintings depicting the same scene caught my eye, to say the least.
"Blackman Street London (1885) John Atkinson Grimshaw"
"The 9th of November, 1888 (1890) William Logsdail"
It's hard to believe that Fujifilm and Kodak were once competitors. Whereas Kodak declared bankruptcy in 2012, following one business failure after another, Fujifilm should be a business school case study on how to deal with tough economic times and a signature product that the world is telling you is obsolete. How does a company that made their name in film stay relevant in the age of digital photography?
We industrial designers can of course appreciate Fujifilm's retro-designed cameras, but there's more to the company's success than that: They've survived and thrived by focusing on the user experience. While they address the physical design of the cameras, they then look beyond it to ask themselves: What role does photography, and photographs themselves, play in people's lives?
Watching movies in 3D is fun, if you can stand the splitting headache those headsets give you. For now they're the moviemakers' way of tricking your eyes into feeding your brain a false sense of depth perception, but a bunch of GIF-happy blogosphere denizens have discovered a more low-tech way to do that: By adding two vertical white stripes to your moving image.
Presumably they needn't be two perfectly vertical stripes, nor is it important that they be precisely white so much as in sharp contrast to the predominant tone of the image. But by adding a visually static element that interrupts, and becomes interrupted by, a moving object, our brains are fooled into perceiving depth.
Posted by Shaun Fynn
| 10 Feb 2014
STUDIOFYNN presents A Brave New Modernism: Shanghai · Dubai · Delhi · Mumbai
Mumbai, the fourth chapter in the STUDIOFYNN's 'Brave New modernism' series, continues the exploration of cities in the developing world. As always, this chapter captures snapshots of the day-to-day lives and faces of the city's inhabitants, investigating dimensions of the metropolis beyond just architecture to reveal life at work, perspectives from the street, daily transit and the overall theme of emergence.
Another giant of the developing world mega-cities, the metropolitan area of Mumbai is home to around 20 million people. Often considered the place where India gets down to business, the city is home to the country's commercial and trading centers and is rapidly establishing itself as a major global player in the creative industries, from advertising to all forms of media and film production. Mumbai also represents a cultural mosaic like no other, and although ethic and religious tensions inevitably exist, the city also represents a pluralistic new frontier of culture as the diverse and complex cultures of the Indian subcontinent mix with the global forces of international trade and commerce.
Such dynamic growth does not come without its growing pains. As in Delhi, infrastructure development struggles to keep pace with a population that is expanding on a daily basis as new migrants arrive in unknown quantities seeking a better life. The collision of ideas, beliefs and values also occurs as migrants from the rural and traditional communities come to terms with a city whose values are becoming more aligned with contemporary global perspectives.
Ordinary lives are never really ordinary and this chapter mixes elements of portraiture and social realism with architectural documentary as a storytelling method to reveal aspects of the mosaic that form the city.