From self-balancing cubes to Pete Wegner's inverted city within a city, it's safe to say that we've seen our share of gravity-defying designs. Since then, we've found three projects that we can't help but draw similarities between. Here are a few more force-defying projects that we've come across recently.
The Tbilisi, Georgia-based design studio is no stranger to sharp angles and head-tilting constructions. Their series, which takes its name from the acute angles of the pieces, consists a trio of reality-bending furniture pieces: a red chair, a console & chair and a blue table. While the photos are a little too "American Apparel" for our tastes with their leotard-clad models, we can't deny the conversation starter appeal of this series.
The PillCam is designed for, as the AP puts it, "patients who have had trouble with the cringe-inducing colonoscopy procedure," which we'd imagine is just about everybody. The pill-sized camera doesn't invade your butt but instead goes in from the other end, and once you've swallowed it, it starts beaming high-speed photos of your insides to a device on your waist as it makes its way towards your waste. Then the doc checks the resultant video out, and uploads it to his Facebook or whatever, and you didn't even have to take your pants off.
Now that the PillCam has received FDA clearance, it's set to become a sort of GoPro for your colon. Aren't you excited to see the fun PillCam videos people will clog YouTube with? Great, because we've got one after the jump! I would have put it before the jump but I don't want to get fired! Enjoy!
In a twist on the Tao tenet of emptiness, New York City is a place where empty space can be worth more than anything that one might fill it with—so goes the real estate industry in our fair city. Yet overdevelopment is all the more reason for urbanites to appreciate negative space as respite from the never-ending crowds. Whether or not you dwell in a concrete jungle, it's a pleasant surprise to have the chance to appreciate a bustling neighborhood's negative architectural space in from an unexpected perspective.
New York City-based artist Peter Wegner took to the urban streets and turned the city's famed cityscape upside down to unveil his own natural—and otherwise invisible—inverted constructions.
Globetrotting photographer Amos Chapple has shot in sixty countries, eventually working his way up to be named Cathay Pacific's Travel Photographer of the Year for '09. More recently, New Zealand native Chapple photographed a region with weather very opposite from that of his home country: Oymyakon, Russia, where the average winter temperature is negative-58 Fahrenheit (negative-50 Celsius). As Chapple told Weather.com, "occasionally my saliva would freeze into needles that would prick my lips," and "focusing the lens would sometimes be as challenging as opening a pickle jar."
Viewing these photos officially means you can never complain about being cold ever again. The temperature is so brutal that Oymyakon residents' lives are structured around surviving it, with inconveniences aplenty. For example: No wearing eyeglasses outdoors, unless you want them to stick to your skin. Even worse, there's no indoor plumbing. It's impossible to keep underground pipes from not freezing, so guess where you'll go when you need to use the bathroom:
Then there's the gas situation: When you stop your car, to run into a store for instance, you cannot turn the car off, or it won't start again. So everyone leaves their cars running (except at night, when they're parked in heated garages)...
When it comes to designs involving LEGO, we're pretty serious. From a prosthetic leg made from the infamous building blocks to hardware design, we can't pass up a chance to show off the post-childhood opportunities LEGO has to offer. This time around, the mini-figs are starring in a series of photographs spotlighting characters from Star Wars films.
"Bossk's Cool Day Out"
The main ingredient and ultimate deal-maker? Baking powder.
STUDIOFYNN presents A Brave New Modernism: Shanghai · Dubai · Delhi
Delhi takes the spotlight in the third chapter of the STUDIOFYNN's 'Brave New Modernism' series, an ongoing exploration of cities in the developing world and how the human condition is influenced by the rapid development and expansion of the built environment. As noted in the first chapters, the developing world is expanding at an unprecedented rate, giving rise to all manner of social, economic, environmental and infrastructural challenges.
Delhi, by most matrices or measures, is one of the world's fastest growing cities. 2013 census figures document a population of just under 17 million with other sources estimating as high as 22 million, which would make it the world's second largest city after Tokyo by many rankings. The Economic Times of India indicates that Delhi's population has grown by 21% between 2001 and 2011, which is higher than the national average of urban population growth of about 17%. The resulting density turns the urban landscape into a complex and unique visual tapestry.
Providing for a rapidly expanding metropolis outgrowing its infrastructure faster than it can be built is an enormous task. Every environmental and socioeconomic issue becomes amplified in a city where many of the inhabitants are classified as the urban poor, lacking those basic amenities, such as sanitation, that are too often taken for granted in the world's developed metropolises.
The consequences of such a population burden is evident in all aspects of life. Inadequate infrastructure creates negative economic impact, where goods and services become harder to deliver and labor patterns become increasingly disrupted as traffic gridlock gradually ensues. This in turn may eventually result in new working patterns and the development of mega corridors as a solution for affordable housing in relative proximity to places of work, an equation that remains considerably out of balance in today's Delhi.
You might remember watching in awe as your grade school science teacher magically lit up an LED with a potato or three. There's not much to it—a natural acid serves as the electrolytic medium between a pair of terminals—but it's certainly a clever way to illustrate the basic principles of batteries and circuits. Now, photographer Caleb Charland is bringing back the science of natural batteries in a series of photos that might just evoke the same sense of wonder as those classroom demos from your childhood.
Back to Light, features daisy chains of fresh fruit basking in a glow of their power, so to speak. The apples and limes are a little more photogenic than the tubers that traditionally serve as the humble battery, but given his sense of composition, we'd bet that Charland could make potatoes look this good too. Since the long-exposure photographs are illuminated solely by their subject matter to make for a kind of autonomous still life, the light source is paramount; the arrangements are either backlit or clustered around the bulb, huddled together in quasi-ritualistic fashion powering small light sources.
The project is not only intriguing for highlighting the unusual use of fruit in an energy-giving sense, but also for fueling our curiosity about just how many citruses it would take to sustain household lights.
Embroidery might not be groundbreaking or new, but the craft is clearly having a moment. We're not talking about the circular pieces you might see your mom working on right before she goes to bed—this embroidery shows up on photographs, metal objects and even human hands.
We've come a long way from grainy photos with splashes of colored embroidery; see more on Design Observer
Embellished photos date back to the turn of the century, originating as a simple method of adding a personal touch to mementos. We've come a long way in terms of art and photography, but this trend is still making appearances in modern art and design—sometimes on photographs, and other times on our own skin.
More recently, artist Diane Meyer has developed a more contemporary take on embroidered photography, effectively 'pixelating' regions of photographs into geometric 'averages' of the colors there. The result is a kind of handcrafted 'artifact,' both in the sense of a meaningful object and the degradation of a compressed digital image file.
We've seen plenty of GoPro footage of surfers from POV and "selfie" angles, as well as cool GoPro quadrotor footage before. But it's not 'til now that we've seen these things combined. Hawai'i-based shooter Eric Sterman runs Sterman Aerial Photography and has captured some stunning overhead footage of surfers on Oahu's North Shore.
Sterman's footage not only captures the breathtaking perspective of seeing waves swell and break from overhead, but it also offers a context you rarely see in surf videos: For every guy on a board catching a wave just right, you see dozens of hopefuls paddling out and waiting their turn, bobbing and flailing until their opportunity to synchronize with nature arrives.
The last thing some of us urbanites might want is someone getting a close-up of our face while we're waiting (most likely impatiently) for a train home in rush hour crowds. But that's exactly what Adam Magyar is doing with his series "Stainless"—and he's making us all (collectively) look artsy and awesome through slow-motion 'portraits' of public transit platforms.
Side-by-side is a trip (apologies to Magyar for the cheap thrill)
Those are excerpts of Magyar's footage of Alexanderplatz in Berlin and 42nd St/Grand Central Station in New York City. The films were created with a backpack-concealed camera that shoots footage of train platforms from inside approaching cars. It's pretty eerie the way quick gestures are still movements in a mostly frozen frame, but with a small fraction of the speed. Hair flips, hands grabbing for bags, children chasing each other—they're all turned into scenes straight out of Kirsten Dunst's semi-smashing (and super depressing) apocalypse film, Melancholia:
Finally, a sport that tests your biology, design and photography skills, along with your patience. Aquascaping—competitive aquarium design—is a completely real thing and the finished products are amazing. Hundreds of competitors flock to The International Aquatic Plants Layout Contest year after year to show off their water gardening skills.
The landscapes come off more dream-like than anything else—only when you notice tiny fish and other aquarium dwellers in the nooks and crannies of the photos that you're convinced it's real. I bet many of you, like me, shudder at the thought of how long it takes to clean the tank; an award-winning aquascape can take months to years to complete.
Remember our Car Studio Photography Set-Ups entry? That gave you a pretty good look at the insane amount of equipment required to shoot automobiles. But of course it didn't cover every possible situation; most of the earlier set-ups we saw were all about diffusing the overhead light, like this:
Australia-based Easton Chang, on the other hand, used unfiltered tungsten lighting while capturing a Holden VF Commodore, resulting in one of the "hotter" shoots of his career:
"All the lights were (boiling!) hot tungsten lights," Chang writes. "There were a total of 84 lights, including the ones lighting the front of the car which you can't see in the shot.
"The results? Absolutely boiling hot conditions, the paint (which was one off and uber expensive) started to bubble and the metal on my tripod was too hot to touch with your bare hands."
Chang, by the way, may just have one of the coolest jobs in the world: He travels the globe photographing exotic cars, capturing shots like these:
In 2013, the Core77 team visited design festivals, exhibitions, conferences, design studios and manufacturers around the globe bringing you a firsthand look at stuff that made us look twice. This collection of images is not so much a narrative in itself as it is a broad survey of design happenings and projects that we documented over the past year. All of our international photo correspondents are practicing designers, and we are always excited to see how they capture these events with a designer's lens (both figuratively and physically).
Going into 2014, we are looking forward to having lenses and tripods on the ground in more cities—if you're interested in contributing, have a decent camera and a sharp eye for design that counts, send me a short bio with a link to your photos: glen [at] core77 [dot] com.
Happy New Year!
Click on each image to see the full galleries / photo essays!
SVA Products of Design's ALSO! project, WantedDesign, New York Design Week. Photo by Kathryn McElroy
Props by Frederick McSwain, Off the Grid at Gallery R'Pure, New York Design Week. Photo by Glen Jackson Taylor
UMJ-1 Custom Keyboard Stand by UM Project for Mikael Jorgensen of Wilco. Photo by Glen Jackson Taylor
This is the second part in STUDIOFYNN's 'Brave New Modernism' series, which launched with a photo essay on Shanghai.
Dubai symbolizes the megacity with the megaprojects like no other. Rarely have our talents as builders been so effectively combined with our talents as storytellers. Dubai tells the story of unprecedented and rapid economic expansion spurred by oil wealth and the city's desire to be the hub of commerce for the region. The enactment of carefully crafted policies has created an international center for finance, tourism, trade and manufacture.
The fictional nature of Dubai has been the subject of much debate but interpreting the elements that contribute to the increasingly blurred lines between fact and fiction, myth and realty are a challenge for our era. Our abilities as architects and designers to understand the power of a brand now bridges every aspect of what we create. From handbags to high-rises, the entire built world becomes ever more sophisticated as we evolve our practices to better cater for the motivations and desires of both business and the individual.
One of the key differences on how cities develop visual characteristics and urban plans today is the power of the media. The media is not only a modern phenomenon capable of generating huge revenue and needing many square feet of office space to do this, but also a conduit that creates new visual myths and realities, especially through the photographic image and the cinema. Dubai is characterized strongly by these phenomena as its architecture takes on visual codes inspired by science fiction cinema and a need to communicate its value through the TV, online media, billboards and magazines. The built environment therefore has to take on a form conducive to dissemination of value propositions through media channels, possibly more so than catering to our basic needs and sensitivities towards issues of relative human scale, climate, recreation and keeping in balance with the natural world.
Such brave thrusts forward come with their wake, something we have much less understanding of than the pursuit of progress. Apart from disconnecting us from some basic elements of well being, there are the issues of environment, carbon footprint and the inevitable social consequences of rapid development and labour migration. With the need to desalinate its water supply and air condition its interior spaces, Dubai is one of the world leaders of energy consumption per capita. One persons shopping paradise can be another's environmental transgression so the definition of success and failure has many facets. What is apparent is that designers and architects, in conjunction with policy makers, marketers, industrialists and alike need to anticipate the wake of progress and learn to design for it with equal measure, otherwise our long term visions may not achieve the much vaunted status of 'sustainable.'
Victor Enrich, a Barcelona based photographer, has pushed even his reputation of reconfigurations and twisted figures to the extreme. For his most recent project, he took an image of the NH Deutscher Kaiser hotel (hence the name Project NHDK) in Munich and translated the building's architecture 88 different ways. Most are impossible twists and turns, but some pass as surprisingly realistic.
Lifelike or not, it's fun to think about what the familiar structures in our lives would look like if we had the chance to get our hands on the architecture. Check out this video showing all of Enrich's variations:
Anyone who has ever visited the Taj Mahal in Agra, India, would probably agree that it is one of the most fascinating buildings that he or she has ever been in the presence of. Even in pictures, one can sense the almost magical aura of this massive marble memorial, which appears as though it is floating. If it has a breathtaking effect from afar, it becomes truly mind-blowing when having a closer look—when one can see that all the delicate patterns that cover the huge marble blocks are actually stone inlays.
On a recent trip to India, I had the chance to learn how these stone inlays are made. They are in fact still done in exactly the same way that they used to be done in 1633, when the 17-year construction of the Taj Mahal began—except that the craft is applied to souvenirs rather than mausoleums these days.
The Taj Mahal was built by the great Mughul emperor Shajahan, in memory of his wife Mumtaz, who died giving birth to her 14th child. To create it, the most skilled architects, inlay craftsmen, calligraphers, stone-carvers and masons were called from all across India and lands as distant as Persia and Turkey. It is said that the most skilled individuals who had worked on the Taj Mahal had one hand cut off after it was finished so they could never duplicate this work again.
Fortunately, the artisans were still able to pass on their skills to future generations (although only to the men and only within the family), and, 14 generations down the line, I had the pleasure to meet some of their descendants, who demonstrated how these stone inlays—pietra dura or parchin kari—are made. The artisans work together as a cooperative, meaning each of them remains an individual artist with complete creative freedom, but all profits are shared equally.
The starting point are thin sheets of various (semiprecious) stone, from which the artisan creates delicate shapes, some only a few millimetres in size, like the little dot in the picture above. Only a (human-powered) grindstone is used, and the craftsman will inevitably also abrade the skin on his fingers during this process.
Each shape is ground individually and must fit precisely without any gaps. Once a perfect fit has been achieved, the marble plate, into which the ornamental pattern will be integrated, is covered with a layer of henna paint.
The single pieces that make the inlay pattern are laid out on the marble plate and their outlines scratched into the surface. The orange color serves as an orientation when carving out the individual grooves, into which the semiprecious stone pieces will be glued.
Todd McLellan meets Ferris Bueller's friend Cameron? For his contribution to the "exploded object" genre of photography, Fabian Oefner ratchets up the intensity by seemingly having taken a ratchet to exotic cars, disassembling them piece by piece.
The Swiss artist's Disintegrating series features some of the most beloved classic car models—a Ferrari 250 GTO, a Gullwing Benz, a Jag E-type—and shows you what they're made of, deconstructing those beautiful forms to float the mechanicals out into space.
It's digitally manipulated, sure, but each piece is the result of a real photograph. How does he do it? Well, guess:
We've lauded GoPros before for their ability to represent sights we'd never ordinarily see. An army of extreme athletes toil to catch the perfect wave or land the perfect jump, to be captured and locked into pixels forever by a miniscule mounted camera. But while we've now witnessed thousands of tricks gone perfectly right, the bitter arithmetic of human error combined with multiple, persistent recordings means we'll be treated in the future to plenty of viewings of awful things happening too. (Witness NYC's horrifying Bikers-vs.-SUV-driver incident, for instance.)
This footage below, shot on Saturday and destined to go viral this week, is something in between miraculous and awful. At 12,000 feet over Wisconsin, two planes filled with skydivers collide; one plane explodes; skydivers from both go tumbling unexpectedly into the sky. You can even see one guy trying to hang on to a wing strut before the wind rips him away. And what happens to the pilots? It is nothing short of amazing:
No less than five of the skydivers—Mike Robinson, Amy Olson, John Rodrigo, Patricia Roy and Chad Ebling—were wearing helmet-cams that were on as the accident occurred, resulting in the news teams being able to whack the footage up from multiple points of view, providing an entirely new type of spectacle. [NBC licensed the footage for exclusive use, so their cut is going to the only game in town.] We've seen footage of a GoPro camera being dropped from an airplane before and surviving the fall; it's nice to see the same happen with a group of eleven human beings.
It seems like you only see light painting in wedding photo ops and unintentionally (and then intentionally) in 4th of July sparkler shots. It's a photo hack that's well known and slightly overused. Not to mention the outcome is generally a childlike scribble of lines somewhat resembling what you were trying to write. Bitbanger Labs has created light painting on steroids that has with their pixelstick.
By prepping photos in an image editing program like Photoshop, the Pixelstick wand reads the images and displays them one line at a time. The tool itself is an aluminum plated rod that houses 198 full color RGB LEDs. The real work comes from a handbox which connects to the wand and holds the photo information on an SD card. The light painter just needs to set the correct image up in the handbox, connect it to the wand and point it length-side forward in the direction they want the image to appear.
Last week, we took a look at the story behind the bespoke baton that Glasgow's 4c Design, Ltd., created for the XX Commonwealth Games in 2014. The baton was unveiled at a special ceremony on October 9, the occasion for remarks from Prince Imran of Malaysia (President of the CGF), Lord Smith of Kelvin (Chair of the 2014 Games) and of course Her Royal Majesty Queen Elizabeth II herself.
The BBC's Mark Beaumont filed his latest report, from Sri Lanka, yesterday afternoon; the Baton is about halfway through it's tour of Southeast Asia and will be in Australia by Halloween (view the full 70-country, 288-day route here).
We're pleased to present a series of exclusive photos documenting the making-of the baton, courtesy of 4c Design.
Testing ithe durability of the handle.
The "Birdmouthing" join comes from 1,000+ years of shipbuilding tradition
The form was 3D-printed with Direct Metal Laser Sintering, but the rough titanium requires quite a bit of manual polishing...
I was a bit surprised to discover, at some point between my second and third excursions to the neighborhood of Dashilar, that the press kit for Beijing Design Week included a few photos documenting not the myriad pop-up exhibitions or experimental renovation projects on view but rather glimpses of everyday life in the hutong, shorthand for Beijing as a whole. Unimpressed with the exhibitions we visited on a jetlagged first day in Beijing, I had it mind to seek the "real" Dashilar—whatever that might mean—during our second foray, hoping to highlight the non- or un-designed 99.9% of the neighborhood in the interest of making some kind of statement by capturing the beauty of the mundane.1
So I was a bit dismayed to learn that the press office at Beijing Design Week had beaten me to the punch, and I couldn't shake the uncanny feeling that my unorthodox reporting had somehow been preemptively subverted into another instrument of propaganda. Indeed, the 'official' description of Dashilar, per Beijing Design Week, is "a special zone within Beijing's old city," "showcasing the regional characteristics that are the charm of the increasingly international Beijing." Mythologized as a nexus of past, present and future—authentic Beijing condensed into a square kilometer—Dashilar has been cast as an instance of learning from past mistakes, which makes this kind of reporting is squarely aligned with the government (qua developers) agenda. Not that it's really worth further speculation: Beijing Design Week is, by definition, an exercise in soft power (the softest, my friend joked), a vehicle for China to assert itself as a global destination for culture... which, of course, it is and always has been.
While it would be optimistic to extrapolate from Dashilar as anything more than a testing ground at this point, it's certainly worth exploring the impressively thorough documentation at Dashilar.org. Although most of the website is Chinese-language only, navigating to the first menu item on the second of the three 'sheets' will take you to a page with several tiled links (in Chinese), each of which links to a bilingual PDF presentation. I recognized them as poster presentations from the hub in Dashilar, covering everything from the Historic Situation [PDF] to the Strategy Overview [PDF], as well as an overview of the PILOT program [PDF].
Culture and belief often are often expressed through visual codes. The origin and meaning of these codes are full of rich influences driven by historical evolution, invasions and colonization of societies, combined with ideas of modernity, status and progress.
The Indian state of Kerala is home to many unique visual messages combining the influences of Portuguese colonization and Christianity with architecture and beliefs of Islam, both through historical settlement and the contemporary influences of modern day migration and trade with the Persian Gulf.
Although Hinduism remains more widely practiced in Kerala, the region is home to many Christians and Muslims as well, and their visual presence through the architecture of places of worship has evolved into its own particular and unique statement. This imagery tells the story of a complex subcontinent distinctly different from the typical associations of India: Hindu deities, Mughal palaces and British colonial architecture.
Since both belief systems are migratory to the region, they bring with them the ideas and interpretations of the old along with a healthy dose of Indian modernism and assimilation with the natural beauty and color of the region. When separated from its source or origin, an idea begins to evolve into a new form. New strains can be seen in the Keralan edifices of belief or even in the way the Indian tradition of Yoga is now practiced globally through the development of new branches.
This summer our Managing Editor Ray put a Nokia Lumia 928 to good use, capturing a nighttime bike race in Brooklyn. More recently, NYC-based filmmaker Paul Trillo got his hands on a Lumia 1020—that's the 41-megapixel bad boy—and also shot New York at night, with a different goal in mind.
To exploit the 1020's insane megapixel count, Trillo combined careful planning with some software kung fu to create a sort of "infinite zoom" effect, by stitching together shots of Broadway (spanning 41 blocks, or roughly two miles) with the same one-point perspective. The finished vid is called NY 41x41:
"What's useful about having all that extra [megapixel count] wiggle room, is it allows you to re-crop your photos," Trillo told NoFilmSchool. "Lose the extra head room, rotate and level out your horizon line."
We've often looked at how new applications of camera technology, from quadrotors to GoPros to sequential shooting, can be used to create thrilling footage. But these are often used for purely artistic effect. Now some Formula One racing teams are experimenting with alternate imaging for scientific and diagnostic effect. In last weekend's Italian Grand Prix, UK-based Force India kitted out their VJM06 car—a technological masterpiece of carbon fiber, aluminum and a sort of super-Kevlar called Zylon—with an onboard thermal imaging camera. By producing a simple color scheme ranging from purple to orange, and greying out everything that's not hot, it allows technicians to see where and how hot the tires get. Have a look:
Is tracing cheating? Not when you're innovative photographer Janne Parviainen, who "had this mad idea of tracing entire rooms with one LED" while leaving the camera shutter open. The Helsinki-based artist's ghostly recordings resemble a sort of low-res, organically imperfect laser scan of spaces and the people who inhabit them. They also bring to mind the contour drawings that art students grind out during Foundation.
No post-processing is used; Parviainen simply calculates his settings, opens the shutter, then spends "a few seconds to hours, depending" tracing a room with his LED to create images straight from the camera lens.
If you are among the two million people who would have liked to expose their senses to the biggest revolution in cooking since the discovery of fire by visiting the legendary elBulli restaurant on Spain's Costa Brava, but didn't manage to do so before it closed two years ago, here comes a consolation: The Art of Food show in the Embankment Galleries of London's Somersethouse narrates the story of the elBulli restaurant and its protagonists in an engaging and well-executed exhibition.
Drawings and carefully crafted putty models preceded every new dish that Ferran Adria put on the table.
The work in the upper gallery focuses mainly on the molecular cooking techniques developed by Ferran Adria and his brother Albert Adria, whereas the lower showroom provides (via countless photographs and personal memrobilia) an intimate view into how the elBulli restaurant came into existence and how it developed over the years into the Mekka of New Cuisine. In the late 80's, chef and elBulli co-owner Ferran Adria's priority shifted from simply creating dishes, to create concepts and techniques that would be capable of making diners live experiences.
This giant meringue Bulli (french bulldog) was created for the final dinner at the elBulli restaurant in 2011. It's now on show in London's Somersethouse.
By doing so, he is an artist and a chemistry professor in equal measure (holding a honorary doctorate of Barcelona University), while being considered the most influential chef of the past two decades. To put it with the words of Richard Hamilton (a passionate disciple of Adria's cuisine): "Ferran did for cooking what Shakespeare did for language—he completely re-invented its vocabulary".