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Posted by Brit Leissler  |   5 Dec 2013  |  Comments (0)

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |   4 Dec 2013  |  Comments (0)

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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.

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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.

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It's digitally manipulated, sure, but each piece is the result of a real photograph. How does he do it? Well, guess:

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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |   5 Nov 2013  |  Comments (1)

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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:

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

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.

Posted by erika rae  |  30 Oct 2013  |  Comments (0)

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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.

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Posted by core jr  |  21 Oct 2013  |  Comments (0)

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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).

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We're pleased to present a series of exclusive photos documenting the making-of the baton, courtesy of 4c Design.

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4cDesign-QBR-2-HandleTest.jpgTesting ithe durability of the handle.

5.jpgThe "Birdmouthing" join comes from 1,000+ years of shipbuilding tradition

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4cDesign-QBR-4-Prepolish-inHand.jpgThe form was 3D-printed with Direct Metal Laser Sintering, but the rough titanium requires quite a bit of manual polishing...

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Posted by Ray  |   9 Oct 2013  |  Comments (0)

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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].

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Posted by Shaun Fynn  |   8 Oct 2013  |  Comments (1)

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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.

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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.

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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |   3 Oct 2013  |  Comments (0)

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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."

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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |   9 Sep 2013  |  Comments (0)

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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:

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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |   4 Sep 2013  |  Comments (0)

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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.

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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.

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Posted by Brit Leissler  |   3 Sep 2013  |  Comments (0)

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".

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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  23 Aug 2013  |  Comments (2)

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Everything you see above is fake, i.e. a rendering. And they're all for sale. They're images from CG Trader, an online 3D model store where designers can post their virtual models for sale to consumers. The interesting thing about them is their business model: With the traditional ID royalty model you would receive a tiny royalty percentage on say, a chair produced by a major manufacturer, but these guys pay out well over 90% after the math is done. Their pricing model allows the seller to take in 100% of their sale price, then pay a small fee (from $2 to $50, depending on your sale price) to essentially re-stock your model for sale, as if it were finite, physical merchandise going back onto a store shelf.

Whether or not you're looking to buy or sell a 3D model, they've posted a sort of visual quiz to test what a bunch of you pride yourself on: The ability to distinguish a rendering from a photograph. How good do you think you are? Which of the following came out of a camera lens, and which from a mouse?

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Posted by core jr  |  22 Aug 2013  |  Comments (0)

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With the cost of bandwidth ever in decline, the likes of Twitter and Instagram have been able to introduce moving images as well as still ones. It's too soon to determine Vine's destiny in the crowded social network space (pun intended), but the Twitter spinoff certainly has potential—and the folks at Airbnb are looking to make the most of it with an ambitious project called Hollywood and Vines. "Help shoot a first-of-its-kind short film made entirely of Vine videos. If your Vine is selected it will be featured on the Sundance Channel and you'll receive a $100 Airbnb coupon."

The team at Airbnb will be calling the shots starting right now, at 8am PT, releasing instructions every hour until 5pm—ten per day—for four days straight (through Sunday, August 27). There is a 48 hour window for submissions for each set of instructions, and they will be judged based on several weighted criteria: Originality & Creativity (40%), Compliance with Instructions (40%) and Video Quality & Clarity (20%). In addition to inclusion in the final film, each of the 40 winners will receive a $100 Airbnb coupon.

We had the chance to speak to Airbnb's Vivek Wagle about their metaphorical journey:

Core77: Let's start from the beginning—how did this project come about?

Originally, we were looking for interesting ways to galvanize our Los Angeles community around the "spirit of Airbnb"—that is, creating amazing experiences and stories through sharing. When we landed on the idea of Hollywood & Vines, we realized that we could create a much bigger, more beautiful story if we invited our global community rather than just Angelenos. We realized that this was something that had never been attempted: not an ad, but a true work of art. It was a chance to use a new form of technology to explore the boundaries of collaborative creation. And we loved the poetry of linking the history of filmmaking (Hollywood) with the future of filmmaking (Vine).

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Posted by core jr  |  20 Aug 2013  |  Comments (0)
Content sponsored by Windows Phone
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Core77 is pleased to partner with Windows Phone to bring you a series of photo diaries this summer. Based on the theme of Reinvention, we're looking to capture the fleeting moments and highlight the often-overlooked facets of the world around us through the lens of the Nokia Lumia 928, especially in the low-light settings in which its camera excels. (All photos were taken with the Nokia Lumia 928 smartphone and are published without postproduction unless otherwise noted.)

Reporting by Ray Hu

New York City's new-ish High Line is nothing if not photogenic, offering sylvan respite from the concrete jungle, a thoroughly considered green space that is at once removed from and embedded in the thick of Lower Manhattan. Diller Scofidio + Renfro and Field Operations' seminal public park is a sui generis locale, and although both the architectural features (benches, water fountains, criss-crossing paths) and impeccable landscaping allude to overgrown railroad tracks, the High Line is a remarkable urban space regardless of its history.

If it's rather difficult to take in the various art installations and commissions peppered throughout the park once the sun goes down, the tasteful lighting and ambient cityscape happen to emphasize that the High Line more of an attraction in itself. Leafy silhouettes obscure skyscrapers in the distance; cross streets afford unusual urban vistas; highrises in the immediate vicinity offer an incongruous—and at times voyeuristic—backdrop to the greenery.

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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  19 Aug 2013  |  Comments (3)

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With 200 extras behind me, I had to stride out of a crowded Broadway theater and deliver two lines to my "date," a blonde woman nearly a foot taller than me. (I was clearly a last-minute casting decision.) As I opened the theater doors, the movie camera was right there in my face; as we walked away from the theater, the camera pulled back—then up, up and away, until it was fifty feet above the sidewalk, pointing down at us. The camera was mounted on a crane so long that the base and operators of it were all the way across the street.

Setting up and operating the huge, presumably expensive crane required a swath of Times Square to be shut down. The scene required thirteen takes, and each time the crane had to be reset—not a quick process. The sun was setting and the frantic Assistant Director kept yelling "We are losing the light! We are losing the light!" into a walkie-talkie. Each reset probably cost four or five figures. As my first on-set experience of a Hollywood production, I found the whole thing grossly inefficient.

Folks, if you have any doubt that expensive, hassle-filled camera crane shots will go away, take a look at filmmaker Nicolas Doldinger's "First Flight of the Phantom," a short that he shot by attaching a GoPro Hero 3 to a DJI Phantom quadrotor and a Zenmuse gimbal. We've seen quadrotor footage before, but never like this—and by "like this" I mean in Manhattan. Doldinger's rig comes absurdly close to tree branches and appears to be so unobtrusive that nearly no one notices it. More importantly, he seamlessly goes from street level to treetop and beyond, providing footage of New York that you simply cannot see any other way:

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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  19 Aug 2013  |  Comments (1)

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It freaks me out that tiny atoms and huge solar systems consist of things rotating around each other in a similar way. It's also weird to see time-lapse footage of human beings building things (like that super-fast hotel build in China) and realize how insectoid our activities look when sped up. And above you see the latest strange big/small connection: The planet Earth resembling a beating heart or a breathing being.

A guy named John Nelson runs the UX Blog, which covers user experience, mapping and data visualization for parent software company IDV Solutions. Nelson pulled twelve rare, unobscured-by-clouds images of our planet off of NASA's Visible Earth catalog taken at different times of the year. Stitching them together into an animation, he made the visually stunning discovery you see here: As the seasons change, the ebb and flow of snow and greenery makes our little rock look like it's breathing.

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Posted by Ray  |  19 Aug 2013  |  Comments (0)

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We've devoted a fair number of pages and pixels to that singular design object known as the bicycle, and whether you're a leisure rider or all-weather commuter, weekend warrior or retrogrouch, there's no denying the functional elegance of the human-powered conveyance. Thus, when Harry Schwartzman reached out to us about lending our support to the inaugural Bike Cult Show, a celebration of the beautiful machine and a local-ish community of individuals dedicated to building them, we were happy to support the cause.

Bike Cult Show: Save the Date · Ezra Caldwell · Johnny Coast · Thomas Callahan · Rick Jones · Jamie Swan


Last we heard from Thomas Callahan of Horse Cycles, the Brooklyn-based bicycle builder had turned to Kickstarter to launch an ambitious project to bring his craft to a wider audience. He surpassed his funding goal for the Urban Tour by 50%, allowing him to invest in several new machines and tools for his shop... and true to his promise to "create more jobs and more opportunities for the framebuilding community," he's brought a few hired hands on board to help out.

However, even with a full-time assistant and a couple part-timers, Callahan has been putting in long hours himself, and he's relates that his crowdfunding efforts have been a learning experience as he looks up to scale-up his operation. As of a couple weeks ago, when I stopped by his shop to catch up with him, Thomas had shipped a handful of bikes and was planning a quick jaunt up to Maine to personally deliver bicycles to a few lucky customers along the way. He has in mind to refine the existing all-purpose flagship model—the 2014, which will be on view at the Bike Cult Show, will feature a 1 1/8” headtube to accommodate an optional carbon fork—as well as expanding the lineup. "We'd like to do a porteur bike, a track bike and a road bike... potentially, we're going to be able to drop the price..."

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Posted by Shaun Fynn  |  19 Aug 2013  |  Comments (0)

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Modernism is a broad and complex subject to define especially in the context of design and architectural movements and trends. A basic form or definition of modernism can imply some degree of celebration of our times and the processes through which we build and define our environments, habitats and products. The industrial revolution triggered the development of objects and environments created by the machine, heralding the era of mass production. This in turn redefined the fabric and structure of society, often with unforeseen consequences.

Literature is full of voices that did not share the initial altruistic sentiments of the early pioneers and supporters of 'advancement.' Karl Marx observed in great detail how the shift from craft-based economies to the industrial sector created alienation in the worker as they became "separated from the product of their labour. 20th-century writers such as Orwell and Huxley both projected their views of future dystopias based very much on the path we have taken and the forces unleashed by industrialization and its respective social change.

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The 20th century was certainly the era of formalized schools of thought especially in the field of architecture and design. These '-isms' ranged from the ideological to the reactionary, but they collectively redefined our landscape at a pace not seen before. Today we live a rapidly changing world where most of the change is happening in the emerging markets. A new industrial revolution is happening before us and change is occurring at an unprecedented pace. This new 'industrial revolution' defines the future in a new way, from the endless skyline, the brand ladened shopping malls, the high-speed rail networks to the theatrically emphasized illuminations.

These photographs reflect a visceral response to Shanghai as one of the world's fastest developing cities. Shanghai sits at a cross roads where modernity is rampant but the vestiges of the old remain. From colonial port city to a thriving center of industry and commerce, a brave new modernism is emerging.

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Posted by Ray  |  16 Aug 2013  |  Comments (0)

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Our Pop-Up Institute for Craft & Ingenuity opens in just a few hours—get a behind-the-scenes look here—but on those rare occasions when we're not inclined to make something ourselves, we turn our discerning eye to a handful of respectable purveyors of well-curated accoutrements. And while it's easy enough to find beautiful things on the Internet these days, the old-fashioned brick-and-mortar can offer a rather more immersive browsing experience.

This summer has seen the debut of a few new design-centric stores from established retailers here in the Lower Manhattan, offering an impressive selection of gift items for residents and visitors alike. Here are our pics/picks:

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We've had our eye on Shinola since they soft-launched earlier this year, so we were pleased to hear that they were planning to set up shop in NYC in addition to their main operation in Detroit. The Tribeca storefront is on the ground floor of a building that also houses offices and a showroom for Steven Alan, which is also owned by mogul-behind-the-curtain Tom Kartsotis. Following the very successful opening of their flagship store in Motor City, the NYC outpost quietly opened about a month ago, featuring a selection of the Made-in-Detroit wristwatches, bicycles, leather goods and more, as well as a few items from likeminded store Hickoree's.

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Shinola-3.jpgThe small leather goods are exclusive to the store

Designed by Rockwell Group, the understated retail space features a small café in the front and a full store in back; the furniture, fixtures and details collectively "harken back to America's manufacturing legacy." The bespoke pieces, such as the multipurpose shelving and bleachers that line opposite walls, nicely complement the reclaimed and vintage pieces, from the brass library lamps to the bronze world map, which originally bedecked "the lobby of an oil company located at Rockefeller Center."

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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |   2 Aug 2013  |  Comments (1)

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Photographer: Scott Serfas
Athlete: John Jackson
Location: Aniak, AK, USA

The physical design of the GoPro camera changed videography, as its small, wearable form factor gave rise to POV footage previously impossible to capture. It gifted us viewers with an entirely new visual experience of the world. Along those same lines, the software that enables what's known as sequential photography is allowing us to see things that the human eye cannot naturally perceive. And produced by the right shooter, those things are freaking beautiful.

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Photographer: Christian Pondella
Athlete: Brandon Semenuk
Location: Virgin, UT, USA

A handful of those shooters around the globe are making fantastic use of sequential photography, as evidenced by the finalists in the Sequence category of the Red Bull Illume Image Quest 2013 photography contest.

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Photographer: Zakary Noyle
Athlete: Gabriel Medina
Location: Oahu, HI, USA

The triennially-held competition, which will hold their award ceremony at the end of this month in Hong Kong, has posted a massive gallery of the top 250 entries across ten categories.

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Photographer: Blotto Gray
Athlete: Jeremy Jones
Location: Anchorage, AK, USA

And speaking of ten, we had to show you our ten Sequence faves. Hit the jump to see the rest.

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Posted by Glen Jackson Taylor  |   1 Aug 2013
Content sponsored by Windows Phone
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Core77 is pleased to partner with Windows Phone to bring you a series of photo diaries this summer. Based on the theme of Reinvention, we're looking to capture the fleeting moments and highlight the often-overlooked facets of the world around us through the lens of the Nokia Lumia 928, especially in the low-light settings in which its camera excels. (All photos were taken with the Nokia Lumia 928 smartphone and are published without post production.)

Reporting by Glen Jackson Taylor

Summertime in New York City is all about the outdoor events: a healthy mix of free and paid concerts, cinema in the parks, on rooftops, dance parties, river cruises and events like next week's Summer Streets festival. The penultimate installment of our Windows Phone test shoots in the wild we headed to Williamsburg Park—one of Brooklyn's newest outdoor venues—to see one of the most influential bands of the 80s, New Order. Anyone who's seen a gig in previous years at the Williamsburg Waterfront (a few streets down) is bound to be disappointed by this venue as the replacement, there's no majestic view of the Manhattan skyline and the sound quality drops significantly towards the back but on the upside, the work-in-progress park has a 7000 person capacity and unlike the Williamsburg Waterfront, all money raised at Williamsburg Park will stay in the city.

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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  25 Jul 2013  |  Comments (4)

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We've seen umbrellas stuck into car doors; optimized for wind resistance; slapped onto bikes; and the design potential for this simple device is so great that we even ran a series on umbrella innovations earlier this year (here's Part 1, here's Part 2). The umbrella is one of the longest-lived objects I can think of (and a great example of early design). We know the Ancient Greeks and Egyptians had parasols for sun blockage, and that the Chinese had developed a collapsible umbrella design as early as 21 A.D. But who came up with the idea of the umbrella in the first place?

The amazing photos here, captured by Indonesia-based photographer Penkdix Palme, make you wonder: Was the umbrella's invention biomimetic in the sense that we saw an animal doing this and then emulated them? Or is it simply common sense that early man, caught in the rain, seeks to block it by holding a deflective object above their head?

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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  25 Jul 2013  |  Comments (0)

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What you see above is what occasionally happens when helicopter rotors meet sand and dust, and when the surrounding environment is dark enough for you to see it. It's called the Kopp-Etchells Effect, named for Benjamin Kopp and Joseph Etchells, an American and a British soldier, respectively, who were killed in Afghanistan. The name was conferred by war photographer Michael Yon, who had begun documenting the phenomenon several years ago. While the photo above was shot last year by U.S. Army Sergeant Michael J. Macleod (whom Time quoted last week as saying "During my last major engagement, I shot 29 bullets and 212 images"), Yon photographed the sequence below back in '09:

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So what exactly is happening there? Prior to naming the phenomenon, Yon sought answers from pilots and one provided this explanation:

Basically it is a result of static electricity created by friction as materials of dissimilar material strike against each other. In this case titanium/nickel blades moving through the air and dust. It occurs on the ground as well, but you don't usually see it as much unless the aircraft is landing or taking off. The most common time is when fuel is being pumped. When large tankers are being fueled they must be grounded to prevent static electricity from discharging and creating explosions."

Kyle Hill from the Nautilus blog, however, looked further into it and found dissent on discussion boards about what would cause the Kopp-Etchells Effect. After doing some research, he developed an alternate explanation. The full description in all its scientific glory is written out here, but to nutshell it for you:

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Posted by Ray  |  11 Jul 2013  |  Comments (2)

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The throwable panoramic ball camera first turned up on our radar just under two years ago, when Jonas Pfeil's eye-catching SIGGRAPH 2011 presentation hit the web prior to the conference. Unfortunately, his team has kept mum since then, save for a quick update that Angela Merkel had a chance to check out the device (accompanied by a photo of the German Chancellor holding it as if testing the ripeness of a melon). In the meantime, we caught wind of a couple other contenders that were specifically geared towards tactical reconnaissance applications, including a barbell-shaped variation that led us to question whether a sphere was the way to go after all. If Steve Hollinger's recent innovations for a "Ball with camera and trajectory control for reconnaissance or recreation" are any indication, we have our answer.

"Throwable camera innovations are accelerating with advancements in sensor and imaging microelectronics," stated Hollinger. "And with the advent of low-cost, high-speed cameras for outdoor recreation, an affordable throwable camera is finally within reach."

Hollinger's patent describes a ball-shaped camera with position and orientation sensors determining the relationship between a spiraling or spinning aperture and a subject of image capture. Such a relationship allows, for example, images to be captured, re-oriented and stitched into a panorama. The technology further allows for the stabilization of video, making a camera capable of registering frames captured in sequence. Images and video are transmitted wirelessly to the user's phone, tablet or desktop.

Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the so-called Squito is the fact that it's able to capture impressively seamless 360° images with only three cameras, thanks largely to the now-patented sensor technology. As with the GoPro, consumers will likely use the tennis-ball-sized device for "recreation, professional sports, architecture [and] landscape photography," while industrial applications include "reconnaissance, search-and-rescue, first responder scene assessment [and] 3D mapping applications"—such as SLAM, which refers not to dunks but to Simultaneous Localization And Mapping, the process by which robots or other autonomous vehicles acquire knowledge of their local environment (known or unknown).

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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  10 Jul 2013  |  Comments (0)

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There are those natural phenomena that we know are coming, like comets, the Supermoon and this year's forthcoming Manhattanhenge, causing shutterbugs around the world to prepare their cameras. Then there's the stuff we have no idea is coming, like earthquakes, tsunamis and tornadoes. But the prevalence of cell phone cameras mean we're now capturing images from the latter category too. Yesterday a series of photos out of Oldsmar, Florida, went viral as a handful of residents were able to capture a waterspout—a sort of oceangoing tornado—that formed around sunset on Monday.

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Naturally there's video of it too; unsurprisingly most of it is grainy and ill-composed. After wading through a bunch of it, we found Oldsmar resident John Bosker's footage, which he showed to ABC News, to be the cake-taker. It starts around 0:44 below, and you can of course ignore the news hype before and after the footage:

This second video is kind of funny because you can hear the typical American parent-child interaction in the background (NSFW language):

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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |   9 Jul 2013  |  Comments (0)

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The last time we saw a Nikon ID video, it was more or less a one-on-one with Chikara Fujita, the designer behind the CoolPix P300. But now they've released "Designs that Embody Our Dreams," a more comprehensive (and carefully scripted) look at their entire Industrial Design Department, covering every facet of what they do: Sketching, modeling, rapid prototyping, package design, you name it. We also learn that the Department is broken into two branches, with one responsible for the physical form and a second unit handling the interface design, graphics and packaging.

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"The first element of a product that prospective users encounter at a store," says Hiroshi Kobayashi, Nikon Industrial Design General Manager, "is its overall form. Design is the first thing about our brand that users feel familiar with."

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