MAD reactivates an abandoned Japanese tunnel using surreal immersive art

August 17, 2018 by  
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How do you bring young people back into Japan’s rural areas? One popular answer seems to be with art and architecture. In one of the country’s latest rural revitalization efforts, Beijing-based design studio MAD Architects was invited to reactivate the long-forgotten Kiyotsu Gorge Tunnel in the Niigata prefecture. Created for the 2018 Echigo-Tsumari Triennale, this series of permanent artistic interventions aims to help bring back “the cultural energy that once empowered the region.” Set in the heart of Japan’s snow country, Echigo-Tsumari is a mountainous, agricultural region where more than a third of the community comprises the elderly (at least 65 years of age). In a bid to attract young people back to the countryside, Fram Kitagawa founded the Echigo-Tsumari Triennale in 2000. The art field hosts approximately 160 site-specific artworks across 200 villages in an area greater than 760 square kilometers. For this year’s program, MAD Architects was invited to re-imagine the historic Kiyotsu Gorge Tunnel, a 750-meter passageway carved through rock that offers stunning panoramic views. In a project dubbed “Tunnel of Light,” MAD created five interventions along the historic tunnel to follow the five elements of nature — wood, earth, metal, fire and water. The first installation (wood) is the “Periscope,” a small timber hut that houses a cafe, shop and hot spring foot spa with a circular aperture surrounded by mirrored lenses. “Expression of Color” (earth) marks the tunnel entrance and is outfitted with atmospheric music and different colored lights at each lookout point. The first of the modified lookout points is “Invisible Bubble” (metal), featuring a reflective and introspective capsule-like structure that only allows one-way views from the inside out. “The Drop” (fire) at the second lookout point comprises mirrored “dew drops” attached to the ceiling and walls and back-lit by red light. The “Tunnel of Light” culminates with the “Light Cave” (water), where semi-polished stainless steel elements bring reflections of gorge into the tunnel to create “an infinite illusion of nature.” Related: Futuristic “spaceship” Lucas Museum breaks ground in Los Angeles “MAD’s ‘Tunnel of Light’ is an artistic transformation that demonstrates how art and nature can come together to reinvigorate a community,” the designers said in a project statement. “Each one of the installations forms a poetic space where visitors can transcend the role of observer and become an active participant — allowing individuals to place themselves in nature in unexpected ways.” + MAD Architects Images by Nacasa Partners Inc and Osamu Nakamura

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MAD reactivates an abandoned Japanese tunnel using surreal immersive art

Abandoned 400-year-old Greek ruins transformed with brilliant bursts of color

August 6, 2018 by  
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Artists Thomas Granseuer and Tomislav Topic of the multidisciplinary German design practice Quintessenz have transformed ancient stone ruins in Kagkatika, Greece into a spectacular work of art that straddles the line between the analog and digital worlds. Commissioned by the Paxos Contemporary Art Project , Quintessenz crafted a large-scale art installation using 120 mesh layers of varying colors. Dubbed Kagkatikas Secret, the colorful artwork flutters in the wind, creating an extra dimension to the surreal piece. Kagkatikas Secret stands in striking contrast to its centuries-old stone backdrop. The mesh panels, strung up with thin wires, were spray painted a variety of colors and then cut into differing sizes. The panels were hung in order of their size—the largest were placed at the rear near the stone windows that frame views of the sea—to create the illusion of depth. This installation builds on Quintessenz’s signature style, which derives inspiration from graffiti culture, graphic design and chromatics. “The work unfolds in an approximately 400-year-old ruin and forms a unique contrast,” explains Quintessenz in a project statement. “It is detached from the usual city bustle and is not in competition with glaring lights or obtrusive advertising. The wind and the sunlight make the installation appear like a digital body in the real world. It forms the interface between analog and digital, between today and then and between old and new. The great contrast makes the installation look almost unreal, as soon as the wind settles in the layers and the sunlight underlines the colors even more, it seems as if there is only one place for this installation. This, in turn, the contrast fits in and creates exciting synergies.” Related: Nendo Unveils Collection of Sculptural Objects Made From Japanese Farming Nets Quintessenz was selected along with seven other artists for the inaugural Paxos Contemporary Art Project, a site-specific artist initiative on the Ionian island of Paxos. + Quintessenz Images via Quintessenz

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Abandoned 400-year-old Greek ruins transformed with brilliant bursts of color

Massive handmade bamboo-and-rattan "fish trap" springs up in Taipei

May 31, 2018 by  
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A giant handmade pavilion created in the image of an ancient fishing tool has popped up at the entrance of Taipei’s Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA). Rising to a height of nearly 30 feet, The Trap is a temporary installation designed by Taiwanese artist Cheng Tsung Feng that pays homage to the fishing tools and materials used by various ethnic groups in Taiwan. The movement of people through and under the structure is meant to evoke the crowds of fish caught in a fish trap. Completed this month, The Trap was commissioned as part of MOCA’s “The Charismatic Rebirth of Yore” exhibition. Artist Cheng Tsung Feng , who has a history of working with natural and locally-sourced materials, found inspiration in fish traps, an ancient Taiwanese fishing tool made of bamboo and rattan. During his research, FENG discovered huge variations in the traps created by different ethnic groups because of differences in available materials, culture and the type of catch. Despite these differences, he found that the site-specific fish traps were united by common production practices. Handmade from thin strips of bamboo, rattan and steel, The Trap is anchored over the MOCA’s entrance and features arched openings to mirror the historic building’s existing arches. Gaps between the rattan strips give the piece a lightweight feel and let dappled light shine through. The artwork measures nearly 92 feet long and more than 65 feet wide. Related: A twisting infinity-loop roof tops this prefab bamboo pavilion “These intangible cultures hidden behind tangible objects are like living things that can grow in response to the environment,” Cheng Tsung Feng said. “In this installation art, we relocated the fish trap from thousands of natural rivers to Taipei Museum of Contemporary Art, a 100-year-old man-made building. And replaced various kinds of fishes with the crowd of people. What will this traditional wisdom evolve after adapting to distinct environments and prey?” The installation will be on display until July 22, 2018. + Cheng Tsung Feng Images by Sheng Da TSAI

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Massive handmade bamboo-and-rattan "fish trap" springs up in Taipei

Hope for mountain gorillas: new census results reveal the population is increasing

May 31, 2018 by  
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Good news for mountain gorillas : the number of the  critically endangered apes residing in the Virunga Massif is up to 604 from 480 in 2010, according to a statement from the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International . In fact, the World Wildlife Fund said (WWF) the mountain gorilla is “the only great ape in the world that is considered to be increasing in population.” In 1981, just 242 mountain gorillas lived in the Virunga Massif, a transboundary area spanning Rwanda, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Several population counts later, though, the numbers are far more encouraging. There are now over 1,000 mountain gorillas in the world when the Virunga population is added to a separate one in Uganda. The population count comes from a recent census coordinated by the Greater Virunga Transboundary Collaboration  and in which the Fossey Fund’s Karisoke Research Center participated. The International Gorilla Conservation Program , a coalition program that includes WWF among its partners, backed the census. Related: Wild tigers are returning to Kazakhstan after 70-year absence 60 people took part in the census, walking through the gorillas’ range in two sweeps approximately three months apart. Researchers gathered information like hair and dung samples from night nets to work towards a population count and identify individual gorillas . The mountain gorilla population increase is due to daily protection, according to the Fossey Fund. But the fight isn’t over yet; the great apes are threatened by disease, snares laid for other animals, limited habitat, and climate change . Conservationists called for continued protection. “Dian Fossey thought mountain gorillas would go extinct by the year 2000,” Fossey Fund CEO Tara Stoinski said. “Their survival and continued increase clearly shows that intensive conservation efforts can work. The take home from the mountain gorilla story is that significant financial and time investment is needed for conservation to happen — there are no overnight fixes. We must be in it for the long haul and increase the resources available for conservation if we want charismatic species like gorillas, rhinos , elephants , and tigers to survive.” + Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International + World Wildlife Fund Images courtesy of Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International

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Hope for mountain gorillas: new census results reveal the population is increasing

This French art collective is building the world’s largest hanging garden

March 15, 2018 by  
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French art collective Les Machines de L’ile is embarking on plans to build the world’s largest hanging garden – which will be on the scale of the Hanging Gardens of Babylon. The Nantes-based design team is currently working on what they are calling The Heron’s Tree – a massive interactive garden that will span more than 160 feet in diameter and 114 feet high. The “mechanical menagerie” will invite guests to climb the labyrinth-like branches and ride one of two mechanical herons on flights that provide a bird’s-eye view of the surrounding Loire Valley. The Heron’s Tree, which is currently under construction on the banks of the Loire Valley, is actually the third part of a massive artistic endeavor called the Island’s Machines, which the artists began back in 2007. Inspired by the works of Jules Verne and Leonardo Da Vinci, the artistic project includes The Grand Elephant and the Machine Gallery, as well as the Carousel of Sea Worlds. The concept revolves around a mechanical collection of giant wild animals that roam around the world’s landscape. The project will include a large steel tree, weighing about 1,500 tons and spanning 165 feet wide. Twenty-two wide branches will be built as walkways that will be accessible from a helix staircase inside the tree trunk. Jutting out from the trunk at various heights, visitors can explore the tree’s many greenery-lined paths, which create a lush ecosystem of hanging vegetation . Related: Calatrava’s Dubai observation tower resembles the Hanging Gardens of Babylon About 115 feet above the tree top, there will be two platforms where visitors can climb aboard two massive herons. The herons will take the passengers on a circular ride soaring over of the large tree, providing a stunning 360-degree view of the Loire Valley. Created by artists Francois Delaroziere and Piere Orefice, the interactive art installation will be located on the banks of the Loire River – a significant location for the artists. “Inspired by the worlds of Jules Verne and Leonardo Da Vinci, it is an unprecedented artistic project. After the Grand Elephant and the Machine Gallery in 2007, the Carousel of the Sea Worlds in 2012, the Heron’s Tree is the third phase of the Island’s Machines. Coming out of the minds of François Delaroziere and Pierre Orefice, it will be located along the banks of the Loire River, a few meters away from the house Jules Verne spent his teenage years in and where Jean-Jacques Audubon grew up and drew his first herons.” The Heron’s Tree is the latest phase in the art ambitious project, which is scheduled for completion in 2022. The 35 million euro project is being funding partially by public funds, but the artistic team behind the project is seeking additional funding through a Kickstarter campaign . + Les Machines de L’ile Via This is Colossal Images via Les Machines de L’ile

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This French art collective is building the world’s largest hanging garden

90% of bottled water contains microplastics, according to a new study

March 15, 2018 by  
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If you thought you were safe drinking bottled water, think again. The Guardian reports that a new study commissioned by Orb Media has found microplastics in 90 percent of 259 bottles of water tested. Surveying several brands in nine different countries, scientists from the State University of New York in Fredonia told the paper some of the bottles contained twice as many plastic particles as tap water they had previously studied . To highlight the particles in any given sample, the scientists used Nile red dye that sticks to plastic, though The Guardian makes a point of noting that the study has not been published in a peer reviewed journal. That said, the technique’s developer, University of East Anglia scientist Dr Andrew Mayes, told the paper that he was satisfied the study had been conducted carefully, in the way he would have done in his own lab. Here is a list of all the brands Orb Media said were tested in the study: Aqua (Danone), Aquafina (PepsiCo), Bisleri (Bisleri International), Dasani (Coca-Cola), Epura (PepsiCo), Evian (Danone), Gerolsteiner (Gerolsteiner Brunnen), Minalba (Grupo Edson Queiroz), Nestle? Pure Life (Nestle?), San Pellegrino (Nestle?) and Wahaha (Hangzhou Wahaha Group). Of the 259 bottles of water tested, only 17 were plastic-free. The rest contained bits of polypropylene, polystyrene, nylon or polyethylene terephthalate (PET). Related: Plastic fibers found in 80 percent of tap water samples from five continents Nestle? was not satisfied with the method used to test the water, telling CBC News using Nile red dye could “generate false positives”. How ingesting plastics affects humans is still not 100 percent certain as this is an emergent field of study, according to the National Institutes of Health. Still, they note in a 2017 report , “If inhaled or ingested, microplastics may accumulate and exert localized particle toxicity by inducing or enhancing an immune response. Chemical toxicity could occur due to the localized leaching of component monomers, endogenous additives, and adsorbed environmental pollutants. Chronic exposure is anticipated to be of greater concern due to the accumulative effect that could occur.” + Orb Media Report Via The Guardian , CBC News Images via DepositPhotos 1 , 2

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90% of bottled water contains microplastics, according to a new study

Two men build a floating "Fatberg" in Amsterdam

March 9, 2018 by  
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Friends Mike Thompson and Arne Hendriks have created a floating island made of fat, a “ Fatberg ” as they call it. With a current weight of over a metric ton, the car-sized Fatberg began as one drop of fat in a glass of water in 2014. Today, the Amsterdam sight is one to behold, and Thompson and Hendriks hope to someday pull it to the North Pole. Why? The Fatberg is part art-project, part political-statement, part ridiculous-human-experiment. “Basically we’re doing this because fat is a very interesting material—it’s probably the most iconic material of time,” Hendriks told Gizmodo . “It’s organic, but it speaks about energy. It speaks about health. It speaks about over-consumption. It speaks about beauty.” The Fatberg in Amsterdam is not related to the fatberg discovered clogging the sewers beneath the streets of London in 2013. London’s fatberg was a product of improper waste disposal, with fat and grease congealing in the underworld. Amsterdam’s Fatberg is a deliberate creation, composed of various animal and plant-based fats. Its creators hope to someday add human fat, sourced from post-liposuction donations, though this remains an artist’s dream at the moment. Related: Boston man crosses harbor in a pumpkin boat To create the Fatberg, Thompson and Hendriks cut their collected solid fat, boil it into a sludge, then pour it on their creation, which floats at its own dock. Although it is not yet strong enough to carry a human, it does seem to have provided a habitat and food source for seagulls. To this end, Thompson sees the Fatberg as serving a practical purpose. “We’re talking about a floating energy reserve,” Thompson said. “We can maybe replace these melting icebergs with this floating energy reserve that allows us to store energy for times ahead. Because who knows what the future holds.” Via Gizmodo Images via Fatberg

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Two men build a floating "Fatberg" in Amsterdam

Soaring wooden watchtower hovers over 17th century Dutch fortress

March 9, 2018 by  
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Dutch firm RO&AD Architecten recently built a massive timber tower that looks out from the historic Fort De Roovere in Halsteren, Netherlands. The Pompejus watchtower and open-air theater rises 100 feet off the ground, providing beautiful views of up to 13 miles in any direction. Named after the first commander of the fortress, Pompejus de Roovere, the tower hovers over the West Brabant Water Defense Line. The area has a lot of significance in local history. The West Brabantes Water Defense Line, which was built in 1627, was an important shipping routes that faced attacks from Spanish and French forces. Fort de Roovere was one of the very first fortifications that used flooding as a defense strategy. Since the area’s battle days, the community has restored the forts and canals and introduced fresh green space . Related: Sunken Pedestrian Bridge in the Netherlands Parts Moat Waters Like Moses! Today, the area is a very popular recreation area. The tower will be used by locals and tourists as a viewing platform and open-air theater , as well as an information point on the history of the fortress. Pompejus stands on the edge of the fortress, towering over the moat and slanted in to direction of the “enemy”. The tower itself stands over 80 feet, but because the fortress landscape is 30 feet off the ground, the wooden landmark rises over 100 feet and provides expansive views. The tower’s leaning frame is made out of steel, but its facade is comprised of a series of asymmetrical timber panels interspersed with various openings. The large cutouts allow natural ventilation and light to enter the wide wooden stairwell that leads to the top of the tower. Interestingly, Pompejus was a social project developed with lots of community participation. Crowdfunding allowed locals to sponsor the tower’s construction and many local companies funded parts of the construction process such as materials and transportation. Interns from local schools and volunteers from the surrounding community were brought on to assist with the project. + RO&AD Architecten Via Archdaily Photography by Katja Effting

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Soaring wooden watchtower hovers over 17th century Dutch fortress

Artist uses materials found in nature to create elaborate cairns and mandalas

February 28, 2018 by  
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Strolling through his hometown of Yorkshire, artist James Brunt finds artistic inspiration through almost any natural materials he can get his hands on. Whether walking along the beach or taking a forest stroll, Brunt creates intricate mandala-inspired designs out of fallen leaves, twigs or sea rocks. The determined artist will spend entire days on his land art, only to see it disappear under the rising tide waters or blown away in the wind. Brunt lets nature feed his inspiration, often wandering through dense woodlands to find the perfect place to create intricate pieces of land art. Located in Yorkshire, England, he explores nearby forests, parks, and beaches to find just the right spot and materials. When the inspiration hits him, he uses natural materials like twigs, fallen leaves, and rocks to create beautifully intricate mandala-like spirals and concentric circles.  Related: Artist turns golden leaves of Sacramento Gingko tree into inspiring works of art The artist is very considerate of the environment and takes none of the materials outside of their natural habitat. He’s also very careful not to trample natural flora or landscape. In fact, most of his land art only last a few hours, often being washed or blown away by the surrounding forces like tides or winds. You can find Brunt’s beautiful artwork on his Twitter and Facebook , where he sometimes invites people to join him in his artistic ventures. He also sells prints of his photographed artworks on his website . + James Brunt Via Bored Panda Images via James Brunt Website

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Artist uses materials found in nature to create elaborate cairns and mandalas

Artist creates intricate shadowboxes out of laser cut wood pieces

February 19, 2018 by  
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Inspired by the wildlife and nature found in the Pacific Northwest, Oregon-based artist Jason Pancoast of Shadowfox Design  handcrafts intricate images out of laser-cut pieces of oak wood. The whimsical shadowboxes are made by layering thin pieces of dark oak wood over the vibrant images, which are painted with acrylic paint. Nature and wildlife are the major inspirations for the artist, who tries to show how we are all connected to nature through his wood art . One of Pancoast’s most beautiful pieces is titled The Call . The background is made out of multiple layers of blues, greys and whites that, when glued together, create an image of a moon-lit forest landscape with a wolf walking among the trees. The image is framed by multiple layers of dark oak wood, forming a larger wolf. Other pieces include a soothing image of a Birch Forest and and a dynamic forest scene called Unto the Path . Related: Gabriel Schama creates intricate wooden sculptures with laser-cutting technology Pancoast not only creates his shadowboxes out of the carefully cut wooden layers , but he also works with paper art as well. First sketching nature-inspired scenes on matte paper in pencil, he then digitally adjust each sheet. He then creates beautiful scenes by layering the sheets, which are then carefully arranged into oak frames. + Shadowfox Design Via My Modern Met Images via Shadowfox Design

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Artist creates intricate shadowboxes out of laser cut wood pieces

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