Animation

After Her Brain Short-Circuits, A Young Girl Tries on a Second Head in a Lighthearted Stop-Motion Animation

March 10, 2022

Grace Ebert

The saying goes that two heads are better than one, except in the case of a young girl named Matilda. The titular character of a playful stop-motion short by Lithuanian animator Ignas Meilunas, Matilda is on track to be the smartest girl in the world when suddenly, mid-study session, her mind goes haywire. She recognizes that she can’t stuff a single fact more into her already packed brain and to remedy the issue, her mother decides to order her daughter a second head from a department store. Of course, this quick fix is really no solution at all, and Matilda soon realizes that there’s more to life.

According to Short of the Week, Meilunas hadn’t worked with puppets prior to “Matilda and the Second Head,” which retains all of the charm and detail of his previous pieces—you might remember him from “Mr. Night Has a Day Off.” The character-driven short already has been shown at a variety of festivals including Annecy and helped him win the Best Animation for Young Audiences award from the 2020 Ottawa International Film Festival. Meilunas recently shared an in-depth look behind-the-scenes of the project, and you can watch more of his short comedies on Vimeo.

 

 

 



Art

In 'Turn Off the Plastic Tap,' Three Tons of Waste Pour From a Spigot Floating 30 Feet Above Ground

March 10, 2022

Grace Ebert

All images © Benjamin Von Wong, shared with permission

Last week, representatives from 175 nations formally agreed to curb plastic pollution in a momentous move. Plastic has become an increasingly urgent part of the climate crisis, and recent estimates approximate that the total amount of the material produced throughout history exceeds the combined weight of all animals on land and sea. Each year, we collectively generate 300 million tons more waste from single-use containers and similar products, a staggering number in comparison to the 9 percent we’ve recycled and a testament to the harsh reality that the planet is engulfed with plastic.

To coincide with the United Nations Environment Assembly meeting, photographer and artist Benjamin Von Wong (previously) erected a towering, 30-foot installation outside U.N. headquarters in Kenya. With the help of the Human Needs Project, an NGO providing basic services to slums around the world, Vong Wong collaborated with more than 100 residents of the large, poverty-stricken region of Nairobi known as Kibera. Together, they gathered, sanitized, and strung up three tons of water bottles, condiment containers, and other unwanted items that were then suspended from the oversized silver spigot.

Although it shows a minuscule portion of the waste produced worldwide, the resulting installation, titled “Turn Off the Plastic Tap,” is a powerful indictment of consumerism and the lack of environmental protections. “Too much of the plastic conversation revolves around recycling and cleanups, but those only deal with the consequences, and not the root cause,” Von Wong writes. “The real solution and opportunity is getting plastic production back under control by making sure we turn off the plastic tap.”

Watch the video below and check out Von Wong’s Instagram to see how the massive spout was constructed—thanks to a Web 3.0 community called the Degenerate Trash Pandas, which funded the installation, an additional $100,000 was raised for charity, as well—and find more of his projects concerned with plastic waste, like this installation of 168,000 straws, on his site.

 

Photo by Atieno Muyuyi

Photo by Atieno Muyuyi

Photo by Ziggy

Photo by Atieno Muyuyi

Photo by Ziggy

 

 



Photography

Hens and Roosters Fly the Coop and Strut Into the Spotlight in Alex ten Napel's Portraits

March 9, 2022

Grace Ebert

All images © Alex ten Napel, shared with permission

“Hens and roosters can’t be directed,” says photographer Alex ten Napel. No matter the situation, the red-faced birds are wholly themselves, lurching from one spot to the next, burying themselves within masses of feathers, and spreading their wings as if they’ll finally lift off the ground despite being notoriously poor fliers. Chickens are known for their awkward gaits and distinct attitudes and are also the latest subjects of ten Napel’s portraiture.

Having focused his lens on people for about 25 years, the Amsterdam-based photographer realized that documenting the fowl occupying his henhouse would be a compelling challenge. This interest culminated in his ongoing Hens and Roosters series, which shines studio lighting on the oddly photogenic creatures and captures their unique mannerisms as they strut around the space. “Photographing became unexpected, exciting, and out of control. I was impressed by these little feathered creatures who had the power to tell me to be patient and to wait for the right moment,” ten Napel shares.

Prints of the moody birds are available on his site, and keep an eye on his Instagram for news about a Hens and Roosters book. You also might enjoy Henji Shin’s antagonistic chickens and these glamour shots.

 

 

 



Art Craft

Vibrant Embroideries by Hillary Waters Fayle Enhance the Natural Beauty of Preserved Leaves

March 9, 2022

Grace Ebert

Photos by David Hunter Hale, © Hillary Waters Fayle, shared with permission

Favoring thread and found materials, Richmond-based artist Hillary Waters Fayle (previously) works at the intersection of textile traditions and botany. “Stitching, like horticulture, can be functional,” she says, “a technical solution to join materials/a means of survival. Or, both can be done purely in service of the soul, lifting the spirit through beauty and wonder.”

Fayle’s practice embodies this sentiment with elaborate and colorful embroideries applied to dried leaves. Lined with brown edges, the perfectly preserved surfaces become more fragile as they age, and the threaded embellishments enhance the relationship between the natural and fabricated. “There is a sense of magic in being able to work with such an unexpected and exquisite material,” the artist says. “The tension in the thread, the type of stitching, the needle, the species, and the season are just some of the factors that may influence what happens.” Recent pieces include ornate networks in blue on ginkgo, floral motifs on eucalyptus, and red dots on golden leaves.

This summer, Fayle’s works will be on view at Quirk Gallery in Charlottesville, Virginia, and this fall at Asheville’s Momentum Gallery. Until then, explore more of her stitched works, in addition to leafy cutouts and large-scale murals, on Instagram.

 

 

 



Art Craft

Evoking Micro Life, Porcelain Sculptures by Shiyuan Xu Swell in Intricate Shapes

March 9, 2022

Grace Ebert

“Hybrid #1” (2021), colored porcelain paperclay and glaze, 20 × 7 × 18.5 inches. Photo by Guy Nicol

At once rigidly skeletal and imbued with rhythmic movement, the porcelain sculptures that comprise Shiyuan Xu’s Growth series are intricate recreations of single-celled organisms, molecules, and other micro lifeforms. The Chinese artist hand-builds delicate ceramic works of three-dimensional webbing that swell and surges into amorphous shapes mimicking a range of living creatures. Stretching up to two feet, the enlarged, abstract sculptures incorporate both the universal nature of evolution and change, while directly tying to Xu’s background. “My attempt of using the classical Chinese blue and white and celadon color palette in a contemporary way reflects my own narratives, life experience, and cultural heritage” she shares, explaining further:

The regular and irregular structures and layers of my piece blend in with the memory of my sensations and personal experience. The repetitive and labor-intensive process seems to be a therapy to ease my anxiety and sense of uncertainty while facing constant challenges in the intersections of two cultures.

To create each piece, Xu undertakes a laborious process that involves applying a heavy glaze and then using a knife to scratch the edges away. The removal leaves a line of raw clay coursing through the middle of each segment, and works like “Blue Vein #4” and “Hybrid #1” emphasize that central element with color. “After the piece is fired, I repeat the same process many times, to spray, scrape, and fire again, until the surface texture is accumulating to a very obvious degree,” she tells Colossal, noting that she sometimes replicates these steps ten times—check out the artist’s Instagram for a detailed look at her process.

Xu is currently an artist-in-residence at Chicago’s Lillstreet Art Center, and if you’re in London, you can see her work from May 10 to 15 with Ting-Ying Gallery at Design Center Chelsea Harbour.

 

“Vena #4” (2020), porcelain paperclay and glaze, 23 × 10 ×17 inches. Photo by Guy Nicol

“Vena #9” (2021), porcelain paperclay and glaze, 24 × 8 × 18 inches. Photo by Jeanne Donegan

“Vena Celadon #2” (2021), porcelain paperclay and glaze, 20.5 × 13 × 12 inches. Photo by Guy Nicol

“Blue Vein #14” (2021), colored porcelain paperclay and glaze, 14 × 6.25 × 20 inches. Photo by Jeanne Donegan

Detail of “Blue Vein #14” (2021), colored porcelain paperclay and glaze, 14 × 6.25 × 20 inches. Photo by Jeanne Donegan

“Vena #4” (2021), colored porcelain paperclay and glaze, 19.5 × 8 × 19 inches. Photo by Guy Nicol

Detail of “Vena #9” (2021), porcelain paperclay and glaze, 24 × 8 × 18 inches. Photo by Jeanne Donegan

“Vena #3” (2019), porcelain paperclay and glaze, 19.5 × 11 ×10.5 inches. Photo by Guy Nicol

 

 



Music Science

Ice Crystallizes Into Radial Stars in a Hypnotic Short Film Directed by Thomas Blanchard

March 8, 2022

Grace Ebert

Peering through a macro lens, French video artist Thomas Blanchard has cultivated the ability to transform common scientific occurances into mesmerizing, and often otherworldly, tableaus. His recent project is a collaboration with musician Sébastien Guérive, whose quiet, beat-heavy track “Bellatrix” overlays Blanchard’s experimental film.

Shot in 8K against a black backdrop, the video documents a chemical dropped into hot water and then subsequently cooled. The plunge in temperature causes the substance to become unstable, activating crystallization and sending fringed spikes of ice splaying outward from a central point. Similar to his previous projects—watch more of Blanchard’s works on Vimeo and Instagram— “Bellatrix” is an abstract and illuminating consideration of nature’s unruly and incredibly meticulous processes.