In the past years, bee populations have been devastated by something scientists are calling Colony Collapse Disorder, causing a global crisis for humans and other animals. Sam Dreoge, a biologist at U.S. Geological Survey’s Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, catalogs hundreds of bee species in his lab. As the head of the USGS Bee Inventory and Monitoring Lab, Dreoge produces stunning high-resolution images that capture the diversity and spellbinding beauty the fascinating and helpful little creatures.
Dreoge’s photographs, which are used to identify and track bee populations, are often magnified up to five times the actual size of the insect. Focusing on minuscule details normally only visible under a microscope, most of the pieces are composites of numerous images, shot at multiple ranges with a 60 millimeter macro lens. Each image is also carefully edited, scrubbed of specks of dust. In preparation for the photo shoots, each bee specimen undergoes a bath in warm water and dish soap, after which they are carefully blow-dried to showcase their astoundingly beautiful, vibrant hair.
Dreoge’s images of bees read like the technological age’s answer to Leonardo da Vinci, who studied and sometimes killed insect specimens for the dual purpose of art and science. Research like this always raises ethical flags, but that moral question becomes more complicated when we are confronted with environmental crises like CCD. Bee populations are effected by parasites as well as problems caused by humans, like pesticides and climate change; it’s imperative that we find a way to save these miraculous animals, and Dreoge’s work could go a long way. What do you think? (via Smithsonian and Colossal)
Guia Besana, born in Italy and based in Paris, has created a photography series titled “Under Pressure” that portrays women in contemporary society with its neuroses and complexes, but with an artistic and stylistic flourish – one evocative of tales from a storybook. Besana stages scenes, creating single, still images that are representative of a fictional story reflecting the pressures women face to be perfect including themes of marriage, burn-out, conflict with body aesthetics, excesses, and other questions involved in a woman’s identity. Besana’s thoughtful series is at once dark and playful and demonstrates the photographer’s artful vision- she has an eye for composition, patterns, and style, and creates a striking fine art aesthetic that pairs beautifully with the theme of contemporary women’s identities. (via dark silence in suburbia)
Daan Botlek‘s trademark figural painted works always evoke a certain one-off kind of narrative, but his latest series, Escape From Wuhlheide, carries this idea even further. Based in the Dutch city of Rotterdam, Botlek (previously here) was exploring an abandoned and graffiti-filled building in Berlin, when the idea of painting an escape came to mind.
“While wandering through Wuhlheide looking for some spots to paint the idea arose…to make some sort of storyline of an escape.”
The story in Escape From Wuhlheidereads like a cartoon rendered in real life, blending street art, animation, illustration and painting. Each ‘cell’ of the escape is painted individually, depicting two blanked-outline characters making their way through the dilapidated space, peeking around corners, crawling up walls and climbing ladders. Each ‘cell’ is then photographed, documenting their run away. (via colossal)
Madrid-based artist Sara Landeta juxtaposes the natural world with the chemically engineered by using medicine boxes as her canvas to creates beautiful ornithological drawings inspired by the work of 19th-century artist John James Audubon.
By using the bird as her prime subject, the artist looks to explore the idea of freedom, or lack there of, in constricted and open spaces, and the notions of a natural world that is dependent on the synthetic to survive.
The progress on Landenta’s ongoing series can be seen through her Facebook page or on her personal blog. (via Steal Mag)
Origami is both impressive in its folded construction as well as its ability to signify the need for change by urging us to look beyond the paper forms. Animals are no doubt the most popular subject, and Japanese artist Takayuki Hori has a twist on the conventional foldings. He crafts these animals to appear as victims of Japan’s urban pollution, and the pieces expose the sad truths of what happens to these creatures. Hori showcases garbage in their insides using X-ray-like detail. If you look closely, you can see tiny bottles and other trash within the stomachs and ribcages.
These works appear in Hori’s exhibition Oritsunagumono (which means “things folded and connected”) which critiques the polluted coastal waterways and the effects they have on its inhabitants. Images are printed onto translucent sheets of paper and later folded into their origami shapes. The result are a ghostly tribute and haunting reminder of our impact on the environment. (Via Fast Co. Design)
After soaking them for thirty minutes in freezing liquid nitrogen, the New York based photographer Jon Shireman hurls flowers onto a hard, white surface, causing them to shatter into hundreds of pieces. The series, titled Broken Flowers, plays on our assumption that flowers are soft and supple; as an integral part of much still life photography, the blossoms normally symbolize youth and delicate feminine beauty. Under Shireman’s lens, however, the flora is transformed into something cold and hard. Against a sterile white backdrop, they appear sterile and brittle, a far cry from the spring buds that blow in the wind.
Throughout his career, Shireman has maintained a connection with flowers in decay; in other still lifes, he has cataloged the wilting of tulips and mums. This series, unlike those previous, is brutal and instantaneous. Where his other flowers underwent a slow, gradual death, these broken flowers are quickly frozen and violently ruptured. The process captured here is not a natural one but one that necessitates the use of a manmade element.
With almost surgical precision, Shireman’s lens focusses on the fallen flower, and he abandons the moody, romantic lighting he uses elsewhere in favor of high resolution and vivid color. Though flattened, the shattered blossoms maintain their basic structure; the bud, the stem, and the leaf can still be made out. The very veins of the plant are preserved by the liquid nitrogen. In this way, the flowers look like dead bodies in some unusual crime scene, outlined yet robbed of their living essence. Take a look. (via iGNANT, Feature Shoot, and Agonistica)
Imagine a recorder made of a hollowed-out carrot, a guitar carved from celery. Using knives and drilling machines, the one-of-a-kind Vegetable Orchestra constructs their instruments entirely from fresh and dried vegetables, mimicking the sounds of everything from bass drums to airy flutes. Because the Vienna-based band works with organic materials that perish or dry out after a single performance or recording session, they must continually create and reinvent the tools of the medium.
The group currently has thirteen members. Since its inception in 1998, The Vegetable Orchestra has been dedicated to incorporating the talents of musicians, visual artists, writers, and designers, all of whom have equal say and contribute to a unique multimedia experience. The aesthetic figures prominently into the work, and the rich colors of the fresh instruments is given much thought. With their unusual instruments, orchestra hopes to draw out and make visible the vitality and potential of the natural world.
The Vegetable Orchestra travels around the world, creating immersive artistic spaces; at concerts, they play music, screen video performances, and offer audience members a fresh bowl of tasty vegetable soup that they charmingly refer to as the edible “encore.” The orchestra’s sound is certainly unlike anything we have ever heard. Though many instruments—like the pepper horn and the pumpkin drum— nearly replicate the sounds of familiar instruments, others sound entirely foreign. Inspired by seemingly discordant styles like house music, dub, electronic, and free jazz, the orchestra draws inspiration from diverse sources, composing syncopated pieces that are both chaotic and restrained. (via Juxtapoz and Lost at E Minor)
Artist Leonardo Ulian offers another interpretation of the mandala with his assemblages of electronic components, copper wire, and more. The intricate, finely detailed works radiate the innards of what makes technology tick. Ulian crafts smaller geometric patterns within a larger, more general shape that become more impressive once you see close up shots of his handiwork.
The mandala is typically a spiritual symbol that is often destroyed after its created (like the ones created from sand). This is a practice that establishes a sacred space, which is Ulian’s technological collage can be a metaphor for. Circuit boards, computer chips, and wire connectors have not only transformed the way we live, but the way in which we see the world. The artist could be saying that our dependency on it is akin to the worshiping of a larger being. (Via The Inspiration Provider)