Abstract Aerial Art: A World of Patterns Seen Only From Above

[ By SA Rogers in Art & Photography & Video. ]

How much of the Earth’s beauty – natural and human-created – do we miss every day, because it’s only visible from above? Photographer duo (and brothers) JP and Mike Andrews reveal some of the incredible sights and patterns that become apparent when viewed from the sky, calling their work “abstract aerial art.” Using a pair of drones called the DJI Phantom 4 Pro and DJI Mavic 2 Pro, the brothers find scenes that almost seem too perfect to be real.

It all began in 2016 when the UK-based photographers visited Australia and wondered how much more they could see of remote locations from overhead. They bought their first drone and headed to the outback, amazed by what they found.

“From the perspective of our drone, we saw the textures of the earth for the first time. The swirl of patterns, symmetry and colours. Instantly, we were drawn to the unusual sights we were witnessing from above. Each changing landscape exposed the truly weird and wonderful world we live in. The more we photographed them, the more we couldn’t believe what we were seeing!”

“Pointing the camera on the drone directly downwards towards the earth, was the perspective that intrigued us the most. We referred to it between ourselves as the ‘topdown‘ perspective. It was a view that we had very rarely seen before and it really suited the types of images we were taking. We focused on shooting each landscape we discovered this way. Seeing the world from this angle, led us to compose our shots as if they were artworks rather than traditional photographs.”

Before long, they developed an eye for spotting locations that would reveal the most dazzling effects from that top-down perspective – roads overtaken by wind-blown sand, rainbow striped tulip fields, stacks of crates on barges that create cityscape shadows on the water, orderly parking lots and perfectly spaced beach umbrellas.

You can see more of their work on Instagram @abstractaerialart, and purchase prints on their website.

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Home Sweet: Abandoned Kaua’i Sugar Plantation House

[ By Steve in Abandoned Places & Architecture. ]

This abandoned house in Kaua’i molders away just steps from a rusty old factory where the Hawaiian island’s bounteous sugar cane harvest once was processed.

Sucrose for Comfort

Sugar cane was traditionally grown by native Hawaiians, and the first commercially successful sugar cane plantation on Kaua’i was established in 1835. Some remnants of these early enterprises still stand, such as the ruined brick chimney of the Old Sugar Mill of Koloa, dating from 1840.

Cane Unable

Kaua’i is blessed with fertile soil and abundant rainfall, making it ideal for growing sugar cane. The industry dominated the island for over a century but in the post-war era, many of the old plantations either sold out to ranchers or simply shut down, leaving copious industrial and residential infrastructure in place.

Sugar Shack on Steroids

Flickr member Eli Duke scored a rare urbex double-header back in March of 2009 when his photo-documented visit to Kaua’i included both an abandoned sugar plantation house and – on the very same day – a nearby abandoned sugar cane processing factory.

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Antistructures: Photo Series Exaggerates Architecture to Impossible Proportions

[ By SA Rogers in Art & Drawing & Digital. ]

Stretched and exaggerated almost to the point of absurdity, otherwise ordinary architecture takes on a bit of an uncanny feeling. Digital artist Alex Lysakowski describes it as “imaginary magnitude,” a change in proportion that’s a bit too extreme to be real, but straddling the line, sometimes making the viewer unsure whether they’re looking at a real building.

For his series “Antistructure,” Lysakowski manipulates photos of buildings and the cargo boxes of trucks to create fictional structures that look a bit like monuments, standing tall in mundane settings.

“Antistructure is a body of work that focuses on exaggerated architectural forms within banal spaces. The farcical nature of the manipulated structures creates a surreal world of absurdity in an otherwise mundane landscape eluding to an environment beyond the realm of any real architectural forms but still preserving the potential for their existence.”

Lysakowski says his father is a chemical engineer, and as a child, he’d flip through engineering manuals and catalogs in his home office, filling his head with ideas about what could be made with the components. Maybe the results shouldn’t be real, from an engineering perspective, but there’s something fascinating about the possibility.

Check out more of Alex Lysakowski’s work on Instagram @mdviii_mcmxc.

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If You Plant It, They Will Come: The Push to Create More Pollinator Cities

[ By SA Rogers in Architecture & Cities & Urbanism. ]

In the Dutch city of Utrecht, 316 bus stops are now planted with flowering greenery, inviting pollinators like bees to stop by and take a blossom break. The Netherlands initiated the project after learning that more than half of its 358 bee species are endangered, but it comes with other benefits, too, like storing rainwater and improving Utrecht’s air quality by capturing fine dust.

Pollinators and other beneficial insects are currently being decimated around the world by habitat loss, herbicides, fungicides and pesticides. Even so-called “safe” pesticides could be accumulating to toxic levels in pollen. The University of Maryland reported that U.S. beekeepers lost 38 percent of their bee colonies last winter alone, and the current administration has upheld market use of weed-killing substances like glyphosate while also ceasing the collection of quarterly data on honeybee colonies.

honey and wax make each level heavy

Though honey bees get the most publicity, they’re just 1 of 4,000 native North American bee species, all of which are threatened. Bumblebees, carpenter bees and orchard bees are among the wild bee species that benefit from plentiful food sources in urban settings, along with other pollinators like monarch butterflies, leaf cutters, wasps, beetles and even bats, mosquitoes and flies (which are also disappearing at alarming rates.)

Their decline is a threat to human food sources everywhere. Pollination is needed for about three-quarters of global food crops, and bringing in domestic honeybee colonies or tiny pollinating drones can’t necessarily replace the benefits of wild insects lost as their habitats are destroyed.

Cities could play a key role in pollinator conservation, according to a recent study carried out by scientists at the Universities of Bristol, Edinburgh, Leeds and Reading in the U.K. Part of this is due to where they tend to be located: in coastal and riparian areas where biodiversity would naturally be high otherwise.

High Line Park - Chelsea, New York City

Residential and community gardens can play a major role in attracting pollinators with plants like lavender, dandelions, borage, thistles and buttercups. The study encourages the utilization of public parks, medians, sidewalk strips and other public green spaces for pollinator-attracting plants and mowing less often so they have a chance to flower frequently. It’s also recommended to provide water sources, avoid pesticides and allow for some undisturbed areas where the insects can nest.

There needn’t be such a stark division between even the most modern urban centers and the natural world. At Frontiers, a group of ecologists argue that nature needs urban territory in order to survive, and calls for the creation of more “green infrastructure” like native landscaping, urban farming, access to nature, gardens that reduce flooding in urban landscapes and, in particular, pollinator-focused efforts, using the monarch butterfly as a prime example. The researchers studied the ways in which focusing on preserving the monarch can benefit urban wildlife habitats as a whole.

Monarch butterfly

“Powerful urbanization trends have understandably been accompanied by a sense that nature has been displaced in urban landscapes and can only be found where cities don’t exist. On the one hand, urban life has been characterized as ‘distanced from nature’ accompanied by an ‘extinction of experience’ as people move to urban settings. On the other hand, the conservation community has achieved huge victories in places far from the urban world, and a side effect has been to reify the notion of ‘wilderness’ in the American mind. Large protected areas have “increasingly become the means by which many people see, understand, experience, and use the parts of the world that are often called nature and the environment.”

“Our results add to a growing body of literature showing that metropolitan areas matter for wildlife conservation. Despite being developed, these landscapes have high potential to maintain functional habitat for a variety of species, including migratory and threatened endemic species. Habitat within and between US cities can help connect the dots for monarchs, other pollinators, and birds along migratory pathways from Mexico to Canada and back.”

Individual cities around the world are taking initiative with projects like wildlife corridors, shoreline restoration, massive urban parks and integrated city planning that works with nature. And cities won’t do it themselves, perhaps a resurgence of guerrilla gardening is in order.

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Tea’d Off: Abandoned Museum Street Tea Rooms

[ By Steve in Abandoned Places & Architecture. ]

Tea time waits for no one and the former Tea Rooms on London’s Museum Street is no exception, its Art Deco facade gracefully decaying as the years go by.

True Be Leafers

Located at 11 Museum Street in Bloomsbury, central London, the Tea Rooms was a cozy little cafe owned and operated by Eugenio and Rene (“Rina”) Corsini. The couple opened their doors in 1960 and proceeded to serve untold numbers of fresh cuppas over a 44-year span. When her husband passed away in 2000, Rene carried on: she said that catering to her beloved regular customers helped her in her bereavement. By 2004, however, rents in the trendy West End were rising and Rene decided to call it a day. The two photos above, snapped by Flickr member Nicholas Noyes in April of 2003 and January of 2005 respectively, bracket the last days of the Tea Rooms’ cozy, formica-lined existence.

Steeped In History

After it closed, the Tea Rooms embarked on a surreal sort of afterlife unintentionally documented by an unaffiliated succession of Flickr members month after month, year after year. The surreality comes into play as the former cafe’s facade inexorably evolves – or should we say, “devolves”. Perhaps the most obvious milestone in the shop’s decline occurred later in 2005 when, as shown above in Flickr member Esther Simpson‘s image from October, the three-piece plastic Art Deco-lettered sign either fell down or was manually removed revealing the original hand-painted ghost sign that had been hidden underneath.

In Hot Water

By the time Flickr member T & L snapped the above shot in mid-2008, this section of Museum Street was looking grim indeed… and we’re not only referring to the demonic face an anonymous street artist applied to the Tea Rooms’ front door. Rather, the issue of increasing rents alluded to by Rene Corsini in director Paul Kelly’s 2004 short film would appear to have caused the “Joie” clothing store next-door to close shop as well.

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Anamorphic Street Art: New Abstract Murals by Peeta Pop Off the Wall

[ By SA Rogers in Art & Street Art & Graffiti. ]

Blurring the lines between reality and illusion in street art is Peeta’s specialty. You could stand right in front of one of his creations, gazing up at its proportions with your own eyes, and still barely be able to tell which elements are three-dimensional and which aren’t. His latest works are just as incredible as ever, transforming the facades of buildings in Mannheim, Germany; Padua, Italy; Costa Smeralda, Sardinia; Lisbon, Portugal and more.

Typically designed to meld with a vivid blue sky, his creations are best viewed on a bright and sunny day, though some can be found in shady niches as well. His mastery of light and shadow creates voids and projections where there are none. His ability to craft convincing abstract shapes is likely aided by the fact that he’s a sculptor, too, shaping and painting aluminum.

Last time we caught up with Peeta (aka Manuel Di Rita), who’s based in Venice, Italy, he was fresh off a spate of multi-story murals that showcased a tremendous growth on his talents. Throughout 2019, he’s been hard at work, his newest project a composition of pale blue and gray on a private residential building created as part of the Stadt.Wand.Kunst mural project.

“The wait is finally over. Under the blue sky and with temperatures that you would rather sit in the shade, movement has come in the past few days in STADT.WAND.KUNST 2019 – in the truest sense of the word. The Venetian artist Manuel Di Rita, aka PEETA , braved the heat and transformed the facade of a private house in the Zehntstr. 1 to a masterpiece. The picture – which should rather be called an oversized sculpture because of its three-dimensionality – is the start of a new, colorful season of large-format murals in the Mannheim urban area.”

“I loved this building since the beginning and I tried my best to combine multidisciplinary skills to transform it while keeping its original taste,” says Peeta on Instagram. “Thanks to the city of Mannheim and the great people that supported and worked on this project.”

Check out more on Instagram @peeta_ead.

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Simulated Mars Habitat by SAGA Pops Up in Israel’s Negev Desert

[ By SA Rogers in Conceptual & Futuristic & Technology. ]

The dusty, rocky plains, mountains and dry riverbeds of Israel’s Negev Desert stand in for the landscape of Mars in a new experimental project that aims to help astronauts thrive on the surface of the Red Planet. SAGA Space Architects collaborated with D-MARS, a space analog research center in Israel, to create The Mars Lab – which comes complete with lightweight architecture designed to withstand Mars’ lack of atmosphere.

As SAGA explains, it’s actually the desert of Wadi Rum in southern Jordan that most closely resembles the red Martian landscape. They’ve previously experimented with imagining the future experiences of astronauts on this distant planet through “missions” with sparse food and water, no communication with the outside world and no sensory or mental stimuli, all to learn what astronauts will need out of their living environments. For the purposes of training Israeli space explorers through inhabiting confined spaces, Negev serves well, with its geology, aridity and isolation feeling similar enough to the real Martian environment. The habitat will serve as a prototype for a longer mission scheduled for next year.

“D-MARS will simulate a mission to Mars or other planets, allowing analog astronauts (or “Ramonauts”) to live on-site as real explorers; the daily routine, food, communication and other challenges will be very similar to those faced in the future during an actual planetary mission.”

“Establishing the D-MARS space analog mission in the Negev Desert will allow Israel to make a significant contribution to the world-wide effort to prepare humanity for the exploration of the planet Mars and our solar system, while also benefiting the economy, technology development and educational community of the state of Israel as a whole.”

The lightweight expandable architecture of the Mars Lab features thin faceted framework and flexible protective translucent membranes, which can withstand at least one bar of atmospheric pressure. A durable shell folds around the membrane during transit and landing to keep it from puncturing. Inside, an algae photo-bioreactor takes in carbon dioxide and produces oxygen for the astronauts. The whole thing is designed to have a minimal impact on its surroundings, both in Israel and on Mars.

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Vintage Suitcases & Furniture Transform into Mini Timber Frame Architecture

[ By SA Rogers in Art & Sculpture & Craft. ]

Old furniture, lamp parts and other cast-away ephemera from domestic life transform into finely crafted architectural models in the hands of artist and designer Ted Lott, who uses a bandsaw as a tiny sawmill to produce the pieces.

In a new collection of work, Lott explores the hidden lives of domestic objects like suitcases, train cases, trunks and furniture, inserting timber frame structures just as thoughtfully assembled as the real thing. Lights installed inside each one impart a sense of habitation and illuminate all of those beautiful details.

Previously, we covered Lott’s “Habitation Series,” in which vintage chairs, stools and tables are taken over by the framework of parasitic miniature architecture. The structures almost seem to have grown organically according to the proportions of the original furniture, like fungus, each one entirely unique.

In his artist statement, Lott says he draws inspiration from the replacement of hand-crafted local materials with industrially produced materials and a resulting loss of traditional skills.

“By combining a diminutive version of this building system with chairs and other objects pulled from the everyday domestic environment I honor the logic and engineering brilliance of stud frame construction, taking what we usually only see when we pass by construction sites, and exaggerating it in a way that renews our vision and understanding. The work uses the bandsaw as a scale sawmill to generate perfectly proportioned raw materials. An engagement emerges between the architecture and found objects, each bringing it’s own visual language while differently scaled systems try to occupy the same space. Unexpected solutions often emerge from the two finding ways to accommodate the other, and pointing to the deep relationship between the design of domestic objects and the architecture of the space itself.”

In a 2014 interview with 365 artists 365 days, Lott explains that he grew up living around cities as big as Chicago as well as tiny towns with populations under 400. “That tension between those two environments has continued to be a source of fascination, from the greater concentration of wealth in cities, to the differences, and similarities in the built environments and everyday lives of people who reside there,” he says.

For a sense of the scale of these works, check out Lott’s Instagram, where you can see images and videos of the work in progress.

via This is Colossal

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Faint Prays: Tiny Abandoned African-American Church

[ By Steve in Abandoned Places & Architecture. ]

A tiny abandoned church dating back to the end of the Civil War reflects the reserved reverence exhibited by its long-scattered African-American congregation.

Alter State

This long-abandoned Church of God of Prophecy can be found on the north side of Mt Olive Lane, just off the Patrick Henry Highway (U.S. Route 360) in Amelia County, Virginia. The nearest town – “unincorporated community”, actually – is Chula, several miles to the northeast. The city of Richmond proper lies a few more miles eastward.

Muted Chorus

According to at least one source from March of 2015, this particular church was built around 1866 and its original name was the “Mount Herman Presbyterian Church… and served as an African-American place of worship” The source further stated that when she contacted the local historical society, their spokesperson related that “when she moved to the area forty-five years prior (roughly 1970), the church was abandoned and to this day it still is.”

Steeple 1, People 0

Photographer and urbex explorer Joel Handwerk visited the so-called “Tiny Church” somewhat recently, and the images featured here have been selected from a 9-photo set posted at his online showcase: Lithium Photo. Kudos and credits to Joel for his usual stellar effort, his keen eye and practiced camerawork revealing the timeless and ethereal atmosphere exuded by this church within and without.

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Ribbons of Life: Biodiverse Bridge Doubles as a Wildlife Crossing

[ By SA Rogers in Architecture & Cities & Urbanism. ]

In Australia, a new ribbon-inspired bridge mimicking natural bushland will offer recreational opportunities for people as well as habitat and a safe crossing for wildlife. Designed by CX Landscape for the city of Canberra as part of the Remaking Lost Connections design competition, “Ribbons of Life” stretches across Lake Griffin, creating a “forest shell” over the top of an existing road bridge.

Appropriately fluid and organic in shape, the bridge flows from one side of the water to the other, dipping down in some areas to touch the surface. Without affecting the traffic passing below, the new bridge also connects two parks on the north and south ends of the lake so animals have a safe way to get across. The landscaping recreates indigenous bushland, including windbreak forests on both sides, rocky areas, wetlands and a nectar meadow.

Concrete pedestrian paths wind through the park, distinct from the wildlife corridor, and include integrated solar panels to power lights, possible future transportation and the projection of Aboriginal art onto bridge surfaces. The park also includes a bird observation tower, plaza with water views, access to the water and a water life observation channel.

“Our wildlife corridor and the linear park have set an example for the future Garden City Plan action,” says CX Landscape. “It gives a new direction for sustainable city development, which raises the awareness of environmental threats, and correct the misconceptions of ‘Green represents Ecology’ and ‘Parks means Ecology.’ In respect of nature and local history, reflecting the spirit of the place, our design has established the future direction of sustainable urban development.”

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