Filed under: Architecture, Art, Freedom, Heartwarming, History, Humor, Science/Technology | Tags: Acrocanthosaurus, Don't Try This At Home, Twenty-Foot Dinosaur
Here’s a time-lapse video of how a 20-foot acrocanthosaurus is made. The Airigami team assembled the dinosaur and its ecosystem, including plants and some crawly insects at the Virginia Museum of Natural History’s Hall of Ancient Life. It took them four days, but it looks like they didn’t have to blow up the balloons, at least not there.
That is without question the best balloon accomplishment I’ve ever seen.
Filed under: Politics, Science/Technology, Environment, Art, Energy, Architecture | Tags: Theo Jansen, Strandbeests, Kinetic Sculpture
Theo Jansen makes wind-fueled kinetic sculptures specifically for walking and “surviving”on the beaches of Holland. He calls them Strandbeests and they are extraordinary. His 2007 TED talk explains in more detail how “the animals” move and survive. You can find more videos on Vimeo.
Filed under: Architecture, Art, Freedom, Heartwarming | Tags: Industrial Design, Irving Harper, Paper Sculptures
Paper doesn’t require any special equipment—“All you have to do is sit down, cut paper out, and score it, bend it, and glue it.”
A beautiful Herman Miller interview with designer (and paper engineer/artist/sculptor) Irving Harper. As design director for the Nelson Office in the 1950s and ’60s, he created and collaborated on iconic furniture, products and textiles in midcentury design.
While working on the Chrysler Pavilion for the 1964 New York World’s Fair, he began making sculptures in his off hours to relieve stress. Some 50 years and roughly 500 pieces later, almost every surface of his Rye, New York home is besieged by evidence of his remarkable skill and creativity.
Irving Harper’s book, Irving Harper: Works in Paper, chronicles his intricate sculptures of paper, toothpicks and other household items.
( h/t: thekidshouldseethis.com)
Filed under: Architecture, Art, History | Tags: Abraham and David Roentgen, Extravagent Furniture, Metropolitan Museum of Art
The Berlin Secretary Cabinet is just one of the extraordinary pieces that was part of a recent show at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. It ran from October until the end of January.
The workshop of Abraham Roentgen (1711-1793) and his son David (1743-1807) blazed across eighteenth century continental Europe. Their innovative designs were combined with ingenious mechanical devices that revolutionized traditional French and English furniture types. Their customers were the royalty and aristocracy. Beautifully inlaid, stunning marquetry, with hidden drawers and surprising unfoldings, concealed writing surfaces, easels, candle stands and clocks.
The video of the secretary cabinet, above, is amazing, and best viewed in full screen to grasp all the intricacies of their work. Other pieces can be seen at this link from the Museum. There are videos of many of the pieces. Don’t miss the automaton of Marie Antoinette playing the dulcimer.
Back in the real world, I have trouble finding what I want in my ordinary desk. No marquetry, no hidden drawers, no musical clock. Just a desktop computer, a keyboard, a lamp, and two cat baskets. Fortunately, in the 18th century they weren’t asking ‘where did I put my car keys,’ and ‘what did I do with the stamps?’ I wonder what they did do with all those drawers?
Filed under: Architecture, Heartwarming, Music | Tags: Frosty Winds Make Moan, Gloucester Cathedral Chior, Merry Christmas
Filed under: Environment, Art, Cool Site of the Day, Architecture | Tags: Planned Cities, Satellite Photography, Utopias
Wired features a fascinating series of pictures of planned cities seen from space. A planned city is laid out all at once and built from scratch. They are designed with a definite purpose, to formalize a capitol city, to maximize green space, or just to organize people into their proper places. Some were designed as a compromise between two cities vying to be their country’s capitol. Some are built to keep workers near a nuclear plant or a copper mine in the middle of nowhere. Some are designed to be a kind of Utopia—with public gardens, promenades, throughways and harmony— to improve on what city design has been before or what other cities have grown to become.
City planning is not just contemporary, planned cities can be found throughout history. The pictures from space are beautiful, and somehow haunting. Imagine the architects or planners seeing their original plans and drawings newly visualized in reality—what was once only a dream. See all ten here.
Filed under: Architecture, Art, Entertainment | Tags: The Little People Project, Unexpected Tiny People, Will Anyone See?
Slinkachu is a U.K. street artist, who does mini-installations for The Little People Project in the streets of cities around the world, which he photographs and leaves behind. He has been working on the project since 2006. He remodels and paints model-train-set figures. The street-based side of his work plays with the notion of surprise, and intends to encourage city-dwellers to be more aware of their surroundings. “The scenes I set up…aim to reflect the loneliness and melancholy of living in a big city, almost being lost and overwhelmed. But underneath this, there is always some humor. I want people to be able to empathise with the tiny people in my works.” The Atlantic has collected some of the shots from Slinkachu’s new book Global Model Village:
(top: The Food Chain. bottom: Ghost Street, Beijing, China)
Filed under: Architecture, Art, Cool Site of the Day, History, The United States | Tags: Early 20th Century, Municipal Archives, New York City Photographs
New York City’s Municipal Archives have just released over 870,000 images from its photographic collection. It is, as the Atlantic describes it,”a visual coming-of-age story, documenting its maturation into one of the world’s most influential cities.”
The Atlantic’s Alan Taylor has sifted through the images, and come up with 53 early and mid-20th century images for their magazine. The Atlantic has done a number of these spectacular photo essays, and they are always worth your time. There is a link to the whole collection, but they warn the website is swamped, and you may have difficulty reaching it. I loved this early street sweeper. Click on the image to enlarge.
Filed under: Architecture, Freedom, Fun n Games, Law, Sports | Tags: American Playgrounds, Safety or Challenge?, The Challenge of Tort Law.
There was an article in the New York Times a week ago about playgrounds, titled “Can a Playground Be Too Safe?” by John Tierney. Do follow the link, for there is a lovely picture of a real jungle gym. I searched Google images for a good picture of a jungle gym, and jungle gyms have not only disappeared from the nation’s playgrounds, but there aren’t apparently any old pictures of them.
The playground in one of my neighborhood’s parks has become so safe that it appeals only to two and three-year-olds. I don’t know whether at some point my city was sued successfully, or whether the city attorneys just warned of perilous possibilities. Some maker of playground equipment that runs to little houses with holes in the wall for kids to climb through apparently came to the city with a big dog and pony show, convincing city officials that kids would love to play make-believe in little houses.
Well, the little ones are too little for make-believe, and the bigger ones quickly get bored after climbing on the roofs of the little houses. Watching kids there, you can sense their boredom and frustration.
Boise, Idaho has a hot spring somewhere under the city. They once had a splendid set of two near-Olympic size pools adjacent to each other. The water was warm and the pools were popular. I suppose it was liability insurance that made the city fill them in and plow them under. Fullerton, California once had a privately owned set of pools, wading, soaking and swimming, that were lovely and popular, but the land probably became too valuable and the liability insurance too costly. All gone.
When my daughter was young, there were stables where little girls could take riding lessons and love horses devotedly. All gone. Mr. Tierney’s article quotes a professor of psychology from a university in Norway:
“Children need to encounter risks and overcome fears on the playground,” said Ellen Sandseter, a professor of psychology at Queen Maud University in Norway. “I think monkey bars and tall slides are great. As playgrounds become more and more boring, these are some of the few features that still can give children thrilling experiences with heights and high speed.”
After observing children on playgrounds in Norway, England and Australia, Dr. Sandseter identified six categories of risky play: exploring heights, experiencing high speed, handling dangerous tools, being near dangerous elements (like water or fire), rough-and-tumble play (like wrestling), and wandering alone away from adult supervision. The most common is climbing heights.
“Climbing equipment needs to be high enough, or else it will be too boring in the long run,” Dr. Sandseter said. “Children approach thrills and risks in a progressive manner, and very few children would try to climb to the highest point for the first time they climb. The best thing is to let children encounter these challenges from an early age, and they will then progressively learn to master them through their play over the years.”
Most adults have lost the perspective of childhood. They can’t remember the thrills and the challenges unless they were one of the many kids who tried to jump off the roof with an umbrella or by flapping their arms. Society has become much scarier. Backyards are disappearing along with vacant lots. There were lots of vacant lots in my neighborhood when my kids were growing up and neighborhood kids had unauthorized treehouses on most of them.
Playgrounds are designed so that toddlers won’t hurt themselves, thus depriving older children of healthy exercise. What happens in playgrounds is determined by tort lawyers. Asphalt surfaces are gone, replaced by bark and rubber surface. Some kids may hurt themselves, they may fall, they may break a bone. We have too many lawyers. Some people are too ready to sue. Loser pays would help. Surely we can find ways to make playgrounds that offer real challenges while removing the real dangers.
Perhaps childhood obesity is not due to kids eating too many happy meals. “Let’s Move” is good advice, but kids need better playgrounds on which to get moving. Somebody tell Mrs. Obama.
Filed under: Architecture, Education, History, Latin America | Tags: Capital of the Maya World, El Mirador, Lost City of the Maya
In 1979, archaeologist Richard Hansen, at the Jaguar Paw Temple, discovered pot fragments that proved the Maya had developed a complex society more than 1,000 years earlier than previously thought. Now overgrown by jungle, this ancient site was once the thriving capital of the Maya civilization.
If you have ever wanted to discover lost worlds, this article from Smithsonian Magazine should be right up your archaeological alley. This is another of those mysterious sites where the residents suddenly picked up and abandoned their city of an estimated 200,000 people, 2000 years ago, and we don’t know why, or where they went. They seem to have left suddenly, leaving everything behind.
Filed under: Architecture, Art, Entertainment, Fun n Games | Tags: Sculpture, Toothpicks, Toys
Since I was small, I’ve always had a deep love of marble machines and things of this sort. There was one on the boardwalk in , I believe, Seaside, Oregon. Another at our local Arts & Crafts fair. Could sit and watch them for hours on end. I want this in my living room!
Scott Weaver’s amazing piece, made with over 100,000 toothpicks over the course of 35 years, is a depiction of San Francisco, with multiple ball runs that allow you to go on “tours” of different parts of the city.