Pathé shot this cool documentary of British artisans turning gold blocks into gold leaf. There’s clearly a lot of remarkable skill involved, but there’s also a remarkable lack or hearing protection around some very noisy machines. (more…)
Researchers at the University of Southern Denmark have discovered that three of the volumes in the university’s library rare books collection are poisonous. All three of them are history books. (Is it weird that that makes me inordinately proud?)
The books were not suspected of having killed a number of monks in a forbidding monastery in the Italian Alps. In fact, the study had nothing to do with identifying lethal literature. These three books were selected because they were known from previous investigation to have medieval manuscript fragments in their covers. Recycling old parchment was a common practice for bookbinders in the 16th and 17th centuries. Researchers aimed to use imaging technology to identify which Latin texts had been used to make the covers, or at least to recover legible passages.
London-based sculptor Ivan Black creates large-scale kinetic sculptures that are inspired by mathematical formulae and minimal design. One of his latest pieces, Square Wave, is smaller than his typical works and was designed in response to the Fibonacci sequence of numbers. The mobile-like object is made up of several metal bands which curve and flatten as the work twists, creating a mesmerizing movement that is at once fluid and strictly geometric.
Self-taught American artist Josie Morway’s hyperrealist paintings immediately enchant the viewer with their brooding sensibility and mystical ambience. Often featuring exotic birds and other wildlife in stylized poses intertwined with lush vegetation and adorned with cryptic symbols, mysterious drips and obscure Latin texts, Morway’s work references religious paintings with the animals standing in for saints, an ecclesiastical allusion that is enhanced by her use of oils and enamels on wood instead of canvas.
“The Impostor (George’s Zebra)” (2017), oil and alkyd on cradled panel, 24 x 24 x 1.5 inches, all images via Toni Hammel
Toronto-based artist Toni Hamel works across mediums to create drawings, paintings, and sculptures that analyze human behavior. In her two-dimensional work the artist often incorporates animals and icebergs being treated as art objects by men in lab coats and smocks. The male subjects are seen analyzing or altering the zebras, giraffes, and whales, painting over their spots or pinning on stripes with a marked precision.
Hamel describes her art practice as an “illustrated commentary of human frailties,” seeking to highlight peculiar behavior in humans. “Drawing from personal experiences and outward observations, I point to historical, social, and psychological references,” she tells Colossal. “Virtues and vices, the holy and the profane, the good and the bad, all share equal weight and supply as infinite source material for my investigations.”