Monday, December 7, 2009

Carnivorous Tomatoes and Passive Consumption

"Feed me Seymour!" While compiling a report on carnivorous plants to celebrate the bicentenary of Charles Darwin's birth, researchers at the Royal Botanical Gardens Kew have made a shocking discovery that many common plant species are, in fact, carnivorous. Unlike many familiar carnivorous plants such as the infamous venus fly-trap and the pitcher plant which are highly specialized and actively catch and consume prey, many other plants consume prey through more passive means. For instance, many common varieties of the tomato plant are covered in thick sticky hairs that will catch and contain small aphids and other insects.
However, lacking an external apparatus to consume the trapped insect, it has been found that the plant will wait for the insect to decompose and fall to the ground, fertilizing the soil. According to the report:
Domestic varieties of tomatoes and potatoes retain the ability to trap and kill small insects with their sticky hairs and are likely to absorb the nutrients through their roots when the animals decay and fall to the ground.
Among other common plant species found to behave in a similar way are several different varieties of potatoes, ornamentals, and even the petunia. It is interesting to note the long-term strategy of the plants. Where most carnivours are documented as predators who hunt/trap their prey to consume it immediately, this discovery shows that some carnivors will actually invest in a long-term solution that works through improving the local environment. While most predators ingest prey and benefit exclusively from the meal, the predator that lacks an instrument to intake directly must enrich the soil and only benefit indirectly. This idea of passive consumption is a philosophy that could find potential in other fields of science or development. Could the construction industry or energy producing sectors benefit from a philosophy of long-term passive consumption? It seems plausible that more localized long-term indirect investments could help to produce better yields not just for the industry, but also for connected economies and environments.

Seen on The Independent.
Venus Fly Trap photo via Warped Photos Blog.
Movies to see: Little Shop of Horrors and Day of the Triffids.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Concrete Cloth

Winner of the 2009 Material ConneXion Material of the Year is Concrete Cloth by UK based company Concrete Canvas. The material is a layer of fiber reinforced cement sandwiched between a cloth outer layer and in interior PVC backing. The result is a flexible fabric that, once hydrated, will set in two hours into a lightweight concrete shell or surface. The cloth was initially developed for use as part of the Concrete Canvas Shelter. According to Concrete Canvas:
Concrete Canvas Shelters are rapidly deployable hardened shelters that require only water and air for construction. The 25sqm variant can be deployed by 2 people without any training in under an hour and is ready to use in only 24 hours. The key to CCS is the use of inflation to create a surface that is optimised for compressive loading. This allows thin walled concrete structures to be formed which are both robust and lightweight. CCS consist of a cement impregnated fabric (Concrete Cloth) bonded to the outer surface of a plastic inner which forms a Nissen-Hut shaped structure once inflated.
The shelters are seen as an innovative solution to disaster response and other humanitarian crisises that require immediate relief housing and infrastructure construction. Although the system can be erected quickly by two people with little training, once set, the material has a ten year life span which makes it ideal for both short term response as well as mid to long-term transition shelters. Apart from the shelter design system, the cloth alone is already being used in numerous civil and military use applications including slope protection, ditch lining, and pipeline protection. It is evident that the potential for a flexible material that can be set and hardened in place is great. New and innovative applications for this simple system are sure to emerge.

Seen on Inhabitat and Dezeen.
Images via Concrete Canvas.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Of Suits and Robots

Straight out of The Jetsons comes Alton Lane, a "premium custom clothing" maker in New York City that provides custom suit fitting - by robots. Stepping inside what looks to be a blacked out phone booth, digital scanning technology initially developed for airport security surveys the human topography and creates a virtual avatar complete with all requisite measurements. Sadly, small scurrying nano-bots don't appear to assemble the suit on-person, rather the measurements are passed on to human tailors in meat-space who custom cut and tailor the suit. However, all irony is not lost, as Alton Lane is located within the famous Flatiron Building - one of the most progressive buildings of its time.
Seen on UrbanDaddy.
Jetsons imave via Dental Collectibes
Flatiron image via SkyscraperCity.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Leapfrog Technology: Cellular Phones and Microfinance

Cell phone tower in Pakistan. Image via Telecom PK.

The cell phone is an example of trickle-down leapfrog technology. In the past several years, the development of mobile technology has reached such ubiquity that it's use transcends social, economic, and in many cases, physical stratification. It has done so for two main reasons; innovation and cost. Through the development of traditional communication systems (telegraph, landlines, etc), cellular technology has seen mobile telecommunication devices replace the need for expensive and labor-intensive hardwired infrastructure. As the technology advanced, the cost of production and implementation dropped, and thus, reached a level of economic viability. It is these two factors, innovation and cost, that have allowed mobile phones to take root in developing societies. As
WorldChanging notes:
It's easier and faster to put in cellular towers in rural and remote areas than to put in land lines, and as a result, cellular use is exploding. As we've noted, mobile phone use already exceed land line use in India, and by 2007, 150 million out of the 200 million phone lines there will be cellular.
In this case, cellular phones begin their new life in developing countries as a piece of highly specialized technology that has a history of industry investment and technological refinement. The result of it's advanced stage of development is a technology that trickles down through social and economic systems and allows for it's wide-spread use.
Kiva is an organization that helps find donors for microfinancing projects in the developing world. Image via Kiva.

Microfinance, however, is an example of the potential of trickle-up leapfrog technology. Though newer than cellular technology (and not "technology" per se), Micro-finance is an economic tool that allows for banking and financial transactions to occur at a "local" level, where large capital institutions and systems are not needed. In this case, however, the technology was developed not through industry and capital investment, but through a social and economic response to a need. In places where micro-finance thrives, most of these economies generally don't have the financial backing or institutions necessary to provide large-scale lending. Of course, investment in industry, individuals, and social infrastructure is still needed for economic prosperity and development, so micro-finance responds to this need by allowing small scale loans and investment to local users for local projects and needs. It is being found that micro-finance works well in developing countries because it is a simple solution to a wide-spread problem.

Here is the potential for a leapfrog technolgy through the trickle-up effect. Where cellular phones are an example of a technology that moves from a complex process to fulfull a need in developing societies, micro-finance is a technology that is created from a response or need that has the potential to move to more complex markets and economies.

At a time when the largest and most "established" financial institutions and systems in the world are reeling from debt and irresponsible investment and loan practices, it is ironic to think that the systems in developed countries could be revolutionized through a leapfrog technology currently being sown in countries throughout Africa, India, and South America. In the United States, where such malpractice has caused a constriction of large scale investment and lending (resulting in a global financial downturn), it is being discovered that restricting finance within the system is not a viable solution to the problem and that it is still neccessary, just as in developing societies, to invest in industry, individuals, and infrastructure. It is possible that a system of micro-finance in developed societies might allow for a leapfrog oppurtunity akin to the advantage that cellular phones are bringing to developing countries.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Renewable Energy and Future Political Strife

The worlds largest renewable energy producing installation is a project by the DESERTEC Foundation that will see 100GW of solar energy to be harvested in the Sahara Desert throughout Northern Africa. It will be one of the largest networks of photovoltaic arrays in the world. According to Inhabitat:
The project will link multiple solar concentrating facilities around coastal North Africa and transmit most of the renewable energy through high-voltage DC lines to Europe. Additionally, desalination plants will be coupled with the solar concentrating plants to bring fresh water to people in Africa.
The potential is obviously great. The environment of North Africa is ripe for solar collection. Since the power is being sent to Europe, there is also a viable consumer base to tap into, which, in the end, will create an economy based around the technology and its delivery. Unfortunately, this also means that there is much profit in the venture. If it is not integrated into the political and social landscape as well, the struggle could result in an instance of instability. If a large foreign entity attempts to create and legitimize a blossoming energy economy throughout several countries that struggle for economy, and not take steps to integrate the system into the local political and social systems, future strife is inevitable. You only have to look at the current struggle in the Niger Delta of southern Nigeria for example.

However, the project holds the potential to be an instance of leapfrog technology within the region. The DESERTEC solar belt is scheduled to produce 15% of Europes power needs. This is an incredible amount of energy being transmitted OUT of countries that are lacking in viable energy production. If that amount of energy production and economy could be put IN to the countries of North Africa, the stability and infrastructure of the region would improve drastically. What better leapfrog technology than solar energy in North Africa? The $555 billion price tag could easily micro-finance thousands of local operations in a place where people are literally fighting for economy. If the money and technology are incorporated locally (rather than through a state), the result is infrastructure being designed, used, and sold by the people designing, using and selling it.

Seen on Inhabitat. Images via Inhabitat and DESERTEC Foundation. Niger Delta image from George Osodi AP and the Guardian.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Of Tuna and the Oceansphere

Tuna are one of the ocean's most magnificent fish. Some of the larger species, such as the Bluefin, Yellowfin, and Pacific Bigeye are the top predators within their ecosystem. Yet they are also the one of the most overfished stocks in the sea, and action is needed to stop irreversible harm from being done to the species. Enter the Oceansphere. Invented by the Haiwaiian company, Hawaii Oceanic Technology, the Oceansphere is essentially a huge sphere suspended in the Pacific where the species will be raised naturally. According to National Geographic:
Each 162-foot-wide (49-meter-wide) aluminum-and-Kevlar cage would be completely untethered to the ocean floor and self-powered by a system that converts the ocean's thermal energy to electricity. The spheres lie about 65 feet below the ocean surface, and the company says they are designed so as not to be a hazard to whales, sharks, or other marine life.
State regulators in Hawaii have just approved the companies plan to build and operate three of the Oceanspheres two miles off the coast of Hawaii's Big Island. If these three test models are successful, the State Board of Land and Resources has granted the company the right to construct nine more. If, or when, all twelve Oceanspheres are operational, the fish farms will produce approximately 6,000 tons of Pacific Bigeye Tuna a year, which equals the amount of Tuna lawfully harvested per year by the Japanese.

As there are consistently reports that many countries, regularly overfish the lawfully regulated amount, the Oceansphere could be a responsible way to farm a vital food source for the world. It may also set a precedent for innovative ways to utilize the natural environment as incubator for production rather than altering the envirnoment for production processes.

Seen via NatGeo News Watch. Images via Hawaii Oceanic Technology.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Neri Oxman and the Process of Form

Neri Oxman, a designer and PhD candidate in Design and Computation at M.I.T.'s Media Lab, is proving that the design of the natural world is based, not around form in total, but rather a series of processes and relationships that result in form. Challenging the notion of "form follows function", Oxman would see the traditional process of design, where a form is created and then analyzed against it's task, inverted. In this way, design begins with analysis and form is generated through the findings.
The bulk of her examples are extracted from nature and highlight the incredible ways that the natural world responds to it's own environment and complications. Citing the 1905 discovery by Julius Wolfe that bones grow stronger and increase calcification when put under weight, Oxman argues that bone is doing design and execution at the same time. As it responds to the new requirements of it's existence, the bone adapts and changes in space and over time. This is a critical point in her research and defines the future of design. How is it possible to create forms that follow the examples set by nature and react in time and space to the localised needs of not just the environment and the user, but also by the form itself?
In her project Beast, a chaise, Oxman has developed a process that is a fully customizable chair capable of structurally supporting itself and the user while cradling specific pressure points. The chaise is also a direct vision into its function, as the darker spots indicate a thicker, more structural point whereas the lighter shades are areas that need less support. The project is a result of her studies at the M.I.T. Media Lab into a procedure called the variable printing process. With this process, a form is printed in three-dimensional space after analysis and the solidity or structural capability of each point in space is "printed" at optimal density or capacity. The result could be a future where entire buildings are printed in space and structural faculties are optimized at an atomic level.

Neri Oxman's blog MaterialEcology.
Ethan Zuckerman's blog post on Oxman's presentation at 09 Pop!Tech Conference via World Changing.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Energy Positive

The world's first energy positive office building, Elithis Tower, has opened in Dijon, France. Designed by Arte Charpentier Architects, the design and construction of the 10 story building was a conceptual challenge by Thierry Bievre, the General Director of Elithis Engineering. Surpassing net-zero, the building utilizes solar panels, recovered emissions, and solar shading to minimize solar heat gain. The building also employs over 1,600 emission-analyzing sensors to continuously monitor and display energy usage to the occupants. Surplus energy is fed back into the grid. Surprisingly, at 54,000 square feet and costing only 10 million, the office building is reasonably priced compared to typical office buildings of similar size.
According to the design firm Skidmore Owings and Merrill (SOM), energy positive buildings are the result of performative design, where four specific goals are engaged; reduction, absorbtion, reclamation, and generation. Whereas reduction and reclamation deal with the efficient use and re-use of energy available, absorbtion is the act of harvesting other available energy streams into the building. "Following the example of nature, don't shed water, absorb it." Of course, with the efficient use and re-use of energy, and the maximizing of available energy streams and technologies, the ability to generate positive energy and other potential effects becomes possible.
Pearl River Tower, the design for a skyscraper in China is another example of positive energy producing buildings but at a larger scale. Not only will the Pearl River Tower return energy to the grid, but due to it's size and efficiency,
several floors of rentable office space were actually added to the design at no additional cost. The building height and form channel the prevailing winds through large openings in the mechanical floors that contain energy harnessing wind turbines. The louvres on the southern facade, which act as both solar shade and light shelf, have integrated photovoltaics that power internally mechanized shades on the same facade. The opposite facade is constructed as a double skinned curtain wall that forms a thermal barrier between the exterior and the interior, and ventilates vertically. The heat and moisture that is trapped and allowed to rise naturally is removed at every other floor level and is used in the building's dehumidification system.

Imagine several Pearl River Towers grouped together in an urban area. Each building, connected by these infrastructural systems, workng their own day job, providing physical space for day jobs, but producing energy at the same time. If connected, this network of super-efficient buildings could themselves be integrated into the local power grid and act as both infrastructure and power plant. By producing and distributing the surplus energy locally to their immediate surroundings, the buildings can replace the traditional infrastructure which is externally produced and delivered. Power generated off-site, which typically involves the consumption of fossil fuels or nuclear reaction, is inefficient and expensive due to production methods and the need to send power great distances through service lines. The need for large power plants and lengths of inefficient infrastructure is drastically reduced. The buildings themselves serve as producer and supplier, not to mention the effect of increased community interaction, education, and awareness of power needs and methods.

Elithis Tower seen on Inhabitat. Images via Arte Charpentier Architects. Pearl River Tower images via SOM.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Of Fish and Communicative Movement

When large schools of fish travel through the water, the body operates with three simple rules of movement; collision avoidance, side-by-side locomotion, and distance metering. The school of fish, sometimes numbering into the thousands, is able to act as one unit because each individual fish is able to maneuver through the water in any direction in close proximity to it's neighbor without colliding. Nissan is using this natural ability of individuals safely navigating within a group as a model for a next-generation vehicle communication and movement system. According to Nissan:
"fish demonstrate extraordinary "anti-collision" abilities, navigating instinctively and intelligently through challenging terrain by detecting and avoiding obstacles"

Enter the EPORO. Well, actually, enter a lot of EPORO. As they move around, the small group of robots are able to communicate with each other based on the three simple rules of the school; collision avoidance, side-by-side locomotion, and distance metering. Nissan hopes that in the future, this communication based behavior could lead to more efficient and safe vehicular travel in heavy traffic situations. The application may also have potential in other industries such as urban design and development, weather information monitoring, and disaster relief response. Previously disparate objects, areas, and populations could become communicative networks that respond in real time with their environs and with each other.

In their 1971 project entitled Truckstop Network, the ever-experimental information nomads, Ant Farm, proposed a system of user-feedback devices connected across the interstate system of the US. The network of video screens and communication devices envisioned the users across the system interacting and responding to concurrent events taking place at the other truckstop locations. Large screens would project live video feeds, and continuously updated information boards would list ride information, events, and news. Here, the infrastructure itself, though 'virtual', serves as the empowering element in the system rather than occupying a typical subserviant role based on pure function.

EPORO seen on Inhabitat. Images via Nissan. Ant Farm Media Van image via CCA MEDIA Lab.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Urban Camouflage

As China rapidly enters a new era of pseudo-capitalism, the idea of "fitting in" is no longer the result of communist dictatorship, but rather takes from the western philosophy of consumer culture. A quickly growing middle class and access to an ever-expanding array of goods has allowed much of the urban population to take part in mass consumerism backed by media and advertising. In the series "Camouflage", Chinese artist Liu Bolin has cued in on this new role of the people and poses them within the landscape painted to match their background. The figures, stationed in the foreground, disappear into their environment. In a sense, the human subjects within the work, and thus their individuality, are reevaluated at the level of society as a whole, and interpreted as a product of their environment.
Interestingly enough, the artists own commentary is relating the human being to animals and their need for camouflage in nature to remain safe. Bolin comments that human beings are not animals because they have no way of protecting themselves, and yet they are still incapable of removing themselves from this environment by choice. Bolin:
"Now, in the real material world, the world views of different people’s are also different. Each person chooses his/her own way in the process of contacting outside world. I choose to merge myself into the environment. Saying that I am disappeared in the environment, it would be better to say that the environment has licked me up and I can not choose active and passive relationship. In the environment of emphasizing cultural heritage, concealment is actually no place to hide."
The emergence of this new consumer culture is a dramatic shift in idealogies for one of the worlds strongest communist heritages where, ironically, the image of Chairman Mao is one of the most popular images seen on T-shirts for sale.

Liu Bolin at the Galerie Bertin-Toublanc. Seen on v1kram's posterous.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Living Artwork

Using vegetation and milled wooden frames, Edina Tokodi of the design studio Mosstika, creates vertical living wall panels that, when viewed from afar, produce images and patterns. Exhibited first in Brooklyn at Green Spaces 2009, the piece was constructed of succulent plants that are irrigated and placed under the wooden frame and allowed to grow, resulting in a "green-tone" image of a women. As simple as the technology seems, having grow-your-own living artwork in your home does not seem far off. Even better, could this technique be used to replace paper and glue billboards that line the highways of today?

Seen on Designboom. Images via Mosstika.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009


Tensegrity, a term coined by one of this century's greatest minds, Buckminster Fuller, is a moniker for tensional integrity, and refers to a type of lightweight construction where tension and compression members are balanced computationally in space with every member being either in pure tension or pure compression. Typically made of lightweight rod and cable systems, the result is often a delicate-looking structure which is actually mathematically as strong as it's component material properties allow. According to Donald Ingber at Harvard:
"The tension-bearing members in these structures – whether Fuller's domes or Snelson's sculptures – map out the shortest paths between adjacent members (and are therefore, by definition, arranged geodesically) Tensional forces naturally transmit themselves over the shortest distance between two points, so the members of a tensegrity structure are precisely positioned to best withstand stress. For this reason, tensegrity structures offer a maximum amount of strength."
When he first saw the sculptures by Kenneth Snelson, Fuller realized the potential of the technology and incorporated the system in the development of his famous geodesic domes.
Fuller was able to observe that the basic priciples of the system were the same:
"Tensegrity is a contraction of tensional integrity structuring. All geodesic domes are tensegrity structures, whether the tension-islanded compression differentiations are visible to the observer or not. Tensegrity geodesic spheres do what they do because they have the properties of hydraulically or pneumatically inflated structures."
Although structurally efficient, for many years the structures were left to sculptures and small scale construction due to it's need for adjustment and the fact that a single structural failure will cripple the system (though that may be part of it's natural beauty). However, with advancements in construction methods and computational modeling, tensegrity structures are again being considered for large scale development and construction. The Kurlipa Bridge in Brisbane, Australia was designed and built on the principles of tensegrity and appears to span the river below with a minimal cross-section.
Filamentosa is a skyscraper envisioned by the firm ORAMBRA that sees a solid core wrapped by a tensegrity structure.
The firm, whose moniker stands for The Office for Robotic Architecture, sees structure like this as an integral component in the future of "smart" buildings. From ORAMBRA:
More than being a series of smart systems attached to a dumb building frame, responsive architectures actually consist of intelligent frames, skins and systems. These buildings change shape and color. They have intelligent systems within them and around them. They track the sun gradually and they adjust their shape to improve shading in the summer or day lighting in the winter. They shake snow from their roof. They even change shape to reduce wind loads or improve the way they ventilate. Unlike the conventional boxes that we live in, these buildings adapt to the natural environment to improve the way that people live. They address suitability and socio-technical issues in three key ways. Firstly they provide a means to reducing the mass and embedded energy used within buildings without sacrificing robustness. Secondly they enable architects to produce a new class of building envelopes that actively adjust and shape themselves in relation to the natural environment, its seasons and weather. With this they offer great potential in reducing the energy used within buildings.
See more examples of tensegrity at oobject.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

architectural graffiti

Seen on the streets of Lisbon, artist unknown, but apparently a fan of Niemayer, Utzon, Zumthor, and OMA. And maybe Space Invaders. See them all here.
Ganked from SpaceInvading

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Of Dune and the Wealth of Water

In 1965, Frank Herbert published the novel Dune which would go on to be called the world's best-selling science fiction novel of all time. In it, Herbert describes a desert world in which it's inhabitants struggle to survive in an inhospitable environment where water, in any form, is an extremely valuable resource. To spit on the ground while greeting someone is considered a highly respectful act and water is distilled from the dead. Such is the value of water that any form is carefully considered and conserved. The population has adapted to live in this harsh dystopian world. In 1965, this novel explored an environmental concept relegated to deserts that seem foreign to much of the worlds population, but today the real-world impact of water use and conservation is becoming a harsh reality.

The country of Kenya, on the east coast of Africa is in the midst of a two year drought. Traditionally, there are two rainy seasons, the long and the short which, in the past, have provided much of the regions water during approximately six to eight months of the year. However, the drought has reduced the rains from an average of 4-5 times per week to one rain every three weeks. The evident impact is immediate. Without rain, little grass can grow throughout the country and because of this, the soil cannot be held in place, and the result is large swaths of dirt where once fertile soil existed. The dust is everywhere and can be seen in the atmosphere. The national parks, which make up much of the regions income through safari tourism, are experiencing mass dying-off of animals which cannot survive on such little water and vegetation. The desertification of the region is compounded by lakes which are drying up not only due to the drought, but also by large-scale irrigation practices for a growing wildflower industry. Water collection and conservation, which has long been practiced, is now becoming a critical factor in all development.

Using the novel Dune as a precedent, Andrew Kudliss of the firm Matsys has proposed, Sietch Nevada, an ecologically engineered desert environment "that makes the storage, use, and collection of water essential to the form and performance of urban life." Using the desert landscape of the American southwest, the project is an underground community of canals living space, and urban development tht connects the land above with the deep aquifers below. Cellular in structure and planning, the proposal mimics natural water erosion created landscape but also allows the cells to form the community organization.

Seen on BLDG BLOG. Sietch Nevada images via Matsys.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

the fleeting tags of long exposure

The Halo light by French designer Aissa Logerot is an ephemeral alternative to the typical process of graffiti or street art. Shaped like a clear glass can of spray-paint, the Halo uses an LED bulb in place of the usual cap and a long exposure photograph in place of a wall. Left open, the long exposure camera records the path of the light in what appears to be writing in space. The LED light can be changed for different intensities and colors. The Halo light also cleverly mimics it's real-life counterpart in charging. While shaking a typical spraypaint can, the widget inside liquidizes the paint enough to be sprayed through the nozzle cap, whereas shaking the halo light, the interior battery is charged. Seen on core77 and Gizmodo. Images by Aisso Logerot.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009


Artist Ross Racine draws aerial views of imaginary suburbs that blur the lines between reality and whimsy. The drawings borrow from real world examples of the sprawling suburbias so visible from any Google Map and create intense magnifications of the geometric patterns we see. Both fantastic and oddly dystopic at the same time, the images seem to belie a sense disorientation through disorder-by-order. Driving through any American suburb, this feeling may be well familiar. Row after row after spiral after spiral of organized, seemingly generic homes is supposed to be a system of order. But Elm Court, Sycamore Lane, and Poplar Street all share such similarities that it's often impossible to identify where one is. The images created by racine amplify and, in a way, seem to texturize this feeling.
Seen on SpaceInvading and Bad Banana Blog.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

urban islands - cockatoo island

Urban Islands is a architectural studio hosted every two years using the Cockatoo Island as a site for spatial and architectural investigation. Cockatoo is an abandoned factory island in Sydney Harbour, Australia. One of this years instructors was Geoff Manuagh of BLDGBLOG, who recently posted some of the projects from the intensive twelve day studio. According to Manaugh: It's a studio inspired by the amazing Cockatoo Island, an abandoned industrial site – former prison, former shipyard, former quarry, present campground and concert venue, ongoing archaeological site, future megastructural weather-altering agri-utopian astronomy research station at sea (or whatever our students decide to make it) – in Sydney Harbor.

One such project was the Cockatoo Island Zeppelin Airport by MItchell Bonus. Questions Bonus, Why fly when we can float? The project suggests that the abandoned industrial site be updated into a transit hub for a perversely neglected form of transportation - the solar-powered zeppelin. The presentation, packaging and future marketing strategy of the project also attempts to affect change from the ground up. Individual graphic trading cards make up the knowledge campaign for the Cockatoo Island Zeppelin Airport comparing zeppelin use to automobile use, saftey, energy and resource consumption, and even trip costs. To be found in cereal boxes and mailboxes everywhere, the trading cards float quietly over and through consumer conscience.
Images by Mitchell Bonus via BLDGBLOG.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

cthulhu's new apartment

There goes the neighborhood. Cthulhu recently reported as moving from a small studio apartment in south Cosmic Eternity, to this bright and spacious four-bedroom flat in the Upper Present area. The installations of artist FilthyLuker generally try to anthropomorphize their subject matter. In this case, the giant tentacles of the enormous squid-monster writhe freely in the air as it wiggles it's way into a fresh new skin of bricks and mortar. All at once, the absurd scale of your imagination is realized, and it's what is not seen that moves your imagination to wonder. Or horror.
Often, buildings are said to have human or animal-like features. Windows and doors and columns make faces. Building surfaces sometimes look like scales or skin. And oftentimes, these buildings are noticed more acutely than a typical building-building. Perhaps it's in human nature to associate or recognize living features in the presence of an other. FilthyLuker capitalizes on this trait and lends personality to physical environment in, perhaps, the most primal way possible - to characterize space. In the piece CC TreeV, the tree is transformed from a background object into a participant in the crowd.
Seen on i09.

Images via FilthyLuker on DeviantArt