White Arkitekter has recently completed the Naturum Vattrenriket Visitors Center in the small, scenic town of Kristianstad. Built on the banks of the Helge River, the Swedish town is surrounded by wetlands and nature reserves… so it’s not too surprising that their new visitors center houses exhibits about the surrounding ecosystems. (Red-listed species indigenous to the area include the odd-sounding corncrake along with the great raft spider, which sounds a bit more menacing.)
While digging around the internets, I found this video taken around the town, the visitors center and moving along the elevated wooden bridges, over the water, and toward the later part, wandering around the dioramas, giant globes and shallow tanks that populate the interior of the building. It’s an entirely pleasant project filled with daylight and clad in graying timber. It’s also one of the tallest things around, affording visitors uncommon vistas of their habitat, which might look a little bleak in winter, but when it’s that cold out you don’t have to worry about the great raft spiders lurking underneath those long wooden bridges.
Loretta Lux is a photographer whose work instantly grabs your attention. I was flicking through an old journal of mine when I came across one of her images and it has stuck with me all day. Her portraits of children are as beautiful as they are unsettling, and as mesmerizing as they are eerie.
Lux is originally from Dresden but now living and working in Monaco. She creates her photographs with a combination of techniques including paining and digital manipulation. As times it can take her up to three months to produce a single image. For me, there’s a Norman Rockwell quality in her work and yet where Rockwell imbues his images with humor, Lux’s photographs seem far more restrained.
The way in which each photograph is manipulated means that her portraits fall into the uncanny valley, and from here the viewer begins to question whether or not these children are actually real. Personally I believe that they feed into that sub-genre of horror that plays on a ‘fear of children’. It’s not too hard to draw a connection between the images above and that of say Damien in the Omen or the famous twins seen in The Shining. Then again, perhaps that reading says far more about me then it does of Lux’s work. Maybe judge for yourself and check out the rest of her work online here
I’ve been wanting to write a post about Instagram for a while, as it’s probably the one app I use most. For a long time there were a number of people talking about how iPhone photos, and Instagram photos in turn, weren’t “real”, basically that they held no value. I say bullshit. Instagram has opened up a new world of art and community that couldn’t have existed without the iPhone or app culture.
When I read this article by Nate Bolt over on Techcrunch it was basically all of my thoughts wrapped up into one, concise article. Nate does a great job of outlining what makes Instagram special: Quality, Audience, Access, Immediacy and Constraints. The final point, Constraint, is exactly why Instagram works, here’s what Nate has to say:
It might seem trivial, but showing one photo at a time is a design decision that creates more value for each image, and enhances your viewing experience. Plus it doesn’t hurt to have the images trapped inside a beautiful iPhone screen. It almost doesn’t matter who you follow—their photos probably look better one at a time. From a UX perspective, we keep learning that interfaces with constraints are successful, and it seems like such a straight-forward principle (140 characters, ahem), but it’s kind of worthless on it’s own. Obviously you can’t introduce constraints without other elements, which is why this is the last point. There’s something enticing about knowing that most Instagram photos are created on the iPhone, since it introduces a NASCAR-like equality. That makes it fun to see what other people can create with the same technical constraints you have. Photography has always been all about the equipment, and not at all about the equipment. Knowing millions of people are creating with roughly the same camera and app as you makes it exciting creatively. So constraints, combined with quality and an audience are what makes Instagram so addictive.
Above is a photo I took of Los Angeles and the Hollywood Reservoir. If you look in the back you can see a thin white line, which is actually the Pacific Ocean. The camera is on the iPhone 4 is amazing, and the social aspect of Instagram allows me to share this amazing site with my friends. Be sure to read Nate’s article, it’s a winner, and if you’re not on Instagram, what are you waiting for?
I figured to get your creative juices flowing for the Romeo and Juliet Re-Covered Books Contest I should point you to a guy who’s creating amazing covers. His name is Peter Medelsund and he’s the senior designer at Knopf, making covers both complex and minimal, but always getting the point across. I was introduced to Peter’s work through his Kafka covers, which I posted about back in January. Since then I’ve followed his work, soaking in and figuring out what he does and how he does it.
What I really appreciate about Mendelsund’s work is how effortless he makes it seem. I’m sure he labors and toils while he dreams up these covers, but you wouldn’t know. His work adorns the covers of books from all genres, manga to poetry, but each one looks and feels special. I’d suggest looking over the links below as well as reading this interview he did with design:related to get his backstory.