Videographer Sean Steininger of Tender Fox has put together a stunning video timelapsing the resurrections of the Rose of Jericho (Selaginella lepidophylla) plant. This plant can survive months and sometimes years without water, curling up and browning to the appearance of death – that is, until the presence of water quickly, and seemingly magically, brings the plant back to bright, green life. Steininger captured a time span of just 12-24 hours, documenting the fingers of foliage unfurling multiple times in order to best capture this amazing transformation. You can actually purchase a Rose of Jericho plant on Amazon, if you’d like to experience the water resurrection first-hand. (via colossal)
Talk about impressive craftsmanship. In a stunning feat of virtuosity, the Chinese artist Ch’en Tsu-chang carved an astoundingly complex scene into a single olive pit in the year 1737. The tiny sculpture is complete with eight exquisite human figures enjoying a serene ride in the furnished interior of a boat with movable windows. To construct the piece, the artist, hailing from Kwangtung and having entered into the Imperial Bureau of Manufacture during the reign of emperor Yung-cheng, allowed his eye and hand to be guided by the natural shape of the olive pit.
Measuring 1.34 inches in length and .63 inches in height, the work was inspired by a poem titled “Latter Ode on the Red Cliff,” written by Su Tung-p’o some six hundred and fifty years before; it depicts the poet and his seven companions on one of his two journeys to Red Nose Cliff, the site of an epic battle that proceeded the poet-official by eight hundred years. On the helm of the boat, the artist meticulously engraved 300 characters from the beloved poem, whose moving lines served as an artistic theme well into the Qing Dynasty. Somehow, the delicate and intricate composition elevates the epic subject matter, making it all the more precious and highlighting its worth as a narrative worth careful representation. What better way to honor a poem about a natural landscape than by rendering its speaker in an organic substance?
The Australian-based photographer Steve Axford captures some mind-boggling fungi, including tropical mushrooms that had likely not been caught on film prior to these images. Compelled to adventure into obscure places left unexplored by most men, the artist documents strange organisms, many of which are found in his native area, the Northern Rivers region of New South Wales. A number of species exhibited in his body of work exist in more temperate zones, like Tasmania and the state of Victoria.
Axford, a retired computer system designer and manager, hopes to marry science and art. His photographs, in addition to being beautiful, are useful in the identification and cataloging of species previously undocumented. Prior to Axford’s efforts, the hairy mycena, a snowy white mushroom with a fuzzy cap and a translucent stem had not been spotted or archived in Australia. The same holds true for the blue leratiomyces, a plant native to New Caledonia and Lord Howe Island.
Seen here in striking detail are the most uncanny of fungi species, each enchanting in its own magical way. Some are bioluminescent, glowing an electric green in the night air; others are impossibly delicate, sprouting elegantly from moistened tree trucks. Unexpected colors spill into nature’s canvas with the growth of purple, blue, pink, and bright red mushrooms. The artist explains that photography has gifted him with the opportunity to slow down and absorb the earthly wonders that surround him; in shooting these strange, spindly lifeforms, he gives us the opportunity to do the same. Take a look. (via Colossal)
In his first eleven years of life, the Serbian artist Dušan Krtolica has already exhibited his drawings at two nation-wide solo shows. He began his drawing career at two-years-old, displaying an astounding visual ability; since then, the prodigy has focussed his efforts on depicting wildlife and natural worlds, both existing and extinct. As with the notebooks of Renaissance master Leonardo da Vinci, Krtolica’s pages are filled to their edges with rich anatomical and zoological studies. Though passionate about drawing, the fifth-grader hopes someday to pursue his passion for animals by becoming a zoologist.
Krtolica’s drawings magically marry a childlike sense of wonder with a more seasoned visual precision; though startlingly detailed and studiously seen, his work maintains a frenetic and unabashed curiosity. His ocean floors and vast jungles are seemingly blessed with creatures of different periods, as if more mature and evolved animals could intermingle with primordial beasts. The bodies of animals overlap in the midst of a wonderful chaos, and an armed knight is envisioned with the same degree of specificity as a tiny beetle.
Though powerfully scientific and unfalteringly observant, Krtolica’s images contain within their borders an ineffable quality of life and vitality, as seen through the rubbing of hybrid wings, the weaving of a spider web. The artist possesses both the awe-filled eye of a child and the technical ability to render his imaginings on paper, and that is a truly magical combination indeed. Take a look. (via Demilked)
The artist Jess Riva Cooper’s Viral Series imagines the human body overtaken by malevolent plant life; like the bodies of the dead, her ceramic women busts are infected with ivy, flowers, and insects. Inspired by the Hebrew figures of the golem and the dybbuk, the viral females occupy a space between life and death; like golem, they are anthropomorphic beings brought to life by human (as opposed to divine) hands, but they are also seemingly suffocated by roots that harken back to the cleavage of the ominous dybbuk, a departed soul that fixes itself to the body of a living person. The word “dybbuk,” in fact, arrises from the Hebrew verb for “sticking from the root.”
Unlike the figures of Yiddish folklore, Cooper’s busts are female, modeled after the seductive sculpted faces of Classical Greece. Closing resembling the great alluring forms like Praxiteles’ Aphrodite of Cnidus, these figures abandon the feminine piety in favor of an ecstatic sexuality; serpentine vines crawl across their tender cheeks, and their mouths open wide to give birth to lush roses or to allow passage to fertile swarms of scarab beetles. Their eyes appear to roll back in sensual pleasure; their teeth gnaw on thick roots.
Cooper’s series seems to draw on ancient and Judeo-Christian mythology to construct a cohesive and elaborate narrative of female creative power; these women represent death and birth in equal measure. As the bodies of the dead are consumed by insects, they ultimately give rise to blossoming flora. This strange and natural cycle of rebirth serves as a metaphor for the artist’s beloved Detroit, where buildings and homes succumb to financial ruin and are eventually overgrown with feral plant life. Take a look. (via Colossal and HiFructose)
The photographer Vyacheslav Mishchenko spent much of his childhood in nature; following his father on mushroom hunting expeditions, he often crouched to the ground in rapt fascination with the tiny, slimy, and colorful wonderland of bugs. As an adult, he returns to this kingdom of imagination, cataloguing the daily lives of snails.
Breaking from the objectivity of traditional nature photography, Mishchenko’s soulful images read like a children’s storybook, filled with unexpected emotionality and suspense. The expertly-shot macro images frame the miniature snail landscapes in miraculous detail, seducing viewers into a world of Alice In Wonderland mushrooms and plump fruits. Shot from the vantage-point of teensy, unsuspecting creatures, the world seems vast and dazzlingly fertile.
The delicate creatures, seen so vividly, become startlingly powerful, their muscular bodies twisting and writhing around newly-budding stems. In this strange and enchanting visual narrative, snails become lovers who gently kiss, seemingly forming one long, sticky body in their embrace. They curiously extend towards succulent forbidden fruits that drip with raindrops; as if in some natural Eden, they hide their bodies in fantastic shells.
Reflected many times over in perfectly rounded dewdrops and in the artist’s own lens, the snails seem to verge on the point of self-awareneness. As if to evoke the metaphor applied to Helena and Hermia, the young heroines of Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream, two snails arch their bodies over twin cherries, ripe and red. It’s miraculous what goes on beneath our feet, and I cannot think of better set of images to get us in the mood for spring. (via BUST)
Looking at these landscapes, you’d never believe that they were underwater. The incredible fishtanks are entries from the obscure Japanese-based International Aquatic Plants Layout Contest, the largest of its kind. Tiny worlds are meticulously assembled over the course of months or even years. This is not a cheap hobby; fragile aquascaping layouts like these are expensive to grow and maintain.
Considering how grandiose these tanks are, it’s no surprise to learn that the fish are not the primary concern. They aren’t included in many aquariums, although you can spot some of them in these photographs.
Competitors need to be skilled in more than just aqua construction to do well. They need to be experts in areas including biology, design, and photography. The best fishtanks are a combination of complex landscape arrangements and healthy yet unusual-looking greens. These aquatic layouts are escapist, in a way. For a moment, we forget what we’re looking at and that it’s underwater. Instead, its unusual miniature features make us feel like we’re an omnipotent giant that could destroy these worlds at any time. (Via 22 Words)
In artist Diana Scherer’s series Nurture Studies, she used soil, seeds, and photography to produce her work. Letting flowers grow in vases rather than the ground, she matured the plants and later broke the glass, exposing the dense roots that took the shape of their containers. They were then photographed at the peak of their lives; Flowers had bloomed, plants grew tall, and nearly all the flora was green.
Scherer’s work is visually very tight. The dirt is packed against the roots, and even out of their containers, the plants hold their shape. Although the plants look highly controlled, there is very little that Scherer can actually manipulate. Aint-Bad Magazine wrote about this Scherer’s photographs, highlighting this fact. They state:
There is an inherent contradiction in Scherer’s working method. Although she is dedicated to the project and keeps a close eye on whether the roots are developing as desired—checking them carefully and with the utmost precision—her ability to manipulate the plants’ growth is limited. She has to accept the impossibility of total control. This contrast between almost obsessive monitoring and an inability to fundamentally influence events becomes an intense, almost ritual presence in her work. Scherer’s photos are carefully rationed, showing a single moment as the culmination of a long process of growth.
Scherer’s presentation of the plants is very straightforward. There is no extreme lighting and the background is devoid of anything but a color. With the a series with the word “studies” in the title, I see Scherer’s work as specimens, the result of an exercise in timing, and, for lack of a better word, nurture. (Via Aint-Bad magazine)