Upon running out of paper, the French illustrator DZO turned to unexpected canvases: a found skull and stones collected from the river. Following the curves of the bone and rock matter, the artist imagines monstrous and divine forms. Skulls, serving both as surface and as illustrative content, lend the pieces a distinctly foreboding current. Coiled upon itself, a serpent and a tentacled beast recall John Milton’s Satan, carrying with them notions of death and fallenness. As if gazing at her mirror reflection, a woman, quite like the Medusa with thick serpentine locks of hair, is imprisoned within the surface of a stone.
Despite all his allegorical references to death and decay, DZO imbues his stones and bones with an undeniable pulse of life. His fertile images, these doodles that turn in upon themselves with passionate vigor, are alive with creative energy. As the artist was inspired in part by Medieval artwork and alchemy, the stones may be viewed as modern-day interpretation of the Philosopher’s Stone, a legendary object said to be capable of transforming lead to gold and human being to immortal.
DZO’s art objects, serving as strange embodiments of both death and fertile abundance, much resemble Medieval and early Renaissance engravings like those created by Albrecht Dürer. Through his ecstatic use of religious symbolism, DZO leaves the interpretation of these magnificent objects to the viewer. The skull and stones may be turned in any which way; with the shifting perspective inherent in the medium, we might choose to see his pentagrams right-side up, denoting holiness and religious faith, or upside down, symbolizing corruption and death. Take a look. (via Colossal and Lost at E Minor)
Years ago, the American automotive industry was an unparalleled success not only in productivity, but also in the quality of their beautiful car designs. Unbeknownst to these automotive designers, they were also creating something beautiful that would last long after the processes they pioneered went extinct. Fordite (or Motor Agate, or Detroit Agate) as it has become known, was created by the process of hand-spraying cars with enamel-paint. A byproduct of the process, paint slag called “rough” was baked in the ovens, which hardened the automotive paint, creating layered slabs which crafty autoworkers realized could easily be polished, much like the naturally occurring agates they so resembled. Since this process has long been , these remaining stones have found a particular following, as they can never be created again.
Johnny Strategy, who documented much of the story for Colossal,writes, “Old car factories had a harmful impact on the environment, releasing toxic chemicals into the air, land and water. But it wasn’t all ugly. Oddly enough, one of the by-products of car production was Fordite, also known as Detroit agate. The colorful layered objects take their name from agate stones for their visual resemblance. But instead of forming from microscopically crystallized silica over millions of years, Fordite was formed from layers of paint over several tens of years. Back in the day, old automobile paint would drip onto the metal racks that transported cars through the paint shop and into the oven. The paint was hardened to a rock-like state thanks to high heats from the baking process. As the urban legend goes, plant workers would take pieces home in their lunch pails as a souvenir for their wife or kids.” (via mymodernmet, fordite.com, colossal)
With the help of a powerful 3D microscope, the Hawaii-based photographer Gary Greenberg shoots stunning macro images of grains of sand, dissecting the seemingly uniform material into otherworldly crystals. The microscope, which the artist himself invented after earning a Ph.D. in biomedical research, magnifies the microscopic to 300 times their original size; the machine also affords the resultant images an astounding depth of field, capturing the most subtle curves and structures of the minuscule grains of sand.
Greenberg derives pleasure from the unpredictability of his process; each beach has a diverse history and therefore produces unique sand. In Maui alone, the grain shapes range from cylinders to spirals; they can be vividly colored or more muted. In the same handful of sand, we might find a tiny shell beside a microscopic mineral section that resembles an eaten corn cob.
Sand, as a substance, often operates allegorically in art, representing the impermanence of man within the shifting tides. Greenberg’s images work powerfully against that notion; here, human innovation freezes time, if only for a moment, fixing even the most minuscule objects in place. These grains of sand, many of which are likely well over thousands of years old, are crystallized for our visual pleasure; in Greenberg’s glimmering rocks, we can find traces of organic matter, now fossilized. Torn into many pieces by the tide and surf, shells, volcanic remains, and coral all intermingle on the beach shore. In Okinawa, Japan, sand is formed in part by the skeletons of single-celled creatures, visible here like strange starfish. (via HuffPost, Lost at E Minor, and Bored Panda)
At first glance the Stone Fields of designer Giuseppe Randazzo seem to be akin to stoic environmental art a la Andy Goldsworthy. Under closer scrutiny, however, these pieces are far from ‘natural’. Randazzo begins with optimal packing algorithms – algorithms that determine the most efficient way to fill a certain amount of space with various sized objects. He then modifies the algorithms to produce different arrangements of stones in the circular field. Further, the stones aren’t ‘natural’ – that is, they’re not real! Rather, the images produced by Randazzo are actually hyper-realistic 3D renderings.