Originally trained as a scientist with a doctorate in biology, Belgium-born Carsten Holler is inspired by research experiments and the world around him. His works reflect social spaces like amusement parks, the zoo or a playground but he puts an expected twist onto each of them. One of the subjects he's always centered on has been mushrooms. Since 1994, they've been a regular feature in his works. Of course, in true artist style, these aren't your ordinary mushroom, they're gigantic ones, and sometimes, they're suspended from the ceiling! In 2000, he showed the Upside Down Mushroom Room at Fondazione Prada in Milan.
New Yorkers got a chance to see his mushroom sculptures in 2011 at the New Museum. Viewers got to feel like Alice in Alice in Wonderland as they walked through a side room filled full with huge fungi. His typical mushrooms are halves of two random mushrooms. Some, like the large red-and-white agaric fungus, are believed to have psychoactive elements.
Carsten Holler's giant mushrooms are now back at Frieze 2014. For the Gagosian Gallery’s stand at Frieze, Höller has created an installation that mimics a playground for children. Within it, visitors will find a giant mushroom that's asking to be played with. It rocks from side-to-side.
These average black and white photographs reveal some surprising details mixed in with the everyday scenes. Created by Toronto-based photographer Thomas Dagg, Star Wars is a collection of images in which the artist digitally added various characters and vehicles from the movie into the landscape. While some are quite obvious, like Yoda riding on the back of a young man running through the street, it might take viewers a little longer to identify more subtle details like the rebel insignia on a baseball field or the pairs of glowing eyes that are camouflaged in with piles of trash along the street.
The series is a playful blend of modern life with the fictional reality of the artist's imagination from when he was a child. "The inspiration was always there, really," he explains. "I had a very overactive imagination as a kid. This was what I saw when I looked around the world. If there was a jogger running, my mind raced back to Dagobah and Luke training, for example. I used a lot of toys/my most prized possessions from back then to composite in, too. It's very much an homage to my childhood, not just putting popular culture into photographs."
Earlier this week, hikers exploring England’s Derbyshire Peak District were in for quite a surprise. Extreme winds caused a rare phenomenon and forced the Kinder Downfall rapids to blow water upwards rather than flow downwards!
The River Kinder, a small waterway that’s only about three miles long, was stopped in its tracks as the powerful gust pushed the current back onto the Kinder Scout Plateau. Its normal course is to cascade the 80 feet of the Kinder Downfall; but clearly, the wind had other plans, and the waterfall appears to go nowhere.
It’s an incredible sight, and what’s also impressive is that travelers were able to withstand the winds long enough to capture it on video.
World-renowned astronaut Chris Hadfield, whom we had the pleasure of hearing speak about his experience on the International Space Station at last year's Beakerhead, crafts a compelling and intimate visual essay about the planet we live on in his new book You Are Here: Around the World in 92 Minutes. During his time beyond the earth's atmosphere, Hadfield—who served as the commander of the ISS and was the first Canadian to walk in space—took thousands of photos that present a unique perspective of our world from up above.
His book, which he calls "my guided tour of our planet, as if we were floating and looking out the spaceship window together," depicts breathtaking aerial views of places like Venice, the Himalayas, Manhattan, and the Nile River. Our beloved cities, oceans, landscapes are reduced to kaleidoscopes of color and texture—beautiful, but so small in the grand scheme of the universe. According to the book description, You Are Here "opens a singular window on our planet, using remarkable photographs to illuminate the history and consequences of human settlement, the magnificence (and wit) of never-before-noticed landscapes, and the power of the natural forces shaping our world and the future of our species."
To see more of the captivating photos that Hadfield captured of our planet, check out You Are Here, now available from retailers like Amazon and Barnes & Noble.
Above: Havana to Washington
Detroit, Michigan / Windsor, Ontario
Perereira Barreto, Brazil
San Francisco, California
Richat Structure (Eye of the Sahara), Mauritania
Manhattan, New York City
Great Salt Lake, Utah
Cairo, Jerusalem, and the Nile along the Mediterranean
World-renowned architect Zaha Hadid has unveiled designs for for the new Sleuk Rith Institute, a leading center for genocide studies in Asia to be located in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Conceived by activist Youk Chhang, the Director of the Cambodian Documentation Center, the new institute will not only continue the organization's work of compiling, analyzing, and preserving information related to the brutal Khmer Rouge era, but will also act as a forward-looking work of memorial architecture that inspires hope for the future.
Hadid, typically known for her flowing concrete buildings, envisions a unique aesthetic for the institute in the form of five wooden structures that interweave and link together as they rise upwards. The five buildings will house spaces for different functions, including a museum, a library holding the largest collection of genocide-related material in Southeast Asia, a research center and archive, a media center, an auditorium, and a graduate school focusing on genocide, conflict, and humans rights studies. These independent establishments will be connected at various levels throughout the structure, allowing for interaction and collaboration underneath a complex, interlocked structure inspired by the architecture of Angkor Wat and other ancient sites.
"Our hope is the Sleuk Rith Institute and its Memorial Park can have a truly transformative effect, bringing new life and a bright future to a site that holds traces of the great tragedies of the past," says Hadid. "An inviting place where reflection, interaction and connectivity are not only its spatial expression, but also embedded within its covenant to the people of Cambodia."
A gigantic man crawls out from the earth in this spectacular outdoor sculpture titled Feltépve ("ripped up" or "popped up") by Hungarian artist Ervin Loránth Hervé. Crafted from polystyrene, the larger-than-life sculpture was temporarily installed in Budapest's Széchenyi Square for the Art Market Budapest art fair that took place earlier this October.
With an expressive, snarling face, the colossal figure looks like he is erupting from a deep, underground lair, pulling up the lawn so that he can escape into the open air. The sculpture, which is rendered in subdued shades of gray associated with the earth and nature, is completely selfie-comptabible according to the artist, as Hervé encourages viewers to circulate pictures of themselves and the installation on social media.
"I think that this is a truly contemporary piece of artwork, in an extremely large size. My goal was to show people that pieces of contemporary art can be integral parts of a city, that they can become one of its building blocks," the artist says in an interview with Funzine. "I say that many more contemporary sculptures should be displayed on the streets of Budapest. I’m positively sure that not only tourists would love them, people living in the city would too. Let’s dare to create!"