Posts in Category: biology

Two Biologists Explore the Remote Rainforests of the Ecuadorian Andes to Document Fungi

All photos © Danny Newman and Roo Vandegrift

Biologists estimate that 3.2 million species of fungi may exist on Earth, and of that only around 120,000 are known to science which leaves potentially millions organisms of left to discover, photograph, and document before it’s too late. The majority of undescribed species live in the tropics where mycologists Danny Newman and Roo Vandegrift have traveled extensively to document fungi in regions threatened by climate change and development.

In 2014, the pair traveled to Reserva Los Cedros, one of the last unlogged watersheds on the western slope of the Andes, where they took a few of the samples seen here (additional photos come from discoveries in other parts of Latin America). The reserve has since been declared open for mining by the Ecuadorian government and the habitat that spawned these unusual mushrooms is slated for destruction. “The identification and description of rare or endemic species from the reserve will help demonstrate the value of these habitats and the importance of their conservation,” shares Newman about the project.

As part of a January residency at the University of Oregon, Newman is now working to sequence the DNA of 350 fungi samples found at Reserva Los Cedros and is seeking support from the public to help fund the project at cost. You can see more photos from their discoveries in Ecuador on Mushroom Observer.

Artist Philip Beesley Merges Chemistry, Artificial Intelligence, and Interactivity to Create “Living” Architecture

Astrocyte, 2017. All images by Philip Beesley and Alex Willms / PBAI.

Multidisciplinary artist and architect Philip Beesley weaves together such a broad array of technologies and systems in his artworks that they legitimately defy description, but the immediate impact of encountering these sprawling interactive installations is visceral and awe-inspiring. His latest work, Astrocyte, connects chemistry, artificial intelligence, and an immersive soundscape to create a living piece of architecture that responds to the presence of viewers. Comprised of 300,000 individual components, the piece was on view against the industrial backdrop at Toronto’s port lands for EDIT: Expo for Design, Innovation & Technology last October. From a statement about the project:

The structure is made up of resilient, lightweight meshworks of thermally formed acrylic, laser-cut into geometrical patterns optimized for production with minimal waste. This unique space truss system is part of the Living Architecture Systems’ pioneering research into resilient and adaptable structures. Astrocyte’s structural mesh components use overlapping strands of material in doubly-curved conical forms that achieve extraordinary strength from minimal material. These innovative forms are clustered together in bundles that are similar to the multiple filaments spanning between outer and inner shells of natural bone structures.

The piece further incorporates 3D-printed lighting components and masses of custom glasswork that contain a combination of oil, inorganic chemicals, and other solutions to form a sort of chemical skin. At the core of Beesley research is the question of whether architecture can truly be “alive,” opening the possibility for self-repairing structures or deeply responsive organic environments, where artificial intelligence exists at almost every level of design. Regardless of the complexity and heady ideas, the works are deeply aesthetically intriguing, something directly out of science fiction.

Beesley is the director of the Living Architecture Systems Group and a professor at the School of Architecture at the University of Waterloo. You can explore much more of his work on his website and along with several videos and interviews on Vimeo. (via Colossal Submissions)

Segmented Glass Sculptures Inspired by Cell Division by Jiyong Lee

Cell-Building block, 14 x 14 x 14 inch, 2016

Driven by an interest in the biological process of cell division, artist Jiyong Lee (previously) fabricates translucent sculptural works of segmented glass components fused through coldworking techniques. Some pieces purposefully take the form of organic life with titles such as “White-orange Chromosome Segmentation” or “Geometric cell membrane segmentation” while others are decidedly more geometric in nature. Born and raised in South Korea, Lee has helmed the glass program at Southern Illinois University since 2005. He most recently had a solo exhibition with Clara Scremini Gallery in Paris, and you can see many more of his pieces on Artsy.


White-orange Chromosome Segmentation, 7 x 12 x 16 inch, 2017

Orange Cylinder Segmentation, 5.7 x 11.5 inch, 2017

Geometric cell membrane segmentation, 17 x 14 x 14 inch, 2016

Black & White segmented Cylinder, 5.5 x 13.75 inch, 2015

Gold-Ruby Trapezohedron, 9.25 x 15 x 10.5 inch, 2015

Blue-Yellow cuboid segmentation, 10.5 x 9 x 5 inch, 2015

white Drosophila embryo segmentation, 6.5h x 14.5w x 5.75d (inch), 2014

A Remarkable Time Lapse Video of Cell Division in a Frog Egg

No, this isn’t digital. Filmed by documentary filmmaker Francis Chee, this amazing video captures the microscopic view of a frog egg as it begins to divide from two cells into millions over a period of about 33 hours. It’s astounding to think that each and every one of us started off just like this. (via Sploid)

A New Music Video of Biological Simulations by Maxime Causeret for Max Cooper’s ‘Order from Chaos’

Starting with a recording of raindrops hitting the skylight in his old apartment, this track titled Order from Chaos from London-based artist Max Cooper's newest album Emergence is the culmination of three years work merging his interests in science, music and visual arts. French visual effects artist Maxime Causeret was asked to provide the visuals and the result is a mesmerizing blend of biological simulations and music video. Cellular forms appear to collide, merge, and even compete for resources while brain-like structures explode and crash across the screen. Cooper explains a bit of the science behind the art:

Maxime Causeret selected this track to work with, under the brief to map the emergent rhythm to an exploration of emergence in living form. His video shows the raindrops initially, then going into simple cellular forms and then showing the important idea of cooperation between simple cells to form more robust colonies of life. This develops into a visualisation of the idea of endosymbiosis, where simpler smaller organisms can live inside larger cells, each providing a benefit to the other, and eventually forming parts of the same organism as they evolve to be entirely dependent on each other.

Fullscreen, headphones, you know the drill. This is definitely worth getting lost in for a moment. You can listen to Cooper’s full album here.

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Jun seo Hahm’s Endearing, Oddly Shaped Creatures

Jun Seo Hahm is a Seoul-based digital animator and designer, known for his delightful fictional creatures that inhabit other worlds. Much of the artist’s work is rooted in his lifelong fascination with the scientific field of biology. In an interview with the publication Massage, he says he actually considers himself to be a reverse-biologist. Instead of studying real creatures in the natural world, he creates new ones and worlds for them to inhabit.

Mattia Menchetti Gives Wasps Coloured Paper to Create Rainbow Nests

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While wasps generally construct their nests from chewed up bits of wood, apprentice zoologist Mattia Menchetti gradually introduced a variety of coloured paper to this European wasp colony. See more images of Menchetti’s colourful experiment below!

Hand-Sculpted Coral Reef Installation by Artist and Activist Courtney Mattison

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Denver, Colorado-based artist Courtney Mattison unites art and advocacy in this intricately hand-crafted coral reef sculpture intended to raise awareness about rising sea levels and the threat of global warming. Beautiful yet foreboding, “Aqueduct” is currently on display at the Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art until April 17th. See more closeups of the intricate porcelain and glazed stoneware, photographed by Glen McClure, below.