Parisians claim that in Paris, one is never more than 400 yards away from a Metro station. In Los Angeles, I am equally certain that one is always within 400 yards of a palm tree. Scores of streets are lined with them; they are ubiquitous in domestic and public gardens; they rise from hilltops; they tower above cemeteries; they front museums, movie studios, hotels, hospitals, municipal buildings, modest apartments, and lavish villas; they are clustered around swimming pools; they dominate the skyline — they are everywhere, and have never been more popular. The city’s 200-year love affair with palms has never ceased, and rather than waning, the affair is waxing. From the first palms planted by Spanish padres to the city of Beverly Hills, which recently, in an act of cosmetic alteration, created a palm-lined, palm-bisected thoroughfare on upscale Rodeo Drive, the palm has been the tree of choice for Angelenos. [more inside]
Taking photos from an airplane window seat usually results in banal or just bad (hazy, blurry) pictures. Here are some remarkable exceptions to that rule (in French with credits and links).
Sometimes, famous landmarks lose some of their draw when put in context, as seen in this Imgur gallery, which was expanded and modified slightly by Bored Panda. For more physical context, there are Google earth links below the break. [more inside]
Can you name a firth in Scotland where the dolphins have individual names? The destination of Haiti's Kita Nago parade? A Sami Village in Lapland where tourists go to see the Northern Lights? A former "city of pirates" on the Adriatic Coast? Every weekday, listeners of PRI's international-news radio show The World are treated to the serendipity of a brief journey to a distant point on the globe. It's part of the daily GeoQuiz, a challenging geographical trivia game enhanced with ambient audio, imagery, mapping, and revealing details of history and landscape. You can play along via Twitter or subscribe to the podcast - either way, this 5 minute vacation will make you a little bit smarter about this incredible planet.
With the momentous series finale of Breaking Bad just hours away, fans of the show are hungry for something, anything to wile away the time before the epic conclusion tonight. So why not kick back and chew the fat with your fellow MeFites with the help of a little tool I like to call "The Periodic Table of Breaking Bad." [more inside]
Rubix by University of Greenwich student Chris Kelly - an Escher-like surrealist film which mixes and rotates urban landscapes like a Rubik's Cube, created for his thesis "Time and Relative Dimensions in Space: The Possibilities of Utilising Virtual[ly Impossible] Environments in Architecture." (via)
A couple of years ago developers of Johnathan Blow's upcoming video game "The Witness" tapped landscape architect David Fletcher (Fletcher Studio) and architect Deanna VanBuren (FORUM Design Studio) "to help synthesize what was, at the time, a remote, anonymous island setting without much context . . . Witness required the landscape architects to reverse engineer a site from ruins to birth." (Previously)
Savagery - Arcadia - Consummation - Destruction - Desolation. The five stages of The Course of Empire, a fascinating quintet of paintings by 19th century artist and Hudson River School pioneer Thomas Cole. In it, an imaginary settlement by the sea becomes the stage for all the dreams and nightmares of civilized life, a rural woodland grown in time into a glorious metropolis... only to be ransacked by corruption, war, and a terrible storm, at last reduced to a forgotten ruin. At times deceptively simple, each landscape teems with references to cultural and philosophical markers that dominated the era's debate about the future of America. Interactive analysis of the series on a zoomable canvas is available via the excellent Explore Thomas Cole project, which also offers a guided tour and complete gallery of the dozens of other richly detailed and beautifully luminous works by this master of American landscape art.
Giger's Necronomicon (yt) (nsfw) - a 1976 documentary about H.R. Giger with music by Joel Vandroogenbroeck of the Brainticket.
Wiki Loves Monuments: "World's largest photo contest" seeks to create a visual record of world monuments and historic sites on the Wikimedia Commons. The USA version focuses on sites listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Canadian version here. If you don't see your country among the 30 participating so far, you can volunteer!
Christoffer Relander creates multiple-exposure portrait photographs, crossing humans and nature to haunting effect.
"With respect to landscape design, art, and the quality of spectacle, the picturesque 1,000 acres of Gibbs Farm afford one of the most intriguing, tastefully presented, and well-thought-out private collections of site-specific sculpture of the modern era." - Sculpture Magazine [more inside]
Many visitors to Boston assume that the Back Bay neighborhood is one of the city's oldest. It's actually one of the newest, reclaimed from Charles River marshland at the end of the 19th Century. Before the completion of this project, Beacon Street to Brookline was the top of a tidal dam. Today's Boston Proper is actually mostly fill: in 1630, Boston was 783 acres of land. By 1901, it was 1,904 acres. Filling in Back Bay was an enormous project, but some valuable lessons were learned decades earlier while filling in the South End.
"I'd like my work to be found in a skip, in Southgate or somewhere, in forty years' time". Nick Papadimitriou walks and looks and writes and thinks, as he ventures around London and its fringes. He eschews the term 'psychogeography', preferring the notion of 'deep topography' to describe what he does. The London Perambulator, a short documentary about his work, was released in 2009 and features Will Self, Iain Sinclair, and Russell Brand talking about his impact on their work. His first book, Scarp, will be released by Sceptre this summer.
"The U.S. Geological Survey has just released more than 161,000 digitally scanned historical maps spanning in excess of 130 years and covering the lower 48 states. This Historical Topographic Map Collection provides a comprehensive repository of the landscape of our Nation..."
The Titanic Guide to New York City. An exploration of traces of the disaster, revealing history still written on the landscape.
"This monster of a land, this mightiest of nations, this spawn of the future, turns out to be the macrocosm of microcosm me." ~ John Steinbeck
Language of the Land: Journeys into Literary America: The inspiration for this exhibition was the Library of Congress's collection of literary maps--maps that acknowledge the contributions of authors to a specific state or region as well as those that depict the geographical locations in works of fiction or fantasy. Throughout the exhibition, these colorful and varied maps reflect the contributions of authors to specific states or regions and locate their imagined people and places. Through these maps, authors' words, images, and characters, Language of the Land presents a tapestry of the impressions that endure in our collective imagination of the American land and its culture. [more inside]
Earth in perspective:
- Stratocam takes the most beautiful landscape satellite photographs from Google Maps, as voted on by visitors, and switches them every few seconds, with a fullscreen mode.
- ChronoZoom is an interactive, zoomable HTML5 timeline of the entire history of the universe, from the Big Bang to Homo Sapiens, with embedded video and lectures.
Reddit's r/EarthPorn is the largest of the SFW Porn Network, dedicated to large, hi-res photos. [more inside]
If you think that airbrushed sci-fi landscapes like like this have been rendered obsolete by time-saving computer graphics, let Brandon McConnell prove otherwise. You can watch him make similar art in five minutes with a few cans of spray paint, magazines and the lid for a pot. Don't have enough time for that? How about a one minute sci-fi landscape? OK, let's go faster: here's a 45 second painting, and faster yet: a 39 second painting. But it's not all pyramids and planets, there are also quickly created nature scenes, and tutorial clips, within the collection of 184 videos uploaded to YouTube.
The Midnight Sun is a natural phenomenon that occurs in the summer months near the Arctic and Antarctic Circles, where the sun remains visible at the local midnight. This short, time lapse film was shot in June 2011 over 17 days and incorporates 38,000 images. The photographer/videographer traveled over 2,900 miles throughout Iceland. Midnight Sun (SL-vimeo, via) [more inside]
Beautiful motion controlled time lapse video of landscapes in Arizona and Utah by Dustin Farrell.
Over the past 50 years, the small coastal plain (campo), some 30 kilometers southwest of the city of Almería, has been intensively developed for agriculture. An estimated 20,000 hecatres of extra-early market produce is grown in greenhouses in the Campo de Dalías, and it accounts for over $1.5 billion in economic activity. [more inside]
In addition to being a five term US senator, Barry Goldwater was an accomplished photographer, particularly of people and landscapes of the American West. [more inside]
A preliminary atlas of gizmo landscapes. A comprehensive look at the environments necessitated by American gizmos, as exemplified by a single iPhone in Brooklyn.
Jo Guldi writes a fascinating entry about social engineering and geography in the 1970's. "The geographers located answers in American zones of isolation and hopelessness. Bill Bunge organized his fellow professors into the Detroit Geographical Expedition, leading frequent trips to document the slums of Detroit and later Toronto. Their findings were equally provocative. In 1968, the Society published a map entitled “Where Commuters Run Over Black Children on the Pointes-Downtown Track.” Life and death, they argued, were not merely the commodities available to any hard-working American, but hung upon the thread of a special kind of privilege, the privilege of safe territory." Guldi is a historian at the Harvard Society of Fellows. [more inside]
"I am looking for places that are good for hiding, where you feel secure and safe, where you can disappear or return home. Where you can be invisible."
Paprika Mars and other Strange Worlds by Matthew Albanese.
Influential landscape architect Lawrence Halprin has died at the age of 93. "He was the single most influential landscape architect of the postwar years," said Charles Birnbaum, president of the Cultural Landscape Foundation. "He redefined the profession's role in cities." Noted projects include The Sea Ranch a 5,000-acre residential development on the coast of Sonoma county in northern California; Ghirardelli Square, the first major adaptive re-use project in the United States, the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial in Washington, D.C; and a new trail from which to experience Yosemite Falls. [more inside]
Great photographers: Clark Little (surf photography), Nick Brandt (mostly African wildlife), John Hyde (mostly wildlife and Alaska), Veronika Pinke (landscapes), Dale Allman (miscellaneous; particularly beautiful are his Australian cityscapes and the HDR/DRI photos), Ansel Adams (the undisputed master of nature photography who died in 1984; famous quotes: "You don't take a photograph, you make it.", "A true photograph need not be explained, nor can it be contained in words. "), Michel Rajkovic (mostly marine landscape, exclusively in black and white). And again, as a tribute to a gifted artist who died far too early, the work of Bobby Model (adventure photographer). Last but not least: Onexposure, probably the biggest collection of quality photography on the net.
The Georgia Guidestones - Monumental Instructions for the Post-Apocalypse.
"The vision (pdf)I have developed on gardening (pdf)and especially in my work with perennials (pdf)is based not only out of respect for nature(pdf) but also the power, energy(pdf), emotions, beauty and aesthetics(pdf) it gives." - Piet Oudolf [more inside]
Like to faire une photo? You're not alone. The inimitable (but perhaps for not much longer) National Geographic magazine has advice for taking portraits, travel photography, landscapes, excitingly vague 'adventure' photos and even plan old digital photography. After you've created magic how about selling it or getting published? Sharing is so 2007.
Larry Schwarm is best known for his photographs of prairie fires and landscapes in the Flint Hills of Kansas. On May 5, 2007, he visited his hometown of Greensburg, Kansas to take photos of what was left after an F-5 tornado leveled the town the day before. [more inside]
4 Artists Paint 1 Tree, a segment from Disneyland included on the recent DVD release of Walt Disney's Sleeping Beauty, features the artistic process of one of my favorite painters and cartoon modernists, Eyvind Earle. If you've seen Sleeping Beauty, Lady and the Tramp, Paul Bunyan or Peter Pan, you're familiar with the fantastical and brilliant landscapes he produces. His paintings show a particular fondness for Big Sur and Central California.
If you like 'fantasy' art (as opposed to comics :) and you're in DC I'd highly recommend checking out the JMW Turner exhibit at the NGA! [more inside]
John Stilgoe is a professor at Harvard who teaches his students how to, among other things, mindfully observe the urban and suburban environments they inhabit. [more inside]
Scillywebcam. A frequently updated website with high quality photographs of Scilly. Here are some of my favorites.
Thomas Graz has a collection of glasses with pictures on them. Mainly from the countries of the former Austro-Hungarian Monarchy and the German Empire, but including some other countries too. A novel way to navigate history, architecture, people and landscape. Oh! and he needs help with some of them too.
The Third View project is a fascinating presentation of "rephotographs" of over 100 historic landscape sites in the American West that presents original 19th-century survey photographs, photographed again in the 1970s, then once again in the '90s - from the original vantage points, under similar lighting conditions, at (roughly) the same time of day and year. [Flash, and you'll probably need to allow pop-ups; a little more info inside...]
"First of all, it's a map; second, it's a piece of art." Look closely at the corner of a North American ski resort trail map and you will probably see James Niehues' name tucked away in the trees. Examples of his work include Alta, Snow Basin, Winter Park, Killington and Vail.
Vertical gardening in architecture. Gorgeous walls and other vertical architectural features covered in lush, growing greenery.
More than 16,000 photos related to the USGS from the years 1868 through 1992 are now available online where they may be easily searched, viewed, and downloaded free of charge. These are old stereo pairs, sites drowned by dams, geologists and surveyers in horse drawn wagons, petroglyphs, national parks, Mount St. Helens, John Wesley Powell, hoodoos, arches, ruins, mines...
The Group of Seven. Arguably Canada's most important artists, the Group of Seven "popularized the concept of an art founded on the Canadian landscape, gave many Canadians a sense of national identity and enabled them to discover the beauty of their own country." Peruse an art gallery and marvel at the beauty they portrayed. (Mangled quote from the Tom Thomson Memorial Art Gallery) Equally important was Emily Carr. While her style was similar to that of the Group of Seven, her interest in First Nations became her trademark. Some of her paintings.
When academics rebel. A group of economists is attempting to redraw the landscape of academic research publication by injecting new electronic peer reviewed journals into the marketplace. Electronic publication of research certainly has its merits at times. Case in point: Because of the pressing medical importance of analyses of the recent anthrax cases, JAMA has published the results of two studies (one of patients who survived and one of those who did not) online in advance of the print publication in order to inform health care professionals as soon as possible. Do situations like this argue in favor of a change in the way that research is conducted and/or reported?