Shaping the Visual Landscape: Water Colors

Toshio Sibata - Hanno City Saitama Prefecture, Japan, 2006

Toshio Sibata – Hanno City Saitama Prefecture, Japan, 2006

Japanese photographer, Toshio Shibata’s latest body of work Water Colors frames engineered water containment systems and divergent mechanisms to create mesmerizing abstract designs that show the symbiotic relationship between the natural landscape and man-made constructs. The images of earthworks, hydroelectric dams, and spillways are framed to mask context and distort perspective by hiding horizon lines. Shibata focused “…mostly on how the infrastructure of Japan’s postwar building boom interacted with the country’s natural landscape.”

An exhibition archive of the work is on view at the Laurence Miller Gallery in New York, NY.

Source: New York Times Magazine

Foreclosure Quilts

Artist—and former urban planner—Kathryn Clark uses hand-quilting methods to create foreclosure maps of U.S. neighborhoods. In an interview for The Atlantic’s CityLab, Clark describes her choice of quilting as medium, being drawn to both its cultural contexts and how visual craft can be used to humanize data. Clark’s Block Lab Studio seeks to more broadly explore how quilt blocks can continue their historical role embodying meaning through new designs reflecting modern social and environmental issues.

foreclosure quilts

Predatory Buildings


CITYLAB’s article on avian causalities resulting from the built environment largely focuses on Lights Out DC, a Washington DC based citizen group that aspires to protect migratory birds. Lights Out DC members go to the streets during the spring and autumn migratory bird seasons to collect, tag, and bag deceased birds. The high fatality rate among migrating birds is due to the fact their ancient flight routes used in search of fertile feeding and nesting grounds now include heavily urban areas. Nocturnal birds are most vulnerable to the urban landscape as they rely on stars for navigation and are disoriented by the light pollution that obscures constellations and makes smooth, transparent surfaces difficult to see.

The article also chronicles the most dangerous buildings in DC and new buildings that are designed with birds’ livelihoods in mind. Also discussed are simple steps to reduce avian fatalities such as encouraging businesses to turn off or dim lights overnight. This intervention in DC is believed to have reduced bird fatalities by two-thirds. The deaths in DC are not an isolated event. The organization Fatel Light Awareness Program (FLAP) in Toronto—often seen as a pioneer in the movement—claims to have collected over 65,000 birds representing 116 species since its inception in 1993.


Sidewalk Salon Cairo

Over the course of four years, artists Manar Moursi and David Puig have been using Polaroid photography and informal interviews to document abandoned chairs on the sidewalks of Cairo. Together, these photos and stories illustrate the enduring, time-worn character of the chairs, their users, and the city’s social fabric. Moursi and Puig are currently fundraising to publish a corresponding monograph, Sidewalk Salon: 1001 Street Chairs of Cairo.

Sidewalk Salon Cairo
Source: City Lab


Selfie Ethics


Last June, San Francisco Art Institute (SFAI) hosted the Summer Symposium “Face It: Photography, Ethics, and Identity in the Age of the Selfie.” The symposium brought artists and scholars together to discuss the ethics and identity of photography in the new world of ceaseless and instantaneous images. The symposium explored complex ideas of self-representation and how the constant sharing of one’s life blurs the line between self-consciously performed and authentic experiences.

The symposium aspired to answer complicated questions like: “How does social media complicate the relationship between action/event/self and image? What are the political implications and ethical obligations of this relationship? How do current art practices refract, resist, or incorporate the ubiquity of images and connectedness? What exactly does ‘photography’ mean today?”

Artists and scholars addressed these questions through speeches, conversations, and panels. For those that were unable to attend the symposium or would like to re-visit the presentations, SFAI has generously uploaded the full presentations to Vimeo .

Source: San Francisco Art Institute

Google Street Art Project: A Digital Conservancy

Shepard Fairey

Shepard Fairey

The Google Street Art Project is slated to double the number of works documented in the database to 5000. Street art—contentious by nature—is either viewed as vandalism or the work of “outlaw” artists. Arguably street artists seek to reach a large audience utilizing the public landscape as their canvas without being concerned that the life span of their work is likely short-lived. Contrary to the inherent ephemeral nature of street art, the project database attempts to catalog as much information about the original work as possible and, by doing so, database creators and collaborators document a medium that falls outside the conventional art market.

Source: The Guardian

Bizarre and Beautiful: Architecture Composites

Photograph by Matthias Jung

Photograph by Matthias Jung

Combination Printing is a photographic collage technique implemented by photographers from Hippolyte Bayard in 1840 to the Dadists and Surrealists of the 20th Century. Bridging the gap between the current era’s digital composites and the tenets put forth by original alternative processes and combination printers, German photographer Matthias Jung creates composites of historical architecture photographs juxtaposed on serene, pastoral landscapes in his series surreal housesThe resulting images are equal parts playful and whimsical, and haunting and dramatic.

Source: Visual News

Urban Instagrammers


Instagram—currently numbering over 300 million users—has become a revolutionary medium for wide-scale image sharing for amateur photographers. The Guardian has done all city lovers and Instagram fans a favor by creating a list of the best urban Instagrammers in the United States. The list highlights a diversity of visions, locations, and aspects of a city captured by Instagrammers.

To see what students, alums, and faculty of The University of Texas at Austin’s School of Architecture have been documenting during their research travel, check out the Visual Resources Collection’s Instagram.

Source: The Guardian

Special Preservation Status for Historic Stores in Barcelona

Source: City Lab

Source: City Lab

Historic status granted to architectural sites, both monumental and vernacular, is common all over the world. The distinction often places varied degrees of protection on those structures and sites. However, in a unique circumstance, a Barcelona city committee has slated 228 historic stores for protected status.

The ultimate goal of the protection plan is to preserve the buildings in their current state, or more specifically, to preserve their fixtures, furnishings, and decor. In certain elite cases, the buildings, as well as the businesses themselves, will be preserved—or for as long as market forces allow. The onus will be on prospective proprietors to convince the committee their proposed business plan will enhance or improve what already exists without compromising the original integrity. The petition highlights a much debated point between preservationists and planners: can (and should) an historic city survive/exist frozen in time?

Source: City Lab

New London Bridges

Screen Shot 2015-03-24 at 4.22.12 PMIn the center of London—on the South Bank of the River Thames—is the new Nine Elms development. The site includes embassies and mixed use development and is a prime location for a new pedestrian and bicycle connection across the Thames. In addition, a new bridge is slated for construction, which will link Nine Elms to Pimlico. Many architecture firms submitted designs; seventy-four designs were chosen for public viewing and four have been listed as semi-finalists in a competition that will decided which design is constructed. Each of the four designs is unique. Check out the full list of posted entrants here.

Source: Visual News

Women Creating More Sustainable Cities for Women


The City Fix has highlighted four women leaders from Japan, Mexico, United States, and India who are making cities more sustainable.

For example, Fumiko Hayashi, Mayor of Yokohama, Japan has increased equity in Yokohama by eradicating the extensive wait list for government child care to allow for women of all social classes to re-enter the workforce sooner. In India, Ekroop Caur the Managing Director of Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC) has revolutionized public transportation for women through increasing safety and comradery. BMTC installed separate boarding for women, CCTV cameras and panic buttons in both buses and bus stations, as well as women-only buses during rush hour. Through these leaders’ acute sensitivity to women’s challenges in urban environments , they have succeeded in increasing access to opportunity and independence for their female constituents.

Source: The City Fix