This site uses cookies to help us customise your experience. Learn more about our Cookie Notice.

A PARALLEL WORLD

Monday December 8 2014 / Science & Technology - A Little Levity

The Belgian village of Châtillon is a pretty unassuming place. A stone’s throw from the border with France and Luxembourg, it forms part of the sleepy commune of Saint-Léger which boasts a modest population of 3,500 people.


Paris, New York or London it ain’t, but Châtillon has nevertheless attracted a fair few tourists over the past decades, curious to see and take photos of an eerie phenomenon on the outskirts of town.

For over half a century, until just a few years ago, the forest surrounding Châtillon was the home to what can only be described as a ‘car graveyard’. 

Monday November 24 2014 / Science & Technology - Art & Design

In 1999, the world met computer programmer, Thomas A. Anderson, better known as his alter ego, bad-to-the-bone hacker Neo, in the movie, The Matrix.


The special effects in this film were (and pretty much still are) incredible, the most memorable involving Neo dodging a bullet, his body’s reaction to the speeding projectile is captured in the round by dozens of cameras, giving the audience a 360° view of the incredible action sequence.


Since the film’s debut, this multiple-angle photography, better known as “bullet time,” has been embraced by companies like German-born Twinkind, who have used the technology to develop their own 360° scanning systems. Pairing it with 3D printing, Twinkind creates incredibly real, miniaturized statuettes of…you!

Monday November 10 2014 / Science & Technology

Syringe, needle, iodine, cotton balls and a drop of blood: You are now entering the territory of the most dreaded of all visits to the doctor – the one where you need an injection.


Having cold, surgical steel jabbed into various parts of the body to deliver a necessary vaccination is an event that few of us enjoy.

Luckily, there are people out there who are trying to come up with a way of administering a shot that doesn’t involve pointy steel needles.

Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) are in the process of developing a microscopic “tattoo” that can inoculate patients painlessly.

Monday October 27 2014 / Art & Design - A Little Levity

The ancient, pre-Christian Celts believed that there was one day of the year when the ghosts of the dead mingled with the living. This day, called Samhain, was a time to pay tribute to the spirits of their departed ancestors.

Nowadays, this tradition has evolved into “Halloween”, where the dead have become a creepy costume and rather than honouring them, we often find them terrifying.


In his workshop, surrounded by what looks like a set of props from a Hollywood horror flick, Maskull Lasserre seems to be reinvigorating this ancient Celtic tradition, repurposing familiar objects into macabre sculptures and carvings.

Where there were once bell jars, tree branches or axes, Lasserre has chiselled intricate skulls, nooses and snake skeletons.

Monday October 13 2014 / Art & Design

The Cuillin Ridgeline on the Isle of Skye in Scotland is a range of craggy mountains stretching 30 rocky peaks over 12 km (7.5 miles). At their highest outcropping, they reach 992 metres (3,255 feet).


They are a mountain climber’s paradise and some of the most challenging terrain to negotiate on foot…

But then there are those who do it differently.

Ascending these rugged peaks was the dream of Danny Macaskill, a climber of sorts: the kind on two wheels.

This professional bike rider and stunt BMX cyclist decided to push the limits of his incomparable skill by making good on his boyhood ambition: riding up and along the notoriously difficult and dangerous Cuillin Ridgeline and capturing the death-defying climb in his latest film The Ridge.


Monday October 6 2014 / Science & Technology - Art & Design

If you’ve ever listened to Rimsky-Korsakov’s Flight of the Bumblebee, you might remember the frantic pace of the music, evoking the busy life of a buzzing bee.


Now, the flight of the bumblebee is more about the species’ ominous disappearance from earth

Racing to save the six-legged insects from extinction, some people are taking up beekeeping.

While they are donning protective clothing and harvesting honey, Sam Droege is arming himself with a macro lens fitted camera to take extremely detailed photos of his furry friends, the bees.


He hopes to avoid the day when, as he says, “all the bees are gone and now we’re screwed”.

Monday September 29 2014 / Art & Design

In 1959, Ruth Handler gave the world its first “teenage fashion model”. Her name: Barbie. Nearly three decades later, in 1988, Thomas and John Knoll launched the graphics editing software Photoshop.

Both of these inventions have had a hand in shaping modern society’s perception of female beauty.


Barbie

Graphic designers around the globe have used Photoshop to doctor images of women for billboard posters and magazines, removing perceived blemishes and enhancing features to attain the unrealistic ideals of looks and physique that Barbiehas helped to propagate for over half a century.


Photoshopped image (left) and raw image (right) of Keira Knightley in Cosmopolitan

American freelance journalist Esther Honig observed the growing trend of big lipped, doe-eyed, cellulite-free woman pervading Western print media.


Honig as featured in her "Before and After" project

The 24-year-old decided to make herself the subject of her own experiment, called “Before and After”, to see how graphic designers take raw images and manipulate them according to their cultural and personal perceptions of beauty. The results were fascinating.

Monday September 8 2014 / Science & Technology - Art & Design


The worker ant leaves her nest. Her job today, like everyday, is to find food, but she is not alone. She marches on her quest, along with thousands of others, following a scented trail left by her predecessors, all with the same purpose: keep the colony alive.

Ants, along with bees, wasps and termites exhibit this collective behaviour and are known as “social insects”, or insects for whom the whole is greater than the sum of their parts.

Disney Research Zurich – a branch of the greater Disney Corporation – has tapped into this social insect behaviour not for another film (at least not yet) but to develop new animation technology called swarm robotics.

Monday September 1 2014 / Science & Technology

Drones get plenty of bad press. Their deployment as aerial assassins by the military has been heavily criticised. The use of drones as spying tools by the paparazzi hasn’t gone down well either.


And even personal drones piloted by amateurs to capture cool footage have the potential to do more harm than good due to the fact that there is often a novice at the controls.

But beyond the destructive effects that drones can have and the dubious roles to which they can be assigned, there are also plenty of positive stories emerging about unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).

Monday August 25 2014 / Art & Design

Iceland. Home to geysers, hot springs, thick wool sweaters, Björk and a language with more than a hundred names for horse hide patterns.

Beyond the stereotypes, Icelandic TV presenter and journalist Magnus Magnusson made this pithy observation about the Land of Fire and Ice: “When you live in a country which moves under your feet every five years with an earthquake or a volcanic eruption, like the saga heroes of old, you face a choice: Either to flee the country and all its hazards, or to stay and brave them out. For more than 1,100 years, the people of Iceland have chosen to stay and brave them out.”  


It’s not just the locals who have defied the hazards. Iceland has also become a hit destination for photographers willing to tempt their fate on this unstable, volcanic land to shoot some of the most unique and extraordinary geography in the world. 

Monday August 18 2014 / Science & Technology - Art & Design

"Spring is like a perhaps hand,” wrote the American poet E. E. Cummings: “carefully / moving a perhaps / fraction of flower here placing / an inch of air there... / without breaking anything.” 


With the hand of nature trained on a beaker of chemical fluid, the most delicate flower structures have been formed in a science laboratory – and not at the scale of centimetres or even millimetres, but microns.

These minuscule sculptures – curved and delicate and the diameter of a human hair – don't look like the cubic or jagged forms normally associated with crystals, but that's exactly what they are. Rather, fields of carnations and marigolds seem to bloom from the surface of a submerged glass slide, assembling themselves one molecule at a time.

Monday August 4 2014 / Art & Design

Just like clothes fashion, culinary trends ebb and flow depending on what’s hot and what’s not in the foodie world. Beetroot made a comeback with its root vegetable sisters not long ago, and this summer a large array of baby vegetables have hit the shelves for people who adore tiny things.

One food trend that has gone from niche to mainstream is the organic movement. Japanese artist Ryosuke Ohtake has taken organic to an entirely different level.


The 25-year-old Ohtake has designed and crafted an “organic” lobster of a non-edible variety. Here, the term organic applies to the fact that Ohtake’s lobster is made of wood rather than raised on an ecologically conscious shellfish farm!