What looks like a light show in a crater is actually a lava lake. Long-lasting lava lakes are extremely rare because they require active volcanoes with eruptions that produce enough active lava. Currently, there are only five lava lakes in the world: Erta Ale in Ethiopia, Nyiragongo in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Kilauea in Haiwaii, Mount Erebus in Antarctica and Villarrica in Chile. Let’s take a closer look at these natural wonders.
Lava lakes can form in the vent or crater of a volcano or a broad depression. They contain large amounts of lava in either molten, partly solidified or completely solidified states. Explosive eruptions can also be caused when ground water hits hot or molten rock and flashes into steam.
This volcano has probably the most violent lava lake in the world as it continues to be fuelled by frequent eruptions of Nyiragongo Volcano, which are caused by the rifting of the Earth’s crust where a part of the African Plate is breaking apart. Nyiragongo is a stratovolcano, a towering peak whose main crater is 250 m deep and 2 km wide. A major eruption started on January 17th, 2002, which displaced 500,000 people as lava flows even reached the city of Goma, 20 km away.
The amazing spectacle as seen from the volcano rim:
Image via Tambora
And from a little way off. This picture nicely shows Nyiragongo’s wide rim:
Image: US Geological Survey
Here’s a video of Nyiragongo’s lava lake bubbling. Is anyone else feeling hot?
Erta Ale is a 613 m-tall, isolated shield volcano sitting right on top the East African Rift. Shield volcanoes get their name from their low-angle profile that resembles a warrior’s shield. Erta Ale is Ethiopia’s most active volcano. The lava lake is at the summit and is the world’s longest and oldest, as it has been present since the beginning of the last century. Erta Ale is located in the Afar Depression, a desert area at the border to Eritrea. The volcano’s last major eruption on September 25, 2005 and others since were covered in
Image: Volcano Discovery
Below is a helicopter view, taken in February 1994, of the active lava lake. The red patches inside the crater are molten lava that is breaking through the lava lake’s solidified, black crust. The two red dots at the rim are volcanists in protective gear and helmets taking in the incredible sight.
Image: Jacques Durieux
Here’s a close-up of Erta Ale’s red hot lava cauldron with gas eruptions:
Image: Lothar Fritsch
See the lava bubbling away in this amazing video of Erta Ale:
Kilauea is the youngest and probably the world’s most active volcano, continuously spewing out lava since January 3, 1983. No wonder then that it also has its own goddess, for it is the home of Pele, the Hawaiian volcano goddess. She must be one hell of an angry goddess as eruptions are said to take place whenever she’s in a foul mood. Kilauea (“spewing” in Hawaiian) is one of the five shield volcanoes that form the island of Hawaii.
Here’s an incredible picture of the lava flowing into the sea:
Image via Tambora
And an even closer shot of a wall of lava from Kilauea:
Image: Kilauea Adventure
Another amazing picture of Kilauea’s lava flowing into the sea like a red hot waterfall:
Image via Briinhi
Another spectacular view of Mount Kilauea’s eruption:
Image: US Geological Survey
Puu Oo’s lava pond in 1990:
Image: J.D. Griggs
Basaltic lava destroyed the whole village of Kalapana, Hawaii:
For those who can’t get enough, watch this dramatic video of one of Kilauea’s many recent eruptions:
Mount Erebus Volcano on Ross Island in Antarctica is like the expression “fire and ice” personified. The 3,794m-tall volcano is a stratovolcano whose last eruption was in 2008 and is still going strong. Mount Erebus is the world’s southernmost active volcano and part of the Pacific Ring of Fire, a cluster of more than 160 active volcanoes. It was named after the Greek god Erebus whose name means “blackness” and who is the son of Kaos (“gaping void”).
Here’s a bird’s-eye-view of Mount Erebus’ lava lake as seen in 1983:
Image: Mount Erebus Volcano Observatory
An amazing picture of Erebus with the lava lake (inset) from Space:
Image: Garcia B.
Mount Erebus’ impressive smoking crater:
Mount Erebus and an unimpressed observer:
Image: Sean Brockelsby
Here’s a video of Mount Erebus’ eruption in 2007:
Compared to the previous lava lakes, Villarrica’s, with a length of 250m and depth of 100 m, is fairly small and has probably shrunk further since its peak of activity in November 2004, when climbers to the top of the volcano spotted the lava lake. The 2,847m-high stratovolcano is usually snow-covered and one of Chile’s most active volcanoes.
Here’s looking at you, kid! Eye-to-eye with Villarrica’s crater lake:
Image: Jean-Claude Tanguy
A spectacular image of Villarrica’s lava fountain:
Image: Jonathan Lewis
Finally, the best Villarrica eruption videos of 2005 to 2006 from the Observation Project of Villarrica:
Volcanoes are fascinating and certainly unpredictable. Don’t miss our article on .
Geometrisch Betrachtet, Installation, 2008; Photo by Pez Hejduk via Esther Stocker
Gaze at this image and what do you see? Can you distinguish anything between the lines? What is it supposed to mean? Looking at the paintings and installations of artist Esther Stocker, it soon becomes apparent that grids figure heavily in her work, as white white, grey and black interconnect before our eyes. Quite what this tells us, however, is another matter.
Abstract thought is a warm puppy, Installation, 2008; Photo by Sacha Georg via Esther Stocker
Born in Italy in 1974, Esther Stocker attended art schools in Vienna, Milan and California. Her work was already being featured in exhibitions before her studies were complete.
O.T., 2006, Installation; Photo by Rainer Iglar via Esther Stocker
The problem of space has long preoccupied her, a fact underlined by the title of her latest solo exhibition in London, “What I Don’t Know About Space”. Asked about this lack of knowledge in Don’t Panic magazine, Stocker replied:
“It is really hard to describe, but I never really know where one thing is at… like myself for instance… Imagine I am on a chair. The chair is two metres from a wall. The wall is on the second floor of a house in Vienna and so on. But what relates to what? Even the solar system is dependant on being described by some unclear idea of a universe being described by a confused human observer.”
Despite this lack of clarity, Stocker draws a great deal if inspiration from science. Grids repeatedly come to the fore, while theories of human perception bubble under the surface.
O.T., 2007, Painting; Photo by Michael Goldgruber via Esther Stocker
Stocker’s work seems to point to the limits of perception. They oppose interpretation – the way when we look we relate what we see to things we already know, seeing faces in clouds or trees, for example, when in so-called reality no such faces exist. In Stocker’s work, it’s hard to make out much beyond the geometric lines themselves. It challenges our tendency to look for recognisable shapes in patterns, and we are led back to “the pure act of seeing” (Martin Prinzhorn).
The questions Stocker’s work raises are relevant to abstract art more generally. They also remind one of optical illusions where our minds make something out of nothing. Such illusions are important in Gestalt psychology, which proposes that whole forms are greater than the sum of their parts, but Stocker doesn’t necessarily want to play that game.
O.T., 2007, Painting; Photo by W. Woessner via Esther Stocker
With their grid structures, as Ricardo Caldura has pointed out, “Stocker’s works have been compared to urban maps or to the layout of buildings in a metropolis…. Possible plans and urban maps are superimposed on the surface areas of a big city.” But is this just another illusion? Do such viewpoints expose our impulse to impose order on that which invites it only to reject it? There are more questions than answers in the art of Esther Stocker. Complexity and uncertainty abound.
The Boundaries of Perception
O.T., 2004, Painting; Photo by Michael Goldgruber via Esther Stocker
The art of tea drinking was fiirst introduced to Japan in the 9th century by the Buddhist monk Eichu upon his return from China. Over the centuries, tea drinking became ingrained in Japanese culture; in the 13th century it was a status symbol for the ruling warrior class, and by the 16th century, the custom had trickled down to all walks of life.
The most well-known historical figure in Japanese tea ceremony is Sen no Rikyu, whose saying, ‘ichi-go ichi-e’ means that all meetings should be treasured because each is different and will never happen again. Sen no Rikyu’s principles of harmony, respect, purity, tranquility are still central to today’s tea ceremony practice.
The place in which the tea ceremony happens, the teahouse, also helps to elicit these principles from guests. Usually small and simple wooden structures located in remote, quiet areas, the teahouse envelope has recently been pushed as architects create modern interpretations of the place of the tea ceremony gathering, while still striving to maintain the uncomplicated beauty of the traditional form. Check out Environmental Graffiti’s list of five modern tea houses, which includes an inflatable igloo, a tea house on stilts, a cube, a round house and an eco-friendly bamboo hut. Tea, anyone?
1. Inflatable Teahouse
Image via Architecture Me
Kengo Kuma’s inflatable teahouse can be found in the garden of the Museum für Angewandte Kunst Frankfurt. The innovative design allows for flexibility and mobility while upholding the simple is beautiful tea house aesthetic. Air pumped into the house helps it to bloom from the ground up, growing into a 20 square metre structure that can hold nine tatami mats, an electric stove, a raised alcove called a tokonoma and a preparation room for the tea ceremony. A double membrane structure helps to heat the interior, which also incorporates LED lights for tea times at night.
Terunobu Fujimori’s teahouse looks like it might topple over at any second, sitting high up amongst the tree tops on crooked stilts. Located in Chino, Nagano Prefecture, this teahouse, dubbed ‘Takasugi-an’, or ‘a teahouse [built] too high’, really pushes the limits of the traditional teahouse structure. To get into the small, 2.7 square metre (4.5 tatami mat) building made of plaster and bamboo, guests must climb a ladder leaning against one of two chestnut tree trunks, remembering to take off their shoes half-way up. But it’s well worth the effort: once inside, guests are afforded excellent views of the surrounding valley and Fujimori’s hometown.
3. Souan (Simple Hut) Teahouse
Image via Dezeen
Built in 2003, Toshihiko Suzuki’s Souan teahouse mixes the old and new to create a modern take on the old standby. The exterior is made from aluminum, with circular cutouts to allow natural light to enter the room, while rice-papered walls on the inside evoke a sense of calm. The two-tatami mat teahouse also features computerized tungsten lighting that cycles up and down the walls to create the illusion that the interior is larger than it actually is. The Souan teahouse is located in the architect’s atelier in Yamagata Prefecture.
Image via Dezeen
Forget about square or rectangular teahouses; what about a round one? This circular teahouse built from oak and burnt larch wood in Prague, Czech Republic, was created through a collaboration between David Maštálka from A1 Architects and sculptor Vojtech Bilisic. The round house leads guests to gather around the hearth where the tea is being made; together with the domed, translucent roof of rice paper and the easy, open access to what the architect calls a “slightly wild but even so graceful” gardens nearby, this tea house is definitely a cozy and welcoming place to gather!
5. Eco-friendly Teahouse
Image via HAUTE*NATURE
Naomi Darling created this lovely eco-friendly teahouse in the woods of Stoney Creek, Conneticut, which features local and recycled materials. The stone came from a local quarry, while bamboo was harvested on-site, and the roof is made of recycled metal. Now all that’s needed is some tea and some good friends!5 Most Epic Japanese Tea Houses
Image via: Ruudvisser
Fruits from the melon family are pretty cool. In hotter climes, it doesn’t come much better than chomping on a juicy watermelon, the succulent flesh melting in your mouth before you spit out the pips – preferably aiming at a metallic object for that extra satisfying, spittoon-style ping. That said, we came across an even more pleasing use for our favourite fruit: as the medium for exquisite sculpture.
Image: francesco 6903
The skill and patience that must go into carving stuff this intricate is pretty incredible. Yep, definitely not for the heavy-handed. Apparently it’s a Chinese art from, though some also say it comes from Japan. Check it out: a canteloupe rose.
It’s like a case of art imitating life but playing with the natural order of things – or perhaps just showing how the natural cycle continues. Instead of flowers becoming fruit, fruit become flowers – and, my, what blossom!
Of course, fruit have always been an artist’s friend, but usually they’re the subject of sketching and painting rather than the very substance from which pieces are created. Getting a little bored with roses now? Well here’s a dolphin.
Image: Gewel Maker
Watermelon art has certainly been making waves and whetting a few taste buds on the blogosphere, as these next few images show. Here’s one for the soppy types, though its a long wait till Valentine’s Day unfortunately.
Image via: Makezine
There are lots of examples of designs carved into the skin of melons as if they’re a blank canvas to work on. You’ll find everything from images of baseball players to depictions of Van Gogh out there. Some of it starts to seem a little tacky though.
Image via: Makezine
This particular art critic prefers it when the entire melon becomes the basis for a stand alone object. It’s rather like the way pumpkins are put under the knife come Halloween, except instead of being hollowed out, the fruit is carved into.
Image via: NYNerd
Saying “ahh”, and looking incredibly lifelike, this next number has become something of a classic. Who can argue?
Image via: boingboing
The only thing with all this creative work is that it’s fundamentally throw-away – or perhaps rot-away. Yup, if ever there was art that isn’t eternal, it’s this lot. At least you could have a nibble if you started feeling peckish. Heaven forbid.
What is 13 stories high, has 3,500 steps and is 100 feet deep? Right, this well, but do you believe it exists as shown in the photograph? Or has the symmetry been achieved with a little help from Photoshop? Not sure? We looked at it as if it were one of those wacky 3D-images and still weren’t sure. Read on for more details…
It is real! The image shows Chand Baori, a stepwell in Abhaneri, Rajasthan, close to Jaipur. It was built in the 9th century by Raja Chand, a rajput of the ruling Chamana Dynasty at the time, to solve the water problem of this arid region. Locals had to dig almost 30 m (100 feet) deep to find a dependable water source.
Feel reminded of M.C. Escher’s lithograph “Relativity” (1953)? We did too!
Image: Justin Foote
These kinds of deep, square wells with steps leading down can be found all over India, especially in the dry west. An adjoining temple and often elaborate designs are common, built in honour of the gods who are supposed to protect the crucial water source.
According to a local legend, the well was built in one night by ghosts and contains this many steps so that anyone who throws a coin in the well cannot retrieve it easily. More likely, the legend of the ghosts was created to keep thieves out who wanted to steal the precious water.
The back of Chand Baori with the temple, overlooking the stepwell:
Image: Pablo Nicolás Taibi Cicaré
The stepwell in Abhaneri village is one of the most spectacular ones and featured prominently in the movie The Fall (2008), when actors danced on each platform connecting two sets of steps.
Because water supply is much better and much more reliable now than eleven centuries ago, the well is now defunct, proven by the green mat of algae that has formed on top of the water.
For those who are still not fully convinced that no photoshopping was involved, here’s a 360-degree-view of Chand Baori with the temple:
Are Your Eyes Playing Tricks on You?
Image: Marco de Palma
Readers who remember the 1987 smash hit “Living in a box”” by the band with the same name will get their money’s worth from this article. Those a bit younger might feel transported back to childhood where a simple, big cardboard box held a myriad of possibilities. See for yourself what a long way cardboard design has come as you take in cardboard offices, furniture, sculptures, a cat cocoon, kids’ furniture and more….
Dutch Designers Joost van Bleiswijk and Alrik Koudenburg created this cardboard office for Amsterdam-based advertising agency Nothing. The idea behind the “no screw, no glue” approach was to create an office that would turn the agency’s clients into brand ambassadors, using the most nothing-building materials they could find. A clever advertising strategy but then, they should know!
Image via Creative Review
Nothing’s design is not new; people have been experimenting with cardboard furniture and objects for a while as you will see. But one can safely say that Nothing’s design and office composition is the most aesthetic and well-thought out to date. For those worrying about spills – relax, thick cardboard will be able to take a spill and there are many ways to waterproof it. And if all else should fail, it’s no big deal to replace parts of the furniture.
Image via Creative Review
Nothing staff urges visitors to treat their brown walls as a blank canvas and leave their marks. Inviting as the thought already is, they asked illustrator Fiodor Sumkin to start with the first drawings. Here’s one of the results:
Image via Creative Review
Cardboard experiments are not limited to furniture as the designs by British cardboard artist Chris Gilmour show. Yes, there is such a thing as a cardboard artist, and Gilmour has dedicated his work to replicating everyday objects, from the most mundane to cars and architecture. The hanging piano above is his work. Says Gilmour about his cardboard obsession:
“I like the idea of concentrating on the material in its “natural state” and playing with the idea of these beautiful objects represented with a material from the waste basket. … Maybe it’s a way of re-appropriating or taking control of the things around us, which if you live in a city are pretty much all man-made. … By using a material which everybody knows and understands, I can build on the pre-existing associations to develop ideas and ways of reading the work. It’s a way of creating a language which is understood by many.”
Indeed. Just look at his pop-art “Church” (2004):
Image: Marco de Palma
Or this Aston Martin. You could almost image James Bond sitting in it. This life-size model sure inspires one to hop in and see if it’s functional. But that may be the next generation of cardboard designs: functional cardboard cars with changeable exteriors, similar to cell phone covers.
Image: Marco de Palma
Not only people have loads of fun with cardboard furniture but animals too! This recycled cardboard cocoon would invite any cat to play. Or maybe just to take a snooze. Designed by Warren Lieu, it’s perfect for lovers of cats and the environment.
Image via Inhabitat
Cardboard designs seem perfect for kids’ furniture as well because cardboard is reasonably priced, colourful and can be folded up when not needed anymore. It is also sturdy. This storage bench by Israeli furniture design company Krooom weighs only 2.7 kg but holds the weight of a child easily.
Krooom uses only recycled or recyclable materials which don’t lack in sturdiness. This colourful table and chair set for kids is finished with a high gloss: waterproof lamination that should increase its durability. The only challenge now is to not break out into “We all live in a yellow submarine, yellow submarine…”
No need for adults to feel left out – just check out this cool coffee table that would brighten up any living room. Love that stamp design on the side!
Image via Room to Grow
Or how about these Yin-and-Yang bookshelves produced under Eric Guiomar’s cardboard creation program:
Image via The Design Blog
Last but not least, here’s a cardboard living room complete with grand piano, pictures on the wall, grandfather clock and sofas. The Cardboard Room was the brainchild of Bill Bragg, who assembled it with Chelsea students in just four weeks. The detailed drawings were done by Steph von Reiswitz. If this isn’t complete living in a box…
Image: Steph von Reiswitz
Okay, for those who’ve been humming “Living in a box” while reading the article, here’s the video:
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