Subtracting Art: Subjects Photo-Edited from Famous Paintings


[ By WebUrbanist in Art & Drawing & Digital. ]


Anyone who has used Photoshop or similar programs knows these shifting dotted lines suggest a selection has been made and, in this case, something has been deleted.


As part of a series of digital art edits, Michael Guppy effectively disappeared the focal points of these works, selecting and removing key elements (while quietly filling in their backgrounds). He simply hooks the results into looped gif files a few frames long and the effect is complete.

edited mona lisa painting

edited photoshop classic art

For those of us with even a little exposure to art history, our imaginations do the rest, completing the pictures from memory by recalling a screaming figure here, a poised Mona Lisa there and seeing the man behind the apple reappear in our heads.

edited famous apple painting

Guppy has done many other pieces that play with digital culture, the internet, classics and icons, but perhaps one of his most entertaining creations can be seen in the video above, titled: The Most Viewed Image on the Internet. If you don’t ‘get it’ right away, well, just give it some time.

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Low Cost House-in-a-House Made of 2 Shipping Containers


[ By Steph in Architecture & Houses & Residential. ]

Low Cost Shipping Container House 1

Two colorful shipping containers set inside a garage-like outer structure form a spacious yet incredibly affordable family home free of the issues that can sometimes come with crate-based architecture, like poor insulation and soundproofing. The containers form two private rooms with loft space on each roof, while the envelope creates a courtyard and encourages air flow.

Low Cost Shipping Container House 2

The outer structure features a section of transparent panels to bring in daylight, saving energy. Large sliding doors open the home to the air in nice weather, and translucent walls help blur the boundaries between outdoors and in a little bit more.

Low Cost Shipping Container House 3

Low Cost Shipping Container House 4

JYA-RCHITECTS designed the home for a family of seven in a rural South Korea village as an alternative to the dangerous, unsanitary housing they were previously living in. Sponsored by the Korea Child Fund, which improves living environments for low-income families, the project took on the challenge of creating a home that was large enough to make the family comfortable while sticking to an extremely tight budget.

Low Cost Shipping Container House 5

The solution is a single-story home with both private and communal spaces, making use of unwanted, cheap, prefabricated and readily available materials. While the envelope was custom-created for the project, it’s easy to imagine this idea being replicated with garage or shed kits, putting possibilities for affordable DIY housing in the hands of people of all walks of life, all over the world.

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Magnetic Furniture: Modular Blocks Connect via Unseen Forces


[ By WebUrbanist in Design & Furniture & Decor. ]

bob modular magnetic boxes

Magnetized to stick together when you arrange them, these boxes take LEGO-style furniture construction to a new level by leaving exposed surfaces connector-free in any configuration.

cube box chair design

Dubbed the BOB system by its creator, Paul Kelley, the component cubes themselves are durable but light and clad in copper that will weather differently over time depending on which surfaces are exposed.

magnetic cantilever

The magnets inside them are designed to let you create anything you can imagine, from chairs, benches, stools and tables to interior space dividers or simply abstract sculptures. Their attraction is strong enough (and the boxes sufficiently lightweight) to allow limited cantilevers as well.

bob magnet box system

bob modular boxes stacked

This work is being publicly displayed as part of the London Design Festival (via Inhabitat)- hopefully its creator will also allow the public to play with and reconfigure the exhibit, keeping it fun and interactive. Fans of magnetic furniture designs should be sure to check out this tensile floating table as well, which works on similar but reversed principles, repelling rather than attracting the constituent boxes.

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Clever Land Artist Copyrighted Earth to Beat an Oil Pipeline


[ By WebUrbanist in Art & Installation & Sound. ]

land artwork surface copyright

Canadian land artist and sculptor Peter von Tiesenhausen occupies a stretch of land in Alberta covered with his artworks, but it was not until he turned the top six layers of the soil on his 800 acres of land itself from private to intellectual property that he was able to fend off encroaching corporate interests.

land sculpture water figures

In Canada, a landowner has surface rights but must allow the government to grant paid subterranean access, allowing companies to create or mine passageways, pipelines, minerals or other natural resources below the ground.

land art hole breach

They are compensated, per, and “this compensation is usually for lost harvests and inconvenience, but, Tiesenhausen reasoned, what if instead of a field of crops these companies were destroying the life’s work of an acclaimed visual artist? Wouldn’t the compensation have to be exponentially higher?”

land artwork gallery bridge

Effectively, by contacting a lawyer and protecting the surface of his land as intellectual property, he has prevented anyone from breaching that surface without compensation, which, for a work of art, could be essentially any amount. While oil companies could contest his claim, so far they have settled for costly reroutes, perhaps to avoid losing and setting a precedent that could hurt them more in the long run.

land art gallery installation

“I’m not trying to get money for my land, I’m just trying to relate to these companies on their level,” says Tiesenhausen from his home near Demmitt, Alberta. “Once I started charging $500 an hour for oil companies to come talk to me, the meetings got shorter and few and far between.”

land art hanging museum

Now an artist, Tiesenhausen has a great deal of experience with natural resource companies, having worked in oil fields, mining gold and even crushing boulders for airstrips earlier in life before turning to large-scale works of land and installation art and sculpture.

land art wood sculpture

Cantech Letter notes of the clever strategy, “This is eerily similar to the defense Portia deploys against Shylock in ‘The Merchant of Venice’ in which he is legally entitled to extract a pound of flesh from a debtor who can’t pay, so long as he doesn’t extract a single drop of blood or marrow or bone.”

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NYC Skyway: From Brooklyn to Manhattan in 4 Minutes by Air


[ By WebUrbanist in Technology & Vehicles & Mods. ]

east river skyway tram

Building on the strategy of the Roosevelt Island Tramway (connecting to Manhattan over the East River), this proposal promises record commuting times, bypassing subways, streets and ferries to use the sky instead.

east river skyway above

The East River Skyway project aims to make the jump between Boroughs faster, cleaner, safer and cheaper, all while reducing the load on the subway system, already packed to more than capacity under the ground below.

east river skyway cars

The design proposal calls for an initial connection between Williamsburg and and Lower Manhattan, followed by extensions deeper into Brooklyn and, ultimately, links to Queens and Long Island City as well.

east river skyway diagram

skyway project high speeds

Beyond the ultra-fast transit time boasted by the system there are some non-financial considerations as well: tourists and locals alike can also take the tram (as they already do to and from Roosevelt Island) in part simply to get a better view of the city from above.

hovering skyway project design

east river skyway design

Its designers cite other major international cities deploying and contemplating similar initiatives, from Singapore to London, England and  Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

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Urban Glider: Compact Portable Electric Unicycle for Cities


[ By WebUrbanist in Technology & Vehicles & Mods. ]

urban glider design crowdfunding

Light, small and surprisingly fast, this single-wheeled cycle is designed to let you zip around cities, then stop and pick it up like a suitcase when you arrive at your destination – a sweet last-mile solution for urban commuters and travelers.

unicycle electric personal vehicle

The Urban Glider uses a gyroscopically-stabilized electric mono-wheel to help you stay upright as you stand on footplates straddling the sides of a central 16-inch wheel.

urban glider prototype concept copy

Leaning back lets you slow, stop or reverse while leaning forward engages the engine in that direction, and tilting to either side allows you to turn using intuitive movements.

urban glider colors

The convenient size of the device means you don’t have to worry about parking or locking up your car, scooter or bike. And unlike other small-scale solutions, you also do not need to switch out blades or skates for shoes between uses.

unicycle city street sidewalk

Hopping from the glider to other transit is also simple, since you can carry the 24-pound vehicle onto buses, trains or planes.

urban glider design

unicycle urban glider design

With a top speed of around 13 miles per hour you won’t be breaking any records for velocity, but can get places much faster than you would be able to on foot.

The battery is designed to last for up to 6 hours of use and can be charged in last than 30 minutes. Currently, crowdfunding on Kickstarter is paused but the company seems adamant about making a go of this personal vehicle one way or another. The Urban Glider is set to retail for $1200 – expensive on some metrics, perhaps, but fairly cheap as short-distance electric transit goes.

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Roaming Homes: 15 DIY RVs, Converted Buses & Tiny Houses


[ By Steph in Technology & Vehicles & Mods. ]

neverwas haul

Japanese tea houses spring from the roofs of ordinary-looking trucks, ornate handcrafted cabins are tacked onto school buses and fire trucks are converted into monster off-road RVs when industrious and determined DIYers decide to take on building their own mobile homes. One tiny house on wheels even has a back deck with a full-sized hot tub, and an incredibly fun two-story Victorian house on wheels makes its way around the desert.

The Neverwas Haul: A Steampunk Mobile Home

Neverwas Haul 3

DIY Mobile Homes Neverwas Haul 2

RVs rarely get more ornate than this – a two-story Victorian house on wheels, designed, naturally, for Burning Man. The Neverwas Haul was built over six months in 2006 and is made almost entirely of recycled materials. Designer and builder Shannon O’Hare used the skills and experience he gained creating theme park structures around the country to come up with this amazing vehicle, which is built upon the base of a fifth wheel travel trailer.

Tiny House with a Built-In Hot Tub
Tiny House Hot Tub 5

Tiny House Hot Tub 1

You can even tack a generously sized wooden hot tub – powered by wood, if you like! – onto the back of your very own custom-built tiny house. UK-based Tiny Wood Homes builds both hot tubs and little houses on wheels, making this combo a natural fit. The whole setup is small enough to be towed around via truck and sells for about $57,000.

Matthew Hofmann’s Renovated Airstream Trailers
DIY Mobile Homes Hofmann Airstream 1

DIY Mobile Homes Hofmann Airstream 2

DIY Mobile Homes Hofmann Airstream 4

Architect Matthew Hofmann purchases old Airstream trailers and renovates them into beautiful and modern mobile spaces, custom-creating everything from backyard offices to tiny roaming homes. The project began when Hofmann decided to downsize from a large house to an Airstream of his own. People took notice and soon enough, demand turned into a business opportunity.

DIY Mobile Homes wothahellizat

DIY mobile Homes wothahellizat 2

DIY Mobile Homes wothahellizat 3

Sound out the name of this creation phonetically – that’s basically the reaction of everyone who sees it. Australian photographer Rob Gray wanted a home base while adventuring in the Australian wilderness, so he created his very own monster RV complete with a viewing deck, hydraulically operated roof and a bedroom over the cab. It’s got all the amenities of a standard camper, but can go off-road.

Al’s Housetruck
DIY Mobile Homes Al's Houstruck

What looks like no more than a narrow cabin from the back is revealed to be an incredibly intricate hand-crafted mobile home, built right onto the back of an old Dodge bus. Featured in the 1979 book Rolling Homes by Jane Lidz, ‘Al’s Housetruck‘ has a sleeping loft over the cab, a wood stove, stained glass windows and decorative porch railings.

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Dancing Traffic Signal Makes Crossing the Street More Fun


[ By Steph in Art & Installation & Sound. ]


Impatient pedestrians eager to get across the street stop, point and laugh when they realize that the usually-static human figure in the crosswalk signal is dancing maniacally, waving its arms and legs. Not only is the figure dancing, it’s mimicking the real-time movements of passersby in a nearby booth.



The ‘WhatAreYouFOR’ campaign by Smart aims to make intersections safer by providing some attention-getting entertainment.


The people waiting to cross often can’t help dancing right along with the little figure, unaware that a real person is busting moves in an adjacent plaza, their dancing captured on camera and translated into the red pixelated silhouette.




As a result, according to the creators, 81% more people stopped at the red light, increasing safety all around. “And they even had more fun doing so.”

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Occupy Parking Spots: 15 Projects Reclaiming the Streets


[ By Steph in Art & Installation & Sound. ]

Parking Spot Hacks Bikes 3
In the asphalt-covered space that would normally be occupied by a single vehicle could be a bike rack, a dance floor, an outdoor cafe, a kiddie pool or a beautifully landscaped public park. Sometimes guerrilla and sometimes officially city-sanctioned, these 15 projects occupy urban parking spots for uses that are undoubtedly a lot more fun.

Bike Parking = Superior Efficiency

Parking Spot Hacks Bike 2

Ten bicycles can easily fit within a single parking spot, and many cities have started to take advantage of this fact with specially-sized bike racks. Buenos Aires installed a few car-shaped racks in parking spots throughout the city, an idea that caught the attention of Washington DC’s transit authority, and San Francisco’s 40th street parklet (seen top) was created by adjacent business Manifesto & Subrosa. They’re also occasionally unsanctioned, with citizens taking it upon themselves to occupy a spot with bikes for a day.

Car-Shaped Tents for Urban Camping
Parking Spot Hacks Car Shaped Tent

Designer Michael Rakowitz created a car-shaped tent made just for parking spaces, making it possible to camp in urban locations while (kind of) blending in. A similar tent used a car-shaped frame and a standard car cover for an even more convincing effect, offering affordable housing virtually anywhere in the city.

Sao Paulo’s Permanent Parklets
Parking Spot Hacks Sao Paulo 2

Parking Spot Hacks Sao Paulo 1

The city of Sao Paulo, Brazil has some of the world’s prettiest and most colorful parklets, which are parking spots transformed into mini public parks. While many parklets are temporary, this one is permanent, with the spot fully paved and heavy-duty urban furniture in a bright shade of red.

Noriega Street Parklet, San Francisco
Parking Spot Hacks Noriega 2

Parking Spot Hacks Noriega 1

Diagonal wooden benches with built-in greenery take up three parking spots in San Francisco in this design by Matarozzi Pelsinger Design + Build. The seating was designed around the awkward shape of the available space, and the rule that it had to be at least three feet away from adjacent parking spots. Says the firm, “The acute corners are embraced as areas for planting and “chaise lounge” seating, where tight plan geometry becomes an excuse to put your feet up.”

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Project Wing: Google Testing Drone Delivery Service


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Google Project Wing Drone Delivery 1

Google sees Amazon’s Prime Air drone delivery service and raises it with the enhanced aesthetics of its own Project Wing, a series of autonomous aerial vehicles currently being tested. In development for the past two years and a secret until this week, Project Wing was initially conceived as a way to deliver emergency aid like defibrillator kits to people in remote places or disaster areas.

Google Project Wing Drone Delivery 2

Now that the prototype vehicles have been tested (in Australia, which is far more lax about the use of drones than the United States,) it seems that they could be used to deliver goods to customers in a similar way to Amazon Prime Air, as well.

“As part of our research, we built a vehicle and traveled to Queensland, Australia for some test flights,” says Google of the project. “There, we successfully delivered a first aid kit, candy bars, dog treats, and water to a couple of Australian farmers.”

Developed by the company’s research arm, Google X, the Project Wing drones have a wingspan of about 4.9 feet and a total weight capacity of 22 pounds, the bulk of which is taken up by the drone itself at 18.7 pounds. It doesn’t need a runway to take off or land, and can hold its position hovering in one spot.

Looking like tiny blunt airplanes, the drones are at least a visual improvement over Amazon’s design, which was mocked for resembling a flying barbecue grill.

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