Living in a concrete box with hot water pouring from the tap, a refrigerator cooling our food and wi-fi connecting us to the rest of the world, we can barely imagine a day in a life of, say, Tsaatan people. They move 5 to 10 times per year, building huts when the temperature is -40 and herding reindeer for transportation, clothing and food. “Before They Pass Away,” a long-term project by photographer Jimmy Nelson, gives us the unique opportunity to discover more than 30 secluded and slowly vanishing tribes from all over the world.
Spending 2 weeks in each tribe, Jimmy became acquainted with their time-honoured traditions, joined their rituals and captured it all in a very appealing way. His detailed photographs showcase unique jewellery, hairstyles and clothing, not to forget the surroundings and cultural elements most important to each tribe, like horses for Gauchos. According to Nelson, his mission was to assure that the world never forgets how things used to be: “Most importantly, I wanted to create an ambitious aesthetic photographic document that would stand the test of time. A body of work that would be an irreplaceable ethnographic record of a fast disappearing world.”
All of his snapshots now lie in a massive book and will be extended by a film (you can see a short introduction video below). So embark on a journey to the most remote corners and meet the witnesses of a disappearing world. Would you give up your smartphone, internet and TV to live free like them?
By Dante D’Orazio via the Verge
Welcome to rural Sweden, sometime in the late ’80s. Citizens go about their mundane lives and children explore the countryside. But something isn’t quite right. Robots and hovercrafts are commonplace, and decaying science facilities sprout from the harsh Scandinavian landscape. There’s even a rumor circulating that dinosaurs have returned from the dead after some failed experiment.
This is the world that exists in artist Simon Stålenhag’s mind, and it’s only accessible through his paintings. The alternate universe he’s created is inspired by the sci-fi movies he watched as a kid growing up in the rural areas around Stockholm. As he explains to The Verge, “The only difference in the world of my art and our world is that … ever since the early 20th century, attitudes and budgets were much more in favor of science and technology.” So boxy Volvos, Volkswagens, and Mercedes share the landscape with robots. But science has lost some of its luster. In Sweden, a massive government science facility (equipped with an underground particle collider, of course) is long past its glory days in the field of “experimental physics.” Despite developments in robotics and “anti-grav” technology, the difficulties of the modern human experience haven’t changed.
The artwork is impactful as a result of this juxtaposition between the harsh realities of life and the sci-fi technologies of our dreams. It’s reminiscent of worlds like the one so effectively portrayed in games likeHalf-Life 2, and like such great video games, the universe created by the artist seems to continue well beyond the edge of the canvas.
Simon Stålenhag used a Wacom tablet and pen to digitally paint the works below. More of his work, including prints and shots of some of the paintings below in detail, are at his website. All images used with permission, and copyright Simon Stålenhag.
For more than three years, German photographer Simon Menner has immersed himself in the invasive culture of the Stasi, the security service that snooped on East Germans for 40 years. Officially known as The Ministry for State Security, the Stasi recruited from all walks of life, enlisting over 2.5 percent of East Germany’s adult population as unofficial informants just before the Berlin wall fell. So powerful was the agency that Simon Wiesenthal, famous for hunting Nazi criminals, said “the Stasi was much, much worse than the Gestapo, if you consider only the oppression of its own people.” For the Stasi, the key to effectively managing East Germany’s population was blending in.
While researching his new book, Top Secret: Images from the Stasi Archives, Menner uncovered troves of documents and photographs detailing the inner-workings of the Stasi, including a dress code for undercover agents. “Once top secret, and now preposterous, these images are both comical and sinister,” says the book’s synopsis. We spoke with Menner, who gave us some insight into the disturbing reality of Stasi East Germany.
“As an artist I am very much interested in how images work and how they are used to manipulate people. I did a lot of research on the nature and structure of surveillance systems, because I thought that these are the people who deal with images a lot and use them against the will of those shown – or even those who have taken them in the first place.”
Although the disguises are the most visually interesting aspect of Menner’s book, he says they aren’t the most disturbing photographs by a long shot. Above are the first images Menner ever requested, and his reason for embarking on his search for more.
“What does the collection tell us about the Stasi and East Germany? Maybe some things we already know… How terrible the Stasi was, and how extensive their operation has was. Maybe some things we did not expect. But a key element is missing. Was the Stasi agents’ state of mind different to those of their Western counterparts? I doubt it, but this remains a mystery.”
Menner ended our conversation with a story, relayed to him by an archivist that aided him in his research.
Once thought to be the most densely populated place on Earth, with 50,000 people crammed into only a few blocks, these fascinating pictures give a rare insight into the lives of those who lived Kowloon Walled City.
Taken by Canadian photographer Greg Girard in collaboration with Ian Lamboth the pair spent five years familiarising themselves with the notorious Chinese city before it was demolished in 1992.
The city was a phenomenon with 33,000 families and businesses living in more than 300 interconnected high-rise buildings, all constructed without contributions from a single architect.
Ungoverned by Health and Safety regulations, alleyways dripped and the maze of dark corridors covered one square block near the end of the runway at Kai Tak Airprot.
‘I spent five years photographing and becoming familiar with the Walled City, its residents, and how it was organised. So seemingly compromised and anarchic on its surface, it actually worked and to a large extent, worked well,’ said Mr Girard on his website.
Dating back to the Song Dynasty it served as a watch post for the military to defend the area against pirates and to manage the production of Salt before eventually coming under British rule.
However, during the Japanese occupation on Hong Kong in the Second World War parts of it were demolished to provide building materials for the nearby airport.
Once Japan surrendered from the city, the population dramatically increased with numerous squatters moving in. Eventually it became a haven for criminals and drug users and was run by the Chinese Triads until 1974.
The shrieks of children playing on rooftops were frequently drowned out by the sounds of jet engines as aircraft powered through their final 100 metres on the runway at Kai Tak Airport
By the early 1980s it was notorious for brothels, casinos, cocaine parlours and opium dens. It was also famous for food courts which would serve up dog meat and had a number of unscrupulous dentists who could escape prosecution if anything went wrong with their patients.
The city eventually became the focus of a diplomatic crisis with both Britain and China refusing to take responsibility.
Despite it being a hotbed of crime many of its inhabitants went about their lives in relative peace with children playing on the rooftops and those living in the upper levels seeking refuge high above the city.
The rooftops were the one place they could breathe fresh air and escape the claustrophobia of their windowless flats below.
Eventually, over time both the British and Chinese authorities found the city to be increasingly intolerable, despite lower crime rates in later years.
The quality of life and sanitary conditions were far behind the rest of Hong Kong and eventually plans were made to demolish the buildings.
Many of the residents protested and said they were happy living in the squalid conditions but the government spent $2.7billion Hong Kong dollars in compensation and evacuations started in 1991. They were completed in 1992.
Over time, both the British and the Chinese governments found the massive, anarchic city to be increasingly intolerable – despite the low reported crime rate in later years
Workers – not restricted by health and safety regulations – prepare their fish for sale and, right, a wall in a home adorned with clocks and pictures of relatives
Read more: Daily Mail (UK)
You wouldn’t happen to be in the market for a 1970s underground family home, equipped to live in for up to a year without resurfacing in the event of a nuclear missile strike that wipes out humanity, would ya? Because it just so happens one has just come onto the market. And this piece of real estate gold could be all yours for the bargain price of $1.7 million.
The subterranean Las Vegas home at 3970 Spencer St. near Flamingo Road boasts a 15,200-square-foot basement beneath a two story home above ground. From the street, number 3970 looks like any other American home, except with a few extra ventilation and air conditioning units planted around the yard. Camouflaged by clusters of rocks, an entrance with an elevator takes you down to the underground lair. Another stairway is hidden inside a shed.
These amazing, massive structures were commissioned by Yugoslavia’s former president Josip Broz Tito in the 1960s and 70s to commemorate sites where important WWII battles took place (like Tjentište, Kozara and Kadinjača), or where former Nazi concentration camps stood, like Jasenovac and Niš.
omnireboot.com has a fantastic photo essay by Megan May Daadler on the utopian ruins of Biosphere 2, an experimental project located in the Arizona desert near Tuscon. Biosphere 2 was meant to be an experiment in human self sustainability in controlled environments. In 1991, 8 ‘bionauts’ were locked in the Biosphere with a mass of flora and other fauna with the intent of establishing a balanced ecosystem. That never happened, and Biosphere’s spectacular failure (bug infestation, dangerous CO2 levels, oxygen depletion, angry physical confrontations between scientists etc.) is practically a parable for utopian ideals gone awry, to the point that it the interperson squabbling became the inspiration for the TV show Big Brother.
All this said, the author of article (link above) does a remarkable job of salvaging the valuable lessons learned from the Biosphere debacle, presenting the possibility that this failed vision of the future is actively directing us towards solving current environmental dilemmas through current research being conducted on site by the University of Arizona.