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Eerie Trees

The Funambulist has rescued this week an impressive piece of architecture without architects from last year. The monsoon flood of July 2010 left 2,000 casualties in Sindh region, Pakistan, and forced more than 20 million people out from their homes. One-fifth of the country’s total area was under water (the equivalent to the whole size of England). Spiders could not find any other way to survive, but to climb up on trees. The extreme concentration of arachnids at these points turned those trees into completely cocooned structures, with endlessly overlapping spider webs. The fact of being surrounded by a vast area of stagnant waters provided them with more than enough succulent mosquitoes, and thereby reducing the risk of a malaria epidemic; locals reported fewer mosquitoes than it would have been expected after such a disaster. Photographer Russell Watkins captured in these swamped areas webs which were sometimes even stretching from tree to tree. As he witnessed: <It was an extraordinary sight, really quite spooky and surreal. Seemingly endless lakes of mill-pond-calm water, with cotton-candy trees reflected like mirrors. It was both beautiful and disturbing. As we talked to local people, dozens of tiny spiders were dropping out of the trees, onto our heads, over the camera. I think they were white crab spiders, just a few millimeters long, and not harmful – almost imperceptible.>

A lack of sunlight killed most trees, since multiple webs acted as an opaque veil over them. When the waters began to recede, displaced villagers tried to resettle their communities. The scarce amount of remaining trees led nonetheless to a lack of natural sun shelters against scorching temperatures.

Despite the shiver that they might provoke on the viewer at first sight, these images only show an  spatial consequence of the much larger extent of an still on-going tragedy.

via: deconcrete



Wayfinding using Lenticular Film

Can you control a crowd with nothing more than an optical illusion? A group of researchers at Tokyo’s University of Electro-Communications think so. They are developing a lenticular lens sidewalk that would keep people moving in both directions on their own side of the walkway.

(all images via: DigInfo)

Lenticular lenses use a type of optical illusion involving a curved edge and an underlying image to simulate movement – just like those “moving” Valentines and stickers many of us played with as children. The theoretical walkways would use simple images of stripes moving toward the right to keep people on the right-hand side of the walkway.

How would moving stripes control a crowd? It’s simple: most of us use visual cues to keep us balanced while we walk. As we see the stripes subtly moving to the right, we naturally follow the movement with our eyes and then our bodies. Pedestrians may not even be aware that they are being sneakily guided.

The walkways would also be a great benefit even if people were aware of them and knew how they worked since they could be used as a sort of low-tech guidance system. In a crowded situation where people are disoriented, the moving stripes would act as a simple way to guide them in the right direction. The display uses no electricity so it would be relatively simple and low-cost.

Since lenticular lenses have not been used in this way before, it is not yet clear how well they would hold up to continued pedestrian traffic. Research into the crowd control capabilities of this intriguing idea is ongoing; don’t be surprised if you see a “moving” sidewalk like this in your city one day soon.