A parallel Worlds

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.


“Growing up in Skye, the Cuillins for me had always been a very inaccessible place,” says Macaskill during the opening of his cinematic adrenaline pumper. “There’s an incredible knife-edge ridge that runs right the way along the top and I’ve always wondered if it would be possible for me to ride my mountain bike up there.”

Outfitted with a Santa Cruz full suspension mountain bike, Red Bull emblazoned helmet and GoPro HD camera, the 28-year-old cyclist explored the hauntingly beautiful igneous rock terrain fully equipped.


However, the star of the show was not intended to be the gear he wore or even Macaskill himself, but the natural allure of the Isle of Skye, showcased through the stunt rider’s exhilarating ridgeline traverse.


The film begins with Macaskill and bike in a rowing boat, paddling on the serene Loch Scavaig, surrounded by curious seals that seem to be following him to his cycling destination.



As Macaskill “returns home” for this shoot, the sense of nostalgia is reinforced by the soothing soundtrack Blackbird by Martyn Bennett, which samples Lizzie Higgins singing the traditional Scots ballad What a Voice. As Macaskill begins his ascent up the rocky ridge, Bennett’s lush electro orchestration kicks in.

Macaskill makes riding a mountain bike over impossibly technical terrain look like child’s play – and for him it is.

Tracing the hairline path along the Cuillins with only his tyre’s rubber tread to give him traction, this professional cyclist coordinates agility, precision and balance to perform a delicate dance through his homeland’s most well-known mountains.

The film’s director, Stu Thompson, explained that the goal for The Ridge was to set it apart from all the other extreme sport films inundating the internet.


By producing and funding the film themselves, Thompson and Macaskill were able to have full creative control over the final product, breaking it free from the common mould.

“It was certainly a big undertaking given the difficult location access and hugely unpredictable Scottish weather,” says Thompson. “So for us it was always going to be risky and difficult to pull off.”

The team first had to scout the location and decide which parts of the Cuillin Ridgeline could actually be ridden. Hiking up the peaks – the easiest of which is still a two-hour trek – with gear, cameras, food and water proved to be a daunting task.


“The longest day on the mountain was 8am until 1am and included a total of seven hours of hiking for five shots in the film,” explains Thompson.

Using a combination of camera-mounted drones, still cameras and a GoPro, the film captures incredible images not only of Macaskill’s electrifying talent but also the stunning Isle of Skye landscape.



Vivid greens contrast with a bright blue sky, the colour of which reflects in the lake far below the Scotsman’s pedalling feet.


In the film, Macaskill performs fewer bike stunts than in previous movies where he first gained plaudits, such as Imaginate, Epecuén or Way Back Home.

However, this stunt legend’s fearless attitude and extraordinary talent for catapulting himself up and over complicated obstacles still remain a cornerstone of his riding. 



By combining that with the rugged beauty of the Scottish highlands, Macaskill has created another rip-roaring online success – 16 million YouTube views and counting!

To watch more white-knuckle stunts from Danny Macaskill or to find out more about him, please visit: http://www.dannymacaskill.co.uk/

And for more information on the film The Ridge please visit: http://www.cutmedia.com/#

Suggested by
Steven Rogers

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.

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