Sophie de Oliveira Barata works out of a bright white, semi-disheveled northwest London studio surrounded by feet and fingers, legs leaning against walls and hands that look real enough to shake. With a background in art and special-effects makeup, she worked for eight years for a prosthetics manufacturer before deciding to become a creator of bespoke limbs. “It meant I could use my creative skills and do something massively rewarding,” she said, dropping an oddly appealing man’s foot in my lap. “Making an alternative limb is like entering a child’s imagination and playing with their alter ego,” she said. “You’re trying to find the essence of the person.”
In 2011, Sophie de Oliveira Barata started the Alternative Limb Project and soon found interested clients. She created one leg with a stereo embedded in it, another with removable muscles and a third, among others, that housed minidrawers. Recently she began collaborating with artists skilled in animatronics, 3-D printing, metalwork and carbon fiber.
“After losing a limb, a person isn’t the same,” de Oliveira Barata said. “So this is a form of expression, an empowerment, a celebration. It’s their choice of how to complete their body — whether that means having a realistic match or something from an unexplored imagination.”
Photo: Ryan Seary – formerly an Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technician, US military
In a travelling exhibit, high-end retailer Holt Renfrew partnered with the French Embassy to reveal what the highest price items are made of. Combining art and science, Paris-based journalist Laurence Picot used a medical scanner and photography to examine fourteen top luxury items. These included the new Hermès saddle, the S.T. Dupont lighter and Pierre Corthay shoes.
“LuxInside – Traces of Man” offers an inside view of excellent craftsmanship. “The principle behind luxury products is that you should not see signs of human innovation or the work that went into them,” Picot explained. Nevertheless, she was fascinated by the manufacturing processes and the people involved. Unsurprisingly, luxury retailers were unwilling to reveal the inner qualities of their designs. This only set Picot and a collective of artists and scientists onto an investigation that “diagnoses” the talent, the traces of what man has produced.
You may have wondered aloud at the $1,000 price tag for a pair of red-soled Christian Louboutin heels. There’s more to luxury than meets the eye. It is the use of a very durable, costly metal — originally patented for the aircraft industry — to structure the heel and sole, resulting in a heel that will properly support a women’s ankle and stand the test of time.
The exhibit arrived in Canada after its tour of Europe and South America.
The late Hans Monderman was a Dutch traffic engineer and former driving instructor. His work in redesigning roads redefined the relationship between pedestrians and drivers.
He knew that drivers were more reliant on road markings, signs, and signals than on their common sense and intelligence. If drivers face more uncertainty and have to choose who has ‘right of way’, they are more likely to slow down. Everyone, pedestrian and drivers alike, become more responsible. “A wide road with a lot of signs is telling a story,” Monderman said. “It’s saying, go ahead, don’t worry, go as fast as you want, there’s no need to pay attention to your surroundings. And that’s a very dangerous message.” (Quoted in: http://walkablestreets.wordpress.com/2004/12/18/roads-gone-wild/)
Monderman’s simple roads featured public art, landscape and lighting. His early success in reducing vehicle speed in the Dutch village of Oudehaske attracted further work in more than 100 towns and villages. His redesign of complex intersections and shopping streets caught the attention of professionals and politicians beyond the Netherlands. The EU initiated a “shared space” program based on his planning principles.
TV journalists would interview the humble Monderman in the middle of a busy stream of traffic. He would demonstrate his confidence in the responsible adaptability of drivers by walking backwards into the traffic.
He died from cancer, aged 62.
Photo source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shared_space
“Every Christmas for decades, the leggy, legendary Rockettes have tapped their way across the stage at New York’s Radio City Music Hall, stirring images of drummers drumming and lords a-leaping. But the dancers faced a perennial challenge – their tap rhythms were often muted in the 6,000-seat enormity of the world’s largest indoor theatre.
Efforts to boost the beat of the feet in their signature Twelve Days of Christmas number – using, say, directional microphones or body-pack transmitters – were ineffective, awkward, or too visible. Enter Quantum5X, a Canadian firm best known for developing rugged wireless technology to capture the crash of basketball giants and the cacophony of hockey hits and baseball slides.
The solution? To mount tiny microphone-transmitters onto the bottom of the Rockettes’ tap shoes, picking up the beat so faithfully it could be amplified over the theatre sound system. Call it Rockette science – a classic case study of how innovation is born of necessity and improvisation.”
“Boosting the beat of a famed dance troupe’s feet” By Gordon Pitts, Globe and Mail. December 21, 2011