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Art Plunge

Virtual Reality App 'Art Plunge' Takes You Inside Your Favorite Paintings

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Art Plunge

A new app will let you dive headlong into the enigma that is the Mona Lisa. Art Plunge is a virtual reality gallery that allows users to get an interior view of famous works of art, as Co.Design reports, seemingly going "inside" the frame.

Art Plunge—currently available in beta versions for Gear VR, Google Daydream, and Google Cardboard—essentially extends the frame of famous paintings to show what the scene would look like if you were actually in the room with the painter. Created by Swedish designers/developers Martin Eklund and Martin Christensen, the app adds sound and visuals so that you can peer out windows, hear the chirping of birds outside, and see the flowing river in the background.

Right now, you can choose to enter one of two paintings that appear to hang on a gallery wall: Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa and Johannes Vermeer’s Girl Reading a Letter at an Open Window. (The third, Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel fresco The Creation of Adam, isn’t yet ready for viewing.)

The app’s creators did take some artistic license in expanding the classic paintings, but the scenes aren’t entirely new. The frames are stitched together from other paintings in the selected artist's oeuvre, to make it a realistic approximation of what an extended version of the original painting might have looked like. The environment around Girl Reading a Letter at an Open Window, for instance, uses another Vermeer scene, View of Delft, as the scene outside the window.

According to Co.Design, the full app will be available sometime this summer.

[h/t Co.Design]

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Thomas Quine, Flickr // CC BY 2.0
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Weird
Take a Peek Inside One of Berlin's Strangest Museums
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Thomas Quine, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

Vlad Korneev is a man with an obsession. He's spent years collecting technical and industrial objects from the last century—think iron lungs, World War II gas masks, 1930s fans, and vintage medical prostheses. At his Designpanoptikum in Berlin, which bills itself (accurately) as a "surreal museum of industrial objects," Korneev arranges his collection in fascinating, if disturbing, assemblages. (Atlas Obscura warns that it's "half design museum, half horror house of imagination.") Recently, the Midnight Archive caught up with Vlad for a special tour and some insight into the question visitors inevitably ask—"but what is it, really?" You can watch the full video below.

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Courtesy of Nikon
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science
Microscopic Videos Provide a Rare Close-Up Glimpse of the Natural World
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Courtesy of Nikon

Nature’s wonders aren’t always visible to the naked eye. To celebrate the miniature realm, Nikon’s Small World in Motion digital video competition awards prizes to the most stunning microscopic moving images, as filmed and submitted by photographers and scientists. The winners of the seventh annual competition were just announced on September 21—and you can check out the top submissions below.

FIRST PRIZE

Daniel von Wangenheim, a biologist at the Institute of Science and Technology Austria, took first place with a time-lapse video of thale cress root growth. For the uninitiated, thale cress—known to scientists as Arabidopsis thalianais a small flowering plant, considered by many to be a weed. Plant and genetics researchers like thale cress because of its fast growth cycle, abundant seed production, ability to pollinate itself, and wild genes, which haven’t been subjected to breeding and artificial selection.

Von Wangenheim’s footage condenses 17 hours of root tip growth into just 10 seconds. Magnified with a confocal microscope, the root appears neon green and pink—but von Wangenheim’s work shouldn’t be appreciated only for its aesthetics, he explains in a Nikon news release.

"Once we have a better understanding of the behavior of plant roots and its underlying mechanisms, we can help them grow deeper into the soil to reach water, or defy gravity in upper areas of the soil to adjust their root branching angle to areas with richer nutrients," said von Wangenheim, who studies how plants perceive and respond to gravity. "One step further, this could finally help to successfully grow plants under microgravity conditions in outer space—to provide food for astronauts in long-lasting missions."

SECOND PRIZE

Second place went to Tsutomu Tomita and Shun Miyazaki, both seasoned micro-photographers. They used a stereomicroscope to create a time-lapse video of a sweating fingertip, resulting in footage that’s both mesmerizing and gross.

To prompt the scene, "Tomita created tension amongst the subjects by showing them a video of daredevils climbing to the top of a skyscraper," according to Nikon. "Sweating is a common part of daily life, but being able to see it at a microscopic level is equal parts enlightening and cringe-worthy."

THIRD PRIZE

Third prize was awarded to Satoshi Nishimura, a professor from Japan’s Jichi Medical University who’s also a photography hobbyist. He filmed leukocyte accumulations and platelet aggregations in injured mouse cells. The rainbow-hued video "provides a rare look at how the body reacts to a puncture wound and begins the healing process by creating a blood clot," Nikon said.

To view the complete list of winners, visit Nikon’s website.

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