Each of China’s 1.3 billion people are members of one—and only one—of 56 ethnic groups; those of mixed blood are not legally permitted to claim two. Over 91 percent of the population are Han Chinese, while the rest—numbering 105 million people—are referred to as “ethnic minorities.” While some ethnic minority groups have well-publicized clashes with the majority Han (most famously the Tibetans and Uighurs), the vast majority of the others are little known—even within China.
Nearly half of China’s ethnic minority groups are native to Yunnan Province, an area roughly the size of California that borders Laos, Vietnam, and Burma, and a popular destination for both domestic and international travelers. The Philadelphia-based artist Collete Fu has spent years photographing minority groups throughout the province, from the high mountain ranges near Tibet to the tropical Red River valley. But, instead of presenting her work in a conventional style, Fu has upped the ante: she’s made pop-up books. These aren’t the simple, pop-up books that you owned as a kid, either: they’re three-dimensional mosaics of people, artifacts, and landscapes unique to this corner of China.
Read more. [Image: Collette Fu]
Last night in London, thousands of fans gathered in Olympic Stadium for the Closing Ceremony of the 2012 games. The spectacular show kicked off with fireworks and rolled into a series of performances by British pop stars from the past six decades, including Brian May, The Who, Blur, and George Michael. Even John Lennon and Freddie Mercury made posthumous appearances via video. Brazil gave a preview performance of things to come in Rio de Janeiro in 2016, and Lord Sebastian Coe, chairman of the London Games Organizing Committee, praised the execution of this year’s summer games, saying, “When our time came, Britain, we did it right.”
See more. [Images: Reuters/Fabrizio Bensch, Hannah Johnston/Getty Images, Reuters/Fabrizio Bensch, Leon Neal/AFP/Getty Images]
Online, as part of our daily labor here on The Atlantic, I often find myself at the Library of Congress searching through hundreds of thousands of photographs of all kinds of things. At a time when algorithms are supposed to be reducing serendipity to the opposite of a chance encounter, I find the blunt search tools at the LOC constantly spit out wonderfully unexpected things.
For Alexander Furnas’ story yesterday about power, privacy, and data tracking, I wanted to find a photograph of a bunch of dolls, so I searched for “doll shop.” Scrolling down the list, I didn’t find what I wanted, but one title for a group of photos caught my eye: “Old men making toys in a shop maintained for their benefit, apparently by society women.” The record told me George Grantham Bain made these pictures in 1915. The extended description read, “Photographs show men cutting animals and dolls from wood. Women purchasing Christmas gifts. Also, teddy bear factory.” There is no more information attached to the record, but who really needs more than TEDDY BEAR FACTORY, really.
See more. [Images: Library of Congress]
Oh, you know, just a couple of guys ready to watch a shuttle launch.
Milwaukee, Wisconsin, 1.37 pm
Nicholas Jackson tracks down biomimicry in a storefront window display:
Taking cues from the structure of coral reefs, designer Chris Bosse of the Laboratory for Visionary Architects (LAVA) created a massive sculpture that fills the window of la Rinascente’s Piazza Duomo store in Milan. This is just the latest in a long-line of biomimicry design projects that take coral as inspiration.
The United States Geological Survey uses satellite photos for all kinds of research into agriculture, weather, climate change, geology, and more. But those same photos are sometimes just stunningly beautiful. So, the Earth Resources Observation and Science (EROS) Center put together a gallery of its most aesthetically appealing images. You’re looking at one of them here. That’s cloud formations over the Aleutians Islands off the coast of Alaska. The color variations derive from the shape and size of the water droplets that form the clouds.
Galaxies may be massive, but they’re also incredibly thin.
Alexis Madrigal and Nicholas Jackson explore the secret gestural prehistory of mobile device use:
We shape our hands a certain way when we want to indicate mobile phone use, but people have been using these same gestures for centuries.