A fallen empire in the snow

Tkachenko

From Wired:

In the early 1970s, the Soviet Union built an amphibious airplane designed to skim the sea, searching for US nuclear submarines. It flew, but the Kremlin scuttled the Bartini Beriev VVA-14 after a prototype crashed, the designer died, and a supplier bungled an order. The one remaining plane rusts away in a field at the Russian Air Force Museum outside Moscow.

That ill-fated plane is among 33 Soviet-era relics that Danila Tkachenko photographed for his series and photo book Restricted Areas. Many see them as monuments to the Cold War, a reminder of a time when the world lived under the threat of annihilation. But Tkachenko sees the Soviet Union’s aspirations and failures, and a rejection of the pursuit of political and technological utopias. “My project is a metaphor [for] post-technology apocalypse,” he says.

The series takes its name from the dozens of “secret” cities that housed the government’s most sensitive military and scientific programs. These cities were closed to all but the people who worked in them, and visits required approval from the highest levels. Many of them still stand today, abandoned and falling into ruin.

Read the rest.

Tkachenko5 Tkachenko4 Tkachenko3 Tkachenko2

A fallen empire in the snow

Soviet bus stops

This is started as a great idea for a photography project, and is now a Kickstarter backed book, Soviet Bus Stops:

Photographer Christopher Herwig first discovered the unusual architecture of Soviet-era bus stops during a 2002 long-distance bike ride from London to St. Petersburg. Challenging himself to take one good photograph every hour, Herwig began to notice surprisingly designed bus stops on otherwise deserted stretches of road. Twelve years later, Herwig had covered more than 18,000 miles in 14 countries of the former Soviet Union, traveling by car, bike, bus and taxi to hunt down and document these bus stops.

The local bus stop proved to be fertile ground for local artistic experimentation in the Soviet period, and was built seemingly without design restrictions or budgetary concerns. The result is an astonishing variety of styles and types across the region, from the strictest Brutalism to exuberant whimsy.

Soviet Bus Stops is the most comprehensive and diverse collection of Soviet bus stop design ever assembled, including examples from Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Ukraine, Moldova, Armenia, the disputed region of Abkhazia, Georgia, Lithuania, Latvia, Belarus and Estonia. Originally published in a quickly sold-out limited edition, Soviet Bus Stops, named one of the best photobooks of 2014 by Martin Parr, is now available in this highly anticipated, expanded smaller-format trade edition.

See more details here.

Soviet bus stops

The Soviet Union is forever on Jupiter

Venera_13_lander

The Venera 7 was the first spacecraft to successfully land on another planet and transmit data back to Earth. It set off from Earth on 17 August 1970, and it landed on 15 December 1970. And it’s still there now, branded CCCP for all eternity to represent the Soviet Union, which of course no longer exists. If ever there was a metaphor to check human hubris, this surely is it.

The Soviet Union is forever on Jupiter

The strange shop windows of the Soviet Union

This is great. From Wired:

Walking around cities like Prague and Krakow in the late 1980s, American David Hlynsky was struck by the lack of advertising on the streets. Instead of Pepsi and the Marlboro man, shop windows displayed scant offerings of everyday items like bread or plumbing supplies. The lack of frivolity fascinated him.

“In the dying days of the Cold War, I saw these windows as a vast ad hoc museum of a great failing utopia,” Hlynsky writes.

He documented the crumbling aesthetic in 450 windows across the Soviet Union and the Eastern Bloc. A portion of his work recently was published in Window-Shopping Through the Iron Curtain. His photos capture a world on the brink of collapse, one in which a strange blend of Communism and consumerism converge.

The strange shop windows of the Soviet Union

A brief visual history of 7,455 satellites

From CityLab:

Right now, there are about 1,100 satellites whizzing above our heads performing various functions like observation, communication, and spying. There are roughly another 2,600 doing nothing, as they died or were turned off a long time ago.

How did each of these satellites get up there? And what nations are responsible for sending up the bulk of them?

The answers come in the form of this bewitching visualization of satellite launches from 1957 – the year Russia debuted Sputnik 1 – to the present day. (The animation starts at 2:10; be sure to watch in HD.) Launch sites pop up as yellow circles as the years roll by, sending rockets, represented as individual lines, flying into space with one or more satellites aboard.

A brief visual history of 7,455 satellites