British photographer Nick Brandt has been making intimate portraits of East African animals for close to two decades.
In that time, many of the places he works have been transformed by rapid development, and the environmental devastation that often comes with it.
Now, in a new book and series of international exhibitions is called Inherit the Dust, Brandt attempts to show what habitat destruction looks like by placing giant portraits of animals in landscapes where they used to roam.
It’s tough. It’s thick. It’s brown. It’s a lot like leather—but in fact this new material is made in the lab using leftovers from a brew of kombucha tea.
Researchers from Iowa State University have developed the unusual new form of synthetic leather using some rather normal ingredients. It’s made in shallow plastic tanks that contain cellulose fibers taken from kombucha tea, along with vinegar and sugar. When a colony of bacteria and yeast is added, the material grows on the top of the liquid’s surface. It can then be harvested and dried and—bingo!—teather! (Actually it’s not called teather, I just made that up. They actually call it “cellulosic fiber.” Teather is more fun.)