TIME World

This Nintendo Fan Took 800 Hours to Crochet a Giant Replica Super Mario Blanket

Talk about a labor of love

Most people have a hobby. And if you’re Norwegian Super Mario superfan Kjetil Nordin, that hobby us crocheting a scene from your favorite video game.

Nordin took 800 hours over the course of six years to recreate a scene from Super Mario Bros as a 2.2 by 1.8 meter (approximately 7-foot 2-inches by 5-foot 10-inches) crocheted blanket, the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation (NRK) reports.

Nordin told NRK that the job included searching for yarn colors that exactly matched those in the game. “When the water was half way finished I saw that I had chosen the wrong shade of blue,” he said. “It was almost purple, and very ugly, so I had to undo all of it. That took an extra week.”

At the moment, he doesn’t know what his next project will be. “I can’t rush it. I’ll have a break, and think for a while,” he said.

[NRK]

TIME On Our Radar

Eight Norwegian Photographers You Need to Follow

The Norwegian Journal of Photography (NJP) has released the latest issue of its biennial survey of the Scandinavian country’s contemporary documentary photography scene, showcasing the work of eight photographers.

The publishers — photographers and photo editors Rune Eraker, Laara Matsen and Espen Rasmussen — combed through close to 100 applications and submissions to arrive at its final list of eight photographers, using funding from the Fritt Ord Foundation, a non-profit devoted to freedom of expression, to produce the high-quality book.

“We look for strong voices,” Espen tells TIME, “and we also look for photographers who challenge the term ‘documentary photography’. Do they have a style, something to tell us, do they surprise us or challenge us? Do they create any feelings for us as a viewer? And we consider the project proposals to see if the project is original, if it has relevance and whether it is possible to work on during the 18 months they have available before the book deadline.”

Once chosen, the NJP works with these photographers to craft and edit their long term projects, and to find financial support. It also offers them seminars and classes with international lecturers.

TIME talked to the eight photographers.

Jonas Bendiksen, a member of Magnum Photo, has shot for major publications around the world, including National Geographic. Yet, for the past two years, he’s taken a different approach, joining the staff of Bladet Vesterålen, a local newspaper with a circulation of just 8,000. “I realized that after 15 years of photography, I had never worked for a newspaper,” he told TIME. “I love newspapers. In a way, for me to do a daily beat has been somewhat of a romantic dream for some time. When my fiancé, now my wife, got work as a doctor in a small community in the north of Norway, I felt this was a chance, and I asked Bladet Vesterålen if I could work for them. They gave me a position, and sent me out in the local communities. For me, it was a personal way of somewhat giving a homage to the institution of the local newspaper, which is sort of the backbone of everything a documentary photographer or photojournalist does. It is storytelling on a very direct level, on a daily basis. There was something really refreshing for me to take pictures one day, have it published the next, and meet the person in the picture in the supermarket the next day.”

Mathilde Pettersen was first introduced to photography in high-school when she discovered the darkroom. “Seeing the results of my work coming to life, I understood that this was my mission and that I was hooked for life,” she said. “I have been working with this project since 2008 when I was pregnant with my first child. I wanted to document the changes in the female body and the arrival of a child. I am exploring human nature, motherhood, the ‘circle of life’.”

Anne-Stine Johnsbråten was first given a camera to document her first day at school when she was seven years old “I still vividly remember waiting for the postman to deliver the processed film after the two weeks wait.” Her series on the economic, ethnic and cultural differences between east and west Oslo help complicate our picture of Norwegian society. “This is a very personal project to me,” she said. “Growing up in the eastern part of Oslo, the division of the city has always puzzled me, and the idea for the project has been brewing for years. Finally, NJP was the perfect excuse to get the project started.”

Knut Egil Wang first photographed a bridge construction project from start to finish when he was in high-school. “I soon realized that the images I valued the most were those from before the construction work began,” he said. “Small changes happen constantly and often unnoticed. Suddenly all of them make a big difference. This fascination for how soon our present becomes history made me want to be a documentary photographer.” For his current project, he says, “I have been traveling along the San Andreas Fault line before ‘The Big One’ strikes. Largely invisible, yet capable of massive destruction: we know a lot about earthquakes, but what can we do about it? Not much. Life goes on as if nothing is going to happen.” In fact, Knut says, “When I got there, I was surprised to find that many [people] didn’t even know they were living on the fault line.”

Margaret M. De Lange said that photography has always moved her. “Some of my earliest memories of this were magazines with photojournalism from the Vietnam War. The images made a lasting impression on the young girl I once was. [Now] I’m always taking pictures of the people and situations around me. As time goes by patterns emerge and my projects take shape. In this project I’m exploring vulnerability and the strength it takes to allow yourself to be seen at your most exposed. It examines intimacy in all its shapes and sizes.”

Terje Abusdal started shooting photos in his early teens. “I built a darkroom in our sauna and learned by doing and reading books. I picked it up again seriously in 2011 when I went on a month-long road trip with the Greek photographer [and Magnum member] Nikos Economopoulos, and since then I haven’t looked back.” Recalling the origins of his current project, Terje said “I used to be the next door neighbor to a music festival in Oslo. For most of the days I didn’t have a ticket, and I hated lying in bed listening to the music with everybody else having fun. So I took my tent and fled to the island, as a festival refugee. Out there I found another world of its own, a hidden gem of anarchy just 15 minutes by boat from the center of town. It is full of real interesting characters and I found that through my photography I had a passport to approach anyone I wanted. The project explores the temporary identity of an island where people from all walks of life becomes neighbors for one season at a time. How does where they are and who they are with form them?”

Tomm W. Christiansen became a photographer almost by accident. “It was in 1994. I lived in Sweden at the time and didn’t know what to do with my life,” he said. “Photography was a hobby. For some reason, the photo editor of the Gothenburg Post, Anders Hofgren, didn’t just dismiss me when I asked him for a chance to become a freelancer for the paper. He lent me a camera and even his car and sent me out to take a picture of an old lady running a voluntary telephone service. I immediately realized I had found my place in life.” Today, though his project The Bloodlands he is exploring how the violent past affects the present life of the people in Berdychiv, a small town in Ukraine. “After my first trip to Ukraine I realized that Bloodlands is not only a geographical term, it is also a state of mind. Decades of war and unrest has profoundly affected the people living here.”

Ivar Kvaal’s father used to be a photographer, and introduced him to the art form at an early age. His current project is about a peculiar and recurring UFO sighting near a small town in Norway, featured on TIME LightBox earlier this week. “I strive for aesthetically appealing and interesting photographs, conveyed by an underlying idea or theme,” he said. “The resulting images are often lyrical and of a fictitious nature, revealing beauty in the subtle details. I want my images to suggest stories rather than dictate a narrative. Communicating feelings are just as important as telling the story.”

Myles Little is an associate photo editor at TIME.

TIME portfolio

See the Norwegian Town at the Center of a UFO Mania

In Norway's Hessdalen valley, strange lights have sparked a photographer's interest

Hessdalen, a valley in the Norwegian countryside, isn’t in the pristine north or by the magnificent fjords in the west. It’s, in fact, an unremarkable place of scrubby, low-lying hills; a former mining center that has slipped into depression and depopulation. It is unremarkable — except for the strange and unexplained lights.

They appear in the sky, moving slowly, separating and reforming, winking in and out. At other times they shoot down the valley and disappear, or simply switch on for a moment and vanish. I know what you’re thinking — but there’s video footage.

Word of the phenomena didn’t leave this tight-knit, insular community for quite a while. But in December 1981, the lights shone brighter, outsiders took notice, and the press descended.

The town attracted both legit scientists and spectators from across Europe. “Most people are [just] enthusiasts,” Norwegian photographer Ivar Kvaal tells TIME, “but I have also met the oddball fanatic. It’s divided. Most of the villagers are sane and honest.”

Kvaal says that “some of the villagers have hopes of making some money from UFO tourism. They tried to run a small gift shop, but it had to close. Now you can get souvenirs at the local pub, when it’s open.” Mostly, what the town has gotten is ridicule, which made it especially hard for Kvaal to gain people’s trust.

Theories for these occurrences abound: the light comes from ionized gases in the atmosphere, or ball lightning, or decaying radon. The earth itself is acting like a giant battery — which some say could be tapped for clean energy. And, of course, others believe these are aliens.

Kvaal isn’t interested in any of these theories. He’s never seen the lights himself. “I’m interested in how the lights have affected the community and the people,” he says.

This is instead, as Mark Durant writes of the work, “a meditation on the human desire to experience the otherworldly.”

Through a mixture of documentary photos, archival material, still lifes and portraits of believers, Kvaal creates a quiet but suggestive series about, in Durant’s words, “one of those forlorn frontiers where the mysterious and the desperate coincide to produce a new culture of wonder and paranoia.”

One of those frontiers where belief precedes evidence, and where the truth is always just around the corner.

Ivar Kvaal is a photographer based in Oslo.

Myles Little is an associate photo editor at TIME.

TIME Switzerland

This Country Has the World’s Happiest People

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Dale Reubin—Getty Images/Cultura RF View of mountains and lakeside village, Switzerland

Life expectancy, social connections, personal freedom and the economy all play a role in happiness

The happiest people in the world live in Switzerland, a new study found.

The third World Happiness Report, released by the U.N.’s Sustainable Development Solutions Network on Thursday, ranked 158 countries based on Gallup surveys from 2012-15 and analyzed the key factors contributing to happiness levels.

Switzerland, Iceland, Denmark, Norway and Canada were the top five happiest countries, while the West African nation of Togo was the least happy.

The report aims to provide policymakers around the world with new metrics that place a higher emphasis on subjective well-being. While income appeared to play a significant role in boosting happiness—the GDP per capita is 25 times higher in the 10 happiest countries than in the 10 least happy—it was far from the only factor. Life expectancy, social connections, personal freedom, generosity and corruption levels also helped explain the happiness scores, according to the report.

The U.S., for example, ranked 15th in the world, one below Mexico and three below Costa Rica, where per capita GDP is roughly a fifth of that in the U.S.

“This report gives evidence on how to achieve societal well-being,” Jeffrey Sachs, the director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University, said in a statement. “It’s not by money alone, but also by fairness, honesty, trust, and good health.”

But sharp economic changes in a country can play a role in people’s happiness, the report found. Greece, where the global recession triggered prolonged economic turmoil, saw its happiness levels fall the most since 2005-07, compared to 125 other countries where data was available.

Still, the report warned policymakers against overemphasizing income levels.

“When countries pursue GDP in a lopsided manner, forgetting about social and environmental objectives, the results can be adverse for human well-being,” the report said. “Many countries in recent years have achieved economic growth at the cost of the sharply rising inequalities of income and grave damage to the natural environment.”

TIME norway

Norway to Scrap FM Radio for the Digital Era

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Jean-Pierre Lescourret—Getty Images/Lonely Planet Images Karl Johans Gate

Officials promise "better sound quality and new functionality"

Norway will become the first country to scrap FM radio after it announced final plans to switch to digital radio in the next two years.

The government said in a statement that it will make the transition to Digital Audio Broadcasting by 2017, following up on a 2011 government proposal. It will be the first country to do away entirely with FM radio, The Verge reports.

The move will allow for roughly 40 national channels, including 22 already in use, compared to five national channels on the FM system. Transmission costs are also eight times more expensive on the FM network than the DAB network.

“Radio digitization will open the door to a far greater range of radio channels, benefiting listeners across the country,” Minister of Culture Thorhild Widvey said in a statement. “Listeners will have access to more diverse and pluralistic radio-content, and enjoy better sound quality and new functionality.”

TIME Bizarre

It’s Raining Worms in Norway

And it's not even the first time

Forget cats and dogs. It’s been raining worms in Norway.

Biology teacher Karstein Erstad recently came across “thousands of earthworms” on top of snow at least half a yard deep while skiing on mountains outside Bergen, according to The Local, an English-language European news network.

“It’s a very rare phenomenon,” he said, citing reports he found of worm rainfall in the 1920s. “It’s difficult to say how many times it happens, but it has only been reported a very few times.”

“People have now observed the same phenomenon in many places in Norway,” added Erstad. “It’s very peculiar, I don’t know why so many people have discovered it. I don’t know if there have been some special weather conditions lately.”

[The Local]

TIME viral

This Is the First Doughnut to Be Launched Into Space

No, that isn't the title of a Flaming Lips album. It's an actual thing

It was one small step for two brothers and a giant leap for mankind after the duo succeeded in sending what is believed to be the first doughnut into space this month.

According to Swedish news outlet the Local, the brothers Alexander and Benjamin Jönsson from Lysekil, Sweden, crossed the border into Norway last week, where they attached a doughnut and camera to a weather balloon and launched the contraption, sending it almost 20 miles above the earth’s surface.

“I’m really into space and photography, and I used to play around with weather balloons back in school,” Alexander told the Local. “Then we had the idea that we should send something really crazy up into space and thought ‘Hey, nobody has ever sent a doughnut up before.’”

Hours after being launched, the vessel and the doughnut came crashing down to earth and was later recovered in Lake Vättern, Sweden. The doughnut, albeit soggy, was still intact.

TIME portfolio

This Is the Strangest Animal Exhibit You’ll Ever See

As parts of Norway's Bergen Museum underwent major restoration, thousands of displayed animals had to move

When the Bergen Museum in Norway closed the doors of its natural-history section for restoration in 2013, it was forced to operate an unusual migration: move thousands of taxidermied animals.

“It was a really magical place,” says Norwegian photographer Helge Skodvin, who grew up in Bergen and now lives blocks away from the historic architecture, which was founded in 1825.

“For every person living in Bergen or being raised in Bergen, the natural-history museum is a common place to spend your Sunday,” Skodvin tells TIME. “If you ask [Bergen residents], they all have stories about the museum.”

Thus when Skodvin learned about the renovation and the consequential mass “animal migration,” he wanted to be a witness.

The fragile figures, many of which haven’t been out of the antiquated display cases for almost 150 years, have to be carefully wrapped for transportation. But instead of sweating over the move as the staff did, Skodvin chose to photograph it with a sense of humor. Armed with a medium format camera and a tripod, Skodvin set each animal at the center of the frame, and then, he just “let the animals be themselves.”

The animals will spend five years hibernating in a temporary storage across town before they can finally return home in 2018. “It’s like they are going for a little vacation,” Skodvin says. Although the photographer remembered the grand space with wooden floors as frightening when he was young, the museum now offers guided tours for visitors to wander around the emptied galleries.

Helge Skodvin is a freelance photographer based in Bergen, Norway. He’s a member of Moment photo agency presented by Institute.

Michelle Molloy, who edited this photo essay, is a senior international photo editor at TIME.

Ye Ming is a contributor to TIME LightBox. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram.

TIME Internet

Vernal Equinox: New Google Doodle Celebrates First Day of Spring

Kirsten Lepore—Google

A celestial trifecta welcomes in the change of seasons

The Sun, the moon, and Google are celebrating the official start of spring — this year’s vernal equinox on March 20 will include a solar eclipse, a supermoon and a stop-animation Google Doodle.

As TIME wrote last year, the vernal equinox is when “earth’s axis is angled such that the world gets an equal amount of daylight and night,” signaling the start of spring in the Northern Hemisphere.

This year’s spring begins with a celestial bang. Most of Europe and parts of northern Africa and Asia will be treated with a partial solar eclipse and the few inhabitants of the Danish Faroe Islands and Norway’s Svalbard archipelago will be lucky enough to witness a total eclipse. Or, you can watch a streaming broadcast here.

In parts of Europe, Google is adding an animated eclipse to their Doodle.

Fans hoping for a grandiose stargazing experience will be disappointed to learn that the supermoon, when our moon’s elliptical orbit reaches its closest point to earth, will be invisible because a new moon is required for a solar eclipse.

The Google Doodle welcomes springtime with a lovely line of flowers that grow and bloom before a bumblebee lands in the middle to collect pollen.

Read next: See the Best Solar Eclipse Pictures

Listen to the most important stories of the day.

TIME Money

This is What Norway’s Money Will Look Like in 2017

Norges Bank held a nationwide design competition

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This article originally appeared on Lost at E Minor.

Nope, you are not seeing a pixelated image of Norway’s new currency. That is the real deal right there! Last spring, the central bank of Norway, Norges Bank, held a nationwide design competition to replace their look of their currency. Their theme: ‘The Sea.’

Instead of choosing just one winner, they chose two – one design for each side. The front side features a series of artworks from design studio The Metric System, called ‘Norwegian Living Space.’ Beautiful and timeless this front design might be, it doesn’t hold a candle to the attention the back design is getting. The back side features an abstract motif of pixels called ‘Ripple Effects’ by Enzo Finger.

“The obverses from The Metric System are very well suited to the incorporation of necessary security elements. The expression is open, light and typically Nordic,” says Norges Bank. “Using the pixel motifs from Snøhetta Design as the reverse will give the notes both a traditional and a modern expression.”

The bank notes are set to be released in 2017.

(via Visual News)

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