Wednesday, March 31, 2010


When I came upon these images in the Smithsonian archive, I didn’t know if they were sculptures or experimental musical instruments. I did love their insect-like delicacy and the ethereal blue of the cyanotype. How was I supposed to know that they were meant to fly?

The Smithsonian houses an extensive archive of material relating to turn-of-the-century flight pioneer Samuel P. Langley and his sometimes-flying aerodromes. Langley, a renowned scientist, was affiliated with the Smithsonian for many years. His research received government funding and much public attention. The Smithsonian, in biographical material about Langley, states that he “almost succeeded with inventing the airplane before the Wright brothers.” But as the Smithsonian had much at stake in Langley’s success or failure, be sure to read elsewhere about the feud with the Wright Brothers and how even the Smithsonian didn’t succeed in rewriting history.

A houseboat in the Potomac served as a launching site for a number of doomed flight attempts.

Read more here, here, and here. Listen to an NPR piece here.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Birds Head Revisited

Tonight is the first night of Passover and Jews worldwide, will be participating in a Seder. There are basically three components to a Seder—a story, wine (you are supposed to drink four glasses), and food. The ratio of storytelling, drinking, and eating, varies greatly from household to household.

For those not familiar with the Haggadah, it is the book that contains the story of how the Jews, after being enslaved in Egypt were liberated by God. Traditional Jewish law has it that it is incumbent upon parents to convey that story to their children as if they themselves experienced God taking them from slavery to freedom. There are numerous interactive components to the Seder in order to keep the children’s attention until the food is served.

I’m guessing that keeping children involved is what prompted illustration of the Haggadah. On account of the commandment forbidding graven images, traditional Jewish texts contain no images whatsoever. In fact, it seems that first illustrated Haggadah c. 1300, was from Germany and didn’t even show human faces. It was called the Birds' Head Haggadah since the characters where shown with heads of birds and other animals. The angels had blank faces.

The actual book resides in the Israel Museum in Jerusalem.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Watching the River Flow

You know those amazing National Geographic poster-sized maps that explain everything about Ethnoliguistic Africa or The Ocean Floor? This map of the Colorado River Basin by 5W Infographics, is a recent addition to the NG online map collection.

What’s so cool about this map, is that overlaying the river, is a chart, where the width at any point corresponds to the amount of flow at that point in the river—the wide band shows averages for wet years, the narrower darker blue band shows the amount for dry years. You will also find out, in incredible detail, everything else you might want to know about this river basin that supplies more water than any other river basin in the world. The maps are all zoomable and high-res, but sometimes take a bit of time to render.

Yet another incredible resource from National Geographic.

Here are a few others from the collection

1987 Pinnipeds Around the World Map, 1964 Shakespeare's Britain Map, The Universe Map

Friday, March 26, 2010

iPad is No Threat to Printed Mags

Here's why there will always be magazines ...

Haircut: (insert large dollar amount here)
Highlights: (insert huge dollar-amount here)
Sitting in the salon with a thick Vogue, an oversized W, and a diet coke w/lemon: PRICELESS

I don’t think an iPad will ever replace those thick glossy pages, when a key ingredient of the experience is the pleasure of turning thick glossy pages. So as long as women continue having their hair done, the printed magazine is safe.

Photo from LIFE (okay, my theory needs work)

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Vintage Industrial Catalogs

I’ve been collecting these images of industrial catalogs for a while. They are mostly from eBay. I so admire whoever created these super-stylish designs for motors, blowers, lockers and lathes.

I’ve got plenty more, but here’s a batch for starters. Apologies for the small image of the confessional catalog--"for greater confessional privacy."

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

I'm Jealous of The Jealous Curator!

What a brilliantly simple idea—find art that thrills you because it’s so smart, beautiful, original, etc. and post it, while ranting that you wish you had thought of doing it.

The Jealous Curator defines her site as “A collection of artwork that inspires and depresses me. I know it’s good when I’m left thinking DAMN I WISH I THOUGHT OF THAT”

So, she gets to post great stuff, while channeling all that jealous energy in a positive direction. DAMN I WISH I THOUGHT OF THAT!

Here are some of her finds--the artist's name links to The Jealous Curator's post. After that I link to the artist's website…

Lauren Dicioccio, This is not a plastic bag. It is EMBROIDERY ON ORGANZA!! Her website is here.

Kelly Reemsten , her website here.

Wayne White Great use of thrift shop art. His website is here.

Tina Berning, her website is here.

Gary Taxali, his website is here.

Vivian Maier, website for her photos is here.

Xavier Veilhan, his website is here.

Holly Farrell, her website is here.

Joe Ryckebosch, his website is here.

Tiina Heiska, her website is here.

Lauren Dicioccio (again), her website is here. She explains the method to her madness ...
‘I lay a sheet of frosted mylar over a magazine page. I assign a color to every letter (numbers are shades of greyscale) and apply tiny dots of paint over every character on the page according to my color-code.’

Archie Scott Gobber, his website is here.

Sarah Williams, her website is here.

Anthony Zinonos I’m jealous of his cool initials! His website is here.

Mairead O’hEocha, see more of here work here.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Altered Health Care

Some Richard Prince "nurses"—his works appropriating pulp-novel cover illustrations—in honor of the House vote on health care reform.

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