Abstracting the map

Abstracting the map

Tung studio in Toronto decided to reinvent the map. The results are beautiful abstract-ish quilts, showing neighbourhoods as ideas. you could not navigate by these obviously, but they are beautiful, understandably map-ish. My thought is that we do not need paper maps anymore, so we are free to reinvent them as ideas and abstract representation of ...
Biotech: future of digital storage is plant DNA

Biotech: future of digital storage is plant DNA

If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need.– Marcus Tullius Cicero Now the garden can be the library. Researchers at the University Medical Centre Maribor, Slovenia have encoded digital information into plant DNA. So what? you might ask. Oh; it is wild: in a box of seeds, you could have all knowledge ...
Axolotl – the salamander that never is

Axolotl – the salamander that never is

Axolotl. Ambystoma mexicanum. What is it? It belongs to the salamanders, but. A salamander is a creature that has some properties and life history. Your garden-variety salamander starts life as an egg, larvae, tadpole, metamorphosis, adult salamander. After metamorphosis the creature is an adult, crawls up on land and reproduce. That is the idea. But there ...
"Obsessions make my life worse and my work better"

“Obsessions make my life worse and my work better”

Sagmeister is a bit of a rock star in design. His project "Obsessions make my life worse and my work better" is of course mad and stunning. 250.000 EuroCents, eight days and more than 100 volunteers resulted in this crazy, beautiful sentence I can relate to. They left the work unguarded. And here is the hilarious ...
Biomimicry: generative art of @inconvergent

Biomimicry: generative art of @inconvergent

@inconvergent is a guy who makes magical, beautiful art with algorithms, heavily influenced by nature. In my endless ignorance, I did not think those two things could combine quite like that. I have of course seen wonderful things that nature do, like the amazing life of slime moulds, the murmuration of sterlings, the underground filaments ...
My hovercraft is full of eels: English as she is spoke

My hovercraft is full of eels: English as she is spoke

Pedro Carolino of Portugal holds the record for unintentional humour: in 1883 he wrote and English-Portugese phrasebook, The new guide of the conversation in Portuguese and English. It is widely held that Pedro spoke no english and the book is a feast of hilarity with incomprehensible sentences such as: He has toast his all good Exculpate ...
Morocco, Tyrian purple, Phoenicians and snails

Morocco, Tyrian purple, Phoenicians and snails

CORRECTION: the green powder is not from the sea snail. The more I thought about it, the less sense it made. Hours of research threw up Gentian violet. And though this is far, far less interesting, it has the benefit of being true. I will leave this post as it is, though, as the story of Tyrian ...
Ressurecting the naturalist

Ressurecting the naturalist

Scientists don't pick flowers. They collect specimens. – myself :) Resurrecting the naturalist: Few people will identify with the term "naturalist". A lot of people love nature, go for walks, strolls, hike; do a little gardening. Gawking at majestic scenery; snowcapped mountains, endless deserts, dense rainforests. Munching on strawberries. Strawberries are not berries, by the way. Coffee ...
Luidia sarsi: sea star magic

Luidia sarsi: sea star magic

Here you are, minding your own business, and you come across a sea star (marine biologists will stab you in the hand with a fork for calling it a starfish). An orangy-white, five-armed rather unremarkable fellow, you might think. And you would be so, soooo wrong. Luidia sarsi turns sexual reproduction upside down. You might think: mammy-sea star, ...
Synthetic diamonds are for forever too

Synthetic diamonds are for forever too

– Synthetic diamonds are real. – Of course they are, I can touch them. –No, really real. They ARE diamonds. Geddit? They are structurally, chemically e-x-a-c-t-l-y the same as what comes out of the ground. They are lab-created. Lab "grown"; or nicer: cultivated gemstones. So the ruby IS a ruby, the emerald an emerald, the ...
Collective delusions: pareidolia, religion and invisible pink unicorns

Collective delusions: pareidolia, religion and invisible pink unicorns

This site is pretty much dedicated to the things we see, touch, record and create. But there are plenty of things people "see" that are not there. In troubled individuals, we call it delusions, hallucinations and we medicate. If enough people "see it" (and construct elaborate narratives around it) we call it religion. To see the face ...
Weightless graffiti

Weightless graffiti

Graffiti – often seen as a bad thing; vandalism (I for one, am a fan for the most part). Then there is "non-intrusive" graffiti, that has a temporary, transient and digital component. Light painting. An act in space and time, that afterwards only lives digitally. The documentation of the act is the only evidence. So though ...
The network II: drawing meets laser

The network II: drawing meets laser

The network II: drawing meets laser: I made a drawing I told you about n another article, the network (it does not mean anything). The department head in my research group at uni expressed an interest in doing something lage scale on a rather empty wall. A fellow student took the idea and ran with ...
The art, design and architecture of birds

The art, design and architecture of birds

What is architecture? What is design? What is art? Conscious choices. Some kind of cognitive processes that says "naaah. that doesn't work" or "fabfunfantastic!" That is what bowerbirds do. I came across them for the first time as a child. A newspaper we subscribed to used to run a small "interesting-facts from the natural-world" section in a hidden ...
Stealing posters

Stealing posters

They say in art the greatest compliment is to be copied, and the greatest compliment for poster design is when your poster gets stolen. It seems that print posters are dying. Now we have digital screens that cycle – for the most part – commercials. Should we care? Are posters merely something arty people and graphic ...
Logo rethink: generative identity

Logo rethink: generative identity

If you have ever even remotely been hanging out on with graphic designers, you have come across the logo discussion. Frankly, it is boring, has no answers, and depends on a huge pile of ifs and depends-ons, but the constant fallback is to general guidelines such as clarity, simplicity, it must work on a ballpoint pen and ...
Maria Sibylla Merian: illustrating the natural world

Maria Sibylla Merian: illustrating the natural world

Maria Sibylla Merian (1647 – 1717) was a remarkable woman in many ways. She was a very talented scientific illustrator and had a passion for insects. According to David Attenborough, she contributed immensely to taxonomy in entomology and the understanding of metamorphosis, and she was the first person who travelled on purely scientific grounds. Though she was ...
Calamityware: disaster porcelain

Calamityware: disaster porcelain

Here at the visual squirrels, we are not in the habit of promoting stuff, but Calamityware is simply too funny. Taking the classic language of cobalt and porcelain decoration, the artist Don Moyer adds – well – calamity. Volcanoes, robots, tentacles, and all manner of funny creatures hide in the china. The only problem with ...
Elin's bubbles

Elin’s bubbles

My friend Elin is turning out to be quite the photographer. To my delight, her work is turning increasingly abstract, and her latest batch is of frozen bubbles. What fascinates me is the sense of spindrift in the crystalline structures. And the ephemeral nature of it; of ice, water, air. Delicately frozen in time, frozen in ...
The network

The network

The network. The most common question I get when people see my drawings are "how long did that take you?!"  The next question is "what is it?"  Neither question being relevant or interesting. It seems a piece of work is weighted and valued by time and meaning must be figurative. I find this very odd, this need for everything to ...
Hostile architecture – how dare you be homeless?

Hostile architecture – how dare you be homeless?

This is an old post once posted elsewhere: brought it here when Twitter user @olebjarkoy took a pic of spikes outside a hotel in Norway, tagged it with #hostile. The hotel replied, on Twitter asking him to remove the hostile tag, as it was negative. Does not take a genius to figure how that went down ...
My geologic timeline in the magazine Science & Vie!

My geologic timeline in the magazine Science & Vie!

A long time ago I made a geologic timeline as a (vector) brush in Illustrator, with .ai and .eps files free for anyone to use. The only thing I ask is that if you use it, let me see the result. Making the timeline was incredibly time-consuming and ludicrously fiddly. So, a while ago I got ...
Kurt Vonnegut: the shape of stories

Kurt Vonnegut: the shape of stories

Been an avid reader of Kurt Vonnegut for a years. Magic, mad, brilliant. I found this visualisation by mayaeilam fascinating (though I would have liked to see the visuals more in the Vonnegutian tratdition of doodlyness, and not quite so sleek-ish). From now on, stories will not be the same... by mayaeilam ...
Sensory homonculus

Sensory homonculus

Sensory homonculus: of all nonsensical stuff I have made, this sensory homonculus is up there. Stoneware clay, watercolour, acrylic paint ...
Yisela's book – the anatomy of doodles

Yisela’s book – the anatomy of doodles

I write this blog together with Yisela (and Vincent). I have never met either, but Yisela was such a dear that I figured she deserved a gift. So in the tradition of Sofie's book and Adam's book, I made Yisela's book. But you have to be supersupernice to me to get one; well over and ...
Equil smartpen2: phenomenal tool or novelty toy?

Equil smartpen2: phenomenal tool or novelty toy?

I am not into gadgets. The very word implies something useless; perhaps fun for a week, but quickly discarded. A pet hate of mine is the insane amount of electronics made, for stuff that do not need electronics. Waste of resources, batteries, minerals, human costs and filling up insane landfills with rubbish. Enter the Equil ...
Thomassons: extinct architecture

Thomassons: extinct architecture

The 99% invisible is a brilliant podcast. I was alerted to the so-called Thomassons. These are architectural artefacts who have lost their function, but, and this is crucial: are still being maintained. For – essentially – no reason whatsoever. It is surprisingly hard to find images that exemplifies it. What I find fascinating, is the ...
A-maze

A-maze

Listening to the QI No such thing as a fish podcast, I was alerted to the story of a Japanese girl, while clearing her caretaker-fathers stuff, found this amazing work. Apparently, he spent seven years doing this. I doff my hat. You can buy a print - more on this story here ...
Medieval menagerie: the battle between knight and snail

Medieval menagerie: the battle between knight and snail

In a lot of medieval manuscripts, there are depictions of knights fighting snails. No one seems to know why this is. There are some theories, but so far nothing really conclusive. It might look like some sort of insider thing, maybe among scribes or illuminators. I love that sort of thing: mysteries in plain sight. Delightful ...
You know you want one: science nerd merit badges

You know you want one: science nerd merit badges

Out of the generosity of the Order of the Science Scouts of Exemplary Repute and Above Average Physique I have been allowed to recreate their science nerd merit badges. You can find the indexed list here, or you can go directly to my Cafépress profile. No, this will not in any way make me rich and/or famous, ...
Colour guide anno 1692

Colour guide anno 1692

A dutch artist – known only as A. Boogert – created a book of colour in 1692. Describing the use of colour in painting, s/he created an 800-page book with instructions on how to create hues and tones. It blows my mind, actually. The work, the meticulousness, the systematics, and not least: a book like that would ...
Illuminating letter D

Illuminating letter D

As mentioned in a previous post, I have dragged out some old tools and materials and started gilding again. In my previous life as a bookbinder, I bought a very old gilder's cushion that actually sits on top of a drawer. I have not seen this anywhere else; it seems a well spent USD30. Supposedly, ...
Laying of leaf gold

Words of gold

This stack-exchange question inspired me to dig out old skills and tools. Untouched for years, I got out my bookbinders gilding cushion and related paraphernalia. Getting back into the fiddlyness of handling gold leaf, I have squandered a few sheets. But it is fun. One thing: you cannot be impatient handling it, breathing is forbidden, ...
Machinarium: details make perfection...

Machinarium: details make perfection…

...and perfection is not a detail. I am a great fan of the work of Amanita design and their games, in particular, Machinarium. Because of this enthusiasm, I have been told that my drawings are heavily influenced by Machinarium and Samorost. But here is the thing; I loved that sort of humour, aesthetics, whimsy and craft ...
curiosity..

Squirrely squirrels

I love squirrels. They are cute, funny, playful. They are also quite adept at solving problems and will go to great length to get to the food that is the most nutritious. They collect food for the winter, hence the name of this blog. What I find endearing is that they collect and hide a ...
Shel Silverstein – anything can be

Shel Silverstein – anything can be

“Listen to the mustn'ts, child. Listen to the don'ts. Listen to the shouldn'ts, the impossibles, the won'ts. Listen to the never haves, then listen close to me... Anything can happen, child. Anything can be.” I only discovered Shel Silverstein a few years ago... I can only blame it on not having grown up in an ...
Bertrand Russell - in praise of idleness

Bertrand Russell – in praise of idleness

We are caught in the "cult of efficiency" where only the economic benefits of knowledge or the increase in power over others which these may bring, are valued. The notion that the desirable activities are those that bring profit has made everything topsy-turvy. Technically not very visual, here are some thoughts from Bertrand Russell on ...
Dangerous tectonic visualisations

Dangerous tectonic visualisations

Dangerous tectonic visualisations: Visualisations are good things. They should be beautiful to look at, informative and invite discovery. But they can be very dangerous. Visualisations can be used to make decisions, learn something new, connect surprising dots, showing unknown connections. If you want to buy a car, you might find a visualisation that shows the ...
Ruffen, my childhood sea dragon

Ruffen, my childhood sea dragon

Thore Hansen was one of my childhood heroes. His drawings were magic then, and they are still magic now. The best known of his children's books illustrations are the ones accompanying Thor Åge Bringsværd's stories about Ruffen. Ruffen is a "small" sea dragon, and the books tells the story of his adventures. This post was ...