The voyage of the Karluk – polar disaster

The voyage of the Karluk – polar disaster

We know the stories: heroics, suffering, death of exploration in polar regions. Amazing feats, hunger and stamina and team work. As for the story of the Canadian Arctic Expedition of 1913–16; not so much. It is a story of bad planning, bad preparations, egos, death and men divided and (probably) murder. Some years ago, I read ...
Darwin: murdering a fox, not helping a frog

Darwin: murdering a fox, not helping a frog

“A fox (Canis fulvipes (Lycalopex fulvipes)), of a kind said to be peculiar to the island, and very rare in it, and which is a new species, was sitting on the rocks. He was so intently absorbed in watching the work of the officers, that I was able, by quietly walking up behind, to knock ...
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 ...
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 ...
14 Meters of Aztec Codice

14 Meters of Aztec Codice

The Codex Borbonicus (or Codex Cihuacoatl) is a divinatory almanac inscribed in a single 14.2m long sheet of bark paper. A masterpiece of Aztec style, the codice is believed to have been made after the arrival of the Spanish. Its first section is an intricate divinatory calendar, one of the few surviving. Each page represents one of the 20 trecena or 13-day periods, ...
Audubon's birds, up for grabs

Audubon’s birds, up for grabs

Audubon's birds have been released to Public Domain! John James Audubon's book Birds of America is usually listed among the rarest books in existence. The reason for this is that the French ornithologist used the laborious technique of hand-coloured etched and aquatint plates, which means that there only about 200 complete sets done. A set fetched £7.3m at auction ...
Blasphemous Theories About the First Americans

Blasphemous Theories About the First Americans

The ice bridge through which the first American settlers came from Asia was neither made of ice nor a bridge. And according to new evidence, it might have not been the only way in which the continent was populated. Previously dismissed blasphemous theories about the first Americans are enjoying a come-back, and it's finally time ...
A creationist's toybox: The Acámbaro figures

A creationist’s toybox: The Acámbaro figures

In July 1944, a German merchant named Waldemar Julsrud announced he had discovered several thousands ceramic figurines in Mexico, representing everything from supposed dinosaurs to peoples from all over the world. Julsrud had an impressive collection: Over 32,000 original pieces. You can see a few of them here: When I read about this story, I was instantly ...
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 ...
Air

Air

Air. Invisible, and as exoplanets, we cannot see it, only the result of it. All images by self.  Water ...
WPA posters – art in the depression

WPA posters – art in the depression

During an extended period of the depression in USA (between 1935-1942), the US federal government supported artists by commissioning artwork for non-federal places and activities. Early on in the project, posters were painted by hand, each individually created. Later on, they were printed with silk screen. According to the US library of congress, "over two ...
The world inside USA

The world inside USA

Frank Jacobs blog about weird maps is a source of laughs and curiosity. It contains the real, the fictional, the fantastic and the self-made. He found a map of USA with each state named after a country with corresponding GDP, though I would have liked a colour-coded intensity added, it is well worth a study. (I ...
Michael Cain, cochineal uniform

The colour red – the story of E120

The colour red – the story of E120: In the series of useless facts and trivia, here's the story of food additive E120, also known as carmine or crimson. It's in your food, lipstick, sweets, meat, clothes, drinks and makeup. Chances are, you'll find it in anything reddish that is not naturally red (forget ketchup ...