Olympic with Returned Soldiers

Dazzle camouflage: sea-going Easter eggs and face recognition

Most warships these days are gray, and for good reasons. They are generally more difficult to make out with the naked eye. Of course, these days technology often makes visual camouflage redundant, but during World War I, a different tack was used: dazzle, or disruptive, camouflage. The idea was not camouflage as in "invisible", but ...
The Future Library is a forest in Oslo

The Future Library is a forest in Oslo

The future library is a forest in Oslo: 1000 trees was planted in a forest in Oslo in 2014. It is the future library. Each year, an author submits a manuscript, unread, unseen; that will be stored in the national library. In 2114, the trees will be cut down, milled and made into 1000 books ...
J. G. Ballard: Architecture of Decay

J. G. Ballard: Architecture of Decay

J.G. Ballard's novel High-Rise had been on my radar to read for many years, and I finally did so over the last month when I learnt it had been made into a movie by a film director whose movies I tend to seek out and watch (more on that in a moment). High-Rise is set ...
Library taxonomy in the time of technology

Library taxonomy in the time of technology

Taxonomy in the time of technology: Deichmann is the municipal library in Oslo. Last week they opened a library for children, age 10-15. All good, you might think. Commendable. But what images do you create in your head? Chances are, you would be very very wrong. Perhaps it would not be surprising that the kids ...
2200 year-old: the Antikythera computer

2200 year-old: the Antikythera computer

2200 year-old calculator: the Antikythera computer Computers: someone or something that calculates something. That would be the general idea. But (machine) computers don't have to be digital. In 1901, divers found the Antikythera mechanism in a shipwreck in the Aegean sea. It is old. Very old. Estimated, in fact, to be from 200-100 BC. That would ...
Kjell Aukrust: rural Norway in a nutshell

Kjell Aukrust: rural Norway in a nutshell

Kjell Aukrust was a legendary artist, humourist and illustrator. He is most famous for his wacky stories from a particular part of rural Norway, full of bizarre and hilarious people, inventions and creatures. They make little sense to people from other countries, the Danes certainly do not get it at all. I grew up with ...
"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 ...
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 ...
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, ...
The Painted Skulls of Hallstatt

The Painted Skulls of Hallstatt

In the town of Hallstatt there is an Ossuary called Beinhaus, or Bone House. Places of second burial were not uncommon in the Eastern Alps, but Hallstatt is special: It contains  the most remarkable collections of painted skulls, anywhere. The Beinhaus is located in the basement of the Church of Saint Michael, which stands high above ...
The Great Exhibition of 1851

The Great Exhibition of 1851

I was once walking around Crystal Palace Park, waiting for a movie festival to begin, when a man approached me and my friend and asked us if we had seen the dinosaurs. We were confused at first, but he quickly pointed at some massive and frankly strange-looking sculptures that were spread around the park. Only ...
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 ...
Human Evolution Infographic

Human Evolution Infographic

I made this infographic to show the (current state of things for) human evolution. Or quite current, because there have been some new discoveries, but they are still being debated. Feel free to download, distribute and change it, but please don't crop my name off it as it took me a long time to make it! Licence ...
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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
Voynich manuscript – secret knowledge or brilliant hoax?

Voynich manuscript – secret knowledge or brilliant hoax?

Since we are on a roll with old books and manuscripts, I give you the  240-page Voynich manuscript. It is an unsolved enigma: a manuscript found in Italy; the paper has been dated to between 1404-1438. It contains text in an unknown script, unknown language, and illustrations of non-existing plants, constellations and humans apparently doing inexplicable ...
The most boring day in history

The most boring day in history

April 18, 1930 On what should have been the news bulletin on good friday 1930, the BBC presenter said: "Good evening. Today is good friday. There is no news." then proceeded to play piano music. April 11, 1954 However. Computer programmer William Tunstall-Pedoe from Cambridge fed 300 million facts about events into a programme called ...
Air

Air

Air. Invisible, and as exoplanets, we cannot see it, only the result of it. All images by self.  Water ...
Fritz Kahn: the human as industrial palace

Fritz Kahn: the human as industrial palace

(I was horrified to discover that Wikipedia does not have an entry on Fritz Kahn in English. I was utterly unaware of how deep into obscurity this multitalented man had fallen. Update: my pigheaded ability to pester strangers have resulted in an solid entry on Kahn on Wikipedia. Many thanks to Yngvadottir ). Fritz Kahn (1888-1968) ...
Ernst Haeckel: art and science through the microscope

Ernst Haeckel: art and science through the microscope

Ernst Haeckel (1834 – 1919) was what we call a renaissance man. He was a professor, biologist, philosopher, physician, naturalist and artist. His contribution to biology, evolutionary theory and art is still mind-boggling; we owe a great deal of biological understanding and terminology to him. He was a great promoter of Darwin's theory of evolution, ...
Cholera map, Broad street

Images in the time of cholera

In 1854 there was a cholera epidemic in London. The accepted theory at the time was that illness and epidemics spread through the "miasma", a form of "bad air", pollution and smell emanating from decomposing organic matter. The mechanics of germs was not understood. Dr. John Snow was sceptical to the miasma theory, but not entirely grasping germ mechanics, ...
italian Wikipedia use

Visual Italian Wikipedia use

I do not read Italian, but I can certainly appreciate these wonderful multivariate visualisations. Valerio Pellegrini made this gorgeous visual representation of Italian Wikipedia use for 2013. Months are distributed clockwise with Italian initial for each month. It has three layers of information and data: the inner level; overall top edits, the second it is drilled ...
Wilton dipthych

The colour blue – the devil, the virgin and the red dyers’ bribes

Today, blue is probably the most popular colour around. We associate good things with it, it represents all sorts of positive things: air, sea, freshness, calm, and a few not so; feeling blue, blue monday. At least in this day and age, blue get a good deal of attention. But it was not always so. Prehistory ...
Black & white

Black & white

The world looks different in black and white. I think it might sharpen some parts of the visual processing, to see the world in ebony and ivory ...
da Vinci: love

da Vinci: love

One has no right to love or hate anything if one has not acquired a thorough knowledge of its nature. Great love springs from great knowledge of the beloved object, and if you know it but little you will be able to love it only a little or not at all. – Leonardo da Vinci ...
Piet Hein: the paradox of life

Piet Hein: the paradox of life

A bit beyond perception's reach I sometimes believe I see that Life is two locked boxes, each containing the other's key. – Piet Hein (scientist, mathematician, inventor, designer, author, and poet extraordinare) ...
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 ...
Big data visualisation, CeBit 2014

Massive scale, breathtaking data-driven visualisation at CeBit 2014

I sometimes come across data visualisations that takes my breath away. This is one. Created by the design house Kram/Weisshaar for the CeBit 2014 computer expo in Hannover. Wish I was there. It is of course the sheer size that makes an impact, but the visualisations themselves are amazing, the amount of data accessed mindblowing, ...
Piet Hein: what art is

Piet Hein: what art is

Art is this: art is the solution of a problem which cannot be expressed explicitly until it is solved. The shaping of the question is part of the answer. – Piet Hein (scientist, mathematician, inventor, designer, author, and poet extraordinare) ...
da Vinci: flight

da Vinci: flight

Once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been, and there you will always long to return. – Leonardo da Vinci ...
Leonardo da Vinci drawing drapery

Bow to the masters: learning from Leonardo da Vinci

These are drawn from a book with Leonardo da Vinci's sketches; all in pencil.There is no better way than to learn from the masters.   ...
da Vinci: the development of a complete mind

da Vinci: the development of a complete mind

Principles for the Development of a Complete Mind: Study the science of art. Study the art of science. Develop your senses – especially learn how to see. Realise that everything connects to everything else. – Leonardo da Vinci ...
Maps: the time and space of the Hereford cloth of the world

Maps: the time and space of the Hereford cloth of the world

Maps: the time and space of the Hereford cloth of the world The Hereford Mappa Mundi is one of the oldest know, complex map of the world (Mappa = cloth Mundi = world). It dates from about 1285, and are found in the Hereford cathedral. It depicts 420 towns, 15 Biblical events, 33 animals and ...
Multivariable visualisation: tracing 40 generations

Multivariable visualisation: tracing 40 generations

A while ago, on a whim, i did some digging into my grandmothers family tree. I found more than I bargained for, as described in the post Noble genealogy. And I decided to make a family tree... A family tree of more then five generations soon gets complicated and it becomes impossible to keep track ...
Kingdom: vegetable

Kingdom: vegetable

(According to Linnaean taxonomy, there are three kingdoms: vegetable, animal, mineral) After you have exhausted what there is in business, politics, conviviality, and so on - have found that none of these finally satisfy, or permanently wear - what remains? Nature remains. – Walt Whitman The ultimate inspiration. Nature, the largest multivariate network there is. All images ...