Friday, June 30, 2006

Library :: Muffy loves Dust. And Smoke.

"Muffy: Dust is like atmospheric art, temporary drawings on the sky. Dust is how you know where the air is and where the wind is going, even if, on a physical level, you know already, because it has gone into your eyes. Dust sometimes moves with the traffic, stopping at the stoplights and giving way to pedestrians and people on bicycles and purveyors of apples and pears pushing carts of produce. Dust is something you can never catch because once you have caught it, it's no longer dust. It's grime or dirt or feathers. Dust is the roads getting enthusiastic. It is the meaning of carried away. Dust is always carried away. It is easy to be enthusiastic about dust. Sometimes there are huge pieces of dust which you catch and then they turn out to be cardboard boxes. Tiny pieces hide in nostrils all over the city. We could have a giant dust hunt and everyone would find as much as they wanted."
(from The Blindman's Hat by Bernard Cohen, Allen&Unwin, Sydney, 1997)

And here’s what the book says about itself…
"Vernon is an expatriate Australian journalist working in Manhattan for a quality New York daily and Dida is a freelance mobile telephone technician. Muffy is a little white dog, and the world's cutest urban philosopher. When Vernon falls so deeply in love with Dida that he stops going to work to be with her, they could not have predicted his former employers would ask, plead, beg, threaten, kidnap and probably even murder to convince Vernon to return to the workplace. … The Blindman's Hat is Paul Auster with added exuberant silliness, Sara Paretsky stuffed full of red herrings, and Herge overcome with lust."

The quoted passage completely articulates MoD's feelings for dust. It’s as though Cohen has been eavesdropping on our tearoom conversations.* Now I suppose I'll have to read Cohen to see what else he has to say about our favourite substance...(and you can hold our correspondent Mr J. Williams responsible if this new call on our time forces us to neglect the development of new exhibits and/or the maintenance of existing ones... I’m beginning to suspect that he’s another, albeit particularly cunning, fifth columnist… his dastardly strategy is to distract us from our mission by dangling impossibly attractive clouds of dust and associated material in front of us.**)

And another thing… damn those damned Australians -- they're everywhere! If they're not flinging prawns at burning things or taking the piss, they're not letting the dust settle... Cohen seems to have had a sterling career in Australia… and then departed looking for climes more sympathetic to parody. And ideas. Dog alone knows why he decided that it was a good idea to go back…although apparently Wagga Wagga has its compensations. We at MoD hope he finds his way out of there soonest.

You can read the quote in its original format here -- with the added bonus that I think the page was designed by Muffy herself. >>
Or visit Cohen’s web site from the top >>
Accompanying photographs by multimedia artist, Ian Rogers aka greynotgrey Flickr site >>
More of his photographs, illustrations and animation at greynotgrey website >>

* We don’t ACTUALLY have a tearoom, or conversations for that matter, but if we did, that’s what they’d be like. Only more articulate and cleverer.

** Of course by ‘us’ I mean me.

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Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Dust of the Day :: Sand and Sun

An elegance of rippled sand in the Maranjab Desert, close to Kashan City, Iran.

by Mehran M.M aka funyfat >>

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Wunderkammer :: I say 'Teratology' Inky says 'Monsters'

Another must-have museum! With collections like the Hovius collection of bone pathology, the Bolk-Woerdeman collection of anatomy and congenital anomalies, and the Grevers collection of dental pathology, not to mention the collection of specimens with urogenital pathology and congenital anomalies donated by the old Amsterdam plague hospital, the Wilhelmina Gast Huis, added to the core anatomical collection of by Gerardus Vrolik (1775–1859) and his son Willem Vrolik’s teratological additions, the Museum Vrolik has it all.

Especially if ‘all’ means babies in jars, people’s faces in jars, and bits and pieces of sundry body parts… in jars.

Of course, my interest is in the anomalies – specifically the state of the 19th century art teratological collection. Willem Vrolik (1801-1863) was a pioneer in the field of teratology (or what Inky calls ‘monsters.’ He’s a very un-reconstructed arachnid!). Inspired by his father Gerard Vrolik, Willem, at the age of 16, commenced his academic career at the Athenaeum Illustre, the predecessor of the University of Amsterdam. There he was attracted to what would become the two main topics of his scientific research: comparative zoology and teratology.

His experience in teratology culminated in three extensive essays, on cyclopia (1834), on the pathogenesis of congenital anomalies (1838), and on conjoined twins (1840), which formed the overture for his magnum opus on teratology titled “Handboek der ziektekundige ontleedkunde” (Handbook of pathological anatomy; 1842, 1844) and for the “Tabulae ad illustrandam embryogenesin hominis et mammalium tam naturalem quam abnormem” (1844-1849). He added more than 500 teratological specimens to the collection, most of which remain in the museum today.

Museum Address
Museum Vrolik
Faculteit der Geneeskunde
Academisch Medisch Centrum (AMC)
Meibergdreef 15
1105 AZ Amsterdam

The Vrolik is located at the Academic Medical Center, Meibergdreef 15, 1105 AZ Amsterdam. It is on the outskirts of town. To get to the AMC from Amsterdam proper, take the 54 Metro from Centraal Station to Holendrecht. On your left as you pull up to the station is a very large complex; this is the AMC. Footpaths lead from the Metro station directly to the hospital. The Vrolik is located in Building J0 and a map can be obtained from any of the helpful information desks in the hospital.
Vrolik museum >>

If you can’t see the collection in the flesh, there may be no better way than the wonderful collection of photographs taken by ellipses.

See ellipses' entire photographic Vrolik collection >>

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Object Annex :: The Periodic Table Table

Now that Inky and Janitorial have FINALLY re-captured the sponge-cat recidivists*, we can start taking stock of the damage and rebuilding. Janitorial have cleaned up most of the scraps of chewed code and soggy shards of masticated museum fittings. Administration are doing their usual half-arsed job of getting the museum back up and visitable. And Inky has disappeared again. The embarrassment was too much for him, I suppose.

And I have taken on the arduous and, I have to add, thankless task of shopping for new museum furniture.** Well, at least I’ve found the table of my most elemental desires:
The Periodic Table Table >>

Theordore Gray built the periodic table table, by accident, in early 2002.
“One evening while reading Uncle Tungsten by Oliver Sacks, I became momentarily confused. He begins a chapter with a description of a periodic table display he loved to visit in the Kensington Science Museum, and in mis-reading the paragraph, I thought it was a table, not the wall display it actually is. While my confusion only lasted a few seconds, when I found out there wasn't a Periodic Table in the British Museum, it left a hole I felt I had to fill.”

You know, I've had a very similar misunderstanding -- except that I thought that it was 'The Parodic Table' -- and ran out of elements after 'irony'...

Anyways, once Gray finished his construction, he felt obligated to find elements to go in to each of the display spaces. Then it went on the Internet – where there’s a table containing the elements of the periodic table table. This is viewable in several colourways and table views. Each element is presented visually with samples and objects made from it, and with large amounts of textual information detailing everything that you’d ever want to know about it. Also lots of ‘why science is exciting and how electronic media and contemporary life is robbing our kids of their access to it’ stuff. All very entertaining… you hardly notice you’re being educated .

Gray also has a very intriguing recipe for ice-cream made by pouring liquid nitrogen directly into a mixture of cream, eggs, sugar, and chocolate syrup. Apparently it results in the smoothest, silkiest ice cream ever, (like soft-serve but even smoother). This is because the liquid nitrogen freezes the cream so rapidly that the ice crystals have no time to grow, resulting in a very fine grain structure, whilst the expanding nitrogen makes it light with microscopic bubbles.

I know what I’m having for dessert tonight…

*Apparently they eventually had to use a new technique proposed by our correspondent Byram Abbott. Although Inky had commissioned several definitive and rigorous studies to demonstrate the futility of the entire concept, when push came to shove, it was the only thing that did work. Unfortunately, Mr. Abbott's original technique, which involved slowing the sponge-cat down by soaking it with a garden hose and then capturing it in a bucket, was a little underpowered for a problem of the magnitude of the recent crisis. In the end, we were forced to flood MoD up to the ceilings. This meant that what the sponge-cats hadn’t destroyed is now water-damaged.

** I told inky that blowing the sponge-cats up inside the Museum wasn’t going to work. And sponge-cat is IMPOSSIBLE to get out of upholstery…

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Daily Dust :: White Sands National Monument

The white sands blow and drift in New Mexico, USA...

Personally, I suspect they have someone art directing them...

Tom Schindler was there. See his other photgraphs here >>

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Monday, June 26, 2006

Bestiary :: Diverse Dodos

Dodos have had a bad rap. Sure, they’re dead – but that’s scarcely their fault. Extinction isn’t a reason for becoming a byword for failure, stupidity and supersededness.

Is it?

On behalf of MoD, I’m going to start a campaign to lobby for dodos to be the first species to be resurrected using cloning technologies. Followed by the Tasmanian Tiger natch.

I think a dodo would complement the ambience of Museum of Dust and I'm sure that they would make affectionate but low-maintenance pets.

Until recently, this would have been a pipe dream. Despite a strong pictorial record, very few specimens had been collected. Dublin's Natural History Museum had an assembled specimen. The only stuffed Dodo specimen, part of Oxford's Ashmolean Museum collection, was ordered burned by the museum's director in 1755; the foot and head were all that could be salvaged from this specimen and, until recently, were the only extant dodo soft tissue.

This all changed in October, 2005. A Dutch-Mauritian research team found a cache of over 2000 dodos’ remains in the Mare aux Songes marshland in Mauritius. They believe the finds, which include large numbers of dodos including chicks, as well as other extinct animal and plant remains, to be over 2000 years old.
Natralis, National Museum of Natural History Leinden >>
The expetition blog >>
Simple but comprehesive description of what is currently known about Raphus cucullatus on Animal Diversity Web >>
Wikkipedia dodos >>
Natural History Museum has video >>

The Dodo Blog collects material about the influence of dodos in modern culture and has lots of great pics. Living proof that there should be many more blogs about dodos.
The Dodo Blog >>

My favourite dodos have to be:
1: The lovable plockas in Jasper Fforde’s books starring role model and dodo fancier, Tuesday Next. In the interests of more convenient dodo shopping, Fforde hosts an online branch of Pete & Dave's Dodo Emporium: “Of course, it's not just dodos we deal in, it's any re-engineered species. Whether you are showing, racing or simply as a pet, Pete & Dave's has something for everyone.” Unsurprisingly, they're a little pricey. Fforde’s site is a one stop shop ffor all things Ffordian -- along with a host of special Ffeatures including ‘The Seven Wonders of Swindon’, ‘Mammoth Migration Watch’ and eToad News. It’s all sponsored by the Toast Marketing Board.
Pete & Dave's Dodo Emporium >>
Jasper Fforde’s .com >>

And 2: The dodo colony so lovingly animated by Australian Wendy Tyrer (Rood Media), for public broadcaster SBS. Wendy's animation' The Most Beautiful Chick' tells, in full sensurround colour, the heartwrenching tale of one dodo mother's struggle to accept her 'differently-aesthetically-abled' chick. Produced for 'World Tales', a project that saw 20 traditional stories from around the world interpreted by 20+ 'emerging' animators and then published on web, DVD and broadcast TV. Lots of interviews, education materials, games and extras on the site. Go and explore... but mind you stop at the dodo colony (you'll need to either do a search for 'Tyrer' or click through via European stories).
World Tales >>
Rood Media has stills and new work >>

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Chambre Ardente :: Goblin Snorri Uncovered!

If you’ve been to moD before, you’ll know that I’ve had my suspicions about a visitor that I frequently found lurking amongst the exhibits. Given the ambiguous state of relations with Musrum and what remains of his Intersol kingdom, I have plenty of reasons to be cautious so, as any reasonably cautious museum director would, I engaged a P.Eye to follow and monitor this ‘Goblin Snorri’ individual. That was weeks ago and I’ve heard nothing. I was beginning to think that the Dick had taken my money and cut and run. As it turns out, he sent a message beetle™* some days back.

I found it this morning amongst Inky’s collection.** Obviously, attracted by its intricate markings (for future reference, that was the MESSAGE Inky!), he hadn’t recognised the beetle for what it was and simply sequestered it as a prime specimen. Luckily, I recognised its unique purpose-designed shape and have spent many hours carefully pulling the preservative silk that Inky uses off it. (Again, I ask: WHERE is janitorial – or those idiots in Administration – when something needs doing? Nowhere to be found, that’s where!).

Although now that I have revealed and painstakingly decoded its message, I’m wondering if it was worth it.

According to my minion, this Goblin Snorri creature may simply be what he seems – a rather unattractive nosey trouble-making goblin. My Dick has found where he sleeps -- in some poor rube’s filing cabinet, apparently. He has followed him to numerous public gatherings, mostly of a media-related nature. The GS hides in the host-human’s satchel for the sole purpose of gathering examples of host-human behaviour that he can later cruelly mock on his blog. Actually I’m beginning to warm to the little critter…
Goblin Snorri blog here >>

Snorri is possibly the first goblin to have a blog *** – an idea that he stole from his host-human, one David Tiley who himself runs a very respected blog called Barista (heart-starter for the mind, anyone?) >>

I am wondering, however, whether this is all an elaborate cover, and have instructed the Dick to maintain surveillance until further notice. I would, of course, appreciate any further information that any member of the public can provide about this farty little lifeform.

* Note that Message Beetles are trademark MoD and a patent is pending. Any resemblance to the so-called ‘Intersol message beetle’ is entirely coincidental.

** I have found other suspect material during my attempt to bring some kind of order to Inky’s quarters… stay tuned for disturbing revelations…

*** Although there are plenty of trolls who have them, goblins have been slow off the technological mark. Perhaps because by nature they are hoarders rather than sharers?

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Daily Dust :: Sand, lots of sand

Ash Mishra is also known as nunavut but was as far from icy self-governing Inuit territories as you can get when he took this photograph. These well-defined ripples are part of the Sahara desert, the Chigaga dunes on Southern Morocco to be exact. For a Canuck, he gets around...

See more of nunavut's photostream >>

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Sunday, June 25, 2006

Chambre Ardente :: Picture food

Hungry…. So hungry.

I’ve been locked away in the Chambre Ardente for days whilst the staff attempt to get the resurgent sponge-cat problem under control.*

All I can think about is food.

I have one simple rule – all meals should look like someone I know (if not actually contain them…).
Bento page here >>

I’m not the only one who prefers to eat pictorial food. The Japanese – natch – have made representational eating an art-form… and then exported it.

The bento box, once banned from Japanese schools because it made social and emotional inequities between students painfully clear, has had a resurgence. And not just in Japan. The good ol’ US of A is especially full of people whose lives seem to revolve around making, documenting and consuming their bentos.*

Flickr, home of all weirdness, has groups devoted to documenting their bentos. Bento pool is just the tip of the food picture iceberg >>

Veggiekitty, who has a particularly bad case of rainbow gothness, is one of their stars >>
(Had to include this one for Inky... but Veggiekitty usually specialises in cute kittens, lambs and, of course, delicious pandas...)

PBS has a sequence of pictures of pictorial bento: OBENTO >>

* Apparently Administration would appreciate notification of any issues you might have in visiting MoD – sponge-cats have afflicted heavy damage on the source code (personally, I strongly suspect malicious sabotage), our only code-mechanic seems to have disappeared off the face of Terra Incognita, and Admin are attempting to repair things using chewing gum, baling wire and rodent skeletons… IDIOTS. (Note to self: sack the lot of them and get new staff...).

** Germans also seem prone to this form of picto-nutritional disorder. Liverwurst and sauerkraut bento….yummmmmm.

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Sponge-cat mayhem

MoD is experiencing technical difficulties. If this is the only post that you can see, please email administration (a-website[at]westnet[dot]com[dot]au) and let us know what’s happening from your end.

If you have any ideas about how to fix this mess, we’d appreciate them as well.

In the meantime, please be patient. Normal transmission will resume as soon as we’ve rounded up all the sponge-cats and re-assembled, darned, sticky-taped and otherwise repaired the code they have chewed to damp atoms.

And if anyone sees Dir de Plume, please thank her for all the help and support she has shown us.

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Saturday, June 24, 2006

Daily Dust :: Desert view in Mali

When Erik Kristensen went to Mali, there seemed to be almost as much dust in the air as on the ground. Luckily. the dust on the ground is organised into attractive ripples to help the viewer distinguish between earth and sky.

See the rest of his photographs >>

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Friday, June 23, 2006

Wunderkammer :: Zymoglyphic hit-listed

I have decided the time is well due past for me to add the Zymoglyphic Museum to MoD’s Wunderkammern Wing. It has taunted me for long enough with its – oh alright so they’re valid, so what? – claims to being the world's only repository for the study and display of Zymoglyphic art, artefacts, and natural history. It's a true one-of-a-kind, and certainly one of the first. It really is a must-have for the MoD collection.

And anyway, this exhibit is going too far. It’s an outright challenge to our hegemony. It’s a smack round the chops. A hoof in the canines. It flings down the gauntlet that MoD cannot but choose to run with.

Ipso facto, now it’s the prime exhibit in the world’s only collection of collections of Zymoglyphic art, artefacts, etc., etc.

At least it will be when I can get Administration to ratify my hit list. Until then it’ll have to be on the provisional hit list marked for incorporation. That’ll teach ‘em to try and muscle in on MoD’s dust territory…
Zymoglyphic Museum’s collections open to our scopophiliac appreciation >>

The exhibits are all notable, but amongst those I most covet are the Dioramas. These are used in Zymoglyphic art to illustrate myths. The land-based terrariums illustrate a cycle of birth, living, aging, death, and rebirth. The dehydrated aquariums are based on similar themes of creative fermentation in the primordial ooze.
Dioramas >>

The Rusty Palace. A disembodied doll head reigns over an undersea world of corrosion and decay.*

Bonus extras:
A look behind the scenery @ The Zymoglyphic Museum Curator's Web Log. >>
reveals gems such as Andrew Goldsworthy’s snowball paintings >>
A Traveling Crustacean Mini-diorama >>
Ferdinand Cheval and Le Palais Ideal >>

* I draw your attention to this specific diorama because it can only be understood as a direct reference to the downfall of the Iron Castle and Musrum’s unfortunate decay. I quote (Earnshaw and Thacker IBID):
“A Corrugated-Iron Castle. A Flat-Iron Castle. A Pig-Iron Castle. A Castellated-Iron Pig.

Everything in the Castle was Iron – from fluff and cobwebs to stairways and draperies – that is, with one remarkable exception: a great suit of armour in the Hall was wrought in human skin. It slept in an Iron Wardrobe.

An Iron Altar in the Chapel; perpetually exuded red rust.

Musrum forged his furniture in a Foundry hard by the Kitchen: fifty-seven iron dressing-tables; a huge iron clock which governed the daily routine of the Castle; several rather hard beds; numerous iron cushions; et cetera.”
All now scrap and rust.

What is it that the creator of this museum knows, that I don’t? I sense though, a reference to that bleeding altar, to that fountain of rust that plays at the edge of vision... (NB keep a watch on this individual and, if possible, intercept clues to relationship to Intersol).

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Garden: A Recipe for Noisy Sands

Deserts surround Terra Incognita; endless dunes of softly shifting sand that whisper, moan and thrum. I had forgotten how rare booming sands are in the rest of the world, until the serendipitous Mr Williams provided a timely reminder. (And did the research.)

Only some thirty locations worldwide provide the necessary conditions to make sand dunes that produce noises that have been compared to instruments as varied as violins, cellos, trumpets, bells, organs, and didgeridoos. The sound is usually a single musical tone, sometimes continuing for up to 15 minutes.

Luckily for the rest of the world, Nova Science Now have come up with a recipe for noisy sands. Now you can reliably produce either high frequency (and relatively common) squeaky sands or the more exotic and haunting low frequency booming sands.

As climate change accelerates and fertile land falls to desert and dustbowl, this recipe opens a whole new world of landscape gardening – one that is aural, created by micro avalanches. If nothing else, you’ll be able to decorate your environs with "the song of sirens who lure travelers to a waterless doom, the toiling of underground bells in sand-engulfed monasteries" similar to those that so enchanted British engineer and explorer R. A. Bagnold in the early soth century -- and Marco Polo somewhat earlier.

Nova Science Now Recipe for Noisy Sands >>

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Thursday, June 22, 2006

Dust of the Day :: Sand

A la puesta del sol, las dunas de arenas blancas comienzan a cambiar de color y a brillar. White Sands National Park - White Sands, New Mexico

Beckerpecker's photographs are always worth seeing

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Wunderkammer :: Musrum's Museum

Musrum’s museum is going to be a huge morsel for MoD to injest. So I’m going to break it up and inculcate it into the fabric of MoD piecemeal.

First though, I believe its important to have an insight into Musrum’s world. Knowledge of the origins of Musrum and the formation of his personal universe that reached its zenith in the founding of the Museum in the Iron Castle and subsequently its Russian branch, the Museum of Sevastapol, allows us to better appreciate what a victory it is for MoD to devour it.

I mean, shelter its crumbled remnants under our aegis.

Musrum : Extracts from the Original Documents
¶There was little excuse for the invention of the name MUSRUM. It was already known in sixteen principalities and native states.

¶There were, however, several religious reasons, but these are unlikely to become evident in what follows.

¶Musrum is terribly afraid of sponge-cats.

¶Keep your sponge-cats under control…

¶The kingdom of Intersol slopes down for a hundred miles through blue flax plantations to the sea and oblivion.

¶The Tran-Siberian Railway was established to facilitate the construction of the Far East.

¶Every hour, on the precise stroke, trains leave Moscow bearing Musrum and his relations in tears.

¶Gilvis wrote a Book of Life for the dead.

¶He is probably writing your biography at this moment.

¶A sponge-cat weeps after the Moscovite trains. Musrum also weeps, but in another room.

¶Sudden prayers make God jump.
* Quoted from: Eric Thacker and Anthony Earnshaw, Musrum, Jonathan Cape, London, 1968

Images by Panoramatics: "Architect, Photographer and Artist in a daily changing order." >>
Url Panoramatics >>

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Publicity :: How Soon She Forgets...

Whilst Director de Plume is rushing about looking for museums and collections to annex to MoD and is therefore too busy to pay any attention to our unstinting labours, we thought that you’d enjoy seeing what kind of state she was in when we found her. Without us, she’d be there still…

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Bestiary :: Black Sun Murmurations

Perhaps Denmark doesn’t have that many tourist attractions, but who would have thought that starlings would become one of them! Still, once you’ve seen the photographs of Jutland’s annual ‘Black Sun,’ you’ll want to be booking a seat on the ‘Starling Express’ for front row seats to view the phenomena in real life.

The starlings are en route from their winter habitat in Southern Europe, to their summer mating homes up North. Flocks of the haunting birds stop over in Tønder Marsh, to gather energy for the final leg of their long flight. Starling flocks can be found in several places in Denmark, but the largest concentration is located in the Jutland Marsh.

Black Sun gets its name from the sunset flocking of huge numbers of these birds. Small flocks join together, wheeling and soaring against the setting sun until the sky is black with them, before heading for the forests to roost for the night. Elsewhere, starlings indulging in this behavior have given rise to the collective term 'murmuration of starlings'.

More info: article >>
Enlargement of picture above and info at Earth Science Picture of the Day >>
Murmuration post on Spy’s Spice >>
Steve McNicholas Murmuration set on Flickr (and image above) >>
Céline Graciet's video of a murmuration over Brighton Pier >>

Manuel Presti’s image of a swirling flock of starlings evading a peregrine falcon in Rome, Italy, was voted best overall photo in the 2005 Wildlife Photographer of the Year Competition. National Geographic News >>

The Proceedings have an almost similtaneous post on the same subject >>

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Library :: We Feel Fine

I admit that I am not the best judge of human character. I can’t judge a mood and I inevitably gaffe. I don’t understand people.

But I have found something that does. We Feel Fine gives a running update of the mood of the Internet. It is billed as an exploration of human emotion, in six movements. It’s by Jonathan Harris and Sepandar Kamvar >> Harris is an artist perhaps best known for the wonderful >> whilst Kamvar is head of personalization at Google.

We Feel Fine is an artwork that expresses the finest nuances of the emotional spectrum and then gives us the tools to explore, experience and analyse them. WFF is an elegant demonstration of the power of data visualization as well as a truly collaborative and mesmerizing artwork.

We Feel Fine harvests expressions of feelings from the world's newly posted blog entries. It finds and stores occurrences including the phrases "I feel" and "I am feeling". When it finds such a phrase, it records the full sentence, up to the period, and identifies the "feeling" expressed in that sentence (e.g. sad, happy, depressed, etc.). Because blogs are structured in largely standard ways, the age, gender, and geographical location of the author can often be extracted and saved along with the sentence, as can the local weather conditions at the time the sentence was written. All of this information is saved. And can be selected aand arranged according to a wide variety of criteria.

I can ask it anything. About how people are feeling, anyway. And obviously the insight that I will gain into the emotional zeitgeist will assist in my campaign for total world domination... I mean, providing a better MoD experience.

I Feel Fine is beautiful and intuitive and playful. Six different movments correspond to six interface models, allowing the captured information to be viewed in different ways; particle clouds are popped to release captured sentences, ‘murmurs’ scrolls through them, 'montage' presents images associated with the captured sentences as above, ‘mounds’ is a disarmingly blobby bar graph.

We Feel Fine >>

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Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Wunderkammer :: Hyperbolic Figures on The Hit-List

As you know, I’d rather be anyone than me. But if I could choose who I might be, I’d choose to be Margaret Wertheim. Is there nothing that woman cannot do?

Perhaps I can persuade Inky to slip her a little something, like a fang or two…

She’s got everything a gal could ask for. Smarts, smarts and more smarts. Original ideas in physics, art, mathematics, history, cyberculture and science. Writes clear, engaging and accessible stuff about difficult ideas (even when you don’t agree with her). Isn’t a dick when she goes onto comedy talkshows. Gets to curate fantastic shows. Co-founder of the Institute for Figuring.

And now she has her own hyperbolic reef.


Hence this pre-emptive annexation to MoD.

Not only does the Institute for Figuring have a reef, it also has arguable the world’s largest, and certainly most beautiful, collection of crocheted hyperbolic models.

The Institute For Figuring is an educational organization dedicated to enhancing the public understanding of figures and figuring techniques. From the physics of snowflakes and the hyperbolic geometry of sea slugs, to the mathematics of paper folding and graphical models of the human mind, the Institute takes as its purview a complex ecology of figuring.

To aid the eager seeker the IfF have provided a handy map, showing its exact location on a Mandelbrot set.

The Institute For Figuring >>

Machine - Crocheting the Hyperbolic Plane by zota -- photographs. >>
Crocheting Mathematicians by ranjit >>

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Daily Dust :: Deep In the Deserts

I can't get enough of ripples in the sand -- an ever-shifting record of wind and gravity -- so I'm extremely grateful to keeneyed photographers like Kathan Kothan.

See more Kathan Kothan photographs here >>

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Wunderkammer :: Swiss Bizarre

A quick entry to my hit-list. musée bizarre, the pride of Baden, Switzerland, is purportedly dedicated to two major themes. The primary theme is an exhibit that presents the pioneering techniques of Professor Jakob Pilzbarth's work in his spa clinic in Baden. Lifelike scenes illustrate his dramatic career path, his rise to success, and his eventual bitter demise from public life.

Photograph by Suzanne

The second major exhibit is simply referred to as ‘MICE MUSEUM’. This depicts the strange adventures of Otto Mouse in 22 miniature scenes. And they really are STRANGE…

I first became aware of the museum through Suzanne’s flickrsite which has a marvellous collection of images that make one hungry to see it for real.
musée bizarre is by Margaretha Dubach and Jürg Willi. It is in Oederlin-Areal, Landstrasse 1, CH-5415 Rieden/Obersiggenthal, near Baden. It is open Saturday and Sundays with special guided tours by artists on occasion (with drinks!).

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Monday, June 19, 2006

Dust of the Day :: Sand

Nick Leonard aka Jungle Boy gets around! An Australian, he has wisely stayed away from his home country for the last few years -- definitely one of the better strategies for avoiding existential disappointment I've come across. And since he left, he's gone almost everywhere else -- including to Huacachina, Peru where he was obviously mesmerised by the patterns in the sand. As we are too.

See his other globetrotting photographs here >>
Read his Sri Lanka travel journal here >>

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Sunday, June 18, 2006

Staff Memo :: Future Exhibition Policy

I have been putting some thought to strategy. I can’t simply abandon the future of the museum in my hunt for the Skin Armour. I have a responsibility.

And nobody else around here seems to have a clue or a shred of initiative.

Plus which I WANT MoD to become the world’s foremost, internationally-benchmarked, universal-best-practice, state-of-the-art collection facility for dust and associated matters. And that, in the end, is the most important thing.

There’s a couple of ways I could achieve this.

I could slowly build an audience over the years and months. I would have to incrementally build the collection through tactical purchases and loans from other institutions, lucky finds and sheer hard-grind nose-to-the-whetstone brain-breaking hard work. Build MoD an international profile, critical review and the acclaim of our peers and competitors. I would have to hustle and network and schmooze.

Or I could get smart.

Hmmmm, now which shall I choose?

So, I took a leaf from Musrum’s book.

This is, in fact the very leaf I took. A prime one from the programme of events organised to mark the return of Musrum to Intersol. More here >> here >>here >> and here >>

You don’t have a clue what I’m talking about, do you? I truly despair of the education system.

Alright, I’ll give you some background.

“Legend has it that Musrum conceived of the plan for his stronghold during a fleeting excursion into the Iron Age.

The Iron Castle was cast as a single unit. The two gigantic halves of the mould are on show in the castle museum.*

The Museum may be found in the Eastern half of the mould.

Musrum cast two versions of the Castle: Version A, The Side Elevation; Version B, The Ground Plan. He was at home in both.” ***

So, as you know, Musrum was master of all he surveyed – but even he realised that there was much that he did not survey. It was then that he realised that the best method of beating the competition, was to incorporate it. To metaphorically ingest it.

What we today call the Borg Stratagem.**

Of course I intend to utilise this strategy with considerably more success, although arguably less scruples, than Musrum. I’m not going to invite, but rather seize and collect with neither fee nor favour. MoD will simply shelter our competitors under its aegis; a meta-museum or Wunderkammer of Wunderkammern. This way I don’t need to go to all the tro8uble and expense of building a collection – I can just exhibit other museums’.

I am currently preparing a hit-list and I shall commission a SWOT analysis for each organization on it That’ll give you useless bunch in Administration something productive to do for a change. I already have several ideas about priorities.

Of course at the very top of my list is Musrum’s eastern branch, the Museum of Sevastapol. Expect it to go on display very soon. And in the meantime, I will evaluate all suggestions for possible inclusions in the hit-list with the utmost seriousness.

Please deposit them in the space below.

* This, of course, was written before the Weedking incursion. In the confusion the museum was stolen and has never been seen again.

** Whilst I’ll be the first to allow that his reasoning was correct, his follow-through of inviting other castle-owners to exhibit them in his Museum was underpowered at best and, arguably, criminally negligent at worst. Of course, one or two went along with it, but most flatly refused and he eventually was forced to put his own mother on exhibition. Luckily, a connoisseur, who bartered two valuable wheels for her, bought her and took her home. By all reports, he became her favourite son.

*** Quoted, of course, from Thacker and Earnshaw’s ‘Musrum’ 1968

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Daily Dust :: A Very Bad Dust Storm

The ghostly building is the KPC building near the Shuwaikh (Kuwait) port. Apparently dust storms are summer routine in Kuwait. Cajie aka Cajetan Barretto was there to capture the monochromatic vastness.

See more of his photographs here >>
Or read about his life in Kuwait here >>

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Friday, June 16, 2006

Picture Gallery :: Pretty Lucre

Damn! I've only JUST realised where the word 'lucrative' derives from...

Like everyone else on the planet, I’ve been thinking a lot about money. I suppose, again like most people, it’s because I often feel like I don’t have enough of it. Running an entire museum is a costly business. I have staff, overheads and acquisition charges just for a start. Then there’s publicity, amenities, entertainment costs, on-costs, off-costs and on the side expenses… it goes on and on.

So I am naturally interested in people who’ve got plenty of it.

Inky always says, “You can tell what Dog thinks about money by the people he choses to give it to.”

Personally, I’ve always thought that it said more about the giver…

But I do I think that you can tell a lot about people by what THEY see in money. And the most interesting are those who actually SEE money.

Most of us only register volume… we are impressed by simple financial plenitude. We don’t stop to actually look at what we’ve given so much time to obtaining. Money often occupies the front of our thoughts, but the bottoms of our pockets. It’s crammed into wallets, crushed into billfolds, crumpled in bags and purses. Money flows through our fingers, but the individual elements have about as much identity as a grain of sand in an hourglass.

Currency is the dust of money; ephemeral, fungible and ultimately arbitrary.

However both coins and paper money offer aesthetic treasures. seriykotik1970*, a denizen of Flickrland** (although currently resident in Russia), is an intrepid explorer of the minutiae of beauty. He holds his money up to the light to reveal a landscape of transparency and saturated inks, of engrained creases of use, and the warm patina of age. He revels in the fineness of engraving and reveals a coded language that speaks of national aspirations and individual veniality.
Paper Money. As seen here. Best seen in their largest size >>

Over at The Engraveyard, ephemera-obsessive James Lileks sees the funny side of money, whilst focusing our attention on the peculiarities of expression. As well as collecting money, Lileks also has fine collections of stock certificates and first-day covers. All with amusing and often insightful comments. He describes his stock certificate series:

“Each has an engraving of some allegorical figure, etched with the same care you find on money, but depicting scenes of surreal Olympian figures designed as a metaphor for business. Bouffant-haired women in gravity-confounding dresses similar to Leslie Parrish's in the Star Trek episode ("Who Will Mourn for Adonis") with electrical devices at their feet; "Green Acres" era Park Avenue matrons in classical garb rolling the world around their penthouse balcony; salacious-faced gods with a test-tube in one hand.”

The Engraveyard >>

* Aka Ian Goulden
**A magical kingdom of happy enchantments, where the sun always shines, everyone is pretty and there’s a permanent population explosion of kittens and flowers.

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Daily Dust :: Who lives here?

It's the age-old question... and the enigmatic Mink has posed it in a typically elegant fashion.
See more of Mink's photographs here >>

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Thursday, June 15, 2006

Chambre Ardente :: The Bone Trade and Celebrity Body Parts

I was following a lead that our indefatigable stringer, Mr. Joe Williams, had provided me when I stumbled over someone who set my heart fluttering – not to mention my hands perspiring and my breath quickening.

Necrobilia dealer, Walter R. Scully, is dedicated to providing the “the pleasure of being just a fingernail away from immortality.” Literally. As he says, “look how excited people get about an autograph, say an autographed picture of Judy Garland, so imagine the excitement if you could buy the hand that wrote the autograph.” I first fell for him after reading a Gregory Whitehead interview with him in Cabinet magazine.*
Leftovers/ The Bone Trade’ >>

Visiting his website The Bone Trade, I was further excited by the range of celebrity bio-souvenirs he is retailing. Amongst other services, Scully retails hairs from Elvis, Saddam Hussein and the Taliban, Ronald Reagan’s polyp, single eyes from Charlie Chaplin, Charles Dickens, and Charles Lindberg, and an unauthenticated (but highly possible) complete set from Edgar Allan Poe… and, of course, the indispensable Lady Di bits and bobs. He also has a handy news feed that provides up to the minute market information. I was excited to read, for example, of the theft of Bader-Meinhof brains. Like any reasonable conspiracist, I have a little trove of mementos of those who have gone before. A tissue sample or two courtesy of the B-M would round things out nicely.**
Walter Sculley’s The bone trade site >>

Whitehead has, it transpires, maintained his relationship with Scully, consulting him in the mysterious ‘Case of the Book Eaters,’ glossiophiles whose hunger for the Word outstrips their ethics… or good sense.
Hungry for God >>

If you or I had been in Massachusetts in 2003 we would have been able to see ‘The Bone Trade’ screening at MASS MoCa
New Video The Bone Trade to Show in MASS MoCA's Prints & Drawings Gallery >>

“Gregory Whitehead is a playwright, performer, and media artist whose work frequently walks the tightrope between reportage and fiction. His radio adventures, mockumentaries and audio cartoons have been broadcast throughout North America, Australia and Europe. Whitehead is the former director of the International Institute for Screamscape Studies, and presently presides over the sprawling Laboratory for Innovation and Acoustic Research (LIAR). A co-editor of the book, Wireless Imagination: sound, radio and the avant-garde, his writings on electronic media, shock culture and performance have been widely anthologized. He lives in the Berkshires, and is the proud owner of a single hair from the head of Queen Victoria.”

Frankly I think he sounds a bit hot too. Wish he’d get someone to do his web pages for him though… >>

*I was there because Mr Williams had kindly sent me a link to “The Pigment Connoisseur “ – a colourful partculate topic I long to return to in the future. >>

**I have of course enquired as to the availability of the Skin Armour, or any other Intersol bio-memorabilia. Walter has promised to give me first option on any that come into stock, but unfortunately none have thus far. Walter Mr Scully says that Musrum body parts are astonishingly rare and even blood or tissues sample come onto the market very rarely. He said all his inquiries as to the contemporary whereabouts of the Skin Armour drew blanks. I‘m beginning to wonder if it has been destroyed or lost forever. Mr Scully encouraged me not to lose hope, and suggests that it is probably hidden in a collection somewhere.

Elvis Image from The First Church of Jesus Christ, Elvis >>

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Picture Gallery :: Woman of the Dunes

I’m tired today! Inky, who has finally returned from wherever he has been the last couple of weeks, and I stayed up watching ‘Woman of the Dunes’, possibly my favorite film of all time.

It’s got everything: sand – mountains and mountains of it, an entomologist (for Inky to identify with), a dusty woman in a hole (for me to identify with), loathsome villagers, sweaty dusty bodies, and, in between, long slow lingering pans across gobsmackingly beautiful drifts of sand. Made in 1964, ‘Woman of the Dunes’ is in the richest, most nuanced black and white – the kind of B&W that convinced an entire generation that there was no authenticity in colour.

For those who haven’t seen the film (go out and see it NOW!), the plot is simple: a salary man who dreams of being immortalised by finding and naming a new insect species, misses his train back from the desert. Villagers offer to accommodate him and he is lowered by rope-ladder to a house in a pit inhabited by a lone woman. Waking the next morning, he finds that the ladder is gone and he must spend his nights digging and bagging the endless stream of sand that threatens to bury them.

The Director, Hiroshi Teshigahara, made some 30 films during his life, although he is chiefly remembered as an ikebana artist. He made eight features, and over 20 short documentaries. Obviously he saw a strong relationship between the manipulation of transitory natural objects into eternal aesthetic forms, and the capture of light and shadows in silver dust.

There is a very good article about Teshigahara on Senses of Cinema (natch) >>
A review of Women of the Dunes on Midnight Eye >>

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