Sunday, July 30, 2006

Chambre Ardente :: Scranton landscape

Sometimes even the most stay-at-home recluse like myself bumps into someone who appears to have it all. Julie Dermansky seems to fit the description. It’s just as well she lives on the other side of the globe from Terra Incognita.*

From what my people tell me, she spends her time in the shadowy recesses and storerooms of museums around the world. Taking photographs of the most curious and beautiful things that she finds there. Her pictures are a veritable 2D Wunderkammer.

unfinshed monkeyAnd she’s daring. She turned away from a reportedly idyllic life of a sculptor and image maker, practicing from a farm in upstate New York, selling everything to pursue her current projects.

More, she has an exhibition on right now at the exceptional Everhart Museum. ‘Natural Selections’ focuses on some of the more than 30,000 objects in the Everhart’s natural history collection.

This vast collection is primarily due to founder Dr. Isaiah Everhart’s fascination with ornithology. As a result, the Museum has one of the most extensive collections of birds in the United States. The Everhart is one of the few museums to value and preserve its past. If I was anywhere near Scranton I would certainly put seeing it on the very top of my list of things to do there. Just under seeing Dermansky’s exhibition.

Everhart Museum >>
See what you’re missing if you can’t see the exhibition for real… Dermansky’s website >>
Her Flickr photostream >>

*I'm just relieved that she is so busy documenting other people's museums that she can scarcely have time to start one of her own. I can just tell that acquisition would be hard-fought. And if I find that she’s somehow nabbed Inky too… well, there’ll be hell to pay!

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Dust of the Day :: mud

This is more than mud. This is mud well on its way to being dust. In between, it is demonstrating yet another variation on the tiling principle. It's little wonder that I'm obsessing...

See more of Dru!'s photographs of untamed landscapes >>

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Friday, July 28, 2006

From the Chambre Ardente :: Skin Armour?

Even whilst all this is going on*, I am still firmly focused on my ultimate goal… finding the Skin Armour.

And, for a moment there, I almost thought that I’d done it. That I, Incognita Anne etc. etc. etc. had finally tracked down the fabled Skin Armour that once provided the centrepiece of Musrum’s Iron Castle Museum! The fame alone garnered by such a significant discovery would have made those long lonely years of dogged investigation all worthwhile…

Someone told me about that Wikipedia thing, saying that the sum of human knowledge was gathered there. So I went and had a look and badda bam badda bing! There it was… ‘Skin Armour’ …clear as day.

Of course, nothing in life is meant to be that easy.

Turns out that there was a S.K.I.N Armour, the possession of one ‘Iron Man’ – and just one in a very long line of armours. Indeed Iron man a.k.a Tony Stark goes through armour the way most of us change our socks. Frankly, this was one case of the clothes very much making the man. Without his armour, Iron Man was nohing except a soft-bellied geeky rich kid. Still, he had some pretty nice suits. >>

“The golden sections of Iron Man consisted of S.K.I.N, a flexible elastic alloy that can be manipulated to conform to any desired shape. It is lightweight but very dense and is harder than titanium, approaching low-grade Adamantium. S.K.I.N. can be contracted to fit into a small container or stretched/shaped into another form. The alloy's wondrous properties were developed by Askew Technologies, and the exact elements incorporated into the S.K.I.N. remain unknown."
Actually it sounds very practical. Hardwearing. Flexible. I wonder who his tailor is?

Wikipedia Iron Man >>
Understanding What's Under Iron Man's SKIN Armor >>

*E.g sponge-cat outages, the destruction of large sections of the Museum during the containment measures, Inky’ subsequent disappearance, fresh incursions by that smelly Goblin Nori or whatever itts horrid name is, and now the subtle undermining verging on outright mutiny of Administration.

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Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Daily Dust :: Mud Pies

The detail keeps going all the way down.

And it comes in a range of fashionable colourways. Such as grey, dun and beige.

Dust in any form is a style stalwart, but it's never looked more attractive than with water added.

And then taken away again.

I'm wondering whether different thicknesses or the make-up of the mud, for example the proportion of clay or sand, gives different crackle-patterns? Whether you can get crackle to order?

But this will contrast stunningly with the singing sandhills! Now I just need to decide on the 3D...

More evidence of seamoor's keen eye >>

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Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Wunderkammer :: The John Soane's Museum's Fictional Museum

Tom Gidley's photographs >>
“This labyrinth stuffed full of fragments is the most tasteless arrangement that can be seen; it has the same kind of perplexing and oppressive effect on the spectator as if the whole stock of an old-clothes-dealer had been squeezed into a doll’s house.”
Adolf Michaelis, Ancient Marbles of Great Britain,1882
Whenever I have visited John Soane’s Museum in London, I have felt like I have returned to my earliest childhood. It isn’t only that the museum houses a collection that is simply a tidied up version of the circumstances that Soane lived with, that his home is an exhaustive compendium of his interests and obsessions. Certainly his presence is everywhere, like a distant but charming parent expected home imminently. Or that his museum is the last of the great Wunderkammern, a relict in the infancy of Modernism. It is that it smells, sounds, looks and tastes of the houses of my earliest childhood, every surface alive with statuary and icons, every corner packed with meaning, every nook hiding secrets.

Of course the places that I lived in as a child were much bigger.

Whilst everyone knows the Museum in Lincoln’s Inn Fields, not so many are aware of its literary doppelganger, a museum of words; recollections, homages, discoveries and fantasies contributed by the secret community of Soane’s aficionados.

This shadow museum grew from Bernard Cohen’s* stint as museum guidebook writer in 2002. These guidebook are a journey in themselves. For my money, the most useful and pertinent to my own studies is his ‘Room by Room Guide to Sir John Soane's Natural History Museum’ (it's a pdf) >>

Visit the fictional Museum >>

* Yes, it IS the same Cohen who showed such a refined understanding of the pleasures of dust in an earlier MoD exhibit.

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Dust of the Day :: Dried Mud

Penrose tiling has nohing on the natural properties of mud. Espcially as a ground-cover texture.

More of mystery-man Ben Smith's photographs >>
Penrose Tiles @ Geometry Junkyard >>
@ Wikipedia >>

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Sunday, July 23, 2006

Bestiary :: Beasts for New Byzantium

'Leopold' by Jessica Joslin
Jessica Joslin makes beasts as beautiful as jewellery and as rare as miracles. Her animals are constructed from quotidian materials -- from bone, brass, leather and feathers, textiles, fur and bits and bobs of hardware -- but the results are far from commonplace.

These are figments from a fever dream, artefacts hinting at pastimes and perversities of Byzantine subtlety, skeletal wonders wrought fit to adorn Yeats’ wintry visions:
“Miracle, bird or golden handiwork,
More miracle than bird or handiwork,
Planted on the star-lit golden bough,
Can like the cocks of Hades crow,
Or, by the moon embittered, scorn aloud
In glory of changeless metal
Common bird or petal
And all complexities of mire or blood.”
From 'Byzantium' by William Years >>
Adding Joslin’s elegantly macabre, yet strangely confiding, animals to MoD’s Bestiary will be the perfect riposte to Admin’s ceaseless carping.

Jessica Joslin’s Online catalogue >>
The Joslin’s Flickr photostream >>
Joslin has work in the just opened 'UP' exhibition @ Lineage Gallery >>
July 21st–August 20th
21 N. 2nd Street
Philadelphia, PA 19106

'Fiala & Lartet' by Jessica Joslin

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Daily Dust :: Arge Bam Before Earthquake

This dust is, unfortunately, history. A last glimpse of the dusty splendor that was Arg-é Bam before the 2003 earthquake.

More of Mahdi Hadjishafiee's photographs of Iran >>

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Saturday, July 22, 2006

Directorate :: Religion spreading?

I’ve found another one of those religious tracts! This one was in the staffroom! The mystery deepens.

I can’t work our whether they actually ARE Inky’s and are somehow related to his disappearance. Or one of the staff has come over all converted… or some one is just trying to rile me… but when I find out, someone will have some explaining to do.

MoD is a secular institution both by persuasion and decree, so any attempt to throw a theological hammer in the works can only be interpreted as a declaration of hostilities.

That, or ignored I suppose.

Click to view the whole pamphlet >>

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Dust of the Day :: Bam

Bam, a city in southern Iran, was built around the ancient fortress of Arg-é Bam which has guarded the Silk Road for over 2,000 years. On December 26 2003, an earthquake devastated both the adobe city and the ancient citadel, the world's largest -- and probably oldest -- mudbrick structure.

This and other extraordinary photographs of Iran by sadeghkhan >>

Wikipedia >>
Places of Peace and Power has a brief history and pics >>
Satellite Image of Bam, Iran Earthquake >>

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Thursday, July 20, 2006

Bestiary :: Customised Chimeras

Griffin by Sarina Brewer >>

I don’t really understand why people get so excited about pedigree this and purebred that. Anyone can own a pedigree; it just takes money. Where’s the challenge? Where’s the risk? Where’s the exclusivity?

No, what I want are frankenscience pets. And, synchronistically, not to mention serendipitously, I’ve stumbled on an infinitely mutable stream of unique chimeras, marvels and monsters that would make me, and MoD of course, the envy of everyone else.*

The Minnesota Association of Rogue Taxidermists won me over immediately with their emblem alone – it’s a three-eyed deer’s head mounted on the state of Minnesota. Certainly better than having no idea.


No-eye deer…

Oh forget it!

Anywho… MART are dedicated to perfecting the fine art of oddity construction. The founding members all have portfolios just brimming over with serious credibility. And stuffed things.

Scott a. a. Bibus runs Liquid Fish Taxidermy, an enterprise dedicated to creating the most extreme taxidermy on the planet. He makes roadkill look like roadkill. Artist and naturalist Sarina Brewer recycles the natural into the unnatural. And she doesn’t waste a thing. Robert Marbury has been developing his Urban Beast Project, a visual anthology of imaginary urban beasts, since 2000 when he received a gift of 800 stuffed animals.

SCOTT a. a. BIBUS and Liquid Fish Taxidermy >>

"Sarina is a self-proclaimed science nerd who incorporates her past formal art education with her passion for biology and the bizarre. Her childhood preoccupation with cryptozoology and anomalies of nature manifest themselves in her outlandish reveries of fur and flesh and every peculiar artifact she creates. These influences, combined with a slightly warped sense of humor, have carved out an unusual niche for Sarina in the art world. She specializes in creating fictional composite animals and sideshow gaffs for discerning collectors and the many connoisseurs of the curious."
More Sarina J. Brewer @ Custom Creature Taxidermy >>

"Originally, state and national regulations on exotic pets overlooked this hybrid, but after numerous incidents laws were past banning ownership. Like their primate parent, Demon Hares make bad pets. James O ‘ Neil of Brooklyn complained to the Brooklyn Eagle in 1976 about his Demon Hare, which he referred to simply as “the Ape.” “She makes my life a misery by ripping filter tips from my cigarettes and drinking from my cans of beer.” Like many former owners, the O ‘ Neil surrendered their pet to a local animal rescue. However many were simply allowed to turn feral on the city streets."

Robert Marbury and Urban Beast >>

Bates and Marbuy are both exhibiting in the Bates Museum Cryptozoology exhibition.
“Often considered a marginalized practice or a farcical adventure, cryptozoology is the quest for unknown, rumored, or hidden animals. Its most notorious pursuits include the Loch Ness Monster, Bigfoot, and the Abominable Snowman, though it has also revealed animals that are now part of the classified natural world. Under the umbrella of cryptozoology this project, including a symposium, exhibition, book, and film series explores a pursuit in which the disciplines of science and art share a mutual focal point: a desperately desired visual encounter.
I would give my eyeteeth to go to this show (and they would probably happily accept them and incorporate them into another bit of creative taxidermy…). But it is far too far from Terra Incognita. And inaccessible for someone with my colourful past. So I’d be thrilled to hear from or see pics if anyone else catches it.

"Cryptozoology: From Nessie to yeti," from 23.06-08.10.06 @ Bates College Museum of Art. Lewiston, ME, USA >>

Luckily they have a consolation prize for the geographically challenged amongst us. The Beast Blender. A handy little bio-engineering application that, in the words of its [self]promotion “Creates not monsters, but spectacular beasts of common animals.” Working from a palette of divers animal bits, anyone can put together the pet of their dreams. And thousands have.
The Beast Blender >>

Minnesota Association of Rogue Taxidermists >>

* And it would put the wind right up Inky. He thinks all that kind of thing is completely unnatural. Well, it would just serve him right if MoD was stuffed to the gunnels with assorted chimera, sports, grotesques, oddities and so forth.

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Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Bestiary :: Goldbugs

'Heart of gold' by Masao Hata >>

Damn damn damn that perspicacious Mr W. I am deeply afraid that he has uncovered my Plan B for financing the Museum. Once the news gets out I’ll be done for – there’ll be a rush on the dust market, global supplies will dry up, there may even be attempts to nationalise MY collection. Dust will be history.

Why can’t those appalling attention-seeking scientists learn to shut up? Damn those Australians! The apple really doesn't fall far from the tree, does it? And what is even more galling is that they’ve re-named MY microbe... “ralstonia metallidurans” ….??? I mean WTF? And who was it that let them in on its clever little gold-metabolising trick? But if they think they're going to pick up a Nobel prize on the back of MY hard work, they've got another think coming.

Financial Express: Microbes may turn dust into gold >>

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Today's Dust :: great mosque, djenné

More inspiration -- and an aesthetic wake-up call -- for my erratic architect.

See more of Steffan's photographs

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Chambre Ardente :: Umbagollah

Perhaps the pressure is all getting too much for me. Trying to re-establish the Museum. Worrying about Inky. Tirelessly planning new exhibits. And now this latest outrage from Janatorial.* I'm sure it's all a red-herring designed to throw me off-balance. As if Inky would be in Rome! Anyway, I'd already checked and that's not him. But you can see what I'm up against. I deserve a holiday! I NEED a holiday.

Serendipitously I recently picked up a tome by intrepid young traveller, Mariel Hatstand. She introduced me to the mysteries and wonders of Umbagollah as well as a rather intimate acquaintance with the oddities of her personal relationships.

The population of Umbagollah is quite small, and almost half of it lives in one of the two major cities. Ex is substantially more crowded than Gum Gooloo Gum Jublet, with the seaside port of Jail third and the underground town of Cumber Poidy running a distant fourth. Jail is Cumber Poidy's main point of contact with the mainland. An uncounted number of ferrypeople live on the River Fly. Most other Umbagollians live as farmers around Gum Gooloo or in the North-west Flatlands. Some make their homes in the forest, in the mountains or in the Falling Hills; many of these are mystics, hermits and outcasts.
"The Great Big Book of Umbagollah," by Daens Resought, HG, Sc.Ast
The ancestors of today's Umbagollians were kept as slaves by the people who live on the other side of the Two Shows Ranges. A small group of them escaped captivity and fled across the Ranges, arriving in the place where Gum Gooloo now stands and building their first houses there. After a century or two, some Goolooians began leaving the city and starting small principalities of their own in the parts of the countryside now known as the North-West Flatlands and the Falling Hills. They gave themselves aristocratic names and titles and started small wars between themselves. Many, many years after that, a band of adventurers made their way from Gum Gooloo up to the Bay of Ex and established the city of Ex. Ex, growing powerful, eventually conquered Gum Gooloo and destroyed the small kingdoms of the aristocrats. Today, the government of Ex controls Umbagollah - as much as anyone can, which is not a great deal - and the ancestors' masters have devolved into shadowy figures of legend, mysteriously known as 'They.' No-one crosses the mountains, and the country on the other side has no Umbagollian name.
I’m almost sure that I’ll book tickets for Umbagollah, it sounds like the perfect place to lose yourself! But I can’t find a thing on Lonely Cutlet about it… If anyone has been there – and I’m told that it has a sizeable population of immigrants – I would love to know more. I’m not sure that Ms Hatstand is an entirely reliable commentator.

Umbagollah >>
Imaginary Countries WebRing

* And don't think that I don't know who 'anonymous' is either!

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A note from Janitorial

As to Inky's whereabouts we are as baffled as anyone. However, some interesting photographs have come to light - we discovered them while surfing the web on an entirely unrelated matter. The first two are from the Vatican and give support to Cog's belief that he may have got religion. It may be a coincidence that someone bearing a remarkable likeness to the prodigal spider works at the Holy See but we doubt it. It is the third photograph that confuses the issue. As you can see it a hastily and rather badly retouched photograph from the files of the KGB. What does this imply? Has Inky fallen into disrepute with his communist masters or has he been sent on a secret mission to infiltrate the church? We will post any further news of sightings as it comes to us.

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Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Daily Dust :: Djenné

Don't think that I've forgotten about the actual Museum housing! I may have been focussing on landscaping the environs, but that was partially because I've been waiting on getting the blueprints from my architect, the highly reputable yet obviously unreliable Steingrüber. Perhaps it's lucky he hasn't got anything to me yet. It'll give him a chance to include some of the very fine architectural suggestions presented by Ferdinand Raus.

I'm sure he'll immediately grasp the aesthetic potential. Anyway, it’s obvious -- the Museum of Dust should, logically, be composed of dust. It is in ancient mudbrick structures like this mosque in Mali that the paradox of dust is resolved at the same time it is incarnated. It is a standing wave – renewed and worn away and renewed again, over the tens then hundreds of years, until every atom has been replaced.

Plus which, I’m the client. It’s about what I want.

And what I want is what’s best for the Museum. A structure based on the spectacular forms of Mali’s mud mosques could put us on the cultural map like Gehry’s Guggenheim did for Bilboa.

More extraordinary photographs by Ferdinand Reus

Archnet has exceptional photographs of a couple of hundred of Mali’s less well-known mud mosques by Sebastian Schutyser >>

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Directorate :: T-time

The time has come to stand up for what one believes in. Up until now, I’ve been pursuing an ‘ignore and let live’ policy… but the Lost Worlds… a-herm … ‘Museum’ and their use of a kitten corpse to further their unctuously oppressive ends has got me slightly steamed.

But, like Inky always says, when the going gets tough, the tough go shopping. Time for a new wardrobe…

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Dust of the Day :: desert design

This is really staarting to take my landscaping plans somewhere.

Somewhere lateral.

I see now that I could take the formality of the grid planting and add it to iconic modernist shapes -- this example suggests the sphere as the perfect form, but it could be anything really...

The bare bones beauty is in the purity of the conception...

More of nicolesce's exemplary photographs >>

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Monday, July 17, 2006

Bestiary :: The Importance of Being Er...

The good folk at Neatorama >> drew my attention to the recent birth of a two-faced kitten. This event is not only significant because of its rarity – after all how often does one come across a mendacious kitten, let alone one so corrupt so young? Double-dealing colleagues? Yes, frequently. Lying employees? Often. Deep-cover agent provocateurs? More common than you may suppose. I myself trust no one around me as a matter of both policy and commonsense. But I always thought that kittens were the very definition of guilelessness.


Erm. Admin just showed me a picture of the kitten. It ACTUALLY has two faces. Two mouths that mew in unison. Two Noses. And four eyes and ears. As you can see here.

Original (brain-challenged) Story >>

I shall certainly put in a bid for it. If it lives, it will make a fine companion for Cereberus. If it dies I shall commission bespoke taxidermist, Sarina Brewer, to preserve it for us.

And we will never mention my slight misunderstanding again.

<< CUSTOM CREATURE TAXIDERMY ARTS Image on the left from 'Pickled Pets' (I was just trying to include one view, but the whole strip came up -- a special bonus!)

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Daily Dust :: Evoramonte landscape

Now I'm horribly confused. I thought that I had sorted what i was going to do with MoD's environs (dead trees and salt mostly...), when I saw this. Now I'm wondering whether there is a way I can combine the hypnotic uniformity of this grid-planting with the modernist forms of tree skeletons...

More Flickr pics by Lo2006 aka Laurent Malbecq >>

(Note to self -- find out if Malbecq is somehow related to Busbecq?)

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Sunday, July 16, 2006

Dust Breeder Cache

Demolition Tagnuts :: ektopia's photostream >>

There’s not enough time in today’s frenetic globalised marketplace! Not even for someone who has been around as long as me. That’s why when I see a labour-saving device I use it. And Spy’s Spice is just such a device. I shop there often but imagine my surprise and delight when I discovered SS’s recent collection… links to some of the best dust breeders on the planet!
Implosions Collection >>

I was even more gratified to discover Mr X and his cohort ektopia have started an ‘Unconscious art of demolition’ image dump on Flickr. >>

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Saturday, July 15, 2006

Daily Dust :: Southern Namibia

I just can’t BEGIN to tell you how inspired I feel. I think I’ve found the perfect solution to our landscaping needs. Forget all those hi-tech gizmos and bio-engineered whatsits. And don’t bother with fussy foreign cultivars or fashionable topiary frou-frou. We have to get back to basics. To what suits the environment and our life-styles. I’m thinking dead trees and saltpan crackle on a bed of sand.

As you can see, it is perfect. Mike aka SqueakyMarmot went to Namibia earlier this year and came back with a wealth of elegant style suggestions that I plan to whole-heartedly apply to MoD surrounds.

I HAD to include another below, but you should see the entire sequence on his Namibia set >>

Both pictures: Dead acacia trees at Dead Vlei pan in Sossusvlei, Namibia.

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Wunderkammer :: MJT Collected!

from Tell it to the Bees

I’ve always had a very simple policy for dealing with the Museum of Jurassic Technology… namely to pretend that it doesn’t exist. So monolithic does it loom on the horizon, so firmly does it maintain its role as the grandparent of all modern fictocryptic establishments that it seems, even to me, a trifle disrespectful to take it on.

But tough times call for tough measures.

Attendance figures have been dropping steadily and we need a blockbuster to woo the punters back. I’m afraid that many lost confidence with our last spongecat outage and Inky’s continuing disappearance can’t help but sow doubts in the minds of even our most loyal supporters. We need to show that we’re rock solid, and what better way to do this than to annexe the most reputable collections to our own galleries?

from Through the Eye of a Needle

So Mr Wilson’s very prestigious establishment has to sacrifice its independence. This is a coup for me*, and a great day for the Museum. Finally, MoD can revel in the classics such as the microminiatures of Hagop Sandaljian, The Stink Ant of the Cameroon, the Deprong Mori of the Tripiscum Plateau, Fruit Stone Carving and the Horn of Mary Davis of Saughall. Every single thing about the MJT is as delicious as its mice on toast display. And possibly never more so than in the photographs, taken in situ, by MoD contributor Mr B. These photographs, miracles of mystery, re-kindled my lust for acquisition and my passion for larceny.

Mary Davis of Saughall's Horn

Museum Of Jurassic Technology >>
Listen to a doco about MJT by Laurence Weschler or read the transcript >>

The Museum of Jurassic Technology, founded by David and Diana Wilson in 1989, is located at 9341 Venice Boulevard, in the Palms district of Los Angeles, California, USA. A small branch of the museum is located inside the Karl Ernst Osthaus Museum in Hagen, Germany.
Factual information from Wikipedia >>
eyestorm - article - The Museum of Jurassic Technology by Ralph Rugoff >>

See more of The Blen a.k.a Mr B's MJT Set >>
Or his photostream >>
* Perhaps those whining white-anters in Administration will now FINALLY lay-off their complaining about the obscure nature of some of my recent acquisitions. Like most bureaucrats, they don't realise the worth of something until someone else -- and preferably someone with a bad suit and premature interjection -- tells them it's good. So because they've all heard about MJT and it has been extensively covered in the media etc etc they think that it's important. Not that it isn't. But my point is, if it didn't suck up all the media attention it can get, Admin would right now be writing it off as just as another vanity exercise... and be on my case about the expense. And whether there's space for it. And who's going to dust it. Etc etc etc ad bleeding nauseum...


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Friday, July 14, 2006

Garden :: Biogeochemical power shrubs

Geoff Manaugh over at BldgBlog >> has inspired my renovations here at MoD with some very good ideas. The most recent, biogeochemical power, has obvious utility in the garden (especially since the disappointingly piffling results generated by the ‘aurora in a box’).

Essentially, and this is one of the fun aspects, all sorts of bacteria can be tortured – oops I mean ‘persuaded’ -- to grow wire-ish stalks (the scientists are calling them ‘nano-wires’) that will conduct electricity. The bacteria are starved, but taunted with the proximity of delicious metal atoms, thus forcing them to extend out their nano-wires in an attempt to snuffle them up.

Other scientists are looking into methods of coercing the lazy bacteria to become more efficient batteries. Perhaps they should just sic the Australian government onto the problem; according to them a standard AWA will fix anything.*

As Mr Manaugh suggests, it shouldn’t be too long before we can grow our own power-grid… or at least garden lighting. And if they grow they can be trained and topiaryed into interesting shapes. I’m completely open to suggestions as to what these should be…

Originally from news service >>

* Either that or social unrest and inevitable revolt…

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Daily Dust :: Ants live here

"Unfortunately, we only see ants in this desert camp area. No dhabb, no lizards, no beetles, no hedgehogs. Only ants."

Unfortunate for Mink perhaps, but lucky for those of us who can't make it to the desert in Kuwait to see this evidence of myrmecological minimalism for ourselves.

More of Mink's photographs >>

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Thursday, July 13, 2006

Picture Gallery :: Alchemical Musicians

I don't think I need to justify this acquisition, do I? Who could go past an ape-thingy with a fish up his bum and one leg on fire, playing a lobster with a wiggly blue stiff serpent-thingy bow, helped by a crow?

And then, whilst I was there, I couldn't resist this too.

Illustrations from the Aurora consurgens; more here
Manuscripts of the 15th century Aurora consurgens, sometimes attributed to Thomas Aquinas, often contain a series of 38 fine watercolour drawings. Versions of the Aurora consurgens with coloured illustrations are found in Glasgow University Library MS. Ferguson 6; Zurich Zentralbibliothek, MS. Rhenoviensis 172; Leiden, MS. Vossiani Chemici F. 29; Paris, Bibliotheque Nationale, MS. Parisinus Latinus 14006; Prague, Universitni Knihovna, MS. VI. Fd. 26; Prague, Chapitre Métropolitain, MS. 1663. O. LXXIX; Berlin, Staatsbibliothek Preussischer Kulturbesitz, MS. Germ. qu. 848.

Much more at The Alchemy Website >>

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Garden :: Sky Tech

My mood has been lightened somewhat by recent news from Japan: an aurora-making device has been developed at Osaka City University! I can hardly keep myself from rushing straight out and buying one. The only thing stopping me is the memory of what happened last time I got excited by an atmospheric technology.*

I’ll wait until I see how it works out at Enoshima Island Spa. Beginning August 1, investors, real estate company Iida Sangyo, plan to fire up the device as the main attraction on the island.

“[Apparently] the aurora is generated within the belly of the machine, where a near-vacuum state is maintained. Electrons collide with oxygen and nitrogen to create colorful light in the same way that naturally occurring auroral light is generated in the earth’s upper atmosphere. One side of the device is made of transparent acrylic resin, allowing viewers to admire the beauty of the artificial aurora contained within. The aurora generator measures 2.2 (H) x 2.8 (W) x 1.4 (D) meters (7 x 9 x 5 feet), though the company claims to have engineered prototypes as large as 3 x 3 meters.

Aurora simulators in the past have relied on techniques such as laser beams that create aurora-like effects, while devices that have relied on electrical discharge in a vacuum have been very small. In addition to being larger and more “real” than previous devices, Iida Sangyo’s device does not simply light up — it emits a shimmering curtain of dynamic multi-hued light consisting of as many as 11 colors.”
Via Pink Tentacle >>
More photographs @ Aurora Borealis >>
Aurora Timeline and research >>

* 1885 noctilucent clouds (‘night shining’), also known as polar mesospheric clouds, are what happened. They were meant to be permanent cloudscapes, spelling out the names and logos of our sponsors above MoD. What we got instead is a cloudlike atmospheric phenomenon visible only at deep twilight. And even then, not everywhere nor all the time! Noctilucent clouds are most commonly observed in the summer months at latitudes between 50° and 60° north and south of the equator. So high in the atmosphere are they that they are visible only when illuminated by sunlight from below the horizon while the ground and lower layers of the atmosphere are in the Earth's shadow; otherwise they are too faint to be seen. Hopeless! Oh sure, they’re pretty! But what’s the point when our sponsors are suing us for breach of contract?

Noctilucent clouds @ Wikipedia
Via meatspill >>

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Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Dust of the Day :: desert near Beijing

Something about the distance between photographer and hiker snared my eye, and then I was captured by the infinity of ripples.

That same sense of timelessness informs Judy Chen's other photographs >>

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Picture Gallery :: Phantasmagoria

Our recent sand-animation exhibit has made me all nostalgic. When I was young, animation was so very much more primitive than it is today – scarcely a step above Old Man Kircher chastising the peasants with his magic-lantern demons. Back then, the theory was only just being worked out… Roget’s ‘Persistence of Vision’ was a hot seller for him, the Thaumatrope was the must-have designer toy and the Zoetrope scarcely imagined. At that stage the most sophisticated deployment of media technology I had ever seen was the that charming conman Etienne Gaspard Robert’s magic lantern show 'Fantasmagoria' >>

It was dead scary, I’ll give him that. State of the time specialFX, what with the portraits of recently dead heroes of the French Revolution, the ghosts and the ghouls, and not forgetting the the Grim Reaper variously projected onto mirrors, glass, smoke and wax-soaked gauze. All within the gloomy ambience of an abandoned Capuchin crypt. Women shrieked and men squealed and keeled over as spectral forms flittered above their heads and the dead appeared to rise before them -- I don’t think I’ve ever enjoyed myself quite so much since.

As an aside, I laugh now when I recall the furor that it caused when he toured it to the UK… every publication in the land trumpeted their disapproval and killjoys forecast the certain destruction of society as we knew it. Its supernatural themes were blamed for inflaming the young people, causing anti-social behavior. Robert’s show was so popular amongst young Brits that they were nicking money from their own parents and staying out to all hours.

Of course Robertson, who was a TOTAL showpony, just played it for all it was worth. In public he positively reveled in his self-imposed mission to ‘scare the rubes to death.’
"I am only satisfied if my spectators, shivering and shuddering, raise their hands or cover their eyes out of fear of ghosts and devils dashing towards them; if even the most indiscreet among them run into the arms of a skeleton."
Robertson's Phantasmagoria >>

Early Visual Media is a treasure trove of useful information including how to make a white shadow >> and magic lantern slides from other phantasmagorists. >>

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Monday, July 10, 2006

Directorate :: Has Inky Converted?

I’d really appreciate it if someone would kindly tell Inky to come home. Really. I’m a bit worried. So he stuffed up the spongecat containment exercise, that’s no reason to sulk for so long. It’s water under the bridge (literally). Truth be known, I’m a bit concerned that he’s joined a cult. Worse, it appears, from the tract that I found whilst searching his old webs for clues as to his whereabouts, to be … Christian. Have a look (click to see the full page!)>>

What do you think? It’s looking bad isn’t it? Does anyone know a good deprogrammer?

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Daily Dust :: egypt

The inimitable meatspill (aka Jennifer Harmon of the giant white corncobs fame), has discovered a new Egyptian language -- a language of decay written in hieroglyphics of ruin and sand. Now all we need is a Rosetta Stone...

More meatspill photographs >>

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