Wednesday, August 30, 2006

ID Picture :: Inky Smiles

The vigilant and even, yes I can say it, satisfactory Mr S has unearthed a sketch from the back of MoD’s Picture Gallery. I had completely forgotten it was there! It’s a portrait sketch that the delicious Mr Odilon Redon whipped up sometime in 1881, as he and Inky wiled away the drowsy later summer afternoons at Cambridge with only mayhem to plan.

It’s an amazing likeness, although Inky was obviously much younger then. And perhaps a little prettier. But, taking into account the wear of the passing years, I think it will aid in identification should you run into our tearaway.

It was of this sketch that their chum Baudelaire wrote:
“It's Boredom! — his eye brimming with spontaneous tear
He dreams of the gallows in the haze of his hookah.
You know him, reader, this delicate monster,
Hypocritical reader, my likeness, my brother!”
Les Fleurs du mal by Charles Baudelaire
You can tell they both really knew Inky. I think Monsieur B was particularly close to him.

Come to think of it, I wonder what happened to that hookah…?

Redon, Baudelaire and Inky were all at Cambridge together – they formed an infamous albeit somewhat geeky clique known as The Ink Sots. 1881 was a very bad year for explosions, police raids and psychotropic-laced syllabub. But that was just a coincidence, I’m sure.

Inky, of course, was employed at Cambridge University from 1880 right through to the new century, whilst his conspirators moved on. I hope Inky doesn’t mind me telling what is rather a sad story, but he was summarily dismissed despite a long and rather distinguished career. And on the thinnest of pretexts – a mere matter of an unfortunate experiment into the properties of phosphorus.

Academics have NO sense of humour!

Read more>>

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Inky Update :: Looking in Old Pockets

Who would have thought that Ms Martini would be opening such a bag of worms when she suggested that Inky might have been unknowingly carried off in someone’s pocket? Personally, I thought it would be a simple matter of getting everyone in the world to (circumspectly and warily) look in their pockets, and photograph or list the contents and post to either my Diary or the comments thread @ 'Desperately Seeking Spider’ (the latter has become the central hub of our search for Inky).

Of course, nothing in life is that easy. It seems that pockets are more numerous now than they’ve ever been, and that they have been central to many societies for time immemorial. There are more pockets out there than you could possibly shake a stick at, so we’ll have to start searching them systematically.

Being as logical as I could be about the challenge, I thought that I would start with somewhere that collects pockets – that way I could get a whack of them searched all at once. The Victoria and Albert have a special section devoted to historical pockets – and, as one could expect, back it up with a wealth of expertise and information.

Women’s clothes did not feature pockets until the mid 19th century – which explains why our pockets are always too small and shallow and why our jackets don’t have inside pockets. We haven’t had enough pocket practice. It takes centuries for clothes-makers to learn how to make pockets adapted to specifically female anatomy.

In the olden days when I was a child, women wore their pockets on the outside, slung around their waists*. And they were inevitably stuffed with the most wonderful things – pills and potions in enamelled boxes, sticks of chewing-baccy and boxes of snuff and bags of biscuits, knives and scissors, pincushions and thimbles, pies and fruit, keys, money, pencils and paints, books, small animals and infant children, sticks, bones, organs… the list goes on and on. Although I must say I never saw a spider in one… although slaters, beetles, centipedes and various other insects were not uncommon.

Personally I used to hide inside my own pockets when I wanted to get out of doing my homework or helping with maintaining the sponge-cat containment field.

Along with pictures of ornate embroidered pockets, the V&A covers pockets in popular parlance, devotes a section to what people used to carry in their pockets, has instructions for making your own – and even has a ‘Spot the Pocket’ game (this has proved to be a handy reference for those occasions when I haven’t been sure).

Pockets at the V&A >>
More historical info from The Costumer's Manifesto >>

* Ergo, that little twit Lucy Locket and her lost pocket…

Read more>>

DailyDust :: DustDevil

I cannot allow my pre-occupation with Inky's whereabouts and safety to completely dominate everything. This was brought home hard when I saw this delicious dust devil. I have really been very very lax in not following up on my earlier decision to acquire a flock of the little blighters for MoD's front garden.

Still, it's trés difficult to choose between this dust devil au naturale or the more challenging proposition posed by the Mars carbon dioxide model...

More photographs by copasetic05 >>

Read more>>

Monday, August 28, 2006

Inky Update :: A Firm Rebuttal

The Museum of Dust has been deeply touched by the many offers of assistance we have received in our search for Inky. We would like to give our whole-hearted thanks for the help and many kind comments people have posted on the website.

However, there have been some people, pranksters for want of a better word, who have been posting false and misleading information about Inky on the internet. For what purposes they do this we do not know. To us the internet is a shared tool for enlightenment and communication (apart from the pornographers and arms dealers), and not some toy for achieving one's own wanton ends.

The Museum has already responded to the salacious and remarkably goofy conspiracy theory surrounding Inky's involvement in a supposed Communist bid for the Holy See. It is unfortunate to have to return to the keyboard yet again in defense of the popular but prodigal arachnid.

The first rebuttal concerns an item circulating the internet that claims to be an article from the Russian newspaper Pravda. The story starts with some shepherd children witnessing a luminous apparition of a spider that tells them to return the following day with some food, money, a map and a compass. The excited children report the visitation to people of the village. The next day a vast crowd gathered to witness the return of the apparition. Only the children were able to see and hear the spider but many in the crowd claimed to have seen the sun dance in the sky. At the height of the excitement the crowd miraculously parted to reveal a clear space in the shape of a spider. The item then goes on to make outrageous claims about a new cult devoted to Inky developing in isolated regions around the world.

The article like most conspiracy theories is an amalgam of two misinterpretations of other events. Firstly, the part of the story dealing with the children, crowds, dancing sun etc, is an obvious reinterpretation of the Lourdes story. How it became associated with Inky is beyond us but there is a tenuous link to an insect-like buzzing reported by many witnesses to the real Lourdes event. Insects - spiders is a common misapprehension; the two species relate only on a feed-to-know basis.

The second theme of the article about the mysterious crowd-parting is the only part supported by photographic "evidence". It is these images that reveal the true source of this part of the story. They first appeared in a 1928 'updated' version of Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds by Charles MacKay. They were associated with an article about the so-called "Cancer panic" of 1924. The original story claims that a crowd celebrating the birthday of George Washington Carver was struck by lightning. As the crowd surged back from the strike zone a crab-like clearing appeared. The allusion is to Cancer the crab not cancer the disease. the whole thing was proved a hoax almost immediately but, unfortunately, too late to prevent a rush to press by publishers too intent on being up-to-date to consider the risk of being incorrect. A rudimentary inspection of the relevant (forged) photograph would show that the "creature" has six legs and not the eight required by your spider-about-town.

Another image that has been roaming the ether is a blatantly Photoshopped "crop circle" (reproduced at the head of this communique). We would not deign to acknowledge this kind of thing except that we feel compelled to inform the hardworking farmers of the world that Inky would not stoop to such behavior nor condone any practice that damages their livelihood.

These distractions aside the Ministry of Defence of the Museum of Dust is following up all leads as to the whereabouts of Inky. Presently the Ministry is investigating the possibility, suggested by a correspondent, that Inky is asleep in the coat pocket of a recent visitor to the Museum of Dust. We ask that, if you have been to the Museum of Dust within the last two months, you check your pockets very carefully.

Read more>>

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Object Annex :: Pocket Maths

Look what we found whilst we were checking our pockets to make sure Inky wasn't secreted inside one of them. It is a miniature 'pocket' sculpture -- although Dir. de Plume suspects that it is actually a hypnotic device designed to snare the gaze and then trap it in endlessly involuted and semi-permeable surfaces. And it turns out that there's a lot more where that one came from...

Bathsheba Grossman dreams of bringing order to the world and, despite the white-anting of half-full glass-beholders Godel and Turing, she seems well on her way to doing it. Her chosen form of neatening messy reality is mathematics. “My work is about life in three dimensions: working with symmetry and balance, getting from a zero point to infinity, and always finding beauty in geometry” she explains.

The sculpture pictured demonstrates a triply periodic minimal surface, this one truncated to a rhombic dodecahedron.

“A minimal surface is a surface that is locally area-minimizing, that is, a small piece has the smallest possible area for a surface spanning the boundary of that piece. Soap films are minimal surfaces. Minimal surfaces necessarily have zero mean curvature, i.e. the sum of the principal curvatures at each point is zero. Particularly fascinating are minimal surfaces that have a crystalline structure, in the sense of repeating themselves in three dimensions, in other words being triply periodic.”

Triply Periodic Minimal Surfaces >>

See more of Bathsheba Grossman’s sculptures >>

Read more>>

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Wunderkammer :: Mister Spaceman

Judith Hoffman a.k.a bertmac makes artist's books and small objects from copper, brass, paper and found stuff. Her mission is to transmute the quotidian into the mysterious. However, when her metamorphic energy engages with the already mysterious, for example our annexed Zymoglyphic Museum, something happens that winds everything up a few notches.

Especially if there's matchbox pinhole cameras inolved >>
Judith Hoffman's photostream >>
Zymoglypic Museum >>

Read more>>


A recent acquaintance, a certain Ms Martini, has come up with the intriguing possiblity that Inky may once have been – or may still be -- in someone’s coat pocket. His abduction may not have even been intentional.

It all makes so much sense. He has a tendency to withdraw when overwhelmed. I think, following the rout of the sponge-cats and the embarrassment of having to admit that Mr B’s simple (although cataclysmic), technique was so much more successful than any of his own elaborate and extremely costly technological ‘solutions’*1, Inky just wanted to get away from it all. Just be by him self for a while.

He probably curled up in a MoD visitor’s coat pocket whilst it was checked in the cloakroom, and then just fell asleep. Then the visitor would have collected their coat and gone… Given the international character of MoD’s visitors, poor Inky could be anywhere by now. And when he wakes up he’s going to be grumpy. He is really NOT a morning spider.

So now I’ve got a new worry. What if he IS still in someone’s pocket? They could, all unknowing and innocent, reach into their pocket… and then all hell would break loose! Given his tendency to resort to first strike tactics and his extensive on-board arsenal, Inky could take out an entire neighbourhood!

So I want to send out a public warning.


And let me know what you find.

*1 On June 25th 2006, a catastrophic collapse of the sponge-cat containment field led to disaster and chaos in the Museum of Dust. The Museum relies on sponge-cats for power and, with their escape, the whole enterprise ground to a halt. Inky, as Minister of Defense, is responsible for the security of MoD with a special duty to manage the sponge-cats. Plus which, he’s the only one they show any respect. So it was a particularly painful betrayal when they escaped and wreaked havoc in the Museum. His humiliation was intensified by the failure of all his anti-sponge-cat weaponry.

A certain Mr B had advocated the simple tactic of water-logging the escapees. In the event this proved extremely successful and the sodden recalcitrants were soon back in their enclosure. Unfortunately the sheer scale of the escape meant that the only way to pin them down was to flood the entire museum. This of course, has had a very negative impact on the Museum’s fittings and many of its exhibits. The place is still a mess, and it may be a very long time before we can make up lost dust. Not to mention the blow to public confidence in the institution, and our international position and prestige has been immense.

No wonder Inky wanted to keep a low profile for a while…



The enviably multi-faceted Mandy has raised a new and slightly terrifying possibility. What if Inky has secreted himself in someone’s shoe? The possibilities are hideous – for both the unwary foot-owner that tries to put on the shoe, and for Inky himself. So, in addition to checking your pockets, I suggest you check your shoes as well – but use something non-invasive like a torch – Inky can react very badly if he’s startled.

Ground Zero has nothing on what that spider can do if he’s rattled or riled.

Read more>>

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Daily Dust :: Mud Glove

I have always thought that it is important to factor in aesthetics as well as the practicalities so, whilst I’m planning a water feature to incorporate my new battalions of anemones, I’m eyeing up this decorative item. It clearly references the tentacular danger lurking nearby, but with the understated subtlety and sly humour that are the true hallmarks of the Post Post Modern.

More by djking >>

Read more>>

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Bestiary :: Fear my Anenome

If I could be said to have a hobby, it would have to be ‘emergent properties.’ Or maybe it is making gargoyles out of beach-shells. I can’t quite remember. Whatever, I was excited to be given the results of recent studies on sea anemone colonies. It turns out that those poisonous little blobs of jelly have a highly stratified social order. Coordinated into ‘armies’, colonies have distinct specialised ‘castes’; warriors, scouts, reproductives and other types. They engage in long-term tactical struggles for territory with each other.

You’re thinking what I’m thinking aren’t you?

And you’re right! With Inky away, we have to do something about security. I envisage crack corps of anemone warriors guarding our boundaries. Ferociously wiggling their tentacles at intruders.

And, as a bonus, they could provide garden lighting at night. We’d be saving money by employing them.

David J. Ayre from the University of Wollongong and Rick Grosberg from UC Davis have been studying two colonies of Anthopleura elegantissima. These anemones lives in large colonies of genetically identical clones on boulders around the tide line. Where two colonies meet they form a distinct boundary zone. Anemones that contact an animal from another colony will fight, hitting each other with special tentacles that leave patches of stinging cells stuck to their opponent.

Apart from providing MoD with new security measures, the importance of this study is that it shows very complex, sophisticated, and coordinated behaviors can emerge at the level of the group, even when the group members are very simple organisms with nothing resembling a brain, Grosberg said.

Anemone Armies Battle to a Standoff >>

Read more>>

Chambre Ardente :: Pygmy Sea Horse

I don't know what is with me and the shy ones. I thought this little fellow might be the perfect replacement BF -- he's very attractive, he doesn't say much and is a real homebody (picks a clump of fan coral and spends his life on it) -- but I have a feeling that I'd hardly ever see him. And then there's the long-term compatibility issues to consider... he doesn't like change and he knows next to nothing about dust.

More exceptional marine photographs by Scott Sansenbach >>

Read more>>

Dust :: Red Spot Specials

Dark spots (left) and 'fans' appear to scribble dusty hieroglyphics on top of the Martian south polar cap in two high-resolution Mars Global Surveyor, Mars Orbiter Camera images taken in southern spring. Each image is about 3-kilometers wide (sic) Credit: NASA/JPL/Malin Space Science Systems
As you know by now, I am nothing if not assiduous in seeking out and testing new landscaping concepts for MoD’s environs. Whilst some on staff quibble, carp and cavil about the cost (hmmm…I wonder who I could mean), the results speak for themselves. Yes, sending a spacecraft to Mars has cost a bit, but again you can’t argue with the findings. And, I hasten to add, collaborating with the European Space Agency has really paid off. Not only has the co-pro given us access to some of the best brains in the world, but has also hugely ameliorated the capital investment. Best of all, but, is not having to cater to the Septic Tanks cultural sensitivities… something that takes up way too much time when dealing with NASA for example.

The ESA’s findings are pure landscaping gold.

First up: Crater Galle, which contains parallel gullies on its southern rim, a possible sign of liquid water running on Mars' surface. It also shows signs of wide erosion and the tracks of dust devils. This all shines a bright light on the geological and atmospheric conditions that have shaped the Martian landscape – but best of all, it has resulted in a giant smiley. I am thinking of recreating it at 100% scale here in Terra Incognita. Not, of course, because I like smileys – obviously I would prefer that they were all eradicated from the universe – rather it will be an eternal memento of the Summer of Love.

Just in case we ever make the mistake of trying to repeat it again again.

European Space Agency ‘Happy face' crater on Mars’ >>

Crate Galle is completely eclipsed by even more recent news from the red dot in the sky.* It now appears that the southern polar skies of Mars are decorated every spring by colossal dust geysers rising 100s of meters into the air.

These are powered by jets of carbon dioxide gas erupting through the frozen carbon-dioxide ice at speeds of around 100kph. The sand and dust falls back to the ice, creating fan and spider patterns that have had my scientists intrigued – no, bemused, mystified and stumped – for some time.

“The dark spots, typically 15 to 46 meters (50 to 150 feet) wide and spaced several hundred feet apart, appear every southern spring as the sun rises over the ice cap. They last for several months and then vanish -- only to reappear the next year, after winter's cold has deposited a fresh layer of ice on the cap. Most spots even seem to recur at the same locations.”

You can read the full report in Nature journal (you may have to subscribe…) >>
Or go to the source (NASA) >>
Or find out more about Themis imaging >>

Okay, so it IS via our Amerikan buddies’ Mars Odyssey probe but, hey, even they can luck out sometimes… and credit where credit is due, I always say. I know that it’s not a fashionable stance, and even come of my closest colleagues wrestle with the concept, but I’m a firm believer in acknowledging the efforts, however feeble, of others.

And, before I forget, you can now visit Mars yourself… at least virtually. Google recently released the highly pretty Google Mars >>

Read more>>

Monday, August 21, 2006

Bestiary :: Birds of America

The wild turkey feeds primarily on seeds, fruit, leaves, and insects such as crickets. It occasionally rounds out its diet with invertebrates and amphibians. It is a sedentary bird that nests in the mature deciduous forests of southernmost Québec, near the U.S. border.This large bird is from America but got its name from the mistaken belief it was imported from Turkey. Because of its long history as prey, it is timorous. It is a good runner and often spends its nights perched in a tree for safety. The length of the bird is 91 to 122 cm.

John James Audubon (1785-1851) found the meaning of his life when he was 35. His ambition to publish a book depicting American birds life-size was realized some 11 years later with the publication of the huge 'Birds of America' with 435 plates, depicting wildlife he had observed during his travels from north to south of America. Each bird is depicted life-size in its environment or perched in vegetation associated with its habitat.

Sometime later -- 150 years or so later, in fact -- the Musée de la civilisation produced an extraordinary website to celebrate this extraordinary publication. Not only does it have all 435 colour plates, informnation about Audubon and the birds, and links to Audubon and bird-watcher societies around the world, but also a very pretty multimedia meditation on some of the themes.

You'll know where to find me for the next week or two...

Harmony: explore the world of Audubon >>
Flip through 'Birds of America' >>
Musée de la civilisation >>

Read more>>

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Desperately Seeking... Small, White, Albino

All this getting out does have its down moments... I've just realised that the world is more full of lost things than I had ever imagined... -db- has a collection of posters that has washed the scales (and a log or two) from my eyes.

Plus which it has made me realise that I've got to get more 'Missing Inky' posters up and around.

Still, none of these lost units is a patch on my spider...

-db- 'Lost' >>
Not to mention the 'Have you seen fluffy...' pool >>

Read more>>

Chambre Ardente :: Ol' Blue-eyes

I'm been trying not to brood and to get out more... and look who I found when I finally left the house! This chap has eyes almost as beautiful as Inky's... although I'm having a bit of trouble getting anything out of him. For a chap who can't keep his mouth closed, he doesn't say a lot...

In the meantime, you'll find me looking over other potential applicants for the role of 'BF' at jsdart's rapidly flowing photostream >>

Read more>>

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Today's Dust :: Raindust

"There is something to be learned from a rainstorm." - Hagakure. Mostly that it isn't only scientists that can force dust to reorganise itself.

Dru! is one of the few photographers I know who can make a mountain out of anything -- lucky really, since they're where he seems to spend most of his time. He likes to climb things.

See more of Dru!'s photostream

Read more>>

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Library :: The Dust is Organising

Yet more evidence that dust is far smarter than the average militery brain can understand -- pointy-heads have caught it* in the act of forming obviously organised and stable structures. In their own words (because I'm not sure that I entirely follow their procedure):

"A dusty plasma is a unique physical environment where neutral atoms, electrons, ions, and charged dust particles interact to form a system relevant to the study of fields as divergent as the rings of Saturn or the creation of a computer chip. In this video, we are studying the formation process of a stable cloud of dust particles suspended in a background argon plasma. Our dust consists of micron-sized fluorescent particles that are illuminated by an ultraviolet spotlight through a window and emit visible light that is imaged by a CCD video camera. In the first five seconds of the video, we jump-start the charging process by creating a bright electrical arc that sends dust particles into the plasma. Gravity causes the dust to fall back down butit is constrained to stream along electric field lines for the next ten seconds. During this time, the larger dust particles fall back to the dust holder (out of the frame) and are no longer suspended. The remaining dust particles build up electrical charge and one can observe various instabilities hinder the particles from creating a stable cloud for the next ten seconds. Finally, thirty seconds after the start of the video, the dust particles abruptly form an organized and distinct cloud. The resulting cloud is stable and one can clearly observe the three dimensional motion of individual dust particles."

*I say 'caught' but really it does rather look like they forced it. I must admit all this worries me slightly -- it DOES sound like they're tormenting perfectly innocent dust for their own nefarious purposes.
Princeton types, natch >>

Read more>>

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

DSS :: Antarctic Vampire Lead!

The first lead has come in from the Desperately Seeking Spider contact centre. Spider-seeker Mr X glimpsed what can only be a distant cousin of Inky’s. The Vampire Sea Spider has a straw for sucking the life out of its prey as well as 10 legs. Not only is there an obvious kinship through Inky’s distant cousin in Russia, but the extent to which both have baffled the best scientific minds, confusing and disconcerting eminent researchers, suggests a close kinship of spirit. I shall certainly be interviewing this individual at the earliest possible opportunity. Unfortunately its native habitat is Antarctica, so I’m a little unsure as to when that will be.

'Vampire sea spiders suck on prey' by Anna Salleh >>

Read more>>

Daily Dust :: A Camel in front of the Keops' pyramid

Both Lady Mary Montagu and Lord Byron were enamoured with Albanians... Maybe it was because of their distinctive and very dashing national dress. Maybe it was because fear is an aphrodisiac... Or maybe it was because they took photographs as good as The Albanian's.

Although I suspect that the 'mountain eagles' the British muckity-mucks disported themselves with didn't get around quite as much as this contemporary one does.

Whatever, his travels have thrown up a plethora of landscaping ideas. I am particularly taken with this camel-pyramid combo, but there are plenty more where that one came from. And now that Administration have finally taken some of the 'search for Inky' hard yakka of my hands, I'm going to spend some time exploring The Albanian's world.

Want to see what I'm seeing? Visit The Albanian aka Merkur Nallbani's photostream >>

Read more>>

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Desperately Seeking Spider :: The Campaign

It was touching really to see what the Director came up with all on her own. It just demonstrates why she employs us. No one can be expert at everything.

Of course, if she’d thought to ask our assistance, we would have happily told her about the campaign we have been planning.

First off: We have produced a poster – one that reflects the gravity of situation and presents the museum in a professional manner.

Download a printable PDF version >>

We’ve started another Flickr group in Dir. De Plume’s name. It will be used as a poster wall for any Inky sightings. We are working on producing a google map charting the sightings.* People will also be able to post their photographs of posters they have put up in their neighbourhood, and photographs proving that he’s not somewhere.
Desperately Seeking Spider Flickr >>

We have taken out advertising in several major media outlets and will also place advertisements in the ‘Personal’ columns of all the major dailies.

[Director, kindly approve the following copy]
“Desperately Seeking Spider
All is forgiven. Director frantic, museum chaotic. Return asap. No questions asked.

Read more>>

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Daily Dust :: Flat

Now that I've finally got that poster done and I'm starting to get it distributed, I can relax a little and get back to work. Again, I have found a wellspring (or should that be ‘drywell’?) of inspiration in the Dust pool. This 'toad + texturized sand' ensemble suggest a whole new train of thought vis á vis MoD's environs.

Though I'd have to remember to keep them separate from the dust devils...

More environmental observations from Josh Gross >>

Read more>>

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Chambre Ardente :: Help find Inky

See. It might have taken a tiny bit longer that you'd expect, I did it!

One 'Lost Inky-Blinky' poster. Milk cartons come next.

Now I know the poster looks a little bit homemade, but it was the best I could do on the resources I had. I had to make it myself because Administration said they didn’t have the time to help - although Baal alone knows what they’re doing that’s so important. There doesn’t seem to be a lot to show for it. But if they don’t think Inky is worth their precious time, I’ll just make sure that he knows that when I find him.

What I was thinking was that if everyone put some posters up around their neighbourhood, then either Inky might see one, or perhaps someone might recognize him from it and let me know.

A4 PDF poster to print >>

Read more>>

Bestiary :: Insects of Santa Barbara

I was innocently minding my own business, just poking around The Blen's collections. He has a fine collection from the Museum of Comparative Oology* – I have never seen that grand old institution shown to more advantage. And so perhaps I was thinking about acquiring it. ..

But it was scarcely fair to sideswipe me like that! I had managed not to think about Inky for hours… when suddenly I could think of thing but.

He would have so loved this fine insect display! He would certainly have urged me to acquire it, and then we would have had hours of enjoyment of it together.

But he’s been gone so long now, and I have no idea where he is or when he’ll be back. I don’t know IF he’ll be back. I don’t even know if he’s hurt or trapped or even whether he’s still alive. But I’ve also had an epiphany! I can’t just wait around, worrying, fretting and waiting. I have to take my destiny in hand and make things happen. So I have resolved two things.

1. That I have to be more active in the search for Inky. I’m going to make a missing poster and get it out there. Someone must have seen him! I’m thinking I should enlist the power of Flickr? Someone there should have an idea of how to find him?

2. And I’m going to have to look for more friends. I’ve realised that I’ve become completely dependent on Inky – I was so lonely before he came into my life. But I understand now that it is dangerous to put all your eggs on one spider, I need other fish to fry. So I’m going to start interviewing candidates for the position in my spare time.

I’ve already spotted one or two possibilities, most recently this alert, although unnervingly cheerful, fellow over here >>

The Blen’s Museum of Comparative Oology set >>
The Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History (the collections less graceful contemporary nomenclature) >>
* So 'oology' is actually the study of bird's eggs. What's your point?

Read more>>

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Wunderkammer :: Seven to go

No matter how bad things might be, from time to time I DO come across something that gives me a warm glow of envy. Kelly Searsmith’s LiveJournal is one such instance. It hides a nascent Wunderkammer, as yet small, but consisting of seven perfect exhibits.

From this Sumerian person (with whom, I must admit, I feel a strange sense of kinship), to spiked ivory pleasure balls and the death mask of Mary, Queen of Scots, this small collection of emblematic objects hints, like all good Wunderkammern, at an idiosyncratic new taxonomic order.
Dream Tree >>

Read more>>

Garden :: Mud Defence

HA! This is one in the eye for all those who doubted the wisdom of having a mud feature in the grounds of Museum of Dust. (Pointedly NOT looking at anyone in particular… but isn’t it interesting how all of Administration suddenly disappears when they are proven WRONG!).

An assault on MoD by hostile forces was foiled yesterday.

And if anyone wants to see me to discuss the matter... I’ll be in my office waiting for grovelling confessions of irrational mudphobia and your humblest apologies. Written. In triplicate.

Read more>>

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Staff? :: Propaganda uncovered?

I found another one of those appalling religious tracts! This one was being used as a bookmark in the library’s copy of ‘The Department of Lebensraum Security Guidelines for keeping you and your family safe whilst waiting for Rapture’. I wonder how long it’s been there. Who does it belong to? Is it one of my trusted staff, indulging an hitherto unsuspected vein of superstition? Or perhaps it’s one of the myrmidons in Janitorial? Or am I reading this all wrong? Perhaps Inky was onto something? Or on something – coffee, for example, always makes him behave very peculiarly.

Read more>>

Library :: Dust Articles Extant

A magnificent magnified grain of cosmic dust, set against the South Pole sky. Credit: J. Freitag and S. Messenger. From here >>

A quick heads-up on the potential power of dust.* Some scientists have postulated that cosmic dust may have helped end the last glacier age prematurely by causing global warming. Some people try to blame EVERYTHING on dust! Now some other scientists think they have proof that it wasn’t dust’s fault. I’m all for that.

Amongst other pertinent facts: “About 40,000 tons of space dust showers down on Earth each year. And it's been coming down at a steady rate for the past 30,000 years” In fact you’re soaking in it! Dog alone knows how the Americans will respond to the clear and present threat of interstellar dust invasion…
‘Cosmic Dust Ruled Out in Ancient Global Warming’ >>

Synchronistically, other researchers believe they have identified the main source of the cosmic dust that gets dumped on Earth – meteoroids. A new study shows that grains of dust left in meteoroid trails are larger than previously thought. As is shown in the picture above, the average grain of cosmic dust is somewhat larger than an apricot.
'Source of Cosmic Dust Found' >>

So the meteorites are in on it too! The sooner the US gets Star-wars off the drawing board and into space, the better! Obviously. Because they’re coming at us from outer space! We have to be ready to stop them or before we know it the entire surface of the world will be smothered by dust.

Oops sorry, I think I started to channel ….something.*

I think that it will be charming when the entire world resembles Terra incognita. Really. Thanks to everyone in the US and Australlia (particularly) for making it possible.

In other things that I didn’t previously know about cosmic dust:
“The detection of cosmic dust points to another facet of cosmic dust research: dust acting as photons. Once cosmic dust is detected, the scientific problem to be solved is an inverse problem to determine what processes brought that encoded photon-like object (dust) to the detector. Parameters such the particle's initial motion, material properties, intervening plasma and magnetic field determined the dust particle's arrival at the dust detector. Slightly changing any of these parameters can give significantly different dust dynamical behavior. Therefore one can learn about where that object came from, and what is (in) the intervening medium.”
Wikipedia >>

*I have been under a lot of pressure to present the public with clearly examples of examplery dust rather than the more allusive and imaginative material that I've been pursuing lately. So here it is.

Now get off my back and get back to work.

*Did I mention that Rapture didn’t happen on the third? MoD’s sympathy goes out to all those waiting for the ride of their lives’.

And now, could they just stop encouraging Armageddon? Perhaps they could join a reading group. I can recommend Oolon Culluphid's 'Where God Went Wrong', 'Some More of God's Greatest Mistakes', and 'Who is this God Person Anyway?'

PS Thanks to Mr W for the shove in the right direction...

Read more>>

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Daily Dust :: L'usine oubliée : Débris

Proof that the French (even when they're Canadian), can make anything look good -- especially if they start with top-quality materials. I love the visual pun these glass tiles make with dried mud-pan tiling. We forget sometimes that glass is just melted dust.

Here's how photographer Jean-Sébastien Bédard describes them:

"Désolation et débris, jonchant le sol de l'usine. Le temps fait souvent bien les choses. Ici une plante réussi à pousser tant bien que mal dans ce tas de pollution industrielle."
Personally, I think things are looking pretty good -- at least for the MoD garden decoration end of thing. I'm looking for a supplier as we speak.

More JS Bëd's Photographs >>

Read more>>

Friday, August 04, 2006

Bestiary :: Dust Devils

A video showing attempts to herd wild Dust Devils on El Mirage Dry Lake in Southern California. Will people never learn! You just CAN'T tame the little devils...

But what an inspiration! I am SO going to get some for the front yard.

Video by Jeff T. Alu >>

Read more>>

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Garden :: Natural Modernism

A member of staff* pertinently noted that we already have a bonsai collection. Actually, to be precisely, it is a bonsai bonsai bonsai collection, consisting of three three-inch high bonsai. This miniature but perfectly formed collection forms one of the most valuable sections of the Zymoglphic Museum which was recently acquired by MoD. There will certainly be some kind of section of the bonsai forest reserved for them – particularly as I plan to emulate Emperor Q'in Shih Huang Ti’s scheme, with separate pedestals for each potted landscape. I plan to surpass his map of China schtick ‘though. I’m going to have them arranged to re-create The Memory Theater of Giulio Camillo.

Maybe I’ll have a special pedestal bearing three miniature pedestals for the bonsai bonsai.
Miniature Tree Collection >>

But all this has reminded me of my plans to re-purpose another element of the collection.

‘Natural Modernism’ is a collection of stone assemblages, the components of each litho-morphic entity smoothed and shaped by water and time. I’m thinking that they’d look just wonderful distributed across the forecourt. Sure, they’re a bit under-scaled… so I was thinking of having them digitally duplicated to 100X their original size just like Saddam Hussein did with the Triumphal Arches in Bagdad.

Mr Stewart, our resident Zymoglphic Museum expert, has written something about the Natural Modernism collection. >>

The only thing I’m still not quite sure what to do with, is the gongshi collection. It seems a little too baroque for the landscaping scheme I had in mind.

“Also known as scholar's rocks, or gongshi, viewing stones are rocks of complex shapes that suggest worlds within worlds, microcosms in stone. They have been collected and displayed in China for centuries. The Zymoglyphic Museum's collection is made up of small seaworn objects which embody the spirit of gongshi. They are all less than three inches high, including the stands.
Gongshi >>

* Actually the former owner of the museum, who we have allowed to stay on to keep things nice.

Read more>>

Chambre Ardente :: Friendly Faces Everywhere

It was kind of the human race to remind me why I’m glad that I’m not a member. Sometimes I feel a little left out and lonely.* But lately it’s been a positive relief not to belong to the club.*

PLUS which I recently discovered an endless supply of hugely attractive anthropomorphic individuals. Now I never have to be lonely again.*

Lifeless faces - Faces .. FACES! EVERYWHERE!!! group is a cornucopia of faces found in the environment. I can't believe that those pictoplasma people haven't already gobbled it.

* Especially now, with Inky away and not a peep from him for weeks.
* What with the endless demonstrations of the gamut of their abilities … stupid brutality through to brutal stupidity. I've got so many black ribbons stuck on me I look like a bellpull, but it doesn't seem to be making a jot of difference...
* And Inky will feel like a right goose when he comes back and discovers that I've got a whole bunch of new faces in my life.

PS I have just found another source to feed my anthropomorphia.. >>
Via neatorama >>

Read more>>

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Garden :: Bonsai China

Much as I love a bandwagon, I can’t resist taking the wheels off this one. You will have noticed that the blogsphere has been agog with the discovery of a scale-model landscape adjacent to a remote Chinese ‘military facility’. Someone with far more time and geographical obsession than me (or any nominally sane person), contends that it is a scale model of an obscure section of mountain with the sole distinction of being a bit of disputed border between China and India. Suggestions have been floated that it is a training landscape for helicopter pilots or troops.


Do they think that the Chinese would shrink their pilots down to match the scale? Surely a squad of pre-adolescent BMF-bandits would be more likely? (Although I have to admit that I'm rather taken with some of Pruned's hypotheses...topography trophies mmmmm)*.

I can’t let this pointless controversy go on. Obviously I am going to have to ‘fess up…

Please, forget the border connection; China is not gearing-up to invade India with a crack team of dwarf pilots and/or infantry squads of little people. This is a perfectly innocent research facility. Currently it is fully occupied assisting with my explorations into extreme gardening. That is not a scale model as has been proposed but an actual re-creation of MoD’s front yard. This allows us to trial various experimental landscaping concepts and design options.

As regular visitors will have realised, landscaping is not something to be undertaken lightly. Or by the un-prepared. I have personally been researching various materials, textures and finishes. I have shared several sample of that research with you, here in the Museum of Dust. But sometimes samples are not enough. You have to actually try one thing with another to see if they work together. For instance, I was planning a tasteful combination of clay-slurry, salt pans and booming sands. I had drawn up plans and sourced suppliers when test-results came back from Huangyangtan. The combination just wasn’t going to fly. The slurry made the sand dunes too soggy to sing and eroded the subtle fractal crackling pattern of the saltpan. So it’s been back to the drawing-board, but at least I have saved a fortune and an infinity of time and heartache.

And there’s no point of continuing to make sarcastic remarks about the probability that this remote station could possibly be anything other than a covert military facility. Perhaps it is because you believe that if the US tell us it is, it must be? But China is a new country and business is encouraged. Not least by the spectacularly low wages and lack of protection for workers’ oh&s… or rights. I can achieve my own research outcomes at a fraction of the cost of undertaking it in Europe… or even New Zealand. Skilled motivated workers and land are cheap in Huangyangtan.

But, and this is really what bends my fender, it just goes to show the level of general ignorance about Chinese culture.

Any fool knows that China has been at the leading-edge exploration of miniature and highly managed landscapes foe millenia. This, of course, is what makes China uniquely suitable for my purposes. Its tradition. No one has a longer history. The art of bonsai, for example, finds its genesis the whim of a Han Dynasty Emperor.

“255-206 B.C.E: Emperor Q'in Shih Huang Ti, the emperor who started history by burning all the books that had preceded his reign, sent men of the arts, sciences, horticulture, and floriculture to all his provinces with instruction to recreate representative replicas of each canton's landscape in miniature, and bring them back to the palace. He instructed them to portray each canton, complete with people, animals and all architectural features, in such a way that seasonal changes would also be an integral part of the landscapes. He wanted to see the rivers and streams, lakes and ponds, and mountains and valleys, he wanted to know the infinite variety of his possessions in all their aspects and manifestations. He knew it would be years before the penjings would be delivered to the Forbidden City, and while he waited he had a map of China carved into the marble surface of his personal courtyard, and had pedestals placed in the centre of each canton for each miniature landscape to rest upon.” From Manual: A User’s Baedeker (catalogue essay for Martine Corompt’s exhibition ‘Dodg’em’).
To honour this proud history, I am almost certain that I’ll devote at least a section of the Terra Incognita lanscape to bonsai. Maybe a forest on the west side of the Museum…? What is certain, if I do, I’ll be choosing my specimens from the nadjs’s exceptional collection.

the nadj's photostream >>
Pacific Rim Bonsai Collection set >>

* "In actuality, it's the modern equivalent of spoils-taking. Forget about the gold, the obelisks, giant menorahs, virginal (or otherwise) women or chunks of churches, mosques and palaces. The victors will slice off entire topographies and then truck it all back to the homeland: Israel transplanting a mountain or two from the Anti-Lebanon to the Negev Desert once the current incursion ends; or after another Turkish-Greek incident has concluded, a Greek island placed atop a pedestal in front of Atatürk's mausoleum; or a segment of the Tigris and the Euphrates shipped off to Nebraska on a C-130. And with landscape architects channeling Albert Speer and Leni Riefenstahl, there will be parades and mass celebrations as lavish as any organized by Kim Jong-il." Pruned

Read more>>

Library :: Bog Book

If I needed any more evidence that an interest in mud is complimentary with MoD’s mission, news from Ireland a few days ago more than confirms my current passion for the stuff. Ireland is of course chiefly known for its bogs – that’s right, wet swamps full of decaying vegetable matter, mud and water. So much of all of the above that the bogs act as time capsules, suspension chambers for whatever falls into them. Bacteria that cause decomposition quickly exhaust the available oxygen and things are often completely preserved. The Irish are always finding interesting bits and pieces – and most recently, a psalm book lost over a thousand years ago,

I’ve been wondering where it had got to… I never did get to finish psalm 83!

Via Science Musings Blog >>
Ancient book of psalms found in Irish bog >>

Read more>>

Daily Dust :: 107-59

Some people, under the guise of offering helpful suggestions, have insinuated that perhaps I am concentrating too closely on mud and am forgetting MoD’s mission statement. I have just one thing to say to them* -- get back to doing what you’re paid for.

Anyone with even a modicum of pottery in their soul can see that mud is simply the building blocks of reality with water added. That’s why it looks so attractive when the water is taken away again. It naturally organises itself into this season's must have-patterns.This one is called 107-59.

It comes courtesy of World Picture Service's photostream >>

Read more>>