Maps and Fields

Nigel Peake's maps from Tiny Showcase. more notes to come.

Slimy Drawings

Architect partnership Ushida Findlay's 'Slimy Drawings' for Soft and Hairy House (Ibaraki, Japan 1994) and Truss Wall House (Tokyo, Japan 1993).

The houses carry a signature, organic configuration of space where inside becomes outside and vice-versa. Therefore conventional plans and elevations won't do, as expressions of the house-to-come. So they developed 'slimy drawings' in order to see everything at once. Somehow this is more poetic than a CGI flythrough; although that might be my limitation.

Ernst Haeckel

Bats, from Ernst Haeckel's seminal Kunstformen der Natur (1904). Adrian will discuss Haeckel in lecture 3 of his Art & Science series. Haeckel, a zoologist-artist (that doesn't quite cover his achievements), popularised Darwin in Germany (On the Origin of Species was published in 1859).

Haeckel's system of imaging and composition is of a laid-bareness, a head-on symmetry that emphasizes recurring geometries across species and nature. This supports his "
recapitulation theory ('ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny') claiming that an individual organism's biological development, or ontogeny, parallels and summarizes its species' entire evolutionary development, or phylogeny." (Wiki).

He sometimes resorts to a more illusionistic, three-dimensional space but it is quite rare through the 100 or so plates. It happens through his motive to articulate and reveal. This is perhaps unfamiliar to you and a step you are required to take in the project. That is, composition, formal decisions borne out of a need to explain.



Rebecca Stevenson, re: microscopist Armand Clavaud's Florafauna ideas. More notes to come.


Kyushu University Medical Books

Eye discolouration (as seen on the amazing BibliOdyssey) by Majimaganryonozu, from a collection of C18th and C19th Japanese medical books archived online by Kyushu University.

Dermatological conditions by Hosonozu. See more here and note the intertwined image, calligraphic text and the use of flatness and abstraction for organ-forms.

Window Water Baby Moving

Stan Brakhage's Window Water Baby Moving (1959) is the only film I've seen of childbirth which makes sense. It has genuine, uncanny, visceral poetry. It tells the truth. Be prepared for its frankness.

Oliviero Toscani's Benetton billboard of 1991 was removed, as I recall, a week or so after it appeared due to the volume of offendees.

An anonymous (French c.1800) oil on paper from tomorrow's destination, the Wellcome Collection. Articulating such a complex event, the image has a head-on objectivity but also features caricature, in the gurning midwife and the fey father-to-be.

Darwin, Transformism, Mutation, Gallagher

Double Octopus Floating With Jellyfish, from Ellen Gallagher's Watery Ecstatic series, 2005. I saw these in the flesh at Liverpool Tate a while ago, an amalgam of paper cut, watercolour, ink, varnish and collage. All Gallagher's work deals in one way or another with African-American stereotyping, delivering the narrative through Darwinian transformism and mutation.

In this case, the ongoing series "relays the story of Drexciya, an underwater world populated by the descendants of pregnant West African women forced off slave ships on the Middle Passage, from West Africa to America, whose unborn children adapted to the water in utero and began a species of half-human, half-fish creatures" (from Circa).

This earlier work, part of the Deluxe series of 2004-5, is characteristic of a process she applied to many advertisements featuring black models. Wig, eyeball and other viral caricature-elements multiply, smothering the head, amplifying the stereotype.

Gallacher is discussed on Species of Origin, a useful site for this project, set up by Edinburgh College of Art and dealing with
contemporary art's relationship to Darwin.

Powers of Ten

Charles & Ray Eames' mesmeric 1977 film. Slightly soiled here by the extraneously kitsch pyramid graphic at the beginning of this clip. Ride that bit out then sit back to watch.

Magnetic Movie

Magnetic Movie by Semiconductor. "The secret lives of invisible magnetic fields are revealed as chaotic, ever-changing geometries. All action takes place around NASA’s Space Sciences Laboratory, UC Berkeley, to recordings of space scientists describing their discoveries" (from Animate Projects).

All Fact is Theory

"The highest is to understand that all fact is really theory. The blue of the sky reveals to us the basic law of color. Search nothing beyond the phenomena, they themselves are the theory." So said Johnann Wolfgang von Goethe, in his Theory of Colours of 1810. He was critical of Isaac Newton's prism-theory (from Opticks of 1704), which he believed to be schematic, underestimating the role of human perception of colour.

The work here, above, below is Colour Square Sphere by Olafur Eliasson. He of the Tate Sun Machine. I'm thinking about Goethe's statement above and his well-known epigram, "The hardest thing to see is what is in front of your eyes".

A function of this project is to see and depict the unseen. That may not necessarily be something at, for example, nano-scale. It may be a thing or event so familiar that it is invisible. That is why Dürer's Turf is so remarkable.

Eliasson's Round Rainbow (2005).

Ash Black Slug

Preparing this project and listening to Radio 4 and The Living World's programme on the Ash Black Slug. It's found on Dartmoor and can grow up to 30cm in length, making it the world's largest. On a dank-dark-day such as this, its fungi-munching world is ever more vivid. It has 'flower-like genitalia' and is hermaphrodite, giving it the option of mating with another or going solo, spinning on a metre-long length of mucus. Now for lunch.