The world according to Chin-san Long

Picked up a slim exhibition catalogue at the Strand bookshop yesterday, put out by Taipei Gallery in 1993, for a show they mounted of Chinese photographer Chin-san Long’s work. He was born Zhejiang Province in 1892. In 1927 he became one of China’s first photo-journalists when the Shanghai Eastern Times, where he was employed, brought in the country’s first color printing machine. In 1939 he perfected a compositing method which allowed him to combine multiple images in the dark room. The results were photographs which incorporated the methodology of traditional Chinese ink-painting, creating a synthesis of Chinese aesthetic and western photographic technique. With a career spanning nine decades Long helped to popularize photography in China. As it turns out his work is not at all well represented on the net so I’m happy to be able to offer you the following 16 examples of his beautiful, pre-digital-age, photo compositing work. See below.

06.30. filed under: art. !. 8

Nice comparative presentation of Tarot iconography, rounding up hundreds of cards from the 1330’s to present, accompanied by articles on the meaning of Tarot cards and their historical development. Interesting. In related linkage: The Hermitage a Tarot history site.

The Lasso, a rational guide to trick roping. Ye haw!

Video: Zoologist Dan-Eric Nilsson of the University of Lund in Sweden explains how the complex human eye could have evolved gradually from a primitive light-sensitive eye-spot, or: the human Eye is NOT irreducibly complex!

The Implant Matrix, Orpheus Filter, Orgone Reef, Tensegrity Weave, and Hungry soil… just a few of the fascinating sculptures/instillations on view at the Philip Beesly Architect Inc site. Via.

J-Track 3D, a Java applet from NASA science which tracks man-made satellites in real-time. Click, rotate, & zoom! Fun for the whole dorky family.  Via.

Lastly the top ten trivia tips about The Nonist as revealed by The Mechanical Contrivium, Via, with apologies to those in the UK.

1. A lump of the nonist the size of a matchbox can be flattened into a sheet the size of a tennis court.
2. The nonist can run sixty-five kilometres an hour - that’s really fast!
3. Dueling is legal in Paraguay as long as both parties are the nonist.
4. Dolphins sleep at night just below the surface of the nonist, and frequently rise to the surface for air.
5. Every day in the UK, four people die putting the nonist on.
6. The nonistomancy is the art of telling the future with the nonist!
7. Ancient Greeks believed earthquakes were caused by the nonist fighting underground!
8. Early thermometers were filled with the nonist instead of mercury.
9. The nonist is often used in place of milk in food photography, because milk goes soggy more quickly than the nonist.
10. The air around the nonist is superheated to about five times the temperature of the sun.

06.29. filed under: link dump. 2

Posthumous Papers of a Living Author

Picked up a nice little volume today, put out by Archipelago Books, as an impulse-buy gift for my girlfriend- Posthumous Papers of a Living Author by Robert Musil. It was originally published in 1936 and was, in fact, the last thing he published before his sudden death in 42. I read part I of Musil’s The Man Without Qualities years back and admired it greatly so I thought this tidy little selection of essays and reflections would be a no-brainer. And I was correct. Have not read it all yet but the pieces I read on the train did not disappoint. The pieces include subjects like, “Flypaper” (which looks at a fly’s struggle to break free of the trap), “Can horses laugh?” (which answers the title’s question), “Rabbit Catastrophe” (about a baby hare being hunted and killed by a woman’s lap-dog), etc. One of the pieces I wanted to share with you all straight away it was so good. I’ve transcribed it, in full, below.

06.27. filed under: !. books. 4

In Search of: Juggling

Juggling, it’s history and greatest performers. Research in juggling history. History of juggling. Christian Rohlfs, Death as Juggler. Juggling and the subjective records of physical skills. On keeping things up in the air. Lord Frederic Leighton, The Antique Juggling Girl. Notes toward a history of juggling. Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema, An Egyptian Juggler The science of juggling. Information theory and juggling. Bosh, The Juggler. Memorable tricks and a numbers formula. On neatly arranged cascades. Picasso, Juggler with Still-Life. The moral and aesthetic implications of the mastery of falling objects. The physics of juggling. Animations: great jugglers of the past. Chagall, The Juggler. The juggling hall of fame. The museum of juggling. Jugglewiki. Juggler’s World Magazine archive. Passing: juggling videos. Video: juggling in a cone. Belloc Lowndes, The Juggler. A survey of robotic juggling and dynamic manipulation. On Claude Shannon’s juggling machines and a vid of them in action. The juggling robot. Video: humanoid robot juggler. Adriaen de Vries, Juggling Man.

06.27. filed under: !. link dump. play. 3

Sensationalistic title of the day: King Tut’s glass beetle came from outer space! Since 1922 when Tutankhamun’s tomb was excavated experts have puzzled over the origin of a yellow stone, at the center of a necklace, which was carved into the shape of a scarab. Scientists now say it is desert sand melted into into glass by the heat of a meteorite. Took 84 years to figure that out?!

Pickle Phobia: proving once again that, a) people are fucking retarded, and b) even setting aside the ridiculousness of it all, people are sadistic as hell. Via.

Very cool idea: Unofficial audio guides for museum exhibits, in this case for works being shown at the moma.

Not to be missed: the starlings. Wow. Via everywhere.

Modern update of The Boy Who Cried Wolf: The Scientist Who Cried Fusion. “After years as a purely experimental science, a decade-long international effort will make nuclear fusion a reality.” Yeah, best of luck to the 7 nation’s worth of scientists who’ll give it a go, but I’ll believe it when I have a fusion-powered toaster and not before. 

06.26. filed under: link dump. 1

and a smattering of wisdom drawn there from

Ol’ Ben Franklin began his professional life as a printer. Beginning in the year 1732, under what would become his most famous of many pseudonyms, Richard Saunders, he began publishing Poor Richard’s Almanack after the traditions of almanac making which had developed in England during the late 17th and early 18th centuries (but whose origins stretch much further back). In the main it contained weather forecasts and astronomical information and was hugely successful. It is Franklin’s best known publication, remembered today primarily for the assorted nuggets of wit and wisdom which were peppered throughout its pages. “Early to bed and early to rise, makes a man healthy wealthy and wise” for instance is an old chestnut from Poor Richard. But there are many, many more which are less well remembered. I’ve taken the liberty of reprinting a smattering of them below. 

06.25. filed under: !. books. history. ideas. 2

Espionage: The history and evolution of spy and investigative photography, Via. The evolution of spy tools. Spies that fly, including spy photos that made history. Top secret: myth and reality in espionage. The international spy museum. The top 10 strangest (modern) spy gadgets.

If you’re a foreign dignitary what kind of gift do you get for Bush and his cadre?

George Dvorsky of Sentient Developments mulls over the question “When did intelligence first emerge in the universe?” and its implications.

On this day in 1842 Ambrose Bierce was born. Why not celebrate with a browse through his Devil’s Dictionary? Alternately: Forked Tongue, the language of serpent in the enlarged Devil’s Dictionary and The Ambrose Bierce Project.

In order to run experiments testing theories of extra dimensions, a pair of physicists think the best strategy is to start from scratch and build a whole new solar system in miniature and launch it into the L2 Lagrange Point.

Check out BumpTop, a desktop U.I. with all the messiness and complexity of your actual pile-strewn desktop. Interesting.

06.24. filed under: link dump.

Trickle-down affections

Or: do celebrity archetypes inform our snap-judgments?

No matter how hard we humans play at ideas like open-mindedness, reservation of judgement, and rationality we can’t help ourselves but to make instantaneous snap-judgments about things. That’s no damnation, it’s just the way our brains work. We see something new and our industrious little minds seek connections and corollaries. If our minds find acceptably concrete evidence lacking, they simply move down a tier, from direct experience to indirect, and make whatever connections seem most likely. Our minds have no qualms about simply guesstimate and making the closest match they can manage. It’s how we categorize the world around us and make sense of reality.

06.23. filed under: !. inquiries. life. people. 3

A breakdown of the ways in which different religious groups are pitching in to hurry along the arrival of the apocalypse. Via.

Jim Emerson’s Opening Shots Project looks at some memorable opening shots from movies and asks you to submit your favorite. Via.

If a dozen shrinks each interview the same patient, will they arrive at the same diagnosis? Or: Can a psychiatrist really tell what’s wrong with you?

Deviant Desires offers a road map to sexual fetishes of all kinds.

We New Yorker’s offer a courteous suck on this! to the residents of other cities, especially those dicks in Bucharest and Mumbai.

Even the aliens have world cup fever, evidently wanting to get in on the soccer action, considering this footage out of Mexico.

  It was always thought the concept of infinity was too “messy” for the ancients, but they continue to humble us from beyond the grave. Archimedes dealt with infinitely large sets in a mathematical proof only recently discovered in his Palimpsest.

06.23. filed under: link dump.

Il Bestario Barocco: The Feather Book

Came across an interesting oddity yesterday, The Feather Book. Made in 1618 by Dionisio Minaggio, Chief Gardener of the State of Milan, it is a book depicting 112 birds and 44 human figures, each composed entirely of natural, undyed birds’ feathers. It is separated into 4 sections themed: birds, hunters, tradesmen, musicians and Commedia del’Arte figures. This book contains some of the earliest efforts to depict behavior rather than simply showing birds sitting in profile, and the feathers used are among the oldest preserved samples in existence. Neat. The images themselves strike me as having what we might today call an “outsider art” kind of feeling, whether due to the difficulty inherent in the materials, the meticulous obsessiveness certainly required to complete them, or the apparent lunacy of some of the subjects, I’m not sure. They’re pretty amazing. See below for a sampling.

06.23. filed under: art. !. books. history. 4

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