Beautiful Chemistry is a new collaboration between Tsinghua University Press and University of Science and Technology of China that seeks to make chemistry more accessible and interesting to the general public. Their first project was the creation of several short films that utilize a 4K UltraHD camera to capture a variety of striking chemical reactions without the usual clutter of test tubes, beakers or lab equipment. I definitely would have paid a bit more attention in chemistry class if we’d had the opportunity to watch some of these. Filmed and edited by Yan Liang.
Australian artist Meredith Woolnough creates elaborate embroideries that mimic delicate forms of nature like leaves and coral. “I have been collecting skeletonized leaves for as long as I can remember,” says the artist, whose “traceries” capture the beauty and fragility of nature. Woolnough uses a special embroidery technique that involves a domestic sewing machine and a base cloth that dissolves in water after the piece is complete leaving just the skeleton. In a way, her process also mimics the natural process of leaves dying and drying up which, in turn, become the subject of her work.
The Bigger Picture is a new animated short from filmmaker Daisy Jacobs and animator Chris Wilder about two brothers struggling to care for their older monther. The film is notable for its animation technique that blends life-size wall-painted characters who inhabit full-size sets, interacting with real objects. Included here is the trailer and a nice making-of video that goes behind the scenes. The Bigger Picture is currently screening in film festivals around the world and has won more awards than you can shake a pair of leaf-covered sticks at. I seriously can’t wait to see this.
Artist and designer Eleanor Lutz has a special knack for science illustration. On her blog, Tabletop Whale, she recently shared this great series of admittedly non-scientific charts that deconstruct the wing patterns of birds and insects. After spreading across the web like wildfire the last few days she quickly turned it into a print available through Artsider. (via Kottke)
From a young age Florian Pucher was always fascinated by landscapes underneath and how blissful and beautiful our world looks from above. “I have always loved to travel and tried to always get window seats on planes,” said the Beijing-based Austrian architect who even avoided travelling by night in order to see as many different landscapes as possible. Pucher is now turning his childhood obsession into LANDCARPET: a series of rugs modeled after birds-eye-view aerial photographs of land.
Pucher uses various online mapping services to pinpoint locations of interest and then does picture searches to get a feel for the colors and elevations. He sometimes coincidentally will stumble upon satellite imagery or maps, which may lead to a new rug design. “Some countries are very easily recognizable through their methods of farming and that has always intrigued me,” Pucher tells us. “Furthermore as an architect and master planner I constantly get to see and look through site surveys, aerial images and city plans which have further sharpened my eye for distinguishable patterns and different layers.”
Pucher’s LANDCARPETs are signed and hand tufted in limited editions of 88 pieces. You can purchase one directly through his website. (via Yatzer)
Doodle by bored medieval school boy. A 15th-century doodle in the lower margin of a manuscript containing Juvenal’s Satires, a popular classical text used to teach young children about morals. Photo: Carpentras, Bibliothèque municipale, MS 368.
For the past few years, medieval book historian Erik Kwakkel has been poring over some of the world’s oldest books and manuscripts at Leiden University, The Netherlands, as part of his ongoing research on pen trials. Pen trials are small sketches, doodles, and practice strokes a medieval scribe would make while testing the ink flow of a pen or quill. They usually involve funny faces, letter strokes, random lines, or geometric shapes and generally appear in the back of the book where a few blank pages could be found. Kwakkel shares via email:
From a book historical perspective pen trials are interesting because a scribe tends to write them in his native hand. Sometimes, when they moved to a different writing culture (another country or religious house) they adapted their writing style accordingly when copying real text—books. The trials, however, are done in the style of the region they were trained in, meaning the individuals give some information about themselves away.
In some sense, these sketches are like fingerprints or signatures, little clues that reveal a bit about these long forgotten scribes who copied texts but who had no real opportunity to express themselves while working. Including additional sketches or even initials in these books was often forbidden.
While many of Kwakkel’s discoveries are standard pen trials, other doodles he finds relate to a human concept as universal as topics discussed in these 13th and 14th century books such as love, morals, or religion. Specifically: boredom. It seems the tedium of reading through a philosophy textbook or law manuscript dates back to the very invention of books. Some of these scribbles were even made hundreds of years after a book’s publication, suggesting no margin is sacred when monotony is concerned.
Medieval smiley face. Conches, Bibliothèque municipale, MS 7 (main text 13th century, doodle 14th or 15th century).
Doodle discovered in a 13th-century law manuscript (Amiens BM 347).
Students with pointy noses. Leiden, University Library, MS BPL 6 C (13th century).
Leiden, Universiteitsbibliotheek, BPL MS 111 I, 14th-century doodle.
Leiden UB VLQ 92
Medieval scribes tested their pens by writing short sentences and drawing doodles. The pen trials above are from Oxford, Bodleian Library, Lat. misc. c. 66 (15th century).
Lucky for us, Kwakkel has left a trail of ancient doodle discoveries all across the web on his Twitter account, his Tumblr, and on his recently established blog medievalbooks. His obsession with margin minutiae has lead to two scholarly publications and also caught the interest of NPR’s ‘How to Do Everything‘ who interviewed him last week. All images courtesy Erik Kwakkel, respective of noted libraries.
First: put on your headphones or turn up the volume, otherwise the beauty of this clip might be lost. Sounds of Paragliding is a new video from director Shams (previously), and sound engineer Thibaut Darscotte who took special equipment into the skies above France to record the sounds of Théo de Blic’s aerobatic paragliding. Instead of amping up the music and intensity like so many high-speed stunt/wingsuit/skydiving videos these days, Shams instead slows everything down to focus on only the sounds created by Blic’s parasail whipping through the air at incredible speed. It doesn’t really get going until after 2:00, but is completely worth it.