History

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Design History

A Dozen New Stamps Celebrate Leonardo da Vinci’s Drawings

February 13, 2019

Laura Staugaitis

The head of Leda (c.1505–08), on view at Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool

The innovative yet timeless drawings of Leonardo da Vinci will soon be arriving in mailboxes around the U.K., thanks for a special stamp release marking the quincentennial anniversary of the Italian artist’s death. In tandem with the special stamp edition, twelve cultural institutions throughout the United Kingdom will be showcasing a total of 144 of da Vinci’s works in the dispersed show Leonardo da Vinci: A Life in Drawing. The exhibitions opened at the beginning of February and are on view through May 6, 2019 in Glasgow, Cardiff, Bristol, Leeds, and other U.K. cities. Stamp sets are available from Royal Mail. (via artnet)

The skull sectioned (1489), on view at Ulster Museum, Belfast

A star-of-Bethlehem and other plants (c.1506–12), on view at Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, Glasgow

Studies of cats (c.1517–18) on view at Bristol Museum and Art Gallery

The skeleton (c.1510–11) on view at Cymru/National Museum Wales, Cardiff

The fall of light on a face (c.1488), on view at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery

The head of St. Philip (c.1495) on view at Millennium Gallery, Sheffield

The skeleton (c.1510–11) on view at Cymru/National Museum Wales, Cardiff

 

 



History

An Online Atlas Tracking Disappearing and Endangered Languages Across the Globe

February 12, 2019

Kate Sierzputowski

The Yi alphabet, a script created during the Tang dynasty in China (618-907 AD), all images via the Atlas of Endangered Alphabets

The Yi alphabet, a script created during the Tang dynasty in China (618-907 AD), all images via the Atlas of Endangered Alphabets

In 2016 the United Nations General Assembly proclaimed that 2019 would be the International Year of Indigenous Languages. The declaration’s goal was to raise awareness for disappearing language systems around the world, while mobilizing a coordinated global effort to help preserve them. At the time of the meeting it was estimated that 40% of the world’s 6,700 languages were at risk of disappearing. This threatens the history of the associated cultures, while also erasing thousands of years of knowledge systems valuable for protecting the environment, peace making, and national resource development.

The Endangered Alphabets Project is a Vermont-based nonprofit organization that supports endangered, minority, and indigenous cultures by helping to preserve their writing systems. For the past six years they have researched and compiled information on endangered languages, exhibited artwork using the cultures’ sayings, proverbs, and spiritual texts, and partnered with organizations to publish educational materials and games in endangered languages. Through their research they have also created an interactive website that tracks these languages across the globe. The Atlas of Endangered Alphabets is a clickable map compiled from languages across the world. Many of these scripts do not have an official status in their country, state, or province, and are not taught in government-funded schools.

“My goal is to include scripts from indigenous and minority cultures who are in danger of losing their sense of history, identity, and purpose and who are trying to protect, preserve and/or revive their writing system as a way of reconnecting to their past, their dignity, their sense of a way ahead,” explained Tim Brookes, the founder and president of the Endangered Alphabets Project. “A traditional script is a visual reminder of a people’s identity—as we can tell by the number of cultures that continue to use their script as an emblem (on printed invitations, on shop fronts, even on the national flag) long after most people have stopped using it for everyday purposes.”

As a general rule, the atlas is guided by Article 13 of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which says: “Indigenous peoples have the right to revitalize, use, develop and transmit to future generations their histories, languages, oral traditions, philosophies, writing systems and literatures, and to designate and retain their own names for communities, places and persons.” The project is therefore not necessarily about the language, but about the people that speak and continue to carry these writing systems as tradition.

You can begin your own search into writing systems and their origins, or take a look at a list of languages the atlas needs help researching on their website. (via Kottke)

An oil barrel sculpture installation with Afaka script which reads "Save our Drinking Water" by Marcel Pinas

An oil barrel sculpture installation with Afaka script which reads “Save our Drinking Water” by Marcel Pinas

An example of Mandombe, an indigenously-created script of sub-Saharan Africa, which is said to be the only writing system in the world that looks like a brick wall.

An example of Mandombe, an indigenously-created script of sub-Saharan Africa, which is said to be the only writing system in the world that looks like a brick wall

"The One and The Many" is a 24-tonne sculpted granite boulder by artist Peter Randall-Page inscribed with many of the world's scripts and symbols. It includes Bassa Vah, an alphabet for writing the Bassa language of Liberia (highlighted in light grey), among many others.

“The One and The Many” is a 24-ton sculpted granite boulder by artist Peter Randall-Page inscribed with many of the world’s scripts and symbols. It includes Bassa Vah, an alphabet for writing the Bassa language of Liberia (highlighted in light grey), among many others

A bilingual plaque in Portuguese and Javanese

A carving by Tim Brookes in Ojibwe, a Canadian Aboriginal syllabic language

A carving by Tim Brookes in Ojibwe, a Canadian Aboriginal syllabic language

A street sign in Thaana, the script of the Maldives in the Indian Ocean, image by Eric Lafforgue

A street sign in Thaana, the script of the Maldives in the Indian Ocean, image by Eric Lafforgue

A Siddham manuscript of the Heart Sutra

A Siddham manuscript of the Heart Sutra

 

 



Design History

A Contemporary Take on “Byrne’s Euclid” Brings Geometry to Life as a Colorful Poster

February 7, 2019

Laura Staugaitis

When he’s not working as a web designer, Nicholas Rougeux delights in interpreting data visually. His latest creation is a celebration of Byrne’s Euclid. The book, created in 1847 by Irish engineer Oliver Byrne is fully titled The First Six Books of the Elements of Euclid in which Coloured Diagrams and Symbols are Used Instead of Letters for the Greater Ease of Learners. It illustrated parts of Euclid’s Elements, which the Greek mathematician is credited with writing in 300 B.C. The thirteen-book collection established geometry, number theory, and other core concepts still in use today.

For Rougeux’s version, the designer carefully reproduced each colorful, eye-catching design with geometric accuracy, and arranged and labeled them as they appear in Byrne’s book within the framework of a scaleable poster. The poster can be ordered in a variety of sizes via Rougeux’s website.

You can learn more here about Rougeaux’s painstaking process of translating the 172-year-old book into a contemporary print. See more of the Chicago-based designer’s data-driven creations, ranging from weather portraits of U.S. cities to an interpretation of Werner’s Nomenclature of Colours, on Behance.

 

 



Design History

Evolution of the Alphabet: Nearly 3,800 Years of Letters Explored Through a Color-Coded Flowchart

January 29, 2019

Kate Sierzputowski

Matt Baker of Useful Charts creates helpful visual guides that condense hundreds, and sometimes thousands, of years of history into streamlined flowcharts. His poster Evolution of the Alphabet looks at nearly 3,800 years of the alphabet’s evolution, tracing it from Egyptian hieroglyphs (c. 1750 BCE) through Phoenician, early Greek and Latin, and finally to the present forms we use today. The limited edition print shows that some letters have appeared relatively the same for millennia, while others, like U, V, and W, developed much closer to our own time period from a single character.

The design was created in association with his Writing Systems of the World chart which takes a look at 51 different writing systems from around the world. Baker has each of these prints for sale on his website and Etsy. You can listen to his explain these systems, and their evolution in greater detail in his video “History of the Alphabet” below and view more timelines of historical developments on his website, Youtube, and Instagram. (via Kottke)

 

 



Design History

Contemporary Cartographic Explorations Fuse with Historic Maps in Digital Works by Scott Reinhard

January 14, 2019

Kate Sierzputowski

Yellowstone National Park, all images courtesy of Scott Reinhard

Yellowstone National Park, all images courtesy of Scott Reinhard

Scott Reinhard combines contemporary land elevations with historic maps to create three-dimensional environments of a specific region, city, or state. To produce the digital maps, he pulls elevation data from the United States Geological Survey, which he then embeds with location information and merges with the original design of the old maps.

Producing these hybrids allows the Brooklyn-based graphic designer to gain a better sense of the topography found in large areas without aerial photography, while also developing a story from the cartographic information. He often selects locations he has personally visited or is generally curious about for his digitally produced works. “I am from Indiana, which always felt so flat and boring,” he explains to Colossal. “When I began rendering the elevation data for the state, the story of the land emerged. The glaciers that receded across the northern half of the state after the last ice age scraped and gouged and shaped the land in a way that is spectacularly clear.”

By visualizing the history that shaped a location’s composition at a large scale, Reinhard is able to notice trends in the environment in a more localized way. These forces affect how we traverse our daily environments, but are hard to comprehend without taking the time to zoom out, or look at from above. “As a visual person, I was most intrigued by the ability to visually harness data and create images that helped me gain insight into locations,” he continues. “I felt empowered by the ability to collect and process the vast amounts of information freely available, and create beautiful images.”

Reinhard was introduced to the methods he uses in his digital maps through Daniel Huffman’s website Something About Maps. You can see more of Reinhard’s digital works on Instagram and buy select high-quality prints, on his website. (via This Isn’t Happiness)

Teton Range

Teton Range

Yosemite

Yosemite

State of California

State of California

Southern California

Asheville, North Carolina

Asheville, North Carolina

Glacier

Glacier

Mount St. Helens

Mount St. Helens

Acadia

Acadia

 

 



History

Edited Film Footage from 1890’s Paris Explores Some of the Everyday Thrills of Late 19th-Century Life

December 27, 2018

Kate Sierzputowski

Videographer Guy Jones (previously) slows down film from the late 1800s to early 1900s to more accurately match the speed at which modern footage is recorded and played. In addition to editing the pace of the century-old film, Jones also adds in sound effects to make the scenes more relatable. The editor creates foley to accompany the clomping of horses’ hooves, indistinctive background chatter of crowds, and the ringing of train bells.

In one of his Youtube videos from September, Jones edited together footage from Paris during the Belle Époque-era (1896-1900). The clips include visitors to the 1900 Paris Exposition standing on a moving walkway, a shot of the Eiffel Tower from a boat as it travels down the Seine River, and a short clip of boys playing with miniature sailboats in the Tuileries Garden. Passersby stare into the camera as they walk by in each scene, like a goateed man who walks across the screen near a minute and eight seconds into the clip, and then quickly returns for second appearance

The films were taken by the Lumière brothers, some of the first filmmakers in history. They are cited with making some of the first documentaries, albeit extremely short ones. You can see more of Jones’ video edits on Youtube. (via Kottke)

 

 

 



Design History Illustration

Who’s She: A Laser-Cut Guessing Game That Celebrates Accomplished Women Throughout History

December 3, 2018

Kate Sierzputowski

Who’s She is a new guessing game by Polish designer Zuzia Kozerska (previously) which celebrates the achievements of famous women across the world. The laser-cut wooden board flips up to reveal the faces of 28 painters, athletes, scientists, and astronauts, in a similar style the classic Guess Who? game did from the late 1970s. Instead of posing superficial questions such as “does your character have glasses?” the game asks players to inquire about achievements and contributions like “did she win a Nobel Prize?”.

Faces range from the early 20th-century painter Frida Kahlo to contemporary athlete Serena Williams, all illustrated in watercolor portraits by artist Daria Gołąb. The game is currently seeking funding on Kickstarter. You can follow the evolution of the project on Instagram. (via My Modern Met)