History

Section



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

 

 



Art Documentary History

Watch a Conservator Delicately Remove Murky Varnish and a Warped Wooden Panel From an Aging Painting

December 28, 2018

Kate Sierzputowski

Julian Baumgartner, of Baumgartner Fine Art Restoration in Chicago, condenses over 40 hours of delicate swiping, scraping, and paint retouching into a 11.5 minute narrated video of a recent conservation project. Baumgartner walks the audience through his restoration of The Assassination of Archimedes, which involved cleaning a darkened varnish from the surface of the piece, removing the work from its original wooden panel using both modern and traditional techniques, mounting the thin paper-based painting to acid-free board, and finally touching up small areas that had become worn over the years. You can watch the entire process in the video above, and learn about Baumgartner’s other conservation projects on Instagram and Youtube.

 

 



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)

 

 



Design History

An Appliqued Solar System Quilt Used as a Teaching Aid in the Late 19th century

November 29, 2018

Kate Sierzputowski

1876 Ellen Harding Baker’s “Solar System” Quilt, via The Smithsonian National Museum of American History

In the late 1800’s, teacher and astronomer Sarah Ellen Harding Baker spent seven years embroidering a star-covered quilt for her classroom in Cedar County, Iowa. In lieu of satellite images, the wool appliquéd quilt was created as a visual aid for her classroom to try to visualize the broad expanse of the universe. The design of the quilt is similar to illustrations in astronomy books of the time. It features a bright sun at its center, with several planets moving around the large star with their own orbiting moons, and Halley’s Comet streaking into the upper lefthand corner.

The piece was finished in 1876, a time when astronomy was presented as an “acceptable” interest for a women. This might have been the reason it was a popular theme for quilts of the time according to The Smithsonian National Museum of American History, where the quilt is currently stored. You can find several celestial examples in quilt historian Barbara Brackman’s Solar System Quilt post on her blog Material Culture. (via Open Culture)