Monday, August 20, 2012


 The lowly barnacles (all 1220 species) are a strange, generally imobile, sometimes parasitic marine creatures which encrust things - hard things, from shells to boats to piers to whales. Their anatomy (and creative means of procreation) is more than a little surprising. They are odd looking - not something you would necessarily find aesthetically pleasing. Though, they tend to occur in large colonies, and almost any shape repeated can make fascinating paterns. They have in fact inspired more than a little art and design. (The image left is an illustration by Charles Darwin himself, 1851, Living Cirripedia, A monograph on the sub-class Cirripedia, with figures of all the species. The Lepadidæ; or, pedunculated cirripedes. London: The Ray Society. Volume 1)

Morgan Herrin, Untitled, dimensional lumber (2x4's), h: 82 x w: 18 x d: 12 in , 2008

The wood carved barnacles on that sculpture are quite astounding.

Alexander McQueen takes the patterns of barnacles and sculptural forms of barnacles as inspiration for a series of dresses like these below (both a fairly literal interpretation and then a more stylized, 2D print.

Nervous System (mentioned in the Radiolarians post) has also made some barnacle-inspired generative art (read more on their blog).

Ceramic artist Carol Gouthro has a veritable wunderkammer of ceramic vessels (of a botanical and zoological bent). The Aurlia gouthroii "Barnacles" vessel looks amazing.

Artist Lauren Kussro has created many sea-life multimedia. She has made some barnacle pieces by printing mulberry paper (monotype and screen printing), coating and waxing the paper, forming their shapes, sewing them together, embellishing with beads and hemming - which sounds tremendously labour-intense, but consider what she can create. This is called, “We held to each other so tightly, we became as one”.

Combining cherry and poplar wood veneers and paper, Andrew Kudless and the design studio he founded, MATSYS, digitally designed and fabricated (but hand-assembled) Chrysalis (III), inspired by cellular morphologies and barnacles. (the fox is black)

Chrysallis III, 2012, 190cm x 90cm x 90cm, Composite paper-backed wood veneers from Lenderink Technologies. Cherry veneer (exterior) and poplar veneer (interior).

Textile artist Helle Jorgensen creates magical ocean-inspired artwork. Consider some of her crocheted plastic(!) barnacles. (Be sure to check out her portfolio of marine creatures crocheted from plastic paper 'yarn'.)

Another textile artist who has crocheted (and embroidered) barnacles is Emily Barletta.

Pelt, 2007, crocheted yarn, 51 x 31 x 2 inches

Bean, 2007,crocheted yarn, 16 x 7 x 3 inches

The Manitoba Craft Museum houses this woven piece, called 'Prairie Barnacles' made to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the Manitoba Crafts Guild in 1979.

Barnacles have made it into our homes. You can find pieces which are actually encrusted with real barnacles (on purpose) and pieces inspired by barnacles. This is a lovely porceline piece by Lilach Lotan Ceramic-Art, the Coral Tea-Light: Barnacles.

You can get ceramic wall barnacles from the knowhow shop.

For the DIYer:
Ellen McHenry provides instructions to make her pop-up barnacle, illustrating their anatomy, free for download here.

 Design*sponge posted this DIY for paper clay barnacles.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Retro Spacetime Travel Posters

As a printmaker I really enjoy the graphic design of vintage travel posters and can see why they serve as a source of inspiration today. There are many retro style travel posters for all your favorite imaginary places (in every universe from Star Wars to Harry Potter). Today, I'm bringing you some retro travel posters for real places, with a planetary science twist. These destinations are far, far away in terms of either time or space, or both.

I really enjoy the posters Amy Martin created for the 826LA Echo Park Time Travel Mart. I have this one at home. (Funds from sales support literacy programs in LA).

Life is Bigger in  Pangaea

'Life is Bigger in Pangaea' reminds me of The Dechronization of Sam MaGruder, published posthumously, by famed paleontologist George Gaylord Simpson (a great read, by the way).

The Ice AGe

A Flap of the Wings Yesterday...

Time travel, evolution, and chaos theory (the 'butterfly effect' or SDIC, sensitive dependence on initial conditions) in that one!

Andy Rohr has created a series of retro travel posters for Mars. I particularly like the two moons, Phobos and Deimus next to the rocket.

Mars is a popular destination it seems. Ron Guyatt has done a series of retro travel posters for specific Martian destinations (available through his Etsy shop).

"This piece is a fantasy depiction of the Cryptic Region Geysers on Mars. Martian geysers are putative sites of small-scale jet-like eruptions that occur in the south polar region region of Mars during the spring thaw. These features are unique to the south polar region of Mars in an area informally called the cryptic region, at latitudes 60° to 80° south and longitudes 150°W to 310°W; this 1 meter deep ice transition area between the scarps of the thick polar ice layer and the permafrost is where clusters of the apparent geyser systems are located."

He's also imagined the famed Martian volcano Olympus Mons (amongst other sites) and made a series of Venus travel posters too.

Steve Thomas has many vintage style travel posters in his portfolio, including ones for Mars, Venus, the Moon, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, Pluto, Titan, Europa and even the asteroid belt. Wouldn't you love to sail the methane seas of Neptune?

magpie&whiskeyjack mentioned Steve Thomas' propaganda posters, earlier this year.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012


Ernst Haeckel, Kunstformen der Natur (1904), plate 31: Cyrtoidea

Radiolarians - close up Radiolarians (or radiolaria) occur as zooplankton throughout the oceans and their tiny skeletal remains can be used as diagnostic fossils to date submarine sediments. Biologist, naturalist, and scientific illustrator par excellence Ernst Heinrich Philipp August Haeckel (February 16, 1834 – August 9, 1919), and his beautiful and well-known Artforms in Nature can be credited for the fact that people who are not say, marine microbiologists or geostratigraphers or their colleagues, know and are inspired by the extraordinary forms of radiolarians. I am, of course, a fan of Haeckel, and he inspired my own prints (see right) of these amoeboid protozoa and their intricate mineral skeletons. I am far from alone in being inspired by radiolarians. I've found examples of their forms making their way into art, architecture, jewellery and even textiles. But first, you can learn everything you might want to know about radiolarians, and Haeckel's obsession with them, from this selection from Proteus a documentary about the life, work, and philosophy of Ernst Haeckel, by David LeBrun.

It should be noted that Haeckel wasn't the only 19th century naturalist to be enthralled. SEED Magazine has a photo gallery of the the collection of Howard Lynk, a hobbyist who researches the microcope slide-makers of the 1840s-1860s, with many radiolarians included, often arranged artistically, like mandalas.

" Radiolarians - In this slide, Amos Topping has arranged the minuscule shells of radiolarians—a kind of protozoa—into a radial pattern reminiscent of a mandala. Looking through a microscope, a mounter would maneuver the diatoms or shells using a boar bristle or a cat’s whisker, trying to keep them all in place long enough for mounting."

Artist Laura Gurton works with resin, and its unpredictable interactions with oil paint to produce her biomorphic images, including these, inspired by radiolarians.

Radiolarians (Marine Protozoa), Zygospyris,2010. Oil, Alkyd, Acrylic, Mica, Cut Board 36" x 24"

Spyridobotrys Trinacria, 2010. Oil, Alkyd, Cut Board on Panel 18" x 24"

A more fanciful image inspired by radiolarians is Queen Radiolaria by Morgainelefee on deviantart.

The wonderful and quixotic Hyperbolic Crochet Coral Reef ("a woolly celebration of the intersection of higher geometry and feminine handicraft, and a testimony to the disappearing wonders of the marine world") includes radiolarians!
Crochet radiolarian, made from mercerized cotton by Sarah Simons.

Quiltmaker and textile artist Jenny Bowker's portfolio of masterful quilts includes "Radiolarian Drift" (cotton homespun hand dyed in Procion dyes, raw silk as a background and wool batting).

The fascinating 3D forms of these creatures of course inspire sculptural and architectural works. Jessica Rosenkrantz of nervous system uses new technologies to reinterpret natural phenomena. The forms radiolarians are evident in a lot of the jewellery she has made (and their titles often indicate the species).

Bamboo Cuff - sterling silver
"Bamboo Cuff - sterling silver, lost wax casting from 3d-printed wax, Cell Cycle collection by Nervous System. Inspired by the microscopic glass skeletons of radiolarians."

Nigel Helyer created 'Radiolarians' a public artwork for the Lake MacQuarie City Gallery, installed in February 2011.

'Radiolarians' (2010) Finished construction: corten steel, marine grade stainless steel wire cable, stainless steel.

"The Radiolaria Project is a research and design project at the University of Kassel initiated by Christian Troche and Gregor Zimmermann. It aims to rethink architectural design and manufacturing techniques by exploring the filigree and beautiful skeletons of radiolarians, tiny marine organisms, with their striking hexagonal patterns. This concept is transfered to architectural scale and materialized it in a large scale interior installation by the intensive use of parametric modelling, scripting and CNC-fabrication techniques."

Images of the mesh and design from The Radiolaria Project. Be sure to check out the extensive website for the images and explanations of the evolution of the project (and the work of its participants).

Architect and designer Tomasz Starczewski and his studio produced DIATOM by analysing the siliceous skeletons of radiolarians, and extracting, the "logic of their structure and its application to creations of a new form." He created 3D computer models of a group of radiolarians (Lamprocyclas margatensis), modified the models and then used this to create objects with a 3D printer.

DIATOM by Tomasz Starczewski

Taking the 3D printed radiolarian to an extreme scale, Andrea Morgante of Shiro Studio in collaboration with D-Shape produced the Radiolaria pavilion. The 3 m by 3 m by 3 m structure, printed on the world's largest 3D printer is in fact a mere scale model a final 8-metre tall pavilion being built in Pontedera, Italy (more info at de zeen magazine and images via Shiro Studio). Shiro Studio compares the construction of this model, with its deposition of mineral and siliceous material, in a series of very thin layers to the formation of radiolarian mineral and siliceous skeletons.

You can find other posts tagged Ernst Haeckel here.


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