Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Unexpected Dinosaurs

Photos of dinosaurs where one would least expect them make me happy. A simple post.

Delivering dinosaurs for exhibit at the Boston Museum of Science. Arthur Pollock, 1984.

Fiberglass Allosaurus, 'National Geographic', January 1993.

available here

The Dinosaur Museum in Dorchester sends its triceratops away for a makeover.


T. Rex arriving at the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, by Patrick Willcocks/pawprintz on flickr

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

High Voltage Art

Anyone who has watched thunderstorms knows that the form of lightning strikes can be quite beautiful (I almost typed striking...). I know that my scientific work with high voltage transmitters could be dangerous (though I'm proud to state that unlike the majority of my colleagues, I have never electrocuted myself... and while none of my colleagues have seriously injured themselves, they have had some scary experiences). Though with proper care one can safely work with high voltage sources, not only to say, probe the earth as a geophysicist, but to create art with a sort of artificial lightening. This can include making a sort of artificial fulgurite (minerals which are natural hollow glass tubes formed in quartzose sand, silica, or soil by lightning strikes).

Todd Johnson uses electron beams on acrylic slabs to create what he calls “shockfossils”, like 'Fabric of Time' above.

These pieces are created with the help of a particle accelerator. This machine produces up to five million volts and is used to accelerate a beam of electrons. The electrons are fired at pieces of acrylic plastic and penetrate deep within the slabs, resulting in a pool of electrons trapped under tremendous electrical potential within each piece.

He then taps the acryllic, with an electrically insulated tool to make the fractal channels like branching rivers you see.

You can watch the speeded up effect of applying a high voltage (15 kV) to plywood in this video, aptly named '15,000 Volts' by Pratt art student Melanie Hoff. This is like wood burning squared.

Melanie Hoff. Source: melaniehoff.squarespace.com

Japanese artist Hiroshi Sugimoto has created beautiful and fascinating art using effects of electrical discharges on photographic dry plates. He writes about how he is inspired by scientific pioneers of age of discovery, like Benjamin Franklin (with his famous or notorious 1752 kite in a thunderstorm experiment to show that lightening is electricity), Michael Faraday (whose 1831 formulation of the law of electromagnetic induction led to the invention of electric generators and transformers) and his contemporary William Fox Talbot (who discovered the photosensitive properties of silver alloys and was the father of calotype photography).


This is a sort amazing, though possibly difficult to watch film by Thosten Fleisch which employs a similar technique. I'll pass on the warnings of TechCrunch, where I found it:
WARNING: Epileptics should not watch this film! It is almost entirely strobing light.
WARNING: Other people, be careful, it will put you in a trance if you put it full screen and turn it up. It takes about a minute to really get started.

Friday, March 8, 2013


Étienne-Jules Marey. Source: longstreet.typepad.com via minouette on Pinterest

The Victorian photographic method of chronophotography, which captures motion in several photographic frames (both as a sequence or layers one on top of another) is a wonderful means of showing a times series of motion of people and animals. You might be familiar with the examples by Eadweard James Muybridge or Étienne-Jules Marey. The method has been very influential, obviously on animation, but also as a means of diagramming motion for scientific purposes, and even in contemporary art.

Eadweard James Muybridge. Source: en.wikipedia.org

Dan Carr. Source: 500px.com via minouette on Pinterest

A sequence of Sammy Carlson hitting three backcountry jumps in a row during a Poorboyz Productions filming session at Pemberton Icecap,Whistler British Columbia,Canada. March 23, 2011. Photo: Dan Carr.

Gjon Mili photo of drummer Gene Krupa. Source: tsutpen.blogspot.ca via minouette on Pinterest

The National Film Board of Canada's online collection includes the 1968 classic Norman McLaren short film, Pas de Deux. The dancers seem to move forward and backward in time, and are also reflected in several planes, but particularly the second half of this beauty employs a cinegraphic equivalent of chronophotography.

Pas de deux by Norman McLaren, National Film Board of Canada

Consider this experimental short film by Michael Langan & Terah Maher, (perhaps reminiscent of Pas de Deux) Choros: A Transfixing Experimental Dance Film (via this is colossal) to see what else can be done with a contemporary take on this Victorian method.

Michael Langan & Terah Maher. Source: thisiscolossal.com via minouette on Pinterest

Choros from Michael Langan on Vimeo.

If one were to make dancers the subject of a chronophotographic study, with photos taken at such high frequency that the frames blend fluidly, you might be able to create something like New York based photographer Shinichi Maruyama has made with naked dancer looping gracefully through poses (via io9.

Shinichi Maruyama. Source: io9.com via minouette on Pinterest

Shinichi Maruyama. Source: io9.com via minouette on Pinterest

Shinichi Maruyama. Source: io9.com via minouette on Pinterest

This amazing sand sculpture by artist Katie Grinnan captures timelapse of yoga pose, like a 3D chronophotograph.

Katie Grinnan. Source: tumblr.com via minouette on Pinterest

For an interactive take on chronophotography, try this 4-dimensional Webcam app.

Edited March 15th to add 'Pas de Deux' and the '4-dimensional Webcam'. (via being compiled).

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Time Series

As a scientist most of the data I work with is time series data (personally, I've worked with things like accelerations of the seafloor as a function of time both due to earthquakes and not, pressure as a function of time, electric fields as a function of time and so forth). I've found that the concept of a 'time series' is allusive for students, though it can be quite simple. A time series is a collection of measurements made (hopefully) regularly in time, like: a list of daily temperatures, marks in a doorway of a family's children's height every year, sheet music, records of a stock's daily price, records kept by many modern cars of speed as a function of time. There's a whole field of study (time series analysis) with tools for plotting, studying and milking these types of data for all their worth. The simplest, most fundamental and perhaps paramount thing though, is simply to show these data. This can be particularly challenging, if for instance one wants to show motion (position as a function of time) of two or three dimensional things - and is something which clearly interests artists as well as scientists. I've gathered some interesting and beautiful examples, both data visualization and fine art.

Here's a time series of the sort I know well, as a geophysicist.

Luke Jerram. Source: theboulevardiers.com via minouette on Pinterest

Tōhoku Japanese Earthquake interpreted as Sculpture, by artist Luke Jerram.

"To create the sculpture a seismogram of the earthquake, was rotated using computer aided design and then printed in 3 dimensions using rapid prototyping technology." Because seismic data is actually 3D, I rather wish he had taken the vertical and the absolute value of horizontal, rather than just rotating the vertical to make this shape, but I do find that making the seismogram in 3D gives it a sort of solidity that can be lacking in a line plot. He's taken a similar approach with his 'Crash! Glass Stock Exchange Sculptures', using raphs of the New York Stock Exchange (Composite 2004-2012) and the Dow Jones (Industrial Average 1980-2012) to make us thing of the current state of world finance and its impact on people.

Luke Jerram. Source: lukejerram.com via minouette on Pinterest

If you are unfamiliar with his work, you must really go look at Luke Jerram's sculptures, particularly his amazing glass viruses.

The Crayola time line rapidly communicates not only the rate at which crayon colours have been added (2.56% annually, apparently Crayola’s Law states: The number of colours doubles every 28 years), but which specific colours have been available at in any year from 1935-2010.

  Louisa Bufardeci, Source: louisabufardeci.net

'13 captured telephone conversations - all one minute long' (2006)
machine embroideries, each 13 x 18 cm/5 x 7 inches

Australian artist Louisa Bufardeci often works with data, including time series data. She's embroidered sound intensity as a function of time in '13 captured telephone conversations - all one minute long' above, and 'Every second is like, forever, and every year is like 11.3 centimetres' below.

 Every second is like, forever, and every year is like 11.3 centimetres (2007)
embroidery floss, fibreglqass screen, each 50cm wide, lengths variable

Harold N. Fisk. Source: visualnews.com via minouette on Pinterest

This map produced in 1944 by Harold N. Fisk, is a sort of time series of the 2D shape of the lower Mississippi, in a rainbow series of colours to represent its placement as the mighty river changed course and flooded over time.

Annelie Berner. Source: itpabb.tumblr.com

Annelie Berner, a graduate student at the Interactive Telecommunications Program in NYU's Tisch School of the Arts, has created this lovely light shade using a laser cutter to print temperature anomalies since 1850 on leaves which she sculpted into a light shade. "The cutout circles are big when there were big shifts, small with small shifts in temperature. Temperature anomalies mean that leaves age, color, and fall in different ways than they do during average temperature years." So, by employing the leaves as a medium she's speaking to how temperature anomalies can impact our world.

Undulations of the fins of a skate viewed from the side, Étienne-Jules Marey, 1894 Source: lushlight.tumblr.com via minouette on Pinterest

Étienne-Jules Marey (1830-1904) may be best known as a chronophotographer, like Eadweard Muybridge, but he also worked  in physiology, cardiology, physical instrumentation, aviation and  cinematography. The Victorian photographic method of chronophotography, which captures motion in several photographic frames is a wonderful means of showing a times series of motion of people and animals (and will be the subject of my next post). Marey's illustration of the undulations of a skate ray is acts like chronophotography, with time as the vertical axis, and truly demonstrates how skates move. This method influenced other diagrams.

Olympic Diving Diagrams (1912) Diagrams showing the trajectory of the major dives as performed at the 1912 Olympics in Stockholm. (All images taken from The Fifth Olympiad: the Official Report of the Olympic Games of Stockholm 1912 housed by the Internet Archive, donated by the University of Toronto).

Adrien Segal  takes an "interdisciplinary approach that integrates scientific research, data visualization, aesthetic interpretation, and materiality, [his] work seeks to reconcile scientific conventions of reason and fact with an intuitive sensory experience...  interpret[s] the complexity of natural systems by translating scientific data into lines, shapes, forms, and materials to reveal trends, patterns, processes, and relationships as three-dimensional sculptures."

Adrien Segal. Source: http://www.adriensegal.com/

"Tidal Datums is a wooden table whose form is inspired by the formal language of data graphics. The table is intended to be a representation of analytic information through the medium of furniture. Data graphs were gathered from NOAA’s historic tide database, more specifically the measurements of tides at San Francisco Bay over a 4 week period, and then translated into tangible material."

Christiane Keller has created a number of fascinating sculptural works which are spatial and temporal data visualizations.

Christiane Keller. Source: christianekeller.de

"A 3D data sculpture of the Sunday Minneapolis / St. Paul public transit system, where the horizontal axes represent directional movement and the vertical represents time. It is constructed of 47 horizontal layers, each forming a map of the bus routes that run during a given interval of time. Within each layer, every transit route that operates at that time is represented by wood balls placed at its scheduled stops, connected by the horizontal copper rods."

 Annika Syrjamaki weaves time series data including stock and weather data into fabric, making beautiful fine art textiles!

Annika Syrjamaki. Source: fastcodesign.com via minouette on Pinterest

Political party data

Annika Syrjamaki. Source: fastcodesign.com via minouette on Pinterest
Word frequency data

For more, see also the magpie&whiskeyjack post on Sculpting Data and Painting Time Series and the upcoming post on Chronophotography.


Related Posts with Thumbnails