There is grandeur in this view of life – visualising Darwin

@benteh


If I were to give an award for the single best idea anyone has ever had, I had to have to give it to Darwin, ahead of Newton and Einstein and everyone else. It is not just a wonderful scientific idea; it is a dangerous idea. it overthrows, or at least unsettles, some of the deepest beliefs and yearnings in the human psyche.

– Daniel Dennett

Darwin. We all know his basic idea, it seems utterly obvious now, to the point of why bother with Charles? I thought the same: he made the idea very very public and very obvious, but that was back in 1859. We have come a long way since then. Hurrah for genetics.

But. Some years ago, I read his Voyage of the Beagle. It is great fun. He writes well with delightful english understatement, but his enthusiasm, awe and wonder is obvious and contagious. He is sometimes like a five-year-old in a toy shop. Think Sir David Attenborough of the 1830-ish. I get really interested in the little frog he tried to rescue (and nearly killed twice) and the fox he knocked over the head with his geology hammer (and in doing that, contributed a tiny amount to the extinction of a species). Continue reading

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Sofie’s book – bookbinding in the digital world

@benteh


Back in the mist of time, I did my apprenticeship in hand bookbinding. There are basically two directions; two different apprenticeships: literature binder, or ledger binder. I am a literature binder (also called publishing or library binding). But back then it was considered essential to have a broad understanding. So part of the apprenticeship was three ledgers. They are all leather spine-and-corners, all materials of archival quality. They should hold out well for a few hundred years.

Ledger binding

Ledger binding

Ledger binding differ considerably from literature binding, library binding and publishing binding. These are books that will be written in, so the mechanism of the spine is constructed in such a way that you can write all the way into the margin. It will lie flat when opened, and this is not only due to the sheer weight: the binding is constructed from the bottom to make this work.

As opposed to traditional literature binding, the block is sewed extremely hard into tightly woven linen bands. I can still remember how much my fingers hurt. Continue reading

Skulls and bones

@benteh


I have a thing about drawing skulls and bones. Not of any morbid fascination (I think), but because they can really be a challenge. The texture and colour of bones are interesting, and the ultimate challenge is to draw a skull first with graphite on white paper, then with white pencil on black paper. This is a massive challenge; drawing light instead of shadows. I have – as of now – no examples of the latter. And for bone structure; da Vinci is the boss.

gorilla-skull

Gorilla

lynx-rufus

Lynx

human-anatomy

Human anatomy

human-skull-1

Weathered human skull

Doodly deck of cards

@benteh


Being a big fan of doodles, I got the idea some time back of making a deck of cards. The idea came when I found a few places that will print your custom deck of cards; and what is cool is that you could use it for business cards and such, and actually have 55 different ones.

So. 56 moleskine pages later I had a pile of doodles. Turns out, to pull this off you need to be a little more obsessive than I am, so the whole thing is on ice, as I am not sure what to do with it. Drawing, scanning and fiddling in photoshop, I cannot make up my mind as to what I want to do with colours. And 50-something individual cards is a big job. Here is a gallery of where it stands now, unfinished. Maybe I will never actually make a deck of cards, but it is a himalayan practice to come up with over 50 different doodles.

 

Doodles, creativity, alphabets and cognitive noise

‘…qualities like quiveriness and vulnerability come to mind when I think of creativity… creativity requires a sense of smell, a palate to taste the scents that make brilliance. All life feeds upon the random. Creativity is the haute cuisine.’

-Douglas Hofstadter

P1080110aWhat on earth is it? No one can give a vaguely sensible answer to what goes on in my brain. It is non-stop, it goes on every waking hour, and, I suspect, when I sleep as well. It is a constant IMG_1824aWrattling, a background noise: constantly having new ideas, judging colours, angles, texture, making connections, soaking up words or phrases in any situation. Connecting bizarre things together; finding some hue, taste or sound that bring unrelated things together in my head, spanning languages, centuries, words, colours, poetry, sounds, materials, buildings, life forms; from teaspoons to magma. It is exhausting, in a way, but it’s been going on my whole life, so I have no idea what it would be like without it.
It makes me able to make metaphors no one understands. How admirable.

Bits of paper, books with notes in the margins, or the last blank pages missing to some long forgotten desperate need for scribbling something. Piles of notebooks half filled out with unidentifiable ideas, but sometimes, sometimes a notebook contains a tiny little fishingdoodle that have it. Some magic little quality. And there it is – a perfect little doodle or a surprising combination of letters or words. Something that it would be impossible to improve on. Adding something would ruin it. A doodle; born perfect. An interaction of letterforms in perfect balance and meaning. Trying to do it again would not work.
Magic.

IMG_1820aWI can track a meeting through the doodles I make. I remember what was said from little squiggles. People who have not seen my meeting-doodles show me endless post-its with circles repeated endlessly and say, I do it too! No you don’t. Because my doodles – unconsciously – covers and span universes. They are bizarre, funny, sometimes scary, sometimes awful. often abstract. I am sure a psychologist would have a field day, but at least it keeps me IMG_1734aWawake through boring meetings. The doodles are an illustration of the noise that goes on in my head – forced to sit still and listen to some boring twat go on about strategies for the future and how to fix something that is not broken – the endless connecting process bursts out on paper.

And I am beginning slowly to realise that not everybody have this racket going on. In fact, very few people have the faintest idea what I am talking about.
So I wonder what goes in their heads.

(These are just fragments; that is the whole point. More of my more deliberate, elaborate work here.)

Aside

Human skull

You can actually buy some stuff with my drawings on them. Here, some examples of the human skull drawing. Head over to my CafePress home and have a look around (considering posters. Maybe later.).

 

 

Paper and math: the 3D world

Math can be beautiful. The artist and professor George Heart Makes amazing sculptures, and he generously shares some of the templates so that the less talented of us can reproduce them. Here, I have made a model of his Frabjous in corrugated cardboard:

frobjus

frobjus

 

I am a little partial to the dodocahedron, the 12-faced Platonic solid. The fifth element, the sphere of the cosmos. Drawing overlapping patterns on them are a massive challenge in itself. Sometimes I hide treasures inside, never meant to be opened.

dodecahedron

dodecahedron

 

The site Mathcraft have a lot of visual examples on what you can do with mathematics and paper or other ordinary implements. And here you will find patterns for a wild multitude of paper models.