Archive for April 25th, 2011

April 25, 2011

Magic Lantern

aubert magic lantern

The magic lantern or Laterna Magica is an early type of image projector developed in the 17th century. It has a concave mirror in front of a light source that gathers light and projects it through a slide with an image printed on it.

The lens throws an enlarged picture of the original image from the slide onto a screen. The main light sources used during the time it was invented were candles or oil lamps. These light sources were quite inefficient and produced weak projections.

April 25, 2011

Tableau Vivant

tableau by michael arthur

Tableau [ta-blohvivant [vee-vahn] (French for ‘living picture’) is a group of suitably costumed actors or artist’s models, carefully posed and often theatrically lit. Throughout the duration of the display, the people shown do not speak or move. The approach thus marries the art forms of the stage with those of painting/photography, and as such it has been of interest to modern photographers.

In the 19th century, virtually nude tableaux vivants or ‘poses plastiques’ provided a form of erotic entertainment.

April 25, 2011

Spencer Tunick

spencer tunick

Spencer Tunick (b. 1967) is an American artist. He is best known for his installations that feature large numbers of nude people posed in artistic formations. In his own words, ‘A body is a living entity. It represents life, freedom, sensuality, and it is a mechanism to carry out our thoughts. A body is always beautiful to me.’ These installations are often situated in urban locations throughout the world, although he has also done some woodland and beach installations and still does individuals and small groups occasionally. His models are unpaid volunteers who receive a limited edition photo as compensation.

In May 2007, approximately 18,000 people posed for Tunick in Mexico City’s principal square, the Zócalo, setting a new record, and more than doubling his previous high, 7,000 in Barcelona in 2003. Male and female volunteers of different ages stood and saluted, laid down on the ground, crouched in the fetal position, and otherwise posed for Tunick’s lens in the city’s massive central plaza, the Plaza de la Constitución.

April 25, 2011

Island Gigantism

king kong

Island gigantism is a biological phenomenon in which the size of animals isolated on an island increases dramatically in comparison to their mainland relatives. Large mammalian carnivores are often absent on islands, due to their large range requirements and/or difficulties in over-water dispersal.

In their absence, the ecological niches for large predators may be occupied by birds or reptiles, which can then grow to larger-than-normal size. Since small size usually makes it easier for herbivores to escape or hide from predators, the decreased predation pressure on islands can allow them to grow larger.

April 25, 2011

Deep-Sea Gigantism

giant isopod

In zoology, deep-sea gigantism, also known as abyssal gigantism, is the tendency for species of crustaceans, invertebrates and other deep-sea-dwelling animals to display a larger size than their shallow-water counterparts. Examples of this phenomenon include the giant isopod, the Japanese spider crab, the king of herrings (an oarfish of up to 12 m), the Seven-arm Octopus, and a number of squid species, including the Colossal Squid (up to 14 m in length).

It is not known whether this effect comes about as a result of adaptation for scarcer food resources (therefore delaying sexual maturity and resulting in greater size), greater pressure, or for other reasons. The Blue Planet series posited that larger specimens do well in the abyssal environment due to the advantages in body temperature regulation and a diminished need for constant activity, both inherent in organisms with a lower surface area to mass ratio.

April 25, 2011

Roly Polies

Often mistaken for insects, armadillidiidae is a family of woodlice, a terrestrial crustacean group in the order Isopoda. Unlike members of other woodlouse families, members of this family can roll into a ball, an ability they share with the outwardly similar but unrelated pill millipedes and other animals.

It is this ability which gives woodlice in this family their common name of pill bugs or roly polies. Because of their unusual yet non-threatening appearance, certain types of armadillidiids are kept as pets in areas such as the American South, typically among children. Owners of pet tarantulas sometimes keep pill bugs as cage cleaners in the same habitat. The pill bugs eat feces, mold, and leftovers.

April 25, 2011


podstakannik (Russian: ‘thing under the glass’) is a tea glass holder. The primary purpose of podstakanniks is to be able to hold a very hot glass of tea, which is usually consumed right after it is brewed. It is a traditional way of serving and drinking tea in Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, and other post-Soviet states.

Podstakanniks appeared in Russian tea culture in the late 18th century, when drinking tea became common in Russia. Very soon podstakanniks became not just practical utensils, but also works of art, just like samovars (urns) that were used for boiling water. Expensive podstakanniks for the rich and the elite were made of silver, however they were not very practical, since they would get quite hot very quickly due to the high thermal conductivity of silver.

April 25, 2011


turquoise zarf


A zarf is a holder, usually of ornamental metal, for a coffee cup without a handle. Although coffee was probably discovered in Ethiopia, it was in Turkey at around the thirteenth century that it became popular as a beverage. As with the serving of tea in China and Japan, the serving of coffee in Turkey was a complex, ritualized process.

It was served in small cups without handles (known as fincan), which were placed in holders known as zarf to protect the cup and also the fingers of the drinker from the hot fluid. Cups were typically made of porcelain, but also of glass and wood.

April 25, 2011

Shakedown Street

Shakedown Street

Shakedown street is the area of a Jam Band (e.g. Phish, Widespread Panic) parking lot where the vending takes place. It is named after the Grateful Dead song of the same name and has been popular since the early 1980s. In the Deadhead community, and other likeminded musical scenes, an interesting tailgating culture evolved. More than just a party for fans, it is a way for the faithful to sell wares which in turn fund their tickets and gas to the next concert in order to spend weeks, months, or even entire tours on the road.

Along with the more traditional fare, there is a large selection of vegetarian food such as egg rolls, burritos, pizza, and falafel. Certain illicit foods like hash brownies and ‘ganja gooballs’ are also often found among the foods in the parking lots. Other products available for the tailgaters include handmade jewellery, bumper stickers, t-shirts, or drug paraphernalia.

April 25, 2011

Rainbow Gathering

missouri rainbow gathering

european rainbow gathering

Rainbow Gatherings are temporary intentional communities, typically held in outdoor settings, and espousing and practicing ideals of peace, love, harmony, freedom and community, as a consciously expressed alternative to mainstream popular culture, consumerism, capitalism and mass media.

Rainbow Gatherings are an expression of a Utopian impulse, combined with bohemianism, hipster and hippie culture, with roots traceable to the 1960’s counterculture. Mainstream society is commonly referred to and viewed as ‘Babylon,’ connoting the participants’ widely held belief that modern lifestyles and systems of government are unhealthy, unsustainable, exploitative and out of harmony with the natural systems of the planet.

April 25, 2011

False Bus Stops

a bus to nowhere

In Australia, the United Kingdom and Germany, some nursing homes build false bus stops for their patients who are suffering from dementia.

Some of these bus stops are even fitted with outdated advertisements and timetables – 30 years outdated. The patients will sit at the bus stop waiting for a bus to take them to their imagined destination. After some time the nursing staff comes to escort the clients back to the retirement home.