Sunday, 31 January 2010

pre-cinematic forms of exhibition


"Franz Boas posing for figure in US Natural History Museum exhibit entitled "Hamats'a coming out of secret room" 1895 or before. Courtesy of National Anthropology Archives.

Concerning the installation of the ethnographic rooms at the American Museum of Natural History… Boas wrote in 1896:

In order to set off such a group to advantage it must be seen from one side only, the view must be through a kind of frame which shuts out the line where the scene ends, the visitor must be in a comparatively dark place while there must be light on the objects and on the background. The only place where such an effect can be had is in the Panorama building where plastic art and painting are made to blend into each other and where everything not germane to the subject is removed from view.

Each display case functioned as an autonomous scene while as a group they produced a sense of sequence, opening the museum space up to the plastic and syntactic resources os scripting and montage well before cinema began to codify them.

Phillipe- Alain Michaud, Aby Warburg and the Image in Motion, Zone 2004, p179

Hamat’sa life group, prepared by Franz Boas at the US National Museum, 1895 (Neg. #9163: “Kwakiutl Indian Ceremony of expelling cannibals”, in file “Anthropology Collections Management, Photo files on old museum installations”, Dept. of Anthropology, NMNH).


On the Circulation of Ethnographic Knowledge:

Aaron Glass, University of British Columbia

Saturday, 30 January 2010

Of Parts and Wholes

a non-exclusive, limited right and licence to host, index, crawl, modify, cache, route, transmit, store, copy, communicate and make available, reformat, excerpt, analyze, and otherwise use and communicate to the public


John Cimon Warburg

The manufacture of Autochrome plates, undertaken at the Lumiere factory in Lyon, was a complex industrial process. First, transparent starch grains were passed through a series of sieves to isolate grains between ten and fifteen microns (thousandths of a millimetre) in diameter. Many different types of starch were tried, but the humble potato was found to give the best results. These microscopic starch grains were separated into batches, dyed red, green and violet, mixed together and then spread over a glass plate coated with a sticky varnish. Next, carbon black (charcoal powder) was spread over the plate to fill in any gaps between the coloured starch grains. A roller submitted the plate to a pressure of five tons per square centimetre in order to spread the grains and flatten them out. On every square inch of the surface of an Autochrome plate there are about four million transparent starch grains, each one of which acts as a tiny coloured filter. Finally, the plate was coated with a panchromatic photographic emulsion. Following exposure, the plate underwent development to produce a positive transparency. In the finished plate, transmitted light, passing through the millions of tiny red, green and violet transparent starch grains, combines to give a full colour image.

Friday, 22 January 2010


Moreover, at a place in Yorkshire, England, Burton Constable by name, a certain Sir Clifford Constable has in his possession the skeleton of a Sperm Whale…Sir Clifford's whale has been articulated throughout; so that, like a great chest of drawers, you can open and shut him, in all his bony cavities - spread out his ribs like a gigantic fan - and swing all day upon his lower jaw.

Locks are to be put upon some of his trap-doors and shutters; and a footman will show round future visitors with a bunch of keys at his side.

Sir Clifford thinks of charging twopence for a peep at the whispering gallery in the spinal column; threepence to hear the echo in the hollow of his cerebellum; and sixpence for the unrivalled view from his forehead.


The Natural History of the Sperm Whale

Thursday, 21 January 2010

Pavlov's dog

Haitian donkey

Orientation maps from pattern formation

Orientation maps from pattern formation

Alan Turing first proposed in 1952 that simple interacting chemicals, which he called morphogens, can create complex patterns that bear resemblance to ones found in biology. For example, he postulated one type of morphogen could result in the darkening of hair (called an activator), whereas another type could bleach it (called an inhibitor); as these morphogens diffuse across the animal's coat, typically at different rates, their reactions with each other can create intricate pigmentation patterns. The reaction–diffusion equations that he developed have been used to replicate the spots on a leopard's coat, the stripes on a zebra's hide, and can even account for how these patterns change as an animal ages.

Saturday, 16 January 2010

hunters and gatherers


Some pretend to see a difference between the Greenland whale of the English and the right whale of the Americans. But they precisely agree in all their grand features; nor has there yet been presented a single derterminate fact upon which to ground a radical distinction. It is by endless subdivisions based on the most inconclusive differences, that some departments of natural history become so repellingly intricate.

Thursday, 14 January 2010

long cat

“You see, wire telegraph is a kind of a very, very long cat. You pull his tail in New York and his head is meowing in Los Angeles. Do you understand this? And radio operates exactly the same way: you send signals here, they receive them there. The only difference is that there is no cat." -- Albert Einstein

Wednesday, 6 January 2010

wheels of death

Wild Nature

'Wild Nature, a heathscape,' said the painter, handing K. the picture. It showed two stunted trees standing apart from each other in darkish grass. In the background was a many-hued sunset.

Franz Kafka, Der Prozeß [Berlin, 1925], pp.284-286. [S1,4]

observations, weather changes or other events of daily importance

The painted foliage on the ceilings of the Bibliotheque Nationale. As one leafs through the pages down below, it rustles up above. [S3,2]

Sunday, 3 January 2010

animal headlines

Argentine whales attacked by seagulls
'Missing' US sea lions 'found'
Thousands of dead octopuses wash up on Portugal beach
Dog on runway as plane slides
Sweden culls its resurgent wolves
Freeze leads to wildfowl hunt ban
Ancient whale sucked mud for food
How bees perform perfect landing
New sheep tagging rules in force
Terrapin dumping causes problems for conservationists
Zoo penguins help Antarctic birds
The giant Amazon arapaima fish is 'under threat'

eucalyptus knights

gaza zebra

painting the painted donkey

second nature

Saturday, 2 January 2010


In writing this chapter I have used what I call "the fold in" method that is I place a page of one text folded down the middle on a page of another text (my own or someone else's)--The composite text is read across half from one text and half from the other-- The resulting material is edited, re-arranged, and deleted as in any other form of composition

Burroughs Cut Up Method


Friday, 1 January 2010

volcano lovers


Volcanoes be in Sicily
And South America
I judge from my Geography
Volcanoes nearer here
A Lava step at any time
Am I inclined to climb
A Crater I may contemplate
Vesuvius at Home