Retrotechnology and steampunk

bioephemera

Category archives for Retrotechnology and steampunk

Mechanical butterfly, circa 1911

Check out this great slideshow of fascinating advertising novelties from 1911, over at Scientific American.

Miniature Fantasies: Paolo Ventura

L’Automaton #06, 2010 Paolo Ventura (zoom view available here) Artist-photographer Paolo Ventura constructs and photographs miniature, dreamlike scenes. His Winter Stories represent the reminisces of an old circus performer. Above, a scene from the Automaton series captures a mysterious, half-built android. Who is the android’s creator? When and where is this happening? Ventura’s work is…

Perry’s Arcana

From 1810-11, architect and amateur naturalist George Perry published The Arcana, a lavishly illustrated, serial natural history magazine. Although Perry intended for the serial issues to be assembled by his subscribers into a book, only thirteen complete copies are known to survive today. More than a third of the known copies are in Australia –…

Nick’s Luncheonette Randy Hage Via the eye-candy blog How to Be a Retronaut (thanks Miles for first sending me a link there), the painstakingly accurate miniature Manhattan streetscapes of LA artist Randy Hage are half-toy, half-historical document – a wonder cabinet of urban curiosities. Hage’s overarching goal is to preserve rapidly disappearing streetscapes. As he…

Amy Stewart’s new book Wicked Bugs: The Louse That Conquered Napoleon’s Army & Other Diabolical Insects takes a fairly trivial concept – a collection of historical anecdotes and icky factoids about dangerous insects – and executes it remarkably well. The book is well-written and has a non-cloying sense of humor (“she’s just not that into…

This 1967 IBM propaganda film, “Paperwork Explosion,” couples an eerily deadpan refrain of “more time on paperwork,” with a creepy pseudo-country neighbor* urging us to embrace Progress. The film’s frenetic soundtrack and abrupt transitions embody the familiar hysterical nervousness of an increasingly automated era, while striving the whole time to convince us that technology will…

. . . they could have. Or pretty darn close, at least – they just needed to visit one of the many European cabinets of anatomical curiosities, to see the work of anatomists like Honore Fragonard. Fragonard’s eighteenth-century ecorches were the clear precursors to Gunther von Hagens’ “Body Worlds” exhibits: preserved, injected, partially dissected bodies…

The making of an hourglass: The Hourglass from Ikepod on Vimeo. “Director Philip Andelman traveled to Basel, Switzerland, to document the designer’s modern take of the classic hourglass inside the Glaskeller factory. Each hand made hourglass comprises highly durable borosilicate glass and millions of stainless steel nanoballs, and is available in a 10 or 60…

Postmortem sleeping beauties

Through the end of May, UMBC’s Albin O Kuhn gallery is hosting a large exhibition of postmortem daguerreotypes, death masks, coffin plates, etc. from the collection of Dr. Stanley Burns. Medical ephemera always have an emotional valence, because they represent patients who suffered, struggled and eventually lost their physical battles. But this collection of memorials…

Thanks to Coilhouse, I just learned that artist Theo Jansen is producing 3D printed baby versions of his amazing strandbeests – wind-powered kinetic sculptures that “walk” on their own. If you don’t remember Jansen, here he is with his eerie, lifelike beests, which he calls “new forms of life:” Of course you want one, right?…